Absolute Authority …

In yesterday’s press briefing, when asked about his plan to “reopen” the nation on or before May 1st, he had this to say …

“I have great authority to use it … I have absolute authority to use it …”

Yesterday, I read a great many news stories that riled me, raised my hackles, and one even caused me to shout an expletive.  But none … not a single one … chilled me in the way this single sentence chills me.  It’s that one word: absolute.  No president has ‘absolute’ authority.  Absolute is a word used by dictators and other authoritarians … it is not a word I expect to hear used by an elected official who has sworn an oath to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution.

The framers of the Constitution, fully understanding the nature of men, wrote the document in such a way as to ensure that no president could become a king.  Power is shared among the three equal branches of government, and both the legislative branch and the judicial branch are tasked with overseeing the executive branch.

That said, in 2016 the Republican Party, now largely bought and paid for by large corporations such as the fossil fuel, logging and weapons industries, sold the country downriver and through not-quite-honest means, put a person in the White House who has absolutely zero political experience, absolutely zero relevant education, and absolutely zero conscience.  What he has an abundance of, however, are arrogance and ego.

It is that arrogance, that megalomania, that gives him the idea that he has absolute powers, and unfortunately neither Congress nor the Supreme Court seem willing to do their job and provide oversight, but rather feed his ego by essentially telling him that he is above the law, that they will uphold whatever he does.  This sets up a very dangerous scenario that should never have been allowed to get to this point.

Ever since that day, February 5th 2020, when the republicans in the Senate one by one said “nay” to convicting Trump of the proven crimes for which he was (and remains) impeached, Trump has been taking upon himself more and more power, and both Congress and the Supreme Court have continued to give him carte blanche to do so.  In so doing, it may be the case that they have signed the death warrant for the U.S. Constitution.  They may have turned the presidency, an elected position answerable to the people of this nation, into a dictatorship, a position with “absolute authority”.

Two hundred and thirty-three years ago, the U.S. Constitution was written and ratified.  Though it has undergone a number of amendments, and some controversial interpretations, for the most part the foundation has held firm for those 233 years.  And today?  Today we are on a precipice, on the very brink of burning the Constitution.  Why?  Because we have allowed politicians to be bought and paid for by wealthy industrialists seeking to become even wealthier.

We have one final opportunity to stop this in November.  The Republican Party and all its minions will do everything in their power to prevent us from voting them out of office.  If we succumb, if we don’t all vote, then we will have handed over the keys to the kingdom to the wealthy and I doubt we will get another chance to stop the Titanic before it hits the iceberg.  Remember those words, “I have absolute authority”, think of all the things that could mean.

You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do

Among my favourite columnists is Eugene Robinson, writing for The Washington Post.  He is a seasoned journalist with over 30 years at The Post, and his opinions are most always thoughtful and well-reasoned.  His column of last Thursday is no exception and summarizes nicely the reason that the impeachment cannot be allowed to fail.  As of this writing, 158 House republicans have said they plan to vote against impeachment, and the 39 who have not yet opined are likely to vote against.  Among democrats in the House, 165 have affirmed that they will vote for impeachment, 19 are sitting on the fence, and 48 have yet to say.  Oh, and let us not forget Representative Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey who has noted that he will be voting against impeaching Trump.  So, the full House vote is as yet uncertain, but I believe that there will be a majority and that Trump will be impeached, despite objections and moronic outcries by the republicans in Congress.  Anyway, I digress … here is what Mr. Robinson has to say on the subject …

The full House has no choice but to impeach Trump

Eugene-RobinsonEugene Robinson

Columnist

Dec. 12, 2019 at 7:37 p.m. EST

You gotta do what you gotta do. The choice that faced the House Judiciary Committee throughout Thursday’s endless debate was a simple one: Either we believe in democracy and the rule of law, or we don’t.

The president’s defenders are correct when they say “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress” are not statutory crimes. They are, in fact, worse. The stripped-down impeachment articles against President Trump go to the heart of his blatant misconduct, which poses a direct challenge to the Constitution. I know that sounds grandiose to describe the offenses of such a small man as Trump. But it is true.

