It’s not long now. In just a few short weeks Donald J. Trump will become the 45th President of the United States. Many Americans are apprehensive or frightened at the incoming regime, some may be hopeful and excited, but the vast majority are waiting anxiously to see what policies emerge from an administration whose campaign lacked any coherent policy. I had problems with much of President Obama’s agenda; he got passes from the Left on many issues that would have drawn fire if they came from the Right, but he’s certainly no Donald Trump. I have much more severe concerns with Mr. Trump, even more with a President Trump, but our country faces serious problems and now many of these may be exacerbated by this deeply flawed man-child. The New Boss isn’t the same as the Old Boss, but in a free country the fundamental obligations of citizens to pay attention and be involved have only increased.
Personally, I think political participation is not just a benefit of a free society but the obligation of all citizens. Businesses as a group may tend to shy away from the potential divisiveness of politics, but as a small business owner my business is my life and it’s hard to compartmentalize my values. My business has been built on personal principles like integrity, service, transparency, accountability, rationality, and fairness. I believe in paying a good living wage to the individuals who make us an exceptional company, and that any profit should be fair compensation for value rendered and not spoils from plundering the unwary or defenseless. I personally believe companies should be good neighbors; not just “doing no harm” but actively working to make things better in the communities they serve, and I think our community goes beyond Sellwood to Portland, to Oregon, to America, and to the World.
The dignity and grace of President Obama was a refreshing change from the simplistic bumbling of his predecessor, but I didn’t give his administration a pass just because he was a nice guy who ran as a progressive Democrat … he has governed as a Centrist Republican (at best) and a Corporate Authoritarian (at worst). As just a few examples I’ve called out his bad policy on whistleblowers, the death of habeas corpus, his rollover on single-payer health care, his failure to prosecute criminal banking cartels or the greed on Wall Street, his expansion of drone warfare and extra-judicial killings, and his contraction of civil liberties. Obama got a pass from the sleeping Left that allowed actions which would have been resisted if they had come from a more obvious Corporatist.
Donald Trump was an unknown; pretending to be the populist so desperately sought by the American people. He will almost certainly not act as a populist but as the pathological greedy automaton he is. Trump gave few lucid policy positions (good or bad) during the campaign but of the few he did toss out many have already been altered or forgotten. He doesn’t yet have a presidential record but the people he’s tapped for cabinet positions and the policies they’ve suggested have been startlingly unqualified and biased. When Trump surrogates are reduced to defending his policies by saying he didn’t really mean them, or the ones he did mean can’t be implemented because they’re illegal or impossible, policy shouldn’t be hard to critique once he actually takes office. And I, for one, plan to speak out against bad policy no matter the source.
When politics is reduced to mud-slinging, deception and lies, it’s up to us as citizens to look beyond the media fluff, ferret out the facts and be willing to work to fight to preserve the dwindling flame of democracy. Most people assume I’m a Democrat but I’m not, nor am I a Republican. When I do talk about politics I try to avoid the individual personalities or party hyperbole and address the underlying issues or policies. Look again at the list of personal values above… is it “partisan” in any way? When we build our lives, our businesses, our political systems; is there any point on the list that “works” for one party and not the other? I don’t think so. What I care about most is basic fairness and sustainability; including healthcare, education, taxes, military spending, militarization of the police, the environment, and the support of the middle class and the poor. Donald Trump’s America promises to be a big change from Obama’s America and probably the America envisioned by our Founders. But I won’t waste time sniping at his personal or stylistic failings; I’ll be arguing with his content. And that’s not a change from the way I viewed the vast achievements and vast shortfalls of Obama’s turn at the helm. I’m just not sure I’ll be able to handle “presidential tweets” from a man who I have ZERO respect for and who could in whimsical ego bursts destroy so much.
Take care and make a great day,