When I look at television these days, it seems that few people are thrilled at the choice coming up as the top ticket on their ballots this November. The smear campaign about e-mails without adequate security has morphed into the chant, “Lock her up,” which presumes that she somehow dodged a felony charge rather than making a mistake with neither malfeasance nor significant harm.
Republicans impeached Bill Clinton for lying about a blow job outside the Oval Office after a similar witch hunt that went on for years. These same people questioned Obama’s citizenship and looked for loopholes to impeach him. This seems a lot worse than mean-spirited on their part. Could it be a distraction?
Nobody seems to have noticed that Ronald Reagan got away with illegally obtaining arms with which to try and overthrow a legitimate election in Nicaragua (Iran Contra) and support the Ayatollah’s government in Iran that had recently backed the holding of US hostages during the previous administration – and suspiciously released them on the day Reagan took office. Nobody seems to remember or care that Colonel Oliver North was convicted of felonies resulting from decisions made by his Commander in Chief who was the real felon in office.
Bush 41 got us embroiled in an unnecessary and contrived war with Iraq over Kuwait, making money for his billionaire friends, protecting his Saudi business partners and boosting his sagging popularity at home. By lying to both the American people and the leader of Iraq, Bush was able to fool Saddam Hussein into attacking our colony in Kuwait, which led to sending a half million troops to Saudi Arabia. Our ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, told the Iraqi leader that we were neutral in the dispute over hundreds of oil wells slant-drilled under his southern border. No effort was made to avoid conflict. Instead, his minion helped it along. Had he forced Kuwait to correct these abuses of Iraq’s sovereignty, the nightmare – and the expense – could have easily been avoided. Instead, our President told us that it was all Saddam Hussein’s fault.
Bush’s son, once he got into office through corrupt elections in Florida and Ohio, compounded the situation in the Middle East by lying to America, invading Iraq on unsubstantiated rumors and killing not only Iraq’s people, their stability, their economy, and many US servicemen, but spending your tax dollars foolishly and ineffectively while planting the seeds of ISIL.
There is an important fact that was discovered in the late 1990’s by University of Chicago sociologist, Robert Pape. Suicide terrorists are generally well-educated and not motivated by fundamental religion as we have been told. They are incensed at our troops walking around with guns in large numbers in their country. They are sick to death of being occupied, of being colonized, of being patronized, of being shot, sometimes just for being in their own neighborhoods.
Not a single 9/11/01 terrorist was from Iraq or was significantly helped by anyone in Iraq or from Iraq – not one. Not a single Weapon of Mass Destruction was found in Iraq – before or since our invasion. An entire invasion was orchestrated by Bush 43 on rumor and innuendo, intimidating his own staff into telling him what he wanted to hear and firing those, such as Richard A. Clarke, that didn’t.
So, my friends, we seem to be incensed at a blow job and lying about it. We are eager to impeach the current President for his birth certificate and the normal use of his power as President. We think some e-mails that may not have been properly protected merit jail time for out former Secretary of State. But we’re perfectly OK with suborning felonies and reversing free and fair elections. We think starting wars that cost billions of dollars, millions of refugees and thousands of lives while knowing they aren’t justified is not even worth talking about. We have no problem with fabricating reasons for sending our troops to be maimed and killed for a decade of maiming and killing. We had no clue that our troops were causing the suicide terrorism we pretended they were trying to stop. Unless it makes us feel good about ourselves, we don’t want to know the truth about any of this. Unless we’re careful how we define the word “terrorist,” our troops were also terrorists, since they most definitely created terror (as well as terrorists) in the foreign communities they occupied. We don’t cherish our freedoms nearly so much as we cherish our delusions.
Americans! You aren’t paying attention! Bill and Hillary fixed the financial nightmare left by twelve years of Reaganism. They did it because the situation demanded it. They did it because it was the right thing to do, but the average voter didn’t even notice how close the economy had come to ruin.
The Clintons tried to fix the health care system when it was fixable and were stalemated by selfish and self-righteous lobbyists only looking out for their wealthy clients. If you don’t like bureaucracies, why do you support bureaucratic companies that sit between you and your doctor and siphon off trillions while making you jump through hoops just to get your hemorrhoids looked at? In order to make more profit for the already wealthy, we have created a nightmare for both doctors and patients because we must not have anything like socialized medicine and refuse to follow the rest of the modern world, clinging desperately to notions that just don’t work well. Obama-care is not a good solution, but it is the best solution that a Congress dominated by ideologues has allowed.
