An American problem

It was President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 who said that the greatness of America was  knowing America was the first nation in the history of the world to be founded with a purpose. The great phrases of the purpose he said were: all men are created equal”, and “government by consent of the governed”.  He continues: “these are not just clever words, or those are not just empty theories.  I will send to Congress a law designed to eliminate illegal barriers to the right to vote …. But even if we pass this bill the battle will not be over … the problem of injustice and bigotry is not a problem of the North or the South, it is not a Democratic or Republican problem, it is an American problem”.

An American problem is what we have today as well.  Under this president, a hothead, thin-skinned, corrupt and impetuous little man, society problems that could be addressed are ignored.  The Opiod epidemic. Climate change. Gun control.  Student loans. Environmental regulation.  Crumbling infrastructure.  Economic inequality, the root of so much agony and suffering.

From what I can tell, Trump doesn’t solve problems, he makes them. He destroys solutions (like the Paris agreement).  He removes regulations that protect workers from exploitation and injury. He incites violence through his supporters (remember Charlittesville and his rallies), promotes half-baked policies that are destructive and largely ineffective. He acts as a divider, not a unifier.  He acts as if he doesn’t care about the people he was elected to serve.  He clearly doesn’t.  He only serves the Trump organization and family members. The country’s institutions he attacks and its citizens’ issues are ignored.

It was his attacks on the free press that finally drove me out of my own complacency, in my long-awaited retirement, and motivated me to do more than read and clip editorials about his messaging, fill out online polls and surveys, send in token donations, and stand in the sidelines and complain with friends about his latest tweets, antics and lies.

He’s an American problem, born and raised here in America, and he’s Hell bent on undermining the institutions that make America.  His rant that the press is the enemy of the people comes straight out of the Nazis.  He, like Hitler, seeks to dismantle our system of laws and order (14 states have filed suit against his actions of appointing interim attorney general Whitaker; that’s the Senate’s responsibility). He like Hitler stokes hatred of others by spewing out the hatred inside himself.  Like Hitler, Trump’s regime is a beacon of hope to the far right, where bigotry and racial persecution were officially tolerated.  We need charity, community and compassion not hatred, division and anger.

A free press protects us.  Investigative reporting by an independent press is needed now more than ever given Trump’s penchant for denigrating independent journalism and his distortions and blatant lies.  Like Mussolini, Trump is trying to use the press for his own ends with his “alternative facts” and destructive crazy tweets. (He must own stock in Twitter).

We’ve had presidents before whom I have not agreed with, but no one as dangerous and cocky, as corrupt and immoral, as our Donald.  He’s our American problem.

Before he even dreamed of the presidency (or before Putin saw installation of him as his coup of the century), “he was for decades a tax evader, liar, racist, bankruptcy aficionado, notorious for his mob connections, transactional promiscuity, and utter disregard for rules, scruples, and morals”, writes Frank Rich in New York magazine (April/May 2018). He is a lot like his mentor, Roy Cohn.  The New York magazine cover shows Cohn, hand on the phone and titled “The Worst Human Being Who Ever Lived”.

The “midterms” were an important first step to seriously help save our democracy (and our decency). That’s why I stepped up to canvass, conducted voter registration drives targeting millennials, wrote postcards and made phone calls for races in Ohio, New York and Maine.  I’ve never been politically active, but know now that it’s the only way to be.  Today’s America is in serious trouble, and grassroots efforts can help keep democracy and the America we expect it to be alive.  For the people.

That’s why I joined the local Franklin Democratic Town Committee to support democratic values, reach out and get to know my neighbors, and resist the Trump agenda. I’ve interacted with others in Indivisible, a nationwide network of local groups. (There are 250 groups in Massachusetts alone). There’s a lot more I could do.

I reject the Republican “Everyman for himself” ideology which undermines the society which America is today.  Furthermore, “when conspiracy theories gain wide currency within a political party (like the Republican) it means it is losing – or has lost – contact with reality”,  so writes Peter Wehner, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in a recent Wall Street Journal, who has served in the last three Republican administrations. The Republican party is not dealing with social and economic inequality and injustice, when it passes a massive tax reduction bill a year ago that serves the richest of the rich and advertises it as one for the common man.

Trump will not be toppled by Democrats.  I believe (hope?) some Republicans will wake up and distance themselves from Trump once more facts are revealed by the Mueller investigation, House-led investigations, more indictments are handed out, or the economy sputters.  Spirited grassroots efforts can lead and make changes.

Controlling the House after the Mid Terms changes the rules of engagement, even for a feckless Donald who disdains rules, mores, norms. The next president must be a healer and a leader who can be a statesman, represent all segments of the country, and help the United States of America address the needs of its people, regain its rightful place on the world stage, a moral compass and global partner addressing global issues like climate change.

Its time to get to work, and to enlist your friends and neighbors in a grassroots effort starting now.  Are you game?   It doesn’t hurt and it’s so helpful.





Published by Richard Halpern

Retired (but busy) after a lengthy career in business marketing, communications and research. Worked at four start-ups and one turnaround. Now volunteer doing prospect research for a climate activity and social advocacy non profit, amongst other things.

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