One could make the case that many of our presidents have abused their power in one way or another. I believe the framers of the Constitution would be appalled, for example, that since World War II, we have sent so many troops to fight and die in so many conflicts without a formal declaration of war by Congress. I believe they would be outraged that presidents can make so much law, unilaterally, by calling it regulation. But then again, maybe not. Perhaps Madison and Jefferson would approve of the way the presidency has evolved. We really have no way of knowing.

We do know, however, that the founders worried a president might corruptly misuse the powers of his office to keep himself in office. That is a principal reason the impeachment clause was written. And it is precisely what Trump tried to do.

Not just in one phone call but over a period of months, Trump tried to coerce a foreign government into fabricating a scandal that would tarnish former vice president Joe Biden, the potential rival who most threatened Trump’s reelection. Trump conditioned official acts — the release of nearly $400 million in military aid, along with a desperately sought White House meeting — on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s compliance with his demands.

Incredibly, this was after the conclusion of a two-year investigation into whether Trump and his campaign had solicited the help of another foreign government, that of Russia, to win the 2016 election. The probe by former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III proved that Trump welcomed and encouraged Russian aid but not that he or his campaign participated in a conspiracy. Mueller did turn up reams of evidence, however, that Trump had obstructed justice in trying to shut the investigation down.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) adamantly refused to open an impeachment inquiry after the Mueller probe. “He’s just not worth it,” she said, meaning that holding Trump accountable for the crimes Mueller uncovered was not worth the trauma that impeachment would inevitably put the country through.

When Trump’s Ukraine bribery scheme came to light, however, the opening of an impeachment process went instantly from impossible to inevitable. It was indeed bribery, by the way, both as I believe the founders understood the crime and as the current federal bribery statute defines it. But Pelosi and the House impeachment managers decided to charge Trump instead with abuse of power, because that is a more grievous injury to the Constitution. Trump was elected to be a public servant, and he is acting like an autocrat.

Trump and his defenders have made a lot of noise but have not even produced quasi-plausible Trumpian “alternative facts” to dispute the real ones. Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said we should all just “get over it.” Unfortunately for Trump, the Constitution does not allow that option.

The Constitution gives the House the “sole” power of impeachment. Yet Trump, unlike prior presidents who faced impeachment inquiries, has brazenly ordered the White House and the rest of the executive branch to refuse to provide documents and witnesses the House has demanded. Hence the charge of obstruction of Congress, which is another grave offense.

The separation-of-powers framework ensures that the three equal branches of our government will be engaged in a permanent struggle, preventing any one from obtaining primacy. But it does not allow Trump to avoid impeachment and removal from office simply by refusing to give the House access to the information it needs to decide whether to impeach. Any future president who committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” would surely do the same.

The Senate may fail to take the charges seriously, but House members will have done their duty. It is a constitutional imperative that Trump go down in history as one of just three presidents to be impeached.

Robert Reich And The Founding Fathers Speak

Many people who support Trump, both in and out of government, claim that what Trump has done is not an impeachable offense.  Some even go so far as to claim his extortion of the Ukrainian president, holding up much-needed military support in exchange for President Zelenskyy announcing he would investigate Trump’s rival Joe Biden, is “business as usual”.  I can talk until I’m blue in the face, and those people will say I’m just a sore loser, still angry because Hillary Clinton didn’t win in 2016.  They’d be wrong … Hillary actually did win by nearly 3 million votes.  The unfair skewing of districts in many states, however, handed Trump enough undeserved electoral votes to carry him into the Oval Office.

But, about impeachment … though I studied Constitutional Law for two years, and have read the Constitution probably 30-40 times, I am not an expert on Constitutional Law.  But I know of someone who is.

Robert Reich-4

Robert Reich

Robert Reich is an American economist, professor, author, and political commentator. He served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton. He was Secretary of Labor from 1993 to 1997. He was a member of President Barack Obama’s economic transition advisory board.

Reich has been the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley since January 2006. He was formerly a professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and professor of social and economic policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management of Brandeis University.

Suffice it to say that this man knows how government works, and knows the Constitution far better than, say, a president who has never read the short, 8.000-word document.  So, let’s hear what Mr. Reich has to say about whether what Trump has done is impeachable.

July 4th? Just Another Day …

Once upon a time, in the ‘Land of milk and honey’, Independence Day, celebrated on the 4th of July each year across the United States, meant something.  It was a time of remembrance, a time when the independent spirit of the founders of this nation rose up and declared that this would be a nation in and of itself, that we would fight for the right to make our own laws and to form a nation based on humanitarian values.

