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Finally, we have heard the first State of the Union address from 45 and many cannot find anything to cheer about or be happy or optimistic about America’s future. The supposed unity speech was filled with weeping persons in the audience who the president called upon to relive tragic episodes in their lives. His words on taxes drew the greatest applause when he pointed out how the mandate to have insurance was repealed.
His annoying clapping for himself reminded me of Kim Jong Un, who claps to remind his people that they damn well better clap too. His words on immigration touted crime, death, family dissolution and revocation of any dream we may have to help DACA or other immigrants. His demand to cabinet secretaries to remove all workers who fail America opens the door to fire the opposition, people who voted for a Democratic candidate or gave a contribution to the same, not to mention having supported Hillary Clinton.
Paradoxically, he called out a suffering North Korean who sacrificed his legs “yearning to breathe free.” On the economy, he repeats the lowest unemployment of African-Americans and leaves out the 2009 rate and the 2016 rate when Obama left office. He embraced the Second Amendment at a time when reports of deaths of police officers, by many who should not have a gun, seem to be rising.
So, what is the State of the Union? Using Herman Cain’s words, “I don’t know. Do you?” But here is what I do know. We are rapidly moving toward a constitutional crisis. The 45th president has attacked the very governmental structure that he swore to protect and defend. He is angry that the separation of powers does not give him any control of the Justice Department, so he goes back door to denigrate our most important and stable federal law enforcement agency, the FBI. I also know that the conservative Republican Congress is complicit in this effort and has doubled down on the closed-mouth agreement.
I know that the stock market is soaring, and so is poverty. Go to schools and consider the number of children whose families are receiving free meals from a gutted agricultural food program. How many Americans have money to invest in that market? What does a sustained bull market tell us about our economy? Who in this administration is in place to analyze this market and brace other segments of our economy to face the old axiom of what goes up?
I know that this 45th president lives in the “now” and has not revealed his vision of America’s future. If the government remains open beyond Feb. 8, it will do so by raising the debt ceiling. The administration continues to embrace the bonuses companies have promised their employees and alleged this will help the economy. The silence on the pathway of permanent raises for working people speaks volumes for middle class. If the tax bill is as great as the Republicans claim and is yielding the prosperity they promise, then a gradual rise in the minimum wage, legislated by Congress, would add more revenue for the government and would put more money in circulation in the American economy.
As far as the investigation of Russian interference in our election process, per Sean Hannity, it did not happen. Once Sean told the president that there was no interference by Russia, the president reacted by refusing to execute the additional sanctions Congress had already imposed on Russia. Sean Hannity and Fox News have found another world where another group of American people colluded with Russia to discredit this president. Hannity called for all charges against Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Gates and Papadopoulos to be dropped immediately and the Robert Mueller investigation be shut down completely. What a joke.
When we consider the current state of political affairs in our beloved nation, the hard-nose divide between Democrats and Republicans, the unprecedented behavior of our Republican officeholders, the abnormal attack on our intelligence infrastructure, the incessant denigration of our FBI by Sean Hannity and Fox News and the consistent repeating of the Republican/Fox News narrative designed to save this flawed president, we must ask, “Why, Lord, did you bring this affliction to America?”
The affliction must be at test. A test to determine if this nation, “so conceived,” by such a majestic document, our Constitution, which organized and distributed the powers of government and laid down principles that have survived for 231 years, can survive this flawed administration.
George Leach is a Wilson resident and former teacher with a keen interest in local, state and national politics who serves as political action chairman of the NAACP’s Wilson branch.