Alan Zendell, May 25, 2018
“Our presidency has been debased,” was the startling message delivered to the graduating class of Harvard Law School yesterday by Conservative Arizona Senator Jeff Flake.
Upon taking office Donald Trump, like every other president, embraced this oath: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” But, Senator Flake went on to say, our president has only a passing understanding of the Constitution, and by attacking our basic institutions and attempting to silence all opposition, he does serious damage to the democracy he swore to protect.
I agree with Flake’s assessment, but the problem goes much deeper. Trump’s presidency is based on disingenuousness and hypocrisy. For example, as one of my friends recently pointed out, the so-called Freedom Caucus has called Trump the president who has done the most to support the right to life wing of the Republican Party. They will bring every resource to bear to assure that any viable fetus comes to term, but once the baby is born, it’s a different story.
Programs designed to assure that all children receive proper nutrition, medical care, and safe housing are constantly under attack by those same Republicans, and our president does nothing to stand up for the children. When innocent kids are gunned down in their schools, not a single member of that political caucus has the courage to call a spade a spade and stand up to the gun lobbies that know no restraint. President Trump decries such tragic acts of violence and declares that he will fix the problem if the Congress is too cowed by the NRA to act, but in the end, it’s just lip service.
When Trump wannabes in several states slash school budgets and teachers’ salaries and retirement systems, does our president speak out to prevent the harm done to our children’s education? And what about those DACA kids, who the president swore to treat with compassion, and the children of illegal immigrants who are being separated from their families with his express approval? Donald Trump, who told us he’s so rich he can’t be bought by special interests, caves in constantly to the darker elements of his voting base.
He champions racists and pedophiles and has the morals of a common street hooker. He is enamored with dictators but repeatedly insults our long-term allies. Our presidency has not only been debased, it is devoid of principles.
Trump claims the economy is booming, but tell that to the working class portion of his base who don’t benefit from a surging stock market. His executive orders have caused health insurance premiums for the middle class to skyrocket, while mortgage rates have steadily increased since last September, (thirty year fixed-rate mortgages have jumped 23% and fifteen year mortgages have risen 35%.) Gasoline prices have jumped 12% since Trump said he was going to scuttle the Iran nuclear deal, the only noticeable effect of the sanctions he re-applied. The financial services firm Morgan Stanley estimates that the rise in gas prices has already wiped out one third of the savings many Americans saw from last year’s tax reduction law.
For all the vaunted claims of America’s strong hand in the Trump-instigated trade war, we’ve seen no change in the things he screamed loudest about during his campaign. If China was raping us in trade before, what’s different now? Have they stopped stealing our intellectual property? The only tangible effects of Trump’s actions on trade thus far are the concerns of Midwest soybean farmers who sell 80% of their crops to China. Many fear their farms will be bankrupted by Trump’s tariffs.
Trump’s trade war has done nothing to open China’s door to American-made automobiles, and that, combined with his relentless attacks on regulations designed to prevent long-term damage to our environment, is destroying the market for small, efficient cars. As a result, General Motors is cutting 1,500 manufacturing jobs in Ohio.
At least, some of my friends who support Trump tell me, he’s on a track to solve the most dangerous issue we face – North Korea. But are we? Trump’s tendency to over-react and exaggerate, combined with his undisciplined ignorance about diplomacy have resulted in complete chaos once again. Imagine South Korean President Moon’s reaction when he was blindsided by Trump cancelling the meeting with Kim Jong Un that Moon had brokered.
Very few administrations have been good at telling the truth, but at least most of them had the good sense to keep things under wraps. The Trump administration seems to thrive on public displays of hyperbole and misinformation. What’s worse, we’re becoming numb to it, and that’s a real danger with the mid-term elections approaching. If we accept the Trump administration’s behavior as the new normal, we put all our children’s futures at risk.