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“It’s Not His Politics That Worries Me”: Donald Trump And The Decline Of American Character–A Cautionary Tale

There is no disputing that Donald Trump is having a significant impact on the 2016 presidential sweepstakes—something that many Americans apparently view as a great step forward on the American political scene.

Indeed, to a portion of the electorate, Trump’s current political success is a positive development that represents the rise of a candidate willing to “tell it like it is”—despite the fact that so much of what Mr. Trump tells us is the precise opposite of telling it like it is.

To other Americans, Mr. Trump’s political rise is little more than a sideshow extravaganza—good for making your favorite news broadcast more entertaining but, ultimately, devoid of substance and doomed to failure.

To me, the rise of Donald Trump is an American tragedy serving as a cautionary tale of what we are becoming as a society and the need to rediscover true American values before they are gone forever.

I don’t offer this viewpoint because of my disagreement with The Donald on his politics.

In truth, I really don’t know what Mr. Trump’s politics are—given the extraordinary disparity between his professed liberal politics of just a few years ago and his hard line approach to political issues of today. Trump 1.0 favored a path to citizenship for illegals and a universal health care system. Trump 2.0 takes a far more conservative approach towards immigration and is critical of anything and everything done by the Obama Administration.

Yet, it is not his politics that worries me. It is his character and how Americans are responding to it that I find so disturbing in terms of the very character of the nation.

If you think character doesn’t matter, I would remind you that being the American President is all about character—and character is often best judged by how successfully we take to heart the lessons passed down from parent to child over many generations.

It is certainly true that Trump has succeeded in fulfilling one of the character traits parents work to instill in their children—the drive to be successful.

While I fear that Trump is taking the lazy way out in his presidential campaign, as demonstrated by his refusal to prepare in favor of just “winging” it in his speeches and the policy pronouncements he has provided, his great success in business could not have happened without the willingness to work hard to accomplish great success. This is a trait that would cause most any American parent to glow with pride.

Certainly, it didn’t hurt that Mr. Trump was provided a running, head start by his own father, a successful real estate developer in his own right who turned his business over to his son. Still, you don’t take a successful business and turn it into a mega-empire without a lot of hard work.

But this is where behavior that would make your parents proud comes to an end.

Can you imagine what your mother would say to you were you to grow up to become an obnoxious braggart who constantly rises to remind anyone who will listen that you are very, very rich? Can you imagine what your father would say if you took it upon yourself to constantly intone on your own remarkable greatness and how anyone who disagrees with you is unworthy of respect or worse?

And can you imagine what your parents and grandparents would think of a society where this borderline psychotic self-aggrandizement is actually appreciated and cheered by the populace?

Many of us were taught that if you have nothing nice to say about someone then you should just say nothing at all.

Of course, I realize that this is a rule that doesn’t apply in the world of politics, particularly when it becomes necessary to respond to a charge or an attack from an opposing politician. Yet, even in the brutal world of politics there have long been rules of engagement when doing battle—and The Donald appears more than willing to happily break them all.

Personal attacks on character are nothing new in American politics. However, it is our tradition that when a presidential candidate has something awful to say about another presidential candidate, it is left to a surrogate to do the dirty work. This has always been the case because of the importance that somebody seeking the presidency be viewed as too principled, too decent and, yes, having far too much character to descend into the gutter.

When John Adams, in the first contested presidential battle in our nation’s history, wanted to take a serious character shot at his opponent, Thomas Jefferson, Adams did not take on the job himself as that would have been in exceedingly bad taste and represent conduct unbefitting a president. Instead, he had his surrogate, Alexander Hamilton, write an article in the Gazette of the United States accusing Jefferson of having an affair with one of his slaves. This was a very big deal at that point in history and likely played a role in Jefferson’s defeat.

When John Quincy Adams was campaigning against Andrew Jackson in the 1828 race for the White House, he did not stand up and accuse Jackson’s mother of being a prostitute and Jackson’s wife of being an adulteress. Instead he left it to the Coffin Handbills distributed by supporters of John Quincy to do the dirty work. Why? Because presidential candidates must show the character necessary to run the nation and getting directly involved with such base attacks would not do.

It remains the case in the modern era to leave it to a surrogate to do the dirty work for those who wish to be the leader of the nation—and with good reason. How a president’s character is viewed plays a serious role in that individual’s ability to succeed in the job, both at home and abroad.

When it comes to letting the nation know how amazing a candidate is and how lucky the country is that a particular candidate would bless us with his or her service to the nation, your parents would quickly remind you that it is best to allow other people to sing your praises rather than to sing your own in symphonic measures.

This is the great tragedy of Donald Trump. For all I know, Trump might have the talent to excel in the job. But there is no way that I would bet on his success given the megalomania that exudes from every pore of his body.

Does anyone remember when the key knock on Obama was that he was arrogant? Yet, many who lodged that charged are the very people who support Trump’s behavior, despite it taking arrogance to a new and previously unseen level.

The willingness of many to now accept such behavior is, in my estimation, a great tragedy in the current state of the nation. When so many would take a positive view of character deficiencies that would once not only disqualify one who seeks to lead the nation but further disqualify that individual from meriting an invitation to cocktail party, we’ve got a serious problem.

Think about it. It used to be that nobody likes a braggart and a bore—now, a significant percentage of the public wants one to be the president.

Is this really what and who we want to be?

I sincerely hope not.

 

By: Rick Ungar, Contributor, The Policy Page, Forbes, July 24, 2015

August 3, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Electorate, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“A Stark Election Choice”: Study Measures Mitt Romney’s Plan To Screw The Poor And Sick

The largest and clearest point of distinction in the presidential race is universal access to health insurance. If President Obama wins reelection, his law to provide access to the uninsured will go forward. If Mitt Romney is elected, it will be gutted, and Medicaid — the bare-bones coverage plan for the most desperately poor and sick — will face enormous additional cuts.

