Recently, for nostalgic reasons, we watched a classic movie, an old fashioned western. As expected, a formulaic scenario and cast were employed; a tall, square-jawed, taciturn Sheriff, his girlfriend, a reformed “dancer,” a comic sidekick with a name like “sagebrush” or something similar, four unshaven bad guys, all interacting in the local saloon, owned by the enterprising girlfriend. The Sheriff, of course, wore a large, immaculate, white cowboy hat, the unshaven, bad guys, dirty black ones.
The stereotypic plot, involved a bank robbery, which was engineered by the unshaven bad guys in the dirty black hats, with the aid of a tactical diversion; a fire set by them in a nearby wooden building. The fire, as nefariously planned, drew all attention away from the scene of the crime. This unremarkable movie is a useful and illustrative metaphor for the present writing.
The Founders of our nation, taking lessons from the painful and unjust history of central Europe, set out to create an innovative nation, a democratic republic where there were no class distinctions based upon fortuitous birth; where the government was to be selected by the people and was expressive of their will. In order to avoid autocracy, they designed three separate, co-equal branches, executive, legislative and judicial, each with the right of limiting any excesses of the other (“checks and balances”) and established a legally defined relationship between State and Federal Governments. The basic rights of citizens, such as speech, assembly, belief, and the other concomitants of liberty were protected from government interference. As time went on, following great national struggle, such unassailable liberties were extended to black Americans and women, who were not within the societal contemplation in the 18th Century.
Following a devastating depression and two world wars, the F.D.R. Administration was given to realize that relegating citizens to the vicissitudes of natural law, was unnecessarily cruel. The presidential administration articulated a new responsibility on the part of government to assist the needy citizen. Social Security, programs of unemployment insurance and other federal assistance were established. In keeping with this new undertaken responsibility, programs of practical assistance in areas of citizen need developed, including, food, education, health and assistance to the elderly and disabled. America, at long last, empathically assumed and attained the stage of morality of compassionate capitalism. As time progressed, promulgation and enforcement of regulations and were created, federal and local, to protect the health and safety of the American people.
Scientific and medical research priorities resulted in prolonged and better lives and major societal improvement, while academic research programs increased our knowledge of ourselves and our world. Advances in areas of biology, chemistry, physics, meteorological science and other areas of achievement made for a more advanced rational and knowledgeable society.
It needs mention that the above established rights and acquired knowledge were the result of hard work, great personal effort and true sacrifice. The above, abbreviated, selected and cursory review of advances and accomplishments, especially in the area human rights and empathic assistance, should not suggest that they were easy of accomplishment; rather they involved great dedication and sacrifice, often in the face of significant political, conservative and religious opposition. These developments, in human rights and knowledge, resulted in the deserved development of admiration and worldwide respect for our nation. We were well engaged in the process of steady improvement and slow, but admirable, progress toward the realization of the American dream, when we were abruptly detoured, shocked and dismayed by the election of the cheap demagogue and faux populist, Donald Trump.
Mr. Trump is certifiably known to be an ignorant, egotistical, neurotically adolescent personality, whose mere claim to fame is that of a glitzy, oily television game show host. He and his installed entourage (we cannot exalt them by referring to them as his “cabinet”) from the very start, have embarrassed the country with their and his lack of knowledge, his inconsistent statements, his regular mendacity and direct attack on truth itself, his attack on the leading media, his admissions of sexual abuse (in an age when such abuse is reported to be especially flagrant) his utterance of bigoted statements, his reviling of nationally respected people. He had promised his voters that he would “drain the swamp” (of political influence and self-interested entrepreneurs) but instead, turned the White House into a bayou of alligators, selfish, corrupt politicians. He is responsible for a draconian immigration policy, in which babies and young children are torn from their mothers, is responsible for unjust tax legislation, has used his office for personal profit, and so many other immoral and illegal acts, which we cannot as a practical matter, hope to list in a modest blog post. Internationally, he has befriended our enemies and made enemies of our friends, including NATO; he has withdrawn from climate accords and has joined the sociopathic profiteers and the low information, reductionist citizens who oppose the findings of the world’s leading climate scientists—but stop—we cannot go on further, and must state our point, or, indeed, risk being guilty of the very concern which prompted this writing.
The frustration, certainly is not in the practical inability to list all of Trump’s shameful acts, but to realize the following. Remember the described action of the western movie. The tactical diversion in the film was an intentionally lit fire. Trump’s outrageous behavior and depiction, appears on every television screen, in every newspaper and radio program; like the diverting fire in the western movie, it has stolen away everyone’s attention, and thus permitted the republican conservatives to stealthily eliminate citizen rights and needed assistance; tactically unobserved by reason of the all-consuming, three ring circus of distraction by our magnificent leader. [They must have seen the same old cowboy movie.]
For the democrats to succeed in taking back the White House and Congress, they are obliged to develop an affirmative, positive platform of their own, and present liberal and attractive candidates who earnestly and clearly represent the interests of low and middle class Americans. It must replicate, vigorously, the progressive – liberal platform that has typified the modern Democratic Party. Importantly, and strategically, they must direct their energies to their own positive message, and resist the tempting and tactical allure of the Orange Diversion.