By Ruth Gadebusch
What is happening to our democracy, this experiment of hope and promise? There have been other times of fright and fear when we were divided, but the chasm hardly seemed this wide and deep. Even as we fought one of the bloodiest wars ever, splitting families, we managed to reunite.
We have had presidents murdered. Two have been impeached, although not found guilty and one resigned to avoid such a fate. Several have been disabled with questionable ability to govern while in office. Some who hardly seemed adequate for the job have risen to the occasion once in office. Surely, we have learned some lessons from this history of more than two centuries.
At this point, it appears painfully obvious that we have not learned sufficiently to concentrate on our good rather than cater to the lowest common denominator of the human being. Greed and intolerance all too often seem to triumph.
In the beginning of this nation, a governing document was created to play to our better nature and bit by bit we did seem to largely appreciate such genius. Unfortunately, we seem to have slowly reverted to the type of behavior from which those early people had escaped.
So many seem to think that only they are worthy of living the kind of life envisioned in the founding of the United States of America. Everyone else must bow to their version. Despite all the troubles of day-to-day living, we mostly honored leadership designed to bring us together. Too many today are all too willing to stretch the boundaries to the breaking point.
In the beginning, a political system was designed to give voice to all. Granted that all was not as inclusive as we have come to expect, but it was strong enough to allow for embracing a more expanded population. Still, there are all too many who resist the togetherness, the respect that is so necessary for peaceful sharing of this great land.
For some unknown reason, there are those who believe they actually deserve more regardless of how that more is achieved. Somehow just such a man was put into office by an outdated provision in our Constitution, not by the vaunted majority vote. He has not risen to the occasion as would have been expected. All right, hoped by those of us who did not believe such could happen.
The system was designed to balance just such an outcome, but currently power appears to be prevailing over country, over respect for this document that has served us so long.
Of course, I refer to our current president but just as concerning is the political party that seems determined to deify him. A demigod, we do not need! The man is his own worst enemy. That is, if we do not count those who swallow hook, line and sinker what he has to offer. I do not refer to the political opposition but to his party members holding the offices that are supposed to be part of our tripartite checks-and-balance system.
It is one thing for those who have seen so little of the world, who have such limited views, who are downtrodden to buy his foul-mouthed denigrating utterances against any and every one who dares to disagree with him in any form. It is another when men and women elected to our Congress and other positions of honor who are sworn to support the idea that not even the President is immune from the law fail to rein him in. Unfortunately, this area sent one of his most loyal sycophants to Congress.
Presumably the best that this nation, the hope of the world, has to offer holds the office of President, the office that inarguably has more influence on the condition of the planet than any other single person. That is truly frightening, made all the more so by those who are supposed to know better failing to take responsibility.
This assessment is not just someone of the opposition disagreeing with decisions. The man himself proves it in voice and action time after time. He doesn’t even wait until the ink is dry on signing documents or the sound of his voice has died in the air before contradicting himself. He has often used foul language in public pronouncements recorded leaving no doubt that anyone just misunderstood.
Even while running for office, it was no secret that his moral life was less than what most of us would tolerate in our circles. His braggadocio made it clear that the stories were not some enemy’s creativity.
Once in office, matters did not improve. In no way has he risen to what citizens have a right to expect in this the highest office in the world. He has made it increasingly difficult for those of us who believe in good citizenship to remember that we salute the office, not the officer.
Day by day, it almost gets more sorrowful and discouraging. He has put the word of a foreign leader over the intelligence of the nation’s own trained loyal men and women. He has scuttled a nuclear limiting agreement with Iran.
He has dismissed a loyal ally with a wave of his hand and virtually given the Turkish government a free hand to ignore the rights of others. Our locals of Armenian heritage could tell us how the Turks react to a free hand.
He has proclaimed he is removing troops from the Middle East while simply moving them elsewhere. He ignores Saudia Arabia’s treatment of the Yemeni. A little oil here and there never hurt, huh?
We are no longer the hope of our abused southern neighbors seeking relief on our border as well as those not of the correct religion. The defense budget is raided to build a fence.
He can’t even decide if there is a quid pro quo involved in aid to Ukraine. His Congressional supporters simply join him in belittling the Speaker of the House of Representatives—politics at its worst instead of what it was meant to do. Help for the less fortunate hangs by a thread.
Expressly prohibited in the Constitution he profits personally by sending business to his resorts. The list is long and growing, but still the members of his party in Congress refuse to step up.
What a sad state of affairs! It isn’t just our lifestyles at stake but democracy itself. No one can afford to think it does not affect me because it affects every single one of us mostly by squeezing and choking our freedom, to say nothing of our economy.
We must not let it happen. Political action is demanded sooner than later. Act before it is too late.
Ruth Gadebusch, a former naval officer, was recently recognized by the League of Women Voters with its Lipton Award for volunteer work in various community endeavors. She was elected four times to the Fresno Unified School District Board, appointed by Governor George Deukmejian to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and is an emeritus member of the Board of the Center for Civic Education.