Monday 26 October 2020

Elections Do Have - It's Time To Vote

 Now that the presidential election is at hand it’s important to consider what type of country we’ve become over the last four years.


Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Donald Trump has had a huge influence on the US; it’s getting difficult to remember what life was like during the Obama presidency.


We had come through one of the scariest time in US history. The capitalist system buckled in 2008 during the subprime mortgage crisis, many millions lost their homes and jobs, and upon taking office President Obama inherited the Great Recession. 


Shortly thereafter, on Feb. 17, 2009, he signed The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. With Vice-President Biden spearheading their efforts, the economy began to improve in July 2009 and continued to grow until they left office in January 2017.


But the cost was great – the economy did not fully recover until 2014 - and the net effect has been ongoing extreme income inequality.


And yet there was some semblance of calm in those years and hope for the future.


We are now in a worse recession, but as Covid-19 stalks our citizens and strangles the economy there is no calm and even less hope, only the histrionic din of partisan division.


I don’t watch a lot of television or engage in much social media and yet I feel I’m being subjected to a constant stream of paranoia and negativity. 


Like many New Yorkers I’m used to Donald Trump. He came with the turf - another Crazy Eddie on steroids!


You could usually block him out of your consciousness, except when he strayed over the line as with his reckless demands for the death penalty during the framing of the innocent Central Park Five.


But then through a perfect political storm and an unpopular opponent he became president in 2016. Since then there has been no escape from his existential whining.


After four years of his victimhood the country is fatigued and riven by dissension, but the president too is on the ropes because of his gross incompetence and crass denial of science.


Unless he manages to hitch his star to another perfect storm he’ll be history come January 21st.


He’ll whine on, of course, but without his bully pulpit he’ll eventually fade back into Page 6 notoriety as he deals with the IRS and his debt-ridden, collapsing business empire.


But I fear he has done grave damage to the American psyche. It’s not that other presidents were saints; they all knew how to put the boot in, but they did so quietly and even with a smile.


“Don’t get mad – get even” used to be the standard political maxim. Unfortunately John Wayne and Paul Newman have ridden off into the sunset leaving us fearful, unsure of ourselves, and doubting basic American values. 


For President Trump has called into account our very idea of truth. “Alternative facts” and “fake news” are the currency of his White House.


It’s government by Twitter. The more outrageous and toxic the statement the more seriously it’s taken.


QAnon, Boogaloos, Proud Boys, and Charlottesville fascists, such is the world we’ve inherited from Donald Trump.


Meanwhile the pandemic rages on, with US deaths fast approaching 250,000 while the president’s people insist it’s somewhat of a hoax.


That the president himself is now the Super-Spreader in Chief beggars belief. But no matter what he declaims on his maskless closing campaign tour the economy will not recover until Covid-19 is brought to heel. 


And as the West burns and the southern Gulf States continue to suffer from “extreme weather” does anyone really believe Mr. Trump will solve the coming climate crisis, when he failed to marshal the resources of the Federal Government to combat the pandemic.


It breaks one’s heart to see the Home of the Brave reeling because one man prefers to trust his instincts over scientific facts and practices.


Joe Biden is no knight in shining armor but I believe he will usher in a short season of calmness that will allow us to take stock of our precarious national standing.


Hopefully he will then make some rational decisions that will get the country back on course much as he and President Obama did on Feb. 17, 2009.


And from then on let us never forget that elections do have consequences.

Wednesday 14 October 2020



The coming presidential election will be decided by many issues including health care, policing, protests, a raging pandemic, and now the infection of the president himself.


But it really boils down to whether we accept Donald Trump’s version of reality.


While one, of course, wishes the president a continued recovery, his personal conduct while canvassing without a mask before large crowds with little thought of social distancing is irresponsible.


You have only to look at the infection figures from Tulsa before his indoor campaign rally on June 20th and the current widespread contagion in Oklahoma to see the damage he has caused.


And now we wait in trepidation to determine how many have been infected in his Typhoid Mary tour of recent weeks. 


Although everything has been thrown in the air because of Mr. Trump’s cavalier behavior towards the virus there will be an election on Nov. 3rd.


So let’s assume that both Republican and Democratic candidates will still be standing.


Though he is currently appreciably behind Mr. Biden in both national and battleground polls Mr. Trump seems to be little worried, feeling that he under-performed in 2016 polls and is perennially favored by a “silent” majority.


Perhaps but I doubt this hidden strength will be as potent in the current polarized environment where all has been utterly changed by the president’s illness. 


Back in 2016 many middle-class male voters wouldn’t admit to their wives or partners that they were voting for the Access Hollywood tainted Trump.


But after four years of a relentless narcissistic bombardment uncommitted middle-class voters are as rare as Santa Claus on July 4th.


The working class never hid their antipathy to Mrs. Clinton and whenever I inquired from friends around the country about her prospects I got some variant of “Everyone around here is voting Trump.”


Those sources are less dogmatic four years later for I also hear variants of “Who the heck does this guy think he is?” - particularly since the president suggested he might not comply with the election result.


There appears to be little desire within any class for the Home of the Brave to morph into a banana republic - with or without paramilitary Proud Boy support.


However the president long ago realized that one step forward can always be followed with another step back.


Truth and consistency were never his strongest suits, but there has been one constant in his career - he does look out for number one.


He also practices a particular style of brow beating, the effect of which reminds me of the hangover that follows the downing of six pints and a couple of shots.


My gut feeling is that there’s a real “silent” majority that has grown tired of our daily national hangover.


It’s not as if the president is a ball of laughs. It’s like being out on the town with a caffeinated compulsive who never stops whining, despite his large fortune and beautiful wife.


Talk about being born on third base with a myopic pitcher on the mound! 


It’s important to remember that he inherited a booming economy. But his luck has finally run out. 


The deaths of over two hundred thousand from Covid-19 can no longer be brushed aside with “it would have been 2 million” if anyone else had been president.  Not even the most fervent of his base will buy that one.


The millions who lost their jobs because of the lack of a concerted federal response to the pandemic are another frightening consequence of Donald Trump’s reality.


Most of these unemployed have also lost their health insurance, but I’m sure they won’t begrudge their president the best care their tax dollars can buy.


Bluster and braggadocio have taken Mr. Trump on a remarkable journey from Queens to the White House. But all of a sudden things are falling apart and the center is no longer holding. 


Still, as a haberdasher from Missouri once remarked “the buck stops here.” President Harry Truman understood that when you make decisions you must also accept responsibility for them. 


I wish Donald Trump a continued recover and sincerely hope he’ll be in good enough health to face up to the price of his reality on Nov. 3rd.