The Daily Item reports (Editorial Nov. 17) that as a nation, we remain divided along political lines, whether characterized by party (Republican/Democrat) or philosophy (conservative/progressive). What are the factors that impact that division? How can the way the man in the Oval Office carries himself be so acceptable to some while being so offensive and unacceptable to others?
Perhaps those who support President Donald Trump have resigned themselves to the belief that politicians are not in it for others, but rather for themselves. Rather than public service as a moral imperative, their response is to be cynical in believing that, of course, politicians will act in their own self-interest (always have and always will), and there is nothing wrong with, or at least nothing practical to be done about, that reality. The way to navigate that world view is to support the politician whose time in office will likely result in the appearance of more short-term benefit: Less government intrusion, regulation, and interference, lower taxes. Keep out immigrants, more for me; cut taxes, more for me; deregulate, more opportunity for me. Don’t dare regulate access to assault weapons! In short, folks want to be left alone, and being invested in government as a way to redress inequity takes too much effort for too little return.
On the flip side, those who oppose Trump live in a world where they would like their elected officials to work for the common good. The Trump tax cuts have blown up the deficit, and have, short term, benefited the rich and powerful few at the cost of the many. Denying climate change and gutting environmental regulations first and foremost transfers the economic cost of degrading the environment, including negative health impacts, to the general population, while those who exploit the environment get wealthy. The piece of the pie enjoyed by the wealthy beneficiaries of tax cuts remains much larger than what is distributed to the workforce: CEO salaries expand while wages remain stagnant. Profit-based health insurance likewise enriches administrators but doesn’t improve the delivery of health care.
The persistent defenders of the Electoral College suggest that as an institution, it has worked well since it was (by horsetrade) written into the Constitution in 1787. Yet none offer any persuasive or cogent reason (other than “because it’s always been that way”) why, when it comes to electing the president, the principle of one person, one vote, used for all other elective offices, must be scrapped. They warn of the dire consequence of “mob rule,” as if rejecting the popular vote winner and awarding the office to the popular vote loser has been without questionable, if not catastrophic results: Consider minority presidents George W. Bush who slightly lost the popular vote to Al Gore in 2000, and Trump, who lost the popular vote in 2016 by a not-insignificant 2.7 million votes. Why is a voter in Wyoming given so much more clout than a voter in California? Doesn’t the Electoral College compel a self-serving presidential candidate to figure out a way to get elected without persuading the majority of those who exercise the right to vote? Why is the reality revealed by the history of minority rule better than change which would award the office of president to the popular vote winner?
The impeachment inquiry, if nothing else, reveals a president all too willing, at the urging of his personal attorney and that attorney’s now criminally-charged, corrupt pals, to fire an accomplished and ethical career diplomat and delay the distribution of congressionally approved financial aid for a country in armed conflict with Russia. The goal was to procure the announcement of an investigation by Ukraine’s new president. The desired announcement, without any apparent factual basis of wrongdoing to investigate, would serve to smear a front-running opponent of the sitting president in the upcoming election for that office. Is your world view really that such terrible behavior is only to be expected, and is not so bad as to prompt you to reconsider who you will support in the next presidential election?
Joe DeCristopher lives in Lewisburg and retired after 36 years in the Sunbury offices of Susquehanna, later, North Penn, Legal Services.