That was then, and this is now.  Today, the United States has become a greedy, war-mongering nation rent by political differences, fueled by greed and lust for power.  Add to that, a government so corrupt that it enables a power-hungry dictator to shred the Constitution that has been the fabric of our nation for 232 years and has meekly handed over the keys to the castle in exchange for empty promises of great riches.

This nation once opened its doors to the “tired and poor” from other nations who sought asylum from evil dictatorships … today, we are the evil dictatorship.

The men and women who sought to make this a respectable and worthy nation would no doubt be horrified by what this country has become, as are many of us still living today.  It would be rather like seeing your child, a child who once had so much potential, fall victim to drugs and alcohol and throw away his opportunities.  This is exactly what has happened in the U.S.

Those who valued wealth over humanitarian causes, have given us a cruel and malevolent dictator who, by all appearances, plans to continue on the path to completely destroying all that was once good about this country, and we seem helpless to stop the madness.  Point in case … Trump’s plans for tomorrow.

Trump-circus

A circus by any other name … (notice the ‘crowd’ in the viewing stands)

The Fourth of July in Washington D.C. was once a fun family affair, with picnics, music, festivities, and at the end of the day, fireworks.  This year, all fun festivities have been cancelled in favour of a political rally by a madman whose already-bloated ego requires that the entire nation bow down and pay fealty to him.  He has turned the marking of a historical event into a celebration of … Trump.  Forgive me if I view this in rather the same vein as a celebration of the sinking of the Titanic.

Tomorrow’s events promise to be a disgusting display of hedonistic arrogance on the part of Trump and of some portion of this country at a cost to We the People of somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 million, though the cost estimates have not been forthcoming by Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt.  Congress, specifically the Senate Appropriations Committee, requested the cost estimates days ago.  A similar affair was considered for Veteran’s Day in 2018, but was cancelled in the face of cost estimates around $92 million.  What changed?  Why is it all of a sudden alright for Trump to stage this costly “tribute to self”?

The only thing that will, hopefully, put a damper in Trump’s illusion of grandeur is that there are multiple large protests being planned.  The baby Trump blimp that featured prominently in the UK’s “welcoming” of Trump has arrived on our shores and was planning to fly above the Lincoln Memorial all day, but now the government has said that it cannot be filled with helium and must be kept out of Trump’s field of vision.  Other protests are guaranteed, and while Trump will wear blinders to them, they will firmly show that We the People do not favour a display of military hardware and a political campaign speech by he-who-would-be-king.

I cannot find it in my heart to celebrate when children are being held in captivity without adequate food, clothing, or medical care, separated from their parents for literally no just cause.  I cannot find it in my heart to celebrate when we are treating asylum seekers as if they were hardened criminals.  I cannot find it in my heart to celebrate when the nation is in the grips of a madman who is teetering on the brink of taking us into a war that nobody wants, and for no reason whatsoever.  I cannot find it in my heart to celebrate when this nation is so divided that we now judge people by their political party, by the colour of their skin, by their religion or lack thereof.  I cannot find it in my heart to celebrate a nation that is taking away the rights of people … of women, of LGBT people, of Muslims, of Latinos and more.

The fourth of July is just another day … one where the trash will not be picked up and the mail will not be delivered, but still … it’s just like any other day.  There is no longer anything special to celebrate, for what once was, is no longer.

Impeaching Trump: What would the Founders say?

Impeachment, or as Trump calls it, “the I-word”, is on the minds of many of us these days. It is debatable whether impeachment would be successful at this juncture, hence the caution being exercised by Speaker Pelosi. Our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters has done his homework and pondered the situation from the perspective of how the framers of the U.S. Constitution might have viewed it, and I think the results of his pondering are worth sharing. Thank you, Jeff, for this thoughtful work and for allowing me to share …

On The Fence Voters

In the course of any given day lately, I find myself grappling with the following question: What would the Founders do about it? Or, even better—what were they thinking and what were their arguments as they went about writing that sacred document we call the United States Constitution?

Actually, it’s a practice I’ve been doing for quite some time. I mean, between gun rights, abortion rights, immigration, and so many other issues, our Constitution is the basis for trying to figure out how to deal with these controversial issues. Often, we try to gauge what the intent of the Founders was. We can read their words in such publications like The Federalist Papers, and other discussions and arguments they were engaged in, that have been documented in letters, debates, and of course, The Constitutional Convention itself.

