Friday, February 7, 2020

November Election Will Test Nation's Values

It is being hailed as Mitt Romney’s “finest hour.” 

Ten minutes actually, but who’s counting. Unlike Susan Collins of Maine and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Joni Ernst of Iowa who acknowledged Donald Trump tried to force Ukraine to investigate his political rival, Romney realized the action rose to the level of an impeachable offense. Trump’s actions were “as egregious an assault on the Constitution as can be made,” Romney said during his allotted 10 minutes of time explaining his vote to convict Trump of abusing the power of his office. 

Romney acted like a true United States senator loyal to the Constitution and his oath of office to uphold it. The other 52 Republican senators acted like Mafia button men following orders from their capo Mitch McConnell and their don, Donald Trump. They executed their orders without regard to collateral damage inflicted on our democracy and republic. 

It is ironic that the vote to acquit came on the day Kirk Douglas died. Douglas was instrumental in breaking the Hollywood blacklist of screenwriters. His 1960 production of Spartacus identified Dalton Trumbo as the screenwriter, the first time his name, not a pseudonym, appeared in a film credit since the blacklist began in 1947. Cold War fear of communism led to a public crusade against alleged widespread infiltration of the entertainment industry by communists. 

Hollywood moguls turned a blind eye toward the practice of using blacklisted screenwriters whose work was attributed to others. Trumbo, for example, wrote two screenplays that earned Academy Awards for their stand-in writers. 

As long as they were making money the studio heads went along with the public deception. Just like today’s Republican senators go along with Trump’s violations of political norms and, more to the point, the Constitution. 

One wonders how Republican members of the Judiciary Committee, supposedly experts on the Constitution, could uniformly uphold an action that clearly invited a foreign country to interfere in our elections. In addition, they countenanced Trump’s gutting of the powers of the legislative branch to conduct oversight of the administration. 

It is with incremental steps like these that democracy dies. But first, the next stage of abuse—reprisals. Since the Republican Senate impeachment acquittal, Republicans have initiated an investigation of Hunter Biden. The Treasury Department has turned over his tax records to the Senate. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman who testified before the House impeachment inquiry has been advised he will be reassigned away from the White House. Trump’s Homeland Security department has suspended new and renewed applications for New Yorkers to the Global Entry travel program because the state restricts access to its motor vehicle records without a court order. Romney awaits punishment beyond verbal and written harangues from Trump. 

At campaign rallies Trump tries to convince as yet nonbelievers that while they might not like all they see in his presidency they do like looking at the increase in their 401k retirement accounts since he assumed office.

Any politician would do the same, down to the failure to give his predecessor any credit in salvaging the economy and beginning the nation’s longest period of sustained growth.

If Democrats have any hope of supplanting him they will have to plant a different focal point in the voter’s vision—a mirror. Looking at their reflection voters will have to decide if greater economic fortune outweighs a diminished values system. Whether profits trump principles. Are they patriots or profiteers. In the pursuit of political goals, is the means to an end more important than morality?

The Census Bureau reports that only one-third of the work force actually invests in retirement plans. The gap between rich and poor keeps spreading. Socialism is not the answer. But a fairer federal plan that ups the tax on the wealthy would help even out the inequity and pay for needed programs. 

Scapegoating immigrants is not the answer. A sensible, non discriminatory immigration plan would help. 

Affordable healthcare should be available to all. While Trump duplicitously insists he would not eliminate coverage for pre-existing conditions, his Justice Department is fighting in court to do exactly that by eliminating Obamacare.

Trump ignites extremes. The November election will hinge on each and every voter’s value systems. We will find out exactly what kind of nation we are. 

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