Declaration of Independence
TRUMP’S “AMERICA FIRST” DOCTRINE RECALLS THE NAME OF THE ISOLATIONIST, ANTI-SEMETIC NATIONAL ORGANIZATION THAT URGED THE UNITED STATES TO APPEASE ADOLF HITLER IN THE 1930’s.
Eventually President Gerald Ford and future Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart drafted a petition stating, “We demand that Congress refrain from war, even if England is on the verge of defeat.” It is unfortunate that Trump, an admitted non-student of history, used a term loaded with negative connotations.
I will not deny that I am a Progressive, which makes me a “snowflake” or even a traitor to U.S. values, according to some; but so be it. But after working since age 13, dutifully paying my taxes over that period, being unwaveringly faithful to a marriage of 56 years, and serving for 4 years in the Marines, I am entitled to say or believe any damn thing I wish, including my being an avowed atheist.
The latter, of course, relegates me to the fringe of social norms–How can he be “good” without god’s help? Believing in empathy and altruism is the path I have chosen, rather than “faith,” both anathema to Paul Ryan’s Ayn Randism, which, like a virus, increasingly infects America’s me-first society.
I’ll stand with the Founding Fathers who believed that theism, i.e., church dogma, should be excluded from national politics. To quote Thomas Jefferson, “Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.”
Part of Trump’s doctrine includes increasing the Pentagon budget by $54 billion and spending $1 trillion on infrastructure, while maintaining Social Security and Medicare commitments at their current levels, all while lowering corporate and middle-class tax rates.
Because non-defense discretionary spending represents only 16 percent of the national budget, the option is obvious: increase the national debt. This runs counter to the Republican mantra of reducing that debt, so a battle with Congress will soon ensue.
Corporate tax rates of less than the current 35 percent are a fait accompli. According to the GAO, the average rate for all corporations is about 14 percent, and their share of total tax collected has been declining steadily over the years. The burden of any increase in federal spending, not covered by increasing the national debt, will inevitably fall on the individual taxpayer.
Eliminating the E.P.A., a favorite Trump target, would realize less than $9 billion in savings, but at what cost? I still remember a largely sterile Hudson River and the Cuyahoga River fire of 1969, which led to the Clean Water Act, now partially rescinded by the Trump administration. Is there no lesson to be learned from Flint, Michigan, indeed, from history?
Similarly, Trump’s denial of the effects of anthropomorphic-caused global warming echoes Florida governor Rick Scott’s order to expunge the terms “global warming” and “climate change” from his administration’s language, this while rising seawaters threaten coastal cities like Miami and Jacksonville. That global warming is real is buttressed by statements made by 97 percent of climate scientists in the U.S. and by nearly 100 percent in the rest of the world. Ironically, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida could be inundated by mid-century.
I agree that the “fat” should be trimmed from the federal budget, but indiscriminate slashing is not prudent. There are many good federal programs run by competent people.
For example, the drive to privatize line items like the National Parks system is not in the common interest. The dedication of park rangers and other caretakers of federal lands is unquestionable; I have seen this first-hand. The parallel drive to sell off public lands is similarly short-sighted. These millions of acres represent a hedge against future needs; greed is the only justification for selling them off now.
Our military budget is greater than the next seven nation’s military budgets combined. It seems that Presidents and generals continue to be enamored of those weapons that are the most impressive, whether bigger ships, faster planes, or more-devastating ordnance. Meanwhile, our enemies today are scattered throughout general populations, and their host countries resist even our best efforts at “nation-building.” And despite claims to the contrary, “surgical” air strikes inflict horrendous numbers of civilian casualties. A continued pursuit of American world hegemony will deplete our national treasure and eventually impoverish us all, both fiscally and morally.
Another part of the Trump doctrine is an attack on a free press. Publications with either reportage or editorial content that portray him in an unfavorable light are labeled “fake.” Thus, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and CNN are denigrated in favor of Breitbart. There is no perfect media source, either in print or in cyberspace, but to, in effect, imply that Breitbart offers up more accurate reportage than the former is beyond the pale.
All Presidents have found that dealing with the press can be both confrontational and irritating, and that’s the way it should be. The press plays a key role in limiting the power of Washington.
A President can either enter into a reasoned debate with the press, or, in the case of Trump, bypass the press and tweet 140-character blurbs to make his thoughts known.
Careful reflection should be part of every pronouncement emanating from the White House. Obviously, his 3:00 AM tweets are more indicative of emotional outbursts, rather than prudent statements. This habit is alarming both to members of his administration and to world leaders abroad, although Vladimir Putin must be amused by the administration’s apparent ineptitude.
Observing President Trump in action brings to mind an article by Richard Wolffe in The Guardian, where he drew a comparison between Trump and Ricky Gervais, the boss in the British sitcom, The Office: “[The new administration] is actually a very long season of The Office, with our new president playing the role of a self-obsessed buffoon who clearly thinks he’s smart, funny, kind and successful.
Trump is the boss we all know so well, and never want to see again. The one winging it at every turn, in every sentence. The one who just read something, or talked to somebody, and is now an Olympic-sized expert.”
Bill Britton is a Vero Communiqué Contributing Editor and a freelance writer for John Hopkins University.