Currently, though, the impeachment process is front and center. Ever since the Democrats took…

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Age and citizenship is not enough. We need new requirements for president.

Jeff, aka Brookingslib over at On The Fence Voters has read my mind and written the post that I have been thinking about for quite some time now, but never got around to. A lot has changed in 230+ years, and it’s time for a few changes in our Constitution. Take a look at this post, for it is a common-sense, practical solution that would prevent a future recurrence of our current nightmare. Thank you, Jeff, for implied permission to share 😉

On The Fence Voters

Article 2, Section One, The United States Constitution: No person except a natural-born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States. 

So there you have it. In order to qualify to become the president of the United States of America, this little paragraph of our beloved Constitution spells it out. Is it me or doesn’t it seem a bid odd that the requirements to become the most powerful person in the free world are a bit on the weak side? I mean, I’ve seen job postings for dog-walker that are harder to qualify for.

I have to admit, since the election of Donald…

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Hate Talk

“These are the times that try men’s [and women’s] souls”, said Thomas Paine on 23 December 1776. What makes the times today so trying to our souls is, of course, the government that no longer represents the people, but even more disturbing is the way the head of said government is pitting us against each other. Our friend Hugh has written a piece that is well worth reading and thinking about. Are we falling for the rhetoric coming out of Washington to the extent that we are sacrificing our future? Thank you, Hugh, for your thoughtful and thought-provoking post.

hughcurtler

It has always been so: using emotive language to describe those people we detest reduces them to things. Such is the case with people we don’t happen to like — or want to kill in violent confrontations called “war.” Not long ago the Japanese were called “Japs,” and the Germans were called “Krauts.” We devise hateful names to describe those we hate and want to kill in the name of God and all that is good. It seems to work: it reduces human beings, as noted, to things to be dispensed with.

We now find ourselves living in a society in which our feckless leader has labelled his enemies in order to generate hatred of those things or people he has determined are his enemies — and therefore the enemies of us all. Thus are the Democrats now called “the party of crime. . .  too extreme and dangerous to…

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Let’s Raise the Bar …

I have an idea that I would like to propose: Any candidate running for federal office – either Congress or President/Vice President – should have to take and pass the U.S. Citizenship test.  It should be requisite.  If it were, I can guarantee you that Donald Trump would not be in the Oval Office today, for much of the citizenship test pertains to history and the U.S. Constitution, and Donald Trump is relatively illiterate in both areas.  A few examples of his grasp on historical details:

  • Napoleon finished a little bit bad. But I asked that. So I asked the president [Macron], so what about Napoleon? He said: “No, no, no. What he did was incredible. He designed Paris.” The street grid, the way they work, you know, the spokes. He did so many things even beyond. And his one problem is he didn’t go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death.
  • “I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little later you wouldn’t have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person but he had a big heart. He was really angry that he saw with regard to the Civil War, he said ‘There’s no reason for this.’ People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?”  (Jackson died 16 years before the beginning of the Civil War)
  • “I am very proud now that we have a museum on the National Mall where people can learn about Reverend King, so many other things. Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice.”   

And those are but a few examples of Trump’s grasp of history.  Nada.  I knew more by 4th grade than he knows at age 72.  Why?  Did they not teach history in that fancy military school his daddy sent him to?  Or was he simply not smart enough to learn?  Sad.

Back in May 2016, I wrote a piece titled Why Goats Can’t Vote, about the U.S. Citizenship test and how only 62% of U.S.-born citizens can pass the test.  One of the comments on that initial post was from my UK friend Bushka:

“Always been amazed by this phenomenon…Even Presidents are known to lack such simple knowledge…..No Names!!!”

Fitting, don’t you think?  I was thinking about this tonight and I thought it might be interesting to see just how Trump would fare.  Let’s give him a few questions and see how he does, shall we?  The following are actual questions from previous citizenship tests. Trump’s answers are in his favourite colour, red.

What is the supreme law of the land?
the Supreme Court 
the Bill of Rights
the Declaration of Independence
the Constitution

The correct answer is “the Constitution”.