Commonwealth Fund has released a report comparing the stark choice. Estimating conservatively, Romney’s plan — to the extent that the report was able to piece it together — would increase the uninsured population to about 72 million, while Obama’s would cut it to 26 million (his plan does not cover illegal immigrants.) Probably more telling is Romney’s official campaign reaction:

“Under ObamaCare, Americans have seen their insurance premiums increase, small businesses are facing massive tax increases, and seniors will have reduced access to Medicare services,” Ryan Williams, a Romney spokesman, wrote in an email to POLITICO. “The American people did not want this law, our country cannot afford this law, and when Mitt Romney becomes president he will repeal it and replace it with common-sense, patient-centered reforms that strengthen our health care system.”

Note that the statement is almost entirely an attack on Obamacare, with a brief clause at the end vaguely promising something good will take its place. But that something requires resources. Most people lacking insurance are either sick or have a sick family member or they’re poor. If you want to cover them, you need to cough up some money. Obamacare undertook the massive political heavy lift of providing those resources, and that’s what Romney attacks — he included higher taxes on “small businesses” (i.e., people making more than $250,000 a year) and “reduced access to Medicare services” (i.e., cuts in reimbursements to Medicare providers, as a trade-off for providing them with 30 million new paying customers.)

Romney’s budget is premised on denying the government enough resources to fund any kind of universal health insurance program. His promise to cut tax rates by 20 percent would reduce tax revenue well below current levels. But even if you accept Romney’s arithmetically impossible claim that he can cut tax rates by 20 percent and raise the same tax revenue as the tax code does right now (and without raising taxes on the middle class), merely holding revenue at current, Bush-set levels would make any kind of universal coverage impossible.

Both campaigns describe the election as a stark choice, and this is correct. It’s a choice between universal health coverage for legal citizens and preserving the Bush tax cuts.

 

By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intel, October 2, 2012

October 5, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Deeply Crazy In Virginia’s Obamacare Lawsuit

As  my Philadelphia Phillies idled through a two-hour rain delay Thursday night, I  curled up with some light reading: a Texas  Review of Law & Politics article by the legal team, led by Virginia  Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, that’s challenging the new healthcare individual mandate in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

It’s  fascinating stuff.

Cuccinelli  and co. follow a long trail from the 18th century British jurist  William Blackstone to the Dred Scott  case to the New Deal to the present  day. The conservative team, at  first, makes a tight, prudential case against  the Obamacare mandate  that I, in my nonprofessional capacity, happen to favor.

In  their words:

No  existing case needs to be overruled and no existing  doctrine needs to be  curtailed or expanded for Virginia to prevail on  the merits. Nor does Virginia  remotely suggest that the United States  lacks the power to erect a system of  national healthcare. Virginia  expressly pled that Congress has the authority to  act under the taxing  and spending powers as it did with respect to Social Security and  Medicare, but that Congress in this instance lacked the political   capital and will to do so. No challenge has been mounted by Virginia to  the  vast sweep and scope of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).  Instead, only the mandate and penalty were challenged  because the claimed power  is tantamount to a national police power  inasmuch as it lacks principled  limits.

In  plainer, get-to-the-point English: We grant you the social safety  net  established under the “Roosevelt Settlement.” We recognize  Congress’s power to  regulate interstate commerce. We even grant that  this power could conceivably  deliver universal healthcare. But for  Pete’s sake, don’t try to include  “inactivity”—that is, not buying a  health insurance plan on the private  market—under its purview.

Because,  once you regulate the act of doing nothing, what’s left to regulate?

Er,  nothing.

Thus,  does the state’s power to tax and police become theoretically unlimited?

But,  later in the body of the piece, Team Cuccinelli begins to play  other, more  presently familiar cards. Glenn Beck fans will recognize  the faces in the rogue’s  gallery: Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes,  progressive philosopher John Dewey, and  others who, this argument goes,  created the post-New Deal legal and  philosophical edifice.

Wouldn’t  you know it, this welfare-state stuff constitutes a violation of natural law—which, ipso facto,  means economic laissez-faire—and a lurch into moral chaos.  Echoing the  newly popular Hayek, Cuccinelli’s article asserts the primacy of   economic rights while characterizing as relativistic the   not-exclusively-liberal jurisprudential argument that personhood and  dignity  precede the marketplace. (Last I checked, I’ve never seen an  unborn baby sign a  contract.)

Come  conclusion time, the piece sounds eerily like it’s not merely  advocating the  curtailment of an otherwise defensible attempt to  advance the national  interest, but rather like a full-throated  libertarian manifesto:

The  Progressive Meliorists had argued that they should  be accorded constitutional  space in which to make a social experiment,  agreeing in turn to be judged by  the results. The New Dealers carried  the experiment forward. Seventy years  later, results are in suggesting  that the experiment is living beyond its  means. The statist heirs to  the experiment say that it cannot and must not be  curtailed, so now  they claim this new power.

Social  Security and Medicare—an experiment! Just a temporary, 70-year blip on the  radar!

So,  in 46 pages, we proceed from modest and reasonable to deeply crazy.

It  behooves us to ask, what’s Cuccinelli’s endgame?

I  think we’ve seen this movie before.

 

By: Scott Galupo, U. S. News and World Report, August 18, 2011

August 19, 2011 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Congress, Conservatives, Constitution, Consumers, Democrats, GOP, Government, Health Care, Health Reform, Human Rights, Ideologues, Ideology, Individual Mandate, Medicare, Politics, President Obama, Public, Regulations, Republicans, Right Wing, Social Security, States, Taxes, Teaparty | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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