Tag Archive: George W. Bush

Donald Trump, the Great Divider

Armed white supremacist in Charlottesville, VA

Successful presidents of both political parties are usually the ones who, in times of crisis or difficulty, rise above partisanship and unite America. There are many examples of this, from Abraham Lincoln literally keeping the Union together, to Franklin Roosevelt leading us against Germany and Japan in World War 2, to Ronald Reagan eulogizing the Challenger Space Shuttle astronauts or calling upon Soviet head of state Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down” the Berlin Wall, Bill Clinton soothing a shocked America after the Oklahoma City bombing, George W. Bush standing with firefighters at the World Trade Center site after the 9/11 attacks, and Barack Obama successfully hunting down and killing Osama bin Laden. We may not agree with the policies these presidents pursue after such crises (for example, Bush’s Iraq War), but at least for a time, these leaders make us feel like we’re part of one big, strong nation.

Unfortunately, this is not the case with Donald Trump. Rather than being a Great Uniter, he has repeatedly proven himself to be the Great Divider, usually along racial and ethnic lines. Indeed, Trump essentially begun his presidential run during Barack Obama’s presidency by being one of the head cheerleaders in the “birther” movement, which questioned Obama’s Americanism and his birth certificate. Trump then ran his own presidential campaign in a divisive manner from the get-go, saying in his presidential announcement speech about Mexican immigrants:

They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.

From there, Trump has pitted one group (often his base of white males) against another, including the following partial list:

The sad, selfish argument against healthcare

Senate GOP Healthcare bill

In the current debate over Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, one of the saddest arguments to be heard is the one that goes, “why should I pay for someone else’s healthcare?” Such an argument gets many things wrong at once, both intellectually and morally.

First, the entire concept of insurance is a pooling of funds and risk, so that everyone is literally paying for someone else, and vice versa. For example, in South Florida, one is told that car insurance rates are high for all residents because there are many claims due to the large number of tourists getting into trouble with rental cars on unfamiliar roads. Many local residents would rightfully object to paying higher rates for others’ accidents, but that is how insurance works. The idea, however, is that costs are kept down by pooling the risk, for example, such that middle-aged drivers might pay more than they get back in claims, but when they are both very young and very old, they are much more likely to have more claims, so the system balances out. Similarly, the Affordable Care Act (based on a conservative idea from the Heritage Foundation and first implemented by Republican Governor Mitt Romney in Massachusetts) incorporates premiums paid by younger people, who generally have fewer claims, going more to older and sicker people, but such young people of course could get into a serious accident or become sick themselves any time, plus they are likely to have more claims as they age. Thus, the idea of “why am I paying for someone else?” may only be true for a brief moment.

Republicans find out they have nowhere to hide

GOP Health Plan

On Monday night and Tuesday, the latest Republican Senate scheme to repeal the Affordable Care Act but not replace it for two years, went down in flames. Republican Senators including Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins and Shelley Moore Capito came out against moving the plan forward in the Senate, effectively killing this version for now.

Republicans are learning a powerful lesson: the obstructionism that worked for them when they did not control all three branches of government does not work when they do.

The best way to protest is to vote smart

Anti-Trump protest, January 2017

Anti-Trump protest, January 2017

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

–George Santayana, The Life of Reason, 1905

Massive protests are planned in Washington, D.C. and around the country against tomorrow’s inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States. Most of the people who will be protesting are on the political left. How many of these people voted against or publicly attacked Hillary Clinton when she was the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee? How many of them didn’t vote at all? If they did those things, they helped elect Trump. Protesting now is certainly in the American tradition, but voting smarter in the first place would have greatly reduced the number of things against which to protest, or even eliminated the need to protest at all.

President Obama’s high-water mark

President Obama at the Tomb of the Unknowns, Nov. 11, 2016.

President Obama at the Tomb of the Unknowns, Nov. 11, 2016.

President Barack Obama is leaving office on a high note. Many people might not remember what it was like when Obama took office in January 2009. The Bush Recession was underway, and America was losing 779,000 jobs per month. Stores were closing. Restaurants were empty. And our treasury was also empty (in fact, trillions in debt) from Bush’s disastrous Iraq War. Obama, with no help from the Republicans, turned things around to the point where he will be turning over a country that, by most objective measures, is doing very well. Let’s take a look at some of those numbers, so that we will have a comparison for the future:

U.S. political media on life support after NBC Matt Lauer forum

NBC's Matt Lauer with former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders

NBC’s Matt Lauer with former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders

Wednesday night’s NBC News “Commander-in-Chief Forum” has been roundly criticized. In particular, moderator Matt Lauer is taking the heat for his biased, amateurish performance. However, the NBC forum is just one of many examples of the U.S. Beltway media tipping the scales against Hillary Clinton and for Donald Trump in this election, and failing to do their job. One Twitter user even started the hashtag “#LaueringTheBar” to describe this trend. With the first presidential debate just days away, time is quickly running out to cure the problem.

Republicans abandon Donald Trump

Satirical anti-Donald Trump poster in New York CIty

Satirical anti-Donald Trump poster in New York City

The general election phase of a presidential campaign is when a party nominee, having garnered the majority of the party’s primary voter base, tries to expand that base to include “swing voters,” and even moderates from the other party. This year, however, Donald Trump, the Republican Party presidential nominee, is hemorrhaging Republicans while simultaneously failing to grow his base. As a result, the Republicans are in panic mode, with no end to the bleeding in sight.

Democratic vs. Republican Presidents Part 5: The Environment and Climate Change

Intermountain Power Project coal-fired plant, Utah

Intermountain Power Project coal-fired plant, Utah

The death of Republican U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has refocused attention on how much is at stake in the 2016 presidential election. We have an ongoing series on this subject, including the president’s power to nominate Supreme Court justices and other federal court judges. Another area of great importance and great difference between the parties which is at stake in November is the future of our environment, including fighting climate change.

Democratic vs. Republican Presidents Part 4: Choosing Federal Judges

The U.S. Supreme Court's conservative Republican majority

The U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative Republican majority

(This is the fourth installment in a series about differences between Democratic and Republican presidents in areas where they have direct control. See our Democratic vs. Republican Presidents category for the rest.)

For some voters, the president’s constitutional power to nominate U.S. Supreme Court Justices when vacancies occur is reason enough to vote for one political party or the other. But it goes much deeper than that. The president’s power to nominate all federal judges when vacancies occur is crucial to the direction of the country on nearly every issue, including marriage equality, guns, crime, civil rights, taxes, the environment, etc.

Republicans pummeled by two hurricanes

President George W. Bush's "Brownie" moment, Sept. 2, 2005

President George W. Bush’s “Brownie” moment, Sept. 2, 2005

The anniversaries of Hurricane Katrina (landfall in Louisiana August 29, 2005) and Hurricane (Superstorm) Sandy (landfall in New Jersey August 29, 2012) represent a perfect storm that continues to damage the Republican Party. Katrina showed President George W. Bush‘s detachment, and the criminally negligent incompetence behind his administration’s hands-off conservative Republican governing philosophy (“Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”) Sandy is said to have helped President Barack Obama win and the Democrats do well in the 2012 elections, but that’s only true if one rejects the Republicans’ “government is bad” frame and accepts the Democrats’ “good government” philosophy. Apparently, many Americans have done just that.