The idea of self-government in in the first three words of the Constitution. What are these words?
We the Government
The President is
We the People
The Founding Fathers

The correct answer is “We the People”.

Citizenship Study Questions 1-20
What is an amendment?
a change (to the Constitution)
an addition (to the Constitution)
both a and b
none of the above

The correct answer is “both a and b”.

What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?
The Bill of Rights
The Ten Commandments
The Bill of Laws
The Preamble to the Constitution

The correct answer is “The Bill of Rights”.

What is freedom of religion?
Religion has power over the government
You can force anyone to participate in your religion
You can practice any religion, or not practice a religion
Religion should not exist, and all citizen should be free from it

The correct answer is “You can practice any religion, or not practice a religion”.

What is the “rule of law”?
Everyone must follow the law, except the leaders
Everyone must follow the law, except the government
Only Congress is above the law
Everyone must follow the law, leaders and government must obey the law, and no one is above the law.

The correct answer is “Everyone must follow the law, leaders and government must obey the law, and no one is above the law”.

Well, well, well … looks like Bushka was right, eh?  To his credit, Trump got #3 half right, so I can give him a half point, which brings his score up to 8%.  This ‘man’ could not even become a citizen of the nation he is in charge of! I was pleased that I got them all right … I actually took 20 of them and got them right … so even I am more qualified to be president than Donald Trump!  Hmmmm …

Seriously though, folks … I understand why the framers of the Constitution set very few eligibility requirements for president:  one must be 35 years of age, a resident “within the United States” for 14 years, and a “natural born Citizen”.  That was in 1787, and the framers already knew they were writing the rules for George Washington to become the first president. Looking to the future, they set the age requirement in order to ensure a mature man (women weren’t even allowed to vote or own property back then, so they didn’t count) would be elected.  The citizenship requirement was simply to keep Alexander Hamilton, who was born in the West Indies, from becoming president.  Our constitution is an 18th century one developed for a newly independent British colony.  And it worked well for a number of years.  But this is the 21st century and times have changed.  Just as we amended the Constitution to allow women to vote and to abolish slavery, it is time we amend it to set a higher standard for the presidency.

Until the Trump presidency, we didn’t question the eligibility requirements, for we had men who were well qualified, who had studied not only law, but also English grammar and history.  But today that is not the case.  Take a look at a few recent presidents:

  • Bill Clinton had a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Foreign Service degree from Georgetown University, a Juris Doctorate (JD) from Yale Law School, and was a Rhodes Scholar. In addition, he had experience in government, having served as Governor of Arkansas for 11 years.
  • George W. Bush had a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in history from Yale University, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Harvard Business School, and he had served as Governor of Texas from 1995-2000.
  • Barack Obama double-majored in college, earning Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and English Literature from Columbia University, graduated magna cum laude with a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School, served as an Illinois State Senator from 1997-2004, and as a U.S. Senator from 2005-2008.

Compare to Donald Trump who has a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Wharton School of Business, four draft deferments, nearly 6,000 lawsuits, numerous sexual misconduct allegations, and six bankruptcies to add to his résumé.  No relevant education, no relevant experience.  What were people thinking when they voted for him?

There are portions of the U.S. Constitution that need to be updated.  The electoral college is one, and I will cover that in a future post, but the qualifications for the head of the government, the man with the most power, seriously need to be upgraded and brought into the 21st century, preferably before the 2020 election.  At the very least I would expect degrees in political science and/or international relations, and at least four years relevant experience.  This nation cannot afford another Donald Trump, or even another four years of this one.  Let’s raise the bar.

The Constitution Bites The Dust

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

The above is the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States. In law, the preamble is defined as the introductory part of a statute or deed, stating its purpose, aims, and justification. The Preamble above contains just 52 words, but those 52 words are a part of the entire document and set the basic parameters.  Let us look a bit closer look at a few of the key phrases.

We the People...  Who are “We the People”?  Does it say, “We the Wealthiest People”?  I think not.  Does it say “We The Most Powerful People”?  No, it does not.  It states, simply, “We the People”.  That includes me, it includes you, and yes, it also includes Ivanka Trump, Rick Perry, Mitch McConnell, Bob Corker, and David & Charles Koch.  But it does not, anywhere in the U.S. Constitution, state that any one of those people is to be placed ahead of another, or given more importance or higher value.

