BY BOB BEARDEN
Passing judgment on the Trump administration is easy and filled with a lot of what might have beens had he not won the election. His campaign slogan was Make America Great Again. A misnomer if there ever was one. America has always been great despite many missteps, a lot of them that have taken us away from the goal that our founders set for us. And to be honest, many of our founders were themselves very flawed and often had a jaundiced view of what we should or could be.
But they gave us a road map that, despite our many stumbles and reboots, has taken us on a journey of being the beacon to the world in terms of human rights and freedoms. To say America needs to be made great again is essentially trashing all the many gains we have made and pretending that by ramping up fear and hate, bigotry, and racism will make us great. When those are among the many bad things we have had to deal with since our founding.
So, what is the skinny on this administration? What has it done in any way to make America greater than it has always been? Locking children up in cages? Children whose only sin was that they were brought here by their parents seeking a better life and a brighter future? Ramping up hate against a Muslim population that has been a model for immigrants? Fostering a dialogue with outlaw militia and white supremacy groups whose stated goal is and has always been to make America white again?
Forging a divide in this nation between conservatives and liberals for his individual gain? A divide that has been growing for a couple of decades fueled by misinformation and given a new life by Reagan striking down the “Fairness Doctrine.” Marking up his brand for only selfish purposes? For trashing all the norms of the very agencies who were set up to protect our nation and its citizens from outside influence? Colluding with foreign dictators who seek to divide and conquer without firing a shot, to the determent of racial, religious, gender and sexual equality?
He has vilified our intelligence community and fired anyone in it who disagrees with him. He now is in the process, thanks to his collaborator Attorney General William Barr, of destroying our basic Rule of Law. And is also in the process of trying to get rid all of our highly skilled and dedicated government employees who generally over the years have been highly non-partisan. He is going after one of the finest and most beloved of our institutions, the United States Postal Service, a service that dates to before the founding of our nation.
The postal service is an institution that is enshrined in our Constitution and one of our founders, Benjamin Franklin, was its first postmaster general. It is the only delivery service in the world that delivers to every single household and business. None of the other postal services in the rest of the world does that. And in total among them they do not, all combined, deliver as much mail in a year as our postal service does with dedicated efficiency that no other government entity in the world can match.
The postal service has operated as a quasi-government corporation for nearly 50 years, and has operated successfully without government money since 1981 and would be even in this pandemic operating successfully were it not for the onerous burden placed upon the service by the lame duck Congress in 2006 of having to place $5.5 billion each year in a fund to pre-fund future retirees health benefits 75 years into the future. Which means it must fund future health benefits for people who have not yet been born. It is a requirement that no other private or public or government agency has ever been required to do.
And now this administration is using that requirement to try and force the United States Postal Service into bankruptcy. That fund alone filled with billions upon billions of dollars collected by the postal service would be enough to keep the service from facing the dire circumstances it now faces of possible bankruptcy and closure.
But this administration has a two-fold reason for trying to destroy the postal service. The first is to privatize its most profitable parts. And the second is that because of the COVID-19 pandemic the postal service has become even more important in that it could make our election process safer and make it easier for our citizens to vote. Which the president has already stated that if we have a national vote by mail then the Republicans will lose. So, he is doing his damnest to ensure that the service can’t survive this pandemic.
These are just a small number of reasons not to re-elect this man, even beyond the fact of his mountain of lies and even scarier utterances such as wondering why we could not inject everyone with disinfectant and cure the virus. All these things have not done anything to make America great again. One reason is America has always been great.
Presidents like Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson and Barack Obama, even though they were all flawed in one way or another, have distinguished themselves with forward progress toward a more perfect union, dedicated to the proposition that all are created equal. They have all strived to continue keeping America great.
What we have in this president is a lack of coherent leadership and a determination to deconstruct what those presidents have tried to do. He will, if not voted out of office, create a domain where freedom and the Rule of Law will no longer exist. That is not doing anything towards making America great. His failure to understand what America is all about and what our founders envisioned for our nation and its people is the fundamental flaw of his character and why he is a clear and present danger to this nation and our liberties.
– Bob Bearden is chair of the Board of Trustees of the Central Oklahoma Labor Federation and a member of Mayflower Congregational Church UCC in Oklahoma City