To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Observercast

U.S. Politics: What Is Happening?

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Editor’s Note: This is the first of two essays on the 2016 presidential race. It originally appeared in the October print edition of The Observer. Part two will be published online Sunday, Oct. 16.

BY HAROLD V. SARE

On Nov. 8 we the people will elect a new president, whose term for four years will begin in January 2017. The new president will be Hillary Clinton, Democrat, or Donald Trump, Republican.

Many Republicans do not consider Trump as a “Republican” nor as a conservative because of his erratic policy positions. He is viewed as a person with a temperament that is unstable and unpredictable, and some have questioned his mental status.

On the other hand, there are Republicans who are supporting him because he won the primaries, and many accept him as real. He has the support of the lesser educated, and the less affluent communities, and white men. He hardly registers within the black communities. In the Latin communities he enjoys more support than in the black communities, but it is low. Also, he has weak support among women.

Hillary Clinton has consistently maintained a narrow lead in national polls over Trump, but she is “dogged” by questions over the use of classified materials and the “use” of her position as secretary of state in supporting donations to the Clinton Foundation, which works worldwide with very positive results, and has received numerous donations from foreign sources.

There is no concrete evidence that Hillary Clinton, who talked by phone and had conferences with some of the donors, ever talked to any of them about the Foundation. Her conversations with these people would not be unusual in the diplomatic context of her position as secretary of state.

The FBI director noted that there was no basis for prosecuting Hillary Clinton, but “she was extremely careless” in using classified materials. But we must remember that he is a Republican who had a very active Republican role before he became director of the FBI. His bias, in my view, is suspect. Hillary Clinton has done an excellent job in explaining how careful she has been in using classified materials.

My own experience in dealing with classified materials when I was in public service gives me some insight into what she has been accused of. She is faced with the consequences of a very ugly game played by her opposition.

It is also interesting that the two Presidents Bush set up foundations and did a lot of the same kind of work that the Clinton Foundation is doing but were never questioned about politically motivated donations to their foundations. They were in excellent positions to solicit donations from domestic or foreign officials. Did they?

And, in terms of classified materials, I know that items can be “classified” and the next day we can read about them in the major newspapers. When I was involved with classified materials it was widely believed that too many documents were marked classified, which made something of a joke of the process. That is not to say that classification is unimportant. It is extremely important in many circumstances, but it needs to be used judiciously and with some restraint.

Serious questions have been raised by numerous Republicans about Trump’s authenticity as a Republican. I want to argue that the Republicans created Mr. Trump’s rise to his present position as the candidate for the presidency. The process started back on the very day that President Obama was first inaugurated. As I have written in previous articles, the Republican leadership met in a hotel not far from the inaugural ball and discussed how they were going to deal with President Obama.

They decided on a policy of non-cooperation with him in terms of proposed policies and appointments, even if they agreed or had previously agreed on those same policies and appointments. There would be little or no cooperation with him during his administration. Since they controlled the Congress they were able to kill many of President Obama’s proposals, such as an infrastructure public-private bank that would fund infrastructure projects across the country.

The U.S. now ranks 30% below other developed countries in infrastructure. It is a critical area that needs attention, and has the potential of creating five million new jobs. But the Republican leadership wanted to create a situation that would cause President Obama to lose the 2012 election. What a cost! And President Obama won the 2012 election in spite of the Republican effort.

Mr. Trump won the Republican nomination this year because he was able to appeal to a large community of working class people who are unemployed, holding jobs that do not pay enough, or have given up job hunting because so little was available. President Obama has been able to stimulate the creation of close to 15 million jobs, but many are low-paying and insecure. And while our unemployment rate is around 4.9% officially, in reality it is much higher because those who have given up looking for a job have fallen off the records.

There is alarming “inequality” of income among the employed. The upper 1% of the population is accumulating most of the wealth in the nation. Ironically, Mr. Trump has been able to appeal to the masses with low incomes or those who are unemployed.

If the Republicans and Democrats could have cooperated in creating economic employment policies, our country would be considerably better off economically and our politics would be more stable and functioning rather normally as a stable constitutional democracy.

However, gaining political power has been more important in the halls of Congress than maintaining a stable and functioning government. A politically deadlocked system is laying the foundation for the demise of our system, and the establishment of a rigid ideological dictatorship.

Veterans who have risked their lives in protecting our system of government and families of those who have given their lives should be rising up in disgust!

Harold V. Sare is regents service professor of political science emeritus at Oklahoma State University