Coming Out of the Shadows

I haven’t written for a while because, like many of you I suspect, I’m feeling overwhelmed by events. Simply too much is going on to stay on top of it even if I attempted to write every day which would be an imposition on you (assuming you read what I write) and a burden for me as well.

Nonetheless, here I am. It occurred to me today—and I admit I’m a little slow—that the current White House occupant really isn’t interested in being President. True, he likes the attention, the protection, being able to go wherever he likes because the path is always open, and the streets are cleared. He likes the privileges and perquisites of power, but he isn’t interested in doing the job. He eschews the responsibility that comes with the position. He admitted as much when he said that he takes no responsibility for the mess we’re in. It is what it is.

It’s difficult to say that he’s incompetent, because he’s hardly trying at all. He’s indifferent. He likes the rallies, the public events, the pomp and circumstance, but the work doesn’t interest him. He goes through the motions, occasionally doing presidential things, but taking them up the way a hobbyist mighty occasionally take out his stamp collection.

The moment of epiphany for me came when he encouraged people in North Carolina to try to vote twice to show how supposedly rampant fraud is in our electoral system. The President, is, among other things, the chief law enforcement officer of the United States. Voting twice is usually a state crime (a Class I Felony in North Carolina. Attempting to vote twice is also a crime.) and a federal crime. Advocating a criminal act by anyone is reprehensible, but for the President to do it is unspeakable.

When the current White House occupant speaks about “law and order,” he is clearly not much interested in the former and only selectively interested in the latter. People close to him—“good guys,” people who could offer damaging testimony about him and people who remain loyal to him under duress—get pardons and commuted sentences.

The country is obviously in dire straits. We’re suffering from a pandemic, record unemployment, a ballooning national debt and personal crises that are overwhelming vast portions of our citizenry. Parents are stuck at home, unable to go to work, because they can’t arrange safe childcare for their children. Millions can’t pay their rent. Businesses have disappeared and more perhaps are in danger of closing. We have already lost three times the number of our friends and neighbors than Americans who were killed in Vietnam—and the deaths continue to mount.

Our national debt, for the first time since World War II, is greater than our gross national product. The debt, in those days, was largely held by Americans. We were borrowing from ourselves to finance the war. Our debt now is held by others, principally Chinese interests. That’s obviously not a plus. We are in danger of losing our ability to act independently, not to mention seeing vast portions of our domestic economy being controlled by foreigners who don’t necessarily have our interests in mind.

The childcare problem is indicative of a deeper crisis. We are not thinking of ourselves as a community, a social entity with responsibilities and obligations to each other. One indication of that is the rebellion against wearing face masks in public, allegedly because requiring it violates some perceived “right” not to be coerced. I’ve already written about that “right,” and how it overlooks, among other things, the acknowledged power of government to conscript young men—and now perhaps women as well—to go off to foreign lands and surrender their lives for their country. We are a nation of individual rights, but that only works if we acknowledge our responsibility to our community and the larger society we live in. Humans do not exist in a state of nature.

The ballooning federal debt is another manifestation of the lack of community. Nobody wants to pay for anything. We are paying, of course, but as individuals, because we don’t want to fund public projects. So, we drive on rutted, pot-holed streets and roads, paying for flat tires and mis-aligned wheels. Our children go to schools with over-crowded classrooms and under-paid teachers. Our railroad system is deteriorating, using old technology. Our air control system is out of date.

Meanwhile, at a time of enormous national prosperity, our representatives reduce taxes and increase the national deficit, providing the richest taxpayers with a windfall tax cut while throwing scraps to the middle class.

If we had a proper government—something we’ve not had for decades—we could deal with these problems. We need a proper government, with a President who chooses to lead rather than act as an insurrectionist, and with representatives who put some notion of the public interest ahead of their careers; but all of that seems increasingly unlikely.

The election is two months away. That’s a good place to start.


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