Establish Justice … What, exactly, did the framers mean?  People looked forward to a nation with a level playing field, one where everybody would be treated equally and fairly.

Insure Domestic Tranquility … The federal government was tasked with keeping the peace, resolving disputes peacefully, rather than encouraging bloodshed in the streets.

Promote the General Welfare … To allow every state and every citizen of those states to benefit from what the government could provide.

Secure the Blessings of Liberty to Ourselves and Our Posterity … The framers were very concerned that they were creating a nation that would resemble something of a paradise for liberty, as opposed to the tyranny of a monarchy, where citizens could look forward to being free as opposed to looking out for the interests of a king. And more than for themselves, they wanted to be sure that the future generations of Americans would enjoy the same.

trump constitution 1Each and every one of these phrases have been violated repeatedly in the eleven months since Donald Trump took office and since the 115th Congress was seated.  Time and time again they have made a mockery of not only the preamble, but of the entire U.S. Constitution. There is no more glaring example than the unconscionable “tax reform bill” that was signed into law yesterday. The man in the Oval Office and each and every member of the House of Representatives and the Senate have let We the People down and have effectively thumbed their collective noses at the idea of a democratic republic, turning our government into a plutocracy as surely as I am breathing.

Donald Trump has never read the U.S. Constitution.  It is just over 8,000 words, including amendments and takes about 2 hours to read thoroughly.  I know, for I have read it many times.  I have serious doubts that many members of the 115th Congress have read the document. And yet, each of these people have sworn to uphold the principles put forth within its articles and amendments.

We have all commented, sometimes jokingly, about “alternative facts”, “alternative vocabulary”, and “Newspeak”, comparing the Trump administration to Orwell’s 1984. Well guess what, folks, it’s no longer funny, no longer a joke. We the People has been redefined to mean “They the Wealthy”.  Establish justice now means establish a system of tiers of wealth where those in the top tiers are the privileged few.  Insure domestic tranquility now means widen the gap between right and left, republicans and democrats, in order to ensure that there will be no cohesive body of citizenry that might stage an uprising against the injustices. Promote the general welfare?  This now means cut services to the poor in order to fund the exploits of the wealthy … the general welfare?  I think not.  And lastly … secure the blessings of liberty must simply be disregarded, for we are now moving ever closer to an autocracy under the wanna-be-king, Donald Trump.

On 20 January 2017, Donald Trump took an oath, swearing to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Within eleven days, he had shredded that document with his unconstitutional Muslim ban, and ever since, he has done everything in his power to circumvent or kick aside the U.S. Constitution. Yesterday’s tax bill favouring 1% of the people of this nation and stomping on the rest of us is yet one more step away from the ideals that are enmeshed in the Constitution. 37% of the people in this nation let it happen, and the rest of us were powerless to stop it.  Those 37% deserve what is coming.  The rest of us do not.

lady liberty cries

Filosofa Thinks …

snowflakeI don’t really mind being called a ‘snowflake’ … snowflakes are beautiful, each one unique, delicate and lacy.  The term in itself does not offend me.  However, I resent the meaning that has been attached to the term, resent the fact that people who would call me this assume they know how I think on every issue, when they will not even be bothered to take a moment to listen to me.  Lately I have been doing a lot of thinking about what I have referred to as ‘The Great Divide’ in our society.

In doing a bit of research, I found articles about what is now called ‘hyper-partisanship’ dating back to 2012, during the time of the election in which President Obama was running for his second term of office.  Wikipedia defines hyper-partisanship as “A sharply polarized situation in which political parties are in fierce disagreement with each other.”  Sounds about right. I would add, “… to the extent that neither is willing to listen to the other or even consider compromise.”

Our two-party system has been around since 1796, although both parties have evolved throughout the years.  The two-party system is not, in and of itself, a bad thing, and in fact may well be the only thing that stands between a democratic republic and a dictatorship.  However, even the best of concepts, taken too far, can spell disaster.  Today, the two parties seem diametrically opposed.  There is no longer any middle ground, no longer any place for those who are not radically opposed to all the ideas of the other.  No one side is 100% right, nor 100% wrong, but there is no room in the middle. The space that used to be the middle, the moderates, is gone, leaving in its place a wide chasm – a no man’s land.

great divide-2During the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Thomas Jefferson was away in France, but he nonetheless objected to a formal provision in the Constitution for a two-party system, saying …

jefferson-2“Men are naturally divided into two parties. those who fear and distrust the people and wish to draw all power from them into the hands of the higher classes [and] those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise, depository of the public interests.’’

