President Trump’s continual efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s presidency will surely fail, but his success in damaging our faith in government will have negative consequences for many years. We would be foolish to believe our government is free of fault, but a total lack of trust in the integrity of public employees is ridiculous. A majority are honorable. A true patriot would not promote such harmful lies. It should be obvious Trump is concerned solely about himself, not our country.
Two thoughts regarding his tactics:
1. Our best hope: he knows he lost legitimately but is “milking” his supporters for money. Whatever his faults, he is an accomplished conman; more than one source, including his campaign committee, reported he has been donated over $200 million, a monumental rip-off. “The Week,” a reliable news magazine, reported he has spent less than $10 million in supposed attempts to overturn the election.
2. The most dangerous possibility is he believes he won. If so, he may promote armed insurrection, and far-right hate groups, a small portion of his loyal followers, will respond violently.
He will continue to sow distrust in our political system. His loyal backers are Republicans. The Republican and Democratic parties are, by some polls, about evenly divided at around 30% each, giving Independents about 40% of the votes. Republicans and Democrats vote reliably for their party’s candidates usually, while Independents are likely to be open-minded and willing to vote impartially for the person they consider most qualified. Independents decide elections.
Republicans have long been considered the party of the rich, A.K.A. big business, while Democrats have the reputation of promoting the interests of the working class. Because workers dramatically outnumber business owners, Republicans seek to convince the working class that limited regulations governing businesses are in the best financial interests of workers. Judging by the closeness of elections, it is clear Republicans have persuaded millions of workers to vote for big-business candidates. Without doubt, Democrats embrace a seemingly never-ending avalanche of regulations. On the other hand, giving business a “free hand” has not benefited workers, the environment or the public. There are plenty of examples where greedy industrialists have enriched themselves at the public’s expense, sometimes with the help of easily bought politicians, sometimes by ignoring regulations, sometimes due to lack of needed rules. Our country and its citizens have been victimized by unscrupulous individuals and companies too many times. Two examples follow: Some years ago, Volkswagen (VW) “doctored” emission controls on its diesel engines, adjusting the computer to recognize when a pollution test was being made; the computer adjusted the pollution controls during the test and reverted to the “dirty” condition once the test equipment was removed. VW was fined billions of dollars. Big fines encourage future compliance. Another major scandal occurred during the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad; the Central Pacific Railroad’s management moved (on paper only, of course) the Sierra Nevada several miles to the west, receiving the much higher mountain construction payment for constructing railroad in California’s relatively level Central Valley. Those are only two of multiple dishonest incidents which are uncovered regularly in the press. It should be obvious reasonable regulations are important, and just as obvious too many stifle progress. Balance is necessary.
Our next president, Joe Biden, has a middle-of-the-road reputation, as well as a demonstrated willingness to compromise. As have most presidents, he has called for unity. Given the beliefs of many of today’s far-right Republicans, widespread cooperation seems impossible. Disagreement among the two parties is as old as the hills, but there have been times when they worked together, even though their core beliefs diverge widely. Democrats are more likely to believe in helping the poor, even those few who make little or no effort to better themselves, while Republicans are likely to believe anyone who wants a job can find one. Helping the unemployed, the employed with poor paying jobs, other needy people and struggling people in foreign countries is expensive; money is a big reason Republicans are reluctant to approve aid to the unfortunate.
The Republican-controlled Senate is right to reject an additional $2,000 in COVID-19 relief for the simple reason most of us are doing OK. Hopefully, soon-to-be President Joe Biden will not approve of the $2,000 for all folly. Financial assistance should be restricted to the truly needy. Our national debt has exploded in the last few years to $23 Trillion, a sum that should scare us.
We should raise taxes and control spending and gradually eliminate our deficit. Even a prosperous country can end up bankrupt given enough foolish spending. Some believe we are already overtaxed. Judging from published tax rates, and our personal taxes, I do not think so.
Ted Shannon is a Mokelumne Hill resident. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.