Think in practical terms for a moment. Are Hillary’s 40 years of public service only worthy of scorn and ridicule? Does her championing of children with disabilities and securing their rights to education and health care make her the enemy? Would we really rather spend our tax dollars on killing and being killed; on foolish and unnecessary wars? How long do we support this charade? We now thank all veterans (myself included) for work that has done little besides harm for the past sixty years.
Maybe looking out for others is no longer a part of what the United States is about. Maybe it’s time for us to be selfish and greedy after helping each other and welcoming immigrants for well over two centuries. However, even with selfishness as our highest goal, we’re better off being conciliatory rather than belligerent; being humble rather than haughty; learning from our mistakes rather than repeating them endlessly. A return to some semblance of honesty seems well overdue.
Bill Clinton, Barrack Obama, and Hillary Clinton have made some mistakes and done a few things others might not like. They are not felons or vile people. Killing thousands of people and disrupting entire societies on trumped-up charges and personal beliefs? That seems like felonious behavior to me and yet it merits barely a whisper of censure from the electorate. Taking away our protections against monopoly and ponzi schemes and other financial abuses ruined our economy and yet we still praise the person responsible. We cling to the belief that what is good for corporations is good for America while having massive evidence to the contrary right before our eyes. And we still blame the government for our own lapses in judgment. Both parties cling to “greatness” as the quality which defines us as a people while our recent history shows us to be foolish and our aspirations to greatness delusional.
I found a convention shouting “Lock her up” disquieting but clearly representative of politics in America today. We are on a road where we cling to the shame and blame of others; we don’t acknowledge past mistakes or learn from the past but go for the self-congratulatory nonsense that has dominated politics since we rejected Jimmy Carter. We willingly and foolishly trade decency and peace for ego; for empty promises; for ideas that didn’t even begin to work.
In the long run, Republican strategies have failed miserably for the past 50 years. Like the Kennedy years and the Clinton years and the Obama years, Republican leaders are happy with a losing Presidential candidate. The strategies for short term profit taking aren’t sustainable and they need a scapegoat to blame for the unavoidable results of their greed, their overbearing grandiosity and their lack of compassion, understanding or integrity.
Trump is all for the easy buck, the quick score. As Commander in Chief, it is unlikely that he will be conciliatory. We, the voters, have loved warmongering in the past. The long-term results weren’t all that acceptable, but Donald isn’t really a long-term thinker. Neither, apparently, are we, the electorate.
“The Donald’s” biggest asset is, in many minds, the fact that he’s an outsider, a new face, an “untried” alternative to the status quo. This isn’t entirely true, either. We tried an outsider in Ronald Reagan, who was also unqualified. This country still hasn’t woken up to the damage that choice created: the militarization of space, the ruin of any and all worker empowerment, the deregulation of investment and the gutting of the remaining regulatory agencies, the illegal and immoral funding of anti-democratic forces in the third world, the addition of reactionary Supreme Court justices which, in turn, led to the “Citizens United” decision and its gross perversion of the electoral process, this endless war in the Middle East after Carter’s brilliant start at peace and the crushing debt of Reagan’s failed “trickle down economics.”
If you really want to understand what a man or woman is going to do, the most reliable indicators involve looking at what he or she has done. Looking at “The Donald’s” record is not reassuring.
Management of his self-bought Presidential campaign leaves questions difficult for his staff to answer.
Trump University was clearly mismanaged; something we might take notice of when electing a manager for our entire country.
Trump’s reign over the United States Football League ended up in an empty legal victory over the National Football League: a one-dollar award of damages and sky-high salaries across the board. After Trump spent past everyone else and went head-to-head against the NFL, his entire league collapsed. This is not a stellar example of skill or tenacity or management style, either. He seems to have chosen litigation, direct confrontation and massive salary offers over the hard work and long-term investment necessary to make his league actually competitive.
When he had a reality TV show, his big line each week was: “You’re fired.” If your team didn’t make the biggest profit in a single week, you’re losers. That was the theme; that was the rule; that was the “reality” of the man who aspires to be our leader: king of the mountain; survival of the most conniving, the most willing to exploit friends and relatives, the most persuasive and, at times, the most creative or the most willing to stab a former colleague in the back.
Trump businesses have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcies four times: in 1991, 1992, 2004, and 2009. All along, Trump’s casinos were losing money, but Trump still siphoned millions into his own pockets and into his other businesses while moving debt from other businesses into the casinos.
We must look at Donald’s bankruptcies: reneging on debts, keeping his assets, and getting wealthier. Rather than looking out for the worker and small businessman, he lined his own pockets.1 It’s legal. But will this “make America great again?”
