The first president I voted for was Jimmy Carter. After the Nixon years, I thought we needed a new direction. When Carter was president, we were mired in the Iran hostage crisis; inflation had tripled since 1974; interest rates were climbing and eventually reached 18%; and there was a gas shortage crisis that involved the OPEC countries. There were long lines to get gas and purchases were often limited to only 10 gallons.

It seemed the country needed a new direction. I voted for Ronald Reagan instead of Carter – and I’m a moderate Democrat. Reagan was positive and optimistic. He had a great sense of humor, which I think is an important tool when communicating with the public. Reagan compromised to get Social Security reform for Rep. Tip O’Neal, while he got more defense spending and changes in tax legislation. There were a lot of things that I didn’t agree with Reagan on when he was president, and decided not to vote for him when he ran for his second term. But agree or not with Reagan, one had to admit he was a standout president. I remember him demanding: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

But Reagan was a president of all the people. There were bitter fights with his adversaries, but he never demonized the other side. When he got shot in March of 1981, I was angry. As Reagan entered the operating room, he joked with the surgeons. “Please tell me you’re all Republicans.”

One of the surgeons responded, “Today, Mr. President, we’re all Republicans.” And that is exactly what I felt.

Today, things are more partisan than ever in America. The president is being impeached, and his trial is underway. It is not a coup, as President Donald Trump suggested; it is part of the Constitution. Impeachment by the House of Representatives is more like an indictment by a grand jury. The trial is conducted in the Senate. Personally, I would rather have Trump defeated soundly in an election. But Trump has tried to tip the “election” scales.

By trying to bribe a foreign country to announce an investigation of the leading Democrat in the presidential race, he has used the power of the presidency for his own political purposes – to be re-elected.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office recently announced that Trump broke the law. Under the Impoundment Control Act, it is illegal for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to withhold money, such as the Ukrainian Security Assistance at the heart of the current proceedings, that has been appropriated by Congress and signed into law. If the White House wants to delay or deny funds, it must first alert Congress.

Congress didn’t know what was going on until a whistleblower sounded the alarm. The White House didn’t release the money to Ukraine until Congress asked what was going on. Previous to that, the Defense Department gave repeated warnings to the OMB that delays in releasing the money to Ukraine would put its ability to distribute the aid at risk.

If you think it’s normal to withhold money for a country basically at war with Russia, or if you think it’s OK to ask a foreign country to announce a bogus investigation about the president’s opponent, then you will be against impeachment.

Even if you think the president should get a pass because the stock market is going nuts and unemployment is low, how do you feel about the $1 trillion deficit in 2019? In 2015, it was only $438 billion. The U.S. borrowed $500 billion in 2019 from foreign countries. Uninsured people without health care have increased from 10.9% to 13.7% since Trump took office, and the pre-existing condition clause in the Affordable Care Act would be gone if it hadn’t been for Sen. John McCain voting no on the repeal of “Obamacare.”

North Korea has nuclear bombs and missiles that can hit the Western U.S. Are there any negotiations going on? Do you feel safer?

After complying with the nuclear treaty that the U.S., Russia, China and the European Union negotiated with Iran in 2015, we returned money Iran paid for military equipment that was never delivered that predated the Iranian revolution. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the treaty and slapped sanctions on the country even though Iran was complying. Are we negotiating with Iran now? Are we getting our allies to help? Are there any talks going on? Are we safer now?

Trump pulled us out of the Paris Climate Agreement that 195 countries signed, a voluntary agreement to fight climate change. Are we safer now? Will our children and grandchildren be safer?

Trump slapped tariffs on China. Our trade deficit has increased with China since then. And we, the importers, pay the tariffs, not China. How has that worked? Ask the bankrupt farmers in the Midwest how they feel about it. Are we working with our allies to get China to change or are we going it alone? Where is the agreement?

Can you imagine Reagan personally attacking or demeaning a private citizen or an ambassador who then gets death threats? Can you imagine Reagan calling the press the “enemy of the people” or Democrats “human scum?” I can’t. I wish we had someone like Reagan again – even if I didn’t agree with him.

Don Urbanus is a Burson business owner. Contact him at risingsun@caltel.com.

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