230 years ago, yet those words seem to perfectly define today’s two parties, the Republicans and the Democrats.  The Great Divide may be a bigger problem for the continuity of the United States than even the person currently sitting in the Oval Office, for he will be gone soon enough, but the divisiveness in this nation will remain.  What happened to those who, just a few short years ago, were considered moderates?  The went to the left, or to the right … they were actually pushed left or right, as there could be no middle ground.

Though I largely blame the current occupant of the Oval Office for the depth of the divide, in truth, it has been a long time coming.  I could write a small book on the history that has led to this moment, and perhaps I shall do so one day, but for this humble post, I am limited by constraints of time and space, and would prefer to focus the remainder on … how can we fix it?  Or can we?

Obviously the divergence of socio-political ideologies is not going away, so we must find ways to work within that framework.  The solution must come from two groups:  the federal government AND We The People.  Yes … WE. The. People. Obviously there need to be level heads in government to fix that which is broken, but who chooses those heads?  We do.  The heads need to understand that their job is to re-unite a nation divided, to heal the wounds of the past 10 years or so, and to sincerely debate the issues, arriving at solutions that, if they do not please everybody, at least accommodate the citizens.  Healthcare, for instance … no healthcare plan that causes 24 million people to lose their insurance coverage can be considered viable.

The next thing that leaders in Congress and the executive branch must do is remove the influences of big business and lobbyist groups from both the election process and the legislative process.  As it currently stands, big business and lobbyists give millions, nay billions, to candidates who, in exchange, promote the interests of those businesses and lobbyists in legislation.  This is not … I repeat this is NOT … a service or a benefit to We The People.  Elections need to be about what the people of this nation stand for, not what will put more profit in the hands of CEO’s and the NRA.

And then we come to us … me, you, the family down the street.  We played a large role in creating the Great Divide … now it is time for us to put away our petty differences, our greedy desires and try to help heal a nation torn asunder.  We must, once again, remember that we are all in this together and sometimes we may not like decisions that are made, but it is a nation of We The People, not ‘I The Person’.

What can we do?  First and foremost, we can … we must … educate ourselves, at least in the most basic ways in which our government works.  Then we must take it upon ourselves to learn about candidates, not just in presidential elections, but perhaps even more important, in the elections of our senators and representatives to Congress.  We must realize that everything we see on social media should be considered false information unless it can be verified through reliable sources.  98% of it cannot, therefore it is a falsehood.  We must stop listening to friends, relatives, and Facebook groups, take out our brains, dust them off and learn to think for ourselves.  That done, we must then vote for the candidate whose ideology seems destined to help the nation … it may not seem to help you as an individual at the moment, but if it helps the nation, it is still in your best interest. We must all learn to think on a more global, more long-term basis.

The other thing we all must do is learn to listen.  My observation in the past year, and I admit to being guilty of this also, is that we only listen to those whose ideas mirror our own.  We cut off ideas that we disagree with, boycott information that is contrary to our own ideology, and close not only our ears, but our minds to the thoughts of others.  What if, instead of saying “you’re wrong”, we said, “okay, but tell me why you feel that way”.  Or … “but what if …?”  We might just find that our beliefs are not as different as we thought.

Okay, yes, I know that by now you are saying, “Wow … Filosofa done gone and lost her marbles … she thinks she’s Miss Pollyanna.”  No … I am a realist, a pragmatist, and I know this is all pie-in-the-sky for most people.  But the reality is that this nation is ripe at the moment for a strong, autocratic leader to come in and completely change the structure of the democracy (democratic-republic, for those politico purists) that we have enjoyed for 230 years.  Donald Trump is not, was not, that leader, for his flaws are many and his honesty is a joke.  However, if somebody such as Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Vladimir Putin, or Norbert Hofer, someone with intellect, charisma and dreams of grandeur were to appear on the scene, I can easily see the demise of the United States of America that we have always known.  I know my solutions are pipe dreams, but perhaps they make us start to think … perhaps at least it is time for us to wake up and acknowledge that we have a real problem and that each and every one of us must contribute to the solution.  All I ask is that you think about it.