America, where are we going?

America, where are we going?
The sun sets over Lady Liberty on a winter day. Pixabay images

As I begin this article, my hand is trembling a bit. The pounding in my head is unmistakable; I have a hangover. It is not due to the 25 year-old-Scotch I sipped New Year’s Eve or Louis Roederer’s bubbly wine at midnight. My headache and queasy stomach are due to the year-long political drunk of 2017.

How did this happen?

We have a vulgarian as President, is that right or did I hallucinate that in a gruesome 12-month absinthe bender? The 45th President of the United States has such disdain for the US Constitution that he ridicules people who protest against racism as bums and says they should lose their jobs.

The new President criticizes Gold Star families and a war hero, and praises white nationalists as “…some very fine people…” Despite the fact, one of them killed a woman with his car during a loud, but peaceful protest.

Speaking of white nationalists, when was the last time a President of the USA made allies of white nationalists? The wording of Article, I of the US Constitution, states that slaves are three-fifths of a person. Article IV mandates returning runaway slaves to their masters.

White nationalism is a founding principle of the nation. In two-hundred-and-thirty years or so since the Founders started drafting the Constitution, things have changed.

In 2018, we have a President who allies himself with those who still practice white nationalism and racism. The Alt-Right is the political umbrella that unites skinheads, racists, the Ku Klux Klan, and neo-Nazis. The President named Steve Bannon, of Breitbart who helped bring white supremacy out from underground and into Donald Trump’s oval office, as his chief strategist. Trump fired him because Bannon became a distraction in the press, but talks to Bannon frequently. By all reports, Bannon is still a puppetmaster.

The President signed a resolution condemning white supremacy while supporting white supremacists. That pretty well describes the Presidency in 2017.

Our national insanity is not limited to the White House

The House of Representatives came back to Washington on January 2nd. The Senate comes back today. They took a well-deserved rest after a year of failure with only one outstanding achievement. That one success was to pass a new tax law that makes the very wealthy even wealthier, and the middle class poorer.

Along the way, they stripped thirteen million Americans of healthcare, cut social security to seniors via changing the indexing on payments, and cut Medicare to the elderly. That is the GOP view of “Make America Great Again,” to hurt the poor and help the rich; to marginalize the old while destabilizing insurance markets.

The Federal Deficit will grow, and after a year or two of tax relief for the middle class, the breaks go away, and the average American’s tax burden will sharply rise while the wealthy and corporations continue to have lower taxes.

Deficits can be good things during a recession. The increases in spending can raise confidence in business and phenomenon that is known as “crowding in” will help stabilize the economy. If the deficit gets too high, then the opposite, “crowding out” can happen.

With crowding out, interest rates rise which causes less investment, and lower output. That slows the economy. At some point, if the deficit gets too high, and tax revenues fall short, the government could theoretically default on its obligations.

There is almost no chance of the US Government defaulting. We would print the money we need to meet our obligations, but that is a highly inflationary move.

To say the GOP controlled Congress is reckless and irresponsible with the budget deficit and the economy is an understatement. They spent a year doing nothing except fighting with Trump, ignoring bipartisanship, and pandering to their wealthy donors. Their long-term view is election day in November 2018, and not a day further.

This morning, the leadership of the Congress (for lack of a better term) including the Democrats will go to the White House for a sit-down with President Trump. While Congress caught up on their rest after a grueling year of getting nothing done, President Trump preached from the pulpit of bipartisanship.

Bipartisanship is just a word in Washington. It is a word with no meaning that is used from time-to-time to try and prove to the masses that a politician is thinking of the nation as a whole. Politicians who are trying to formulate policy for the country as a whole is another fairytale. Political thought beyond self-interests is mainly rhetorical with no substance.

At the middle of the month, the Government will once again walk to the brink of closing down. The Democrats want a new law for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, commonly known as DACA. The law covers children brought to the USA by their undocumented parents. They were raised in the USA, went to schools in the USA, and for practical purposes are Americans.

Donald Trump tweeted that he wanted a border wall. You remember the border wall, don’t you? That is the wall Candidate Trump said he would build and Mexico would foot the bill. So, if Mexico is footing the bill as President Trump promised, why is he asking Congress for the money? It should be coming from Mexico, right?

Trump is preparing for DACA by tweeting to his base that Mexicans are criminals, all Haitians have AIDS, Africans all live in huts. That is bipartisanship a-la Trump.

Yes, but the Democrats

The Democrats are not giving me much confidence. When Senator Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader speaks, I feel my eyelids start to droop. He inspires me to sleep, or check into immigrating to New Zealand, or possibly updating my will. I will say this for Nancy Pelosi, at least she is pleasant. She has a friendly smile.

She was a great dealmaker when she was on the Appropriations Committee. She was most helpful to me in a deal for refugees I put together with Charlie Wilson. What happened, where is that drive she once possessed?

The Democrats have no plan, no emerging leaders. The Democratic activists are running around helter-skelter with grandiose ideas not rooted in reality. It is a formula for disappointment and disaster. The Democrats are articulating no defendable vision for the nation. Being anti-Trump is not enough to win swing votes. How well did the anti-Trump movement work in 2016?

The base does not grasp that 435 Democratic Candidates for Congress and 33 Candidates for the Senate each saying different things is a recipe for disaster. The nation seeks unity and a standard message. Without those two elements, voters tend to stay home. That helps the GOP.

Pointing to a special election, and then trying to equate that to a full midterm is comparing a racehorse to a cow. Both have four legs, and that is about it.

In the meantime, Donald Trump and the GOP are “taking the nation back.” They are taking us back to 1933, or maybe earlier, and the Democrats in Congress are observers. That better change and change fast.

America is going somewhere. I sure wish I knew where we are heading.


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