I’m an older white male who had the privilege of living overseas, being that my father was career military. In some ways, I suppose I now fit the demographic profile of the typical Donald Trump voter, though maybe those years abroad gave me a different perspective of America.
I have voted Republican most of my life but chose to vote for an American-born Democrat, Barack Obama, after the disaster of the Chaney/Bush presidency left in its wake a near-economic collapse and a badly mishandled war from which Islamic terrorism clearly sprouted. Republicans, I regret to say, quickly forgot their failed economic policies and their lies about weapons of mass destruction. What’s more, they counted on the American public’s memory being short.
We only learn from history when we keep it close at hand and sharp in mind.
Despite Obama’s decisively winning two terms, the GOP’s unfortunate goal was to delegitimize his presidency. Then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said early on that his goal was to make Obama a one-termer. House Minority Leader John Boehner was not much better. House Speaker Paul Ryan is now and was then no better.
President Obama’s words resonate even now: “I and many others thank you for standing so high when so many politicians and, yes, many of the public went so low.”
The Republican Party was asked by President Obama to contribute to health care for all Americans, bolster our crumbling infrastructure and embrace common-sense gun control. He never forgot the 20 dead children of Sandy Hook and the way Republicans in particular blocked anything rankling the NRA. Republicans instead banked on the public growing tired of the stalemate they created. The public would, they hoped, just blame Obama.
This strategic obstruction worked over time.
Shame on you, fellow Republicans, for putting party before country. Shame on you and the American public for allowing toxic, racial overtones to fill the air through fake news. Shame on once-honorable Republicans who turned their heads and let it all fester. Yes, Obama made mistakes both domestic and foreign — but think of what could have been if you had done your duty and participated with constructive ideas instead of relentless obstruction.
Now I fully understand and can defend President Obama’s use of executive action to get anything at all done for this country. Interestingly, his successor has wasted no time doing the very same, even though he has the benefit of a Republican-run Capitol. Where now is the outrage?
President Obama leaves office, warts and all, with high approval ratings and his legacy intact, while Congress ranks low and is rewarded with a public that wants the swamp drained. Yet the public sends back the same old professional politicians and puts the government in charge of one party. That’s not only hypocritical but dangerous.
So now that we’re finally past all the skullduggery about Obama’s foreign birth and being a Muslim, Mr. President, just what is Russia holding on you? Help yourself and release your tax returns to clear up the discrepancies. Just follow precedent. You presumably won through honesty and Hillary’s stupidity but you sure can’t claim any overwhelming Election Day mandate.
You failed your first test of “draining the swamp” by turning to Wall Street and billionaires, Mr. President. You’ve made some good picks, but some have come from the bottom of the barrel and will prove divisive. They may even hurt your legacy, which will be increasingly valuable to you as time goes by. These folks of yours don’t make it a point to help the average Joe too often.
But not all hope is lost. You can still push for reform by imposing strict regulations on lobbyists who control our professional politicians. In short, if you want to make a difference:
Do away with corporate welfare.
Career politicians are poison to our democracy. Term limits are the only answer to a continuously corrupt system. Federal finance of elections will end much corruption.
Mega corruption infects our capitalistic system. These villains seek cheap labor and scuttle jobs through technology, hurting many of the very people who have faith in you. These jobs are not coming back, so please emphasize education as a priority to retrain workers and their children. This is absolutely crucial in an ever-changing global economy.
Please stop blaming others for our drug problem. The drug cartels are simply responding to demand. We can stop them, but others will replace them. The real weakness involves Americans. There are cracks in our moral foundation and we must blame ourselves, not others.
Mr. President, I am also disturbed at how religion is pushing itself into secular government. I am not a big fan of religious hypocrites telling others they can’t have abortions. No one is forcing them to have one. Leave this option so that women in possible crisis aren’t forced into dark alleys.
Religion needs to get back to helping the poor help themselves, education and, yes, inspiring hope — not forcing beliefs on others while working against charity and compassion. We have so many unwanted foster children. Who is going to take care of all our unwanted children and abused tots?
Churches need to work diligently on such matters and stop building tax-exempt empires that have little to do with religion.
Mr. President, you know climate change is not a hoax so don’t dismiss it — and even if I’m wrong, it’s sure better to be safe than sorry, especially if we’re thinking of the world our kids will inherit. (And if I’m wrong about global warming, I’ll have a lot of company in America’s very best scientists.)
Mr. President, yes, you’re right to want better relations with Russia. But let’s get real. Mr. Putin is not our pal or your bosom buddy. He is an authoritarian leader of Russia with a different mindset. He answers to no one. You are not an absolute leader and are answerable to everyone. We can work on space, medicine and other projects with the Russians, but they are not our friends. To suggest otherwise not only works against our allies but our self interest. And are you not supposedly for America first?
Please, Mr. President, come back to the real world. Twitter is for children and bored (and often boring) people. I know the press can act like jerks at times and seem one-sided, but they also helped you with free coverage during your campaigning that few others received. Bad as they might be at times, they have done more right than wrong.
Yes, you have a thus-far faithful legion of Trumpies out there and their cheers on Inauguration Day no doubt bolstered your confidence and even your ego. But, remember, you are not coming into office with a strong national mandate or high approval ratings. Some of those cheering now can be expected to hold your feet to the fire, especially if your claim to help the little guy helps only the rich and the powerful. Not all of your supporters now will roll over and play dead.
And no more scapegoating of others. We the People hold the future of this nation’s survival in our hands.
Stanley Oberst is a retired history teacher and devoted Elvis fan who lives in Waco. He is co-author of “Elvis In Texas: The Undiscovered King 1954-1958.”