The USA is already close to bankruptcy due to wars, tax cuts, tax loopholes, the Wall Street give-away and the extensive misuse of military power as enforcers for overseas profiteers – see graph above2. If “The Donald” is elected, expect another round of looting and overseas conflicts.
Another problem is his proposed economic policies. We tried “trickle down economics” with Ronald Reagan. It did not trickle down. It trickled out – to Malaysia, China, Vietnam, and other venues with no minimum wage, no health and safety standards, and no environmental protections.
Trump is currently an active part of trickle-out economics. His company makes stuff in the Third World and sells it here in the United States.
We also tried deregulation with Ronald Reagan. It led inexorably to Enron, state bankruptcies (including his own state of California), and a clear and ongoing grab fest where the wealthy and their designated managers took the hard work and ingenuity of the middle class, spent our taxes on themselves and their endless wars, and killed movements for safety and workers’ rights while lining their own already bulging pockets. The strategy all along has been fear, outrage and disunity.
I have reason to believe that Trump will repeat the disastrous Presidency of this highly praised man who didn’t have a clue how to do his job and was full of great-sounding rhetoric that just did not work.
Maybe Hillary is at least partly in the pockets of Wall Street. Trump is Wall Street. Hillary has worked with conservative Republicans throughout her career. It is clear that Trump can’t even unite his own party let alone work with the rest of Congress. It’s clear that he will never be conciliatory towards anyone or anything. He couldn’t be a statesman if he tried.
Trump isn’t a negotiator, either. He’s a salesman and an actor. Hillary has demonstrated her political acumen and dedication to the job for 40 years and counting. She isn’t so much a salesperson as a doer, a person who sees a problem, learns all she can about it and then perseveres until it’s fixed.
If you want us to be at odds with ourselves and the rest of the world; if you want us to continue pretending to be “better than” everyone else, then Trump may be your guy.
But if you want us all to get along with each other and with the world; if you don’t think obscene wealth for the few at the expense of the many should be our highest goal; if you think we should spend at least a modicum of our resources helping each other and turning around the excesses that followed the Reagan years, and if you value peace in the world, then it seems to me that you may be forced to vote for an alternative to the narcissistic millionaire, for someone who has shown over and over throughout her adult life that she cares about this country; that she’s willing to put herself on the firing line; and that she’s got the ability, the courage and the tenacity to pull this country back from the twin brinks of war and bankruptcy, our Republican legacies.
Electing “The Donald” is a vote to blame terrorists, immigrants, and Democrats for the results of our unbridled greed. The gaps between us will widen. If the past is a window into the future, Middle class Americans will end up holding pink slips and an unmanageable national debt while Donald and his friends pass the buck and sneak out the back.
When Jimmy Carter lost his reelection to Ronald Reagan, I had already seen Reagan in action as my governor in California. I saw my fellows choosing rhetoric and bombast over simple decency and humility. They seem to have never recovered their good sense. We aren’t the good guys today. We’re the invaders; the liars. We’re not liberating anyone in our wars and we’re not fighting for freedom. We’re fighting to put more of our tax dollars into already full pockets of arms dealers and racketeers.
The fear and intimidation reminds me of another newcomer in the early fifties, the junior Senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy. He called Eisenhower a “traitor” because he was too liberal and talked to Communists. He held witch hunts looking for Commies and Communist sympathizers and found loopholes in the law that enabled him to bully people and threaten their jobs and their friendships. This strategy worked for a time and this alcoholic acquired enormous political power during his short reign of terror. He did it by turning us against each other. It was a sham patriotism that robbed us of the freedom and unity it pretended to cherish.
I despair because we seem incapable of learning anything from our mistakes. We just make up myth and rumor and end up staking our future on beliefs that are demonstrably false. Trump isn’t in this to help you. He’s in it to help himself.
Our choice seems to be bankruptcy – both economic and moral – or humility. Which will we choose this time?
1Donald Trump speaking to ABC News made this declaration: “I’ve used the laws of this country to pare debt. … We’ll have the company. We’ll throw it into a chapter. We’ll negotiate with the banks. We’ll make a fantastic deal.” Never is there a hint of the financial hardships he has created for the people he has stiffed and the small businesses he has ruined.
2To be honest, this chart doesn’t include Obama because he pushed our debt even higher even faster. Maybe it was because he was handcuffed by Congress, but I don’t know.
©David N. Dodson, August 2016, Phoenix, AZ