When the country’s partisan division invades your friendships or acquaintance-ships, it begins to hit home even harder.
Example? Well, these blog posts for one. I typically post this blog on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Medium. I do not try to market the blog beyond that.
I write it to release thoughts I have, the way I was trained to. That training came from being a journalist for many years before entering politics. And while I appreciate everyone who reads it, I don’t write it to “gain eyeballs,” or to “build my brand.” I write it because I enjoy it. If others enjoy it, that makes me feel good too.
Honestly, though, I enjoyed it more when I didn’t write so often about politics. I wrote about our culture, our use of language, politics, sports -- whatever I felt like. The past three plus years I haven’t felt compelled to write about anything but Donald Trump and politics.
Because I consider his presidency a threat to our culture and system of government. He may not intend for his presidency to threaten anything but, intentional or not, that’s what he’s doing.
I shouldn’t be so focused on Donald Trump – but I can’t help myself.
I post things on Facebook, too. I’ll post pictures of my grandkids now and then. I’ll post funny stories I come across. And, yes, I’ll post articles of interest focused on Donald Trump.
Here’s where the hard-to-understand part comes. I have friends/acquaintances who support Trump’s presidency. That’s fine with me even if I don’t fully understand why. They certainly have that right and the right to express that support.
Some, though, accuse me and others of “hating” Donald Trump. I’ve never met this President. But I have friends who not only have met him but work with him on issues of mutual concern. Some tell me he is “charming” and not what he presents as his public image. Some of those folks support him and some don’t, except for the issue that crosses interests. That’s fine too.
Honestly, though, Donald Trump doesn’t have the bio of someone I would “like” or hang out with. He’s gone bankrupt multiple times. That’s his legal right. But he has taken along with him, seemingly not really caring, hundreds of small businesses who made a bad decision – going into business with him. And, yes, some of those went into business with him being fully aware of his history of deserting his previous business partners. That’s on them.
But I don’t like a guy who does that to people – leaving them hanging or destroying their businesses as he gets away with ruining one of his own but, in the long run, winning by getting out of financial obligations.
I also don’t like anyone who utters racist or anti-Semitic comments. Even if he says they aren’t racist or anti-Semitic. They are.
But mostly, I don't like his character. I don’t like that he supports a cause only if it helps his popularity with his base. While I do like that the coronavirus briefings are making a return, I don’t like that he’ll continue to host them because his track record of making fantastical comments does not deserve much support. I just want the facts from the experts.
There are reports today that Trump will be the sole briefer. Not helpful. As much as he likes to say he knows more than the doctors (or generals or whoever), he doesn’t. No one expects him to either.
I did not support his candidacy the first time and I certainly don’t support it this time. But I don’t “hate” him as some allege. I'm sure I don’t like him. But hate is something I really try to keep out of my life, as difficult as it can be at times.
I posted an article on Facebook this morning that reported Trump is considering sending federal troops into Chicago. He’ll say it’s because the “liberal Democratic mayor” isn’t doing her job, nor are the Democrats in other big cities doing theirs. He’ll find a way to hang his decision on the threat or damage to federal buildings. And, he’s right to protect those buildings if they are under threat. That may be how his spokesman defended the potential action at her briefing today but it’s now how it describes it.
Trump claims he’s considering sending in troops to stop the shootings and killings going on in some of our largest cities. He has no right to do that unless the federal government assistance is requested by local authorities. None. Don’t believe me? Read the Constitution.
And, even if it was within his rights to just invade a city, why the heck hasn’t he done it before now? Killings and shootings were going on before this moment in history. If he was so sure he is right to go in and “fix what the Democratic mayors and governors can’t,” why now?
It might have something to do with the November election and the White House’s new push to make Trump the “law and order” president. To scare the pants off of people. At any cost. He wants to say a vote for Joe Biden is a vote for more killings and bloodshed in your home town.
No one supports violence or shootings in their city or anyone’s city, for that matter. But most will rely on the local authorities who they elect and pay to do that job. If they don’t do it, they get voted out. At least that’s been my experience.
The man or woman who becomes president isn’t supposed to adjust the system to their liking. They're supposed to adjust to the system. And our system has lasted hundreds of years. And while there are complaints and there are changes that need to be made now and again, it’s working just fine even with its imperfections.
What’s my point today? My badly made, long-winded point is that it’s a shame friendships and families are being broken apart by Donald Trump. He didn’t create this problem in the country, but he sure does his best to leverage it to his advantage.
Me? Maybe I do hate him. Because he has created loss of friends and acquaintances for no reason at all other than they seem to think they have to hate me to love him.
“I double dog dare Donald Trump to sit in a class of 39 sixth-graders and breathe that air without any preparation for how we’re going to bring our kids back safely.” – National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia, on CNN today.
The President yesterday said the schools “must open.” But you can’t just open the schools without the proper safeguards put in place not just for the students but for their teachers, many of whom are in the high-risk pool for the virus. And money is needed to do those things.
Picture it. Thirty or so kids who’ve been around adults and others who could be carrying the virus, driven to school to be in a building with hundreds more like them, and in a classroom with about 30 others. Plus the adults. Talk about a Petri dish for infection.
The Culture War is hitting warp speed as the President, at the moment, sees his chances of re-election weakening daily. And for a guy who thinks only about the next news cycle, panic ensues.
Trump said yesterday: “We want to reopen the schools. Everybody wants it. The moms want it, the dads want it, the kids want it.”
I’d have more faith in those words if the President hadn’t made a habit of saying “everybody agrees” when, clearly, everyone didn't.
The President seems to be using the issue as one more leg in his attack against Democrats who he says want schools closed because it makes him look bad. I mean, really. Who looks at opening or closing schools during a pandemic as a political calculation? Oh, right.
Meanwhile, the country is about to pass the 3 million marker for infections and the increase is happening rapidly in most of the country, especially those states that opened before they should have, many at the President’s urging.
He doesn’t want to talk much about the virus but when he does he acts as if the danger is passed. It’s not. It’s as lethal today as it was earlier this year or last whenever it arrived on our shores. And I don’t care if any country “sent it” at the moment. I just want the vaccine and treatments to stop it.
But Trump is acting as if he’s not quite resolved the coronavirus threat but is on the edge of solving it. This despite almost every health expert saying we’re still in great danger because of the virus and soon may not be able to control it at all. Think of that. That’s not a political statement. That’s a statement that affects every one of our lives – no matter your political beliefs.
It probably helps the President that he thinks 99 percent of those who get the virus have no effects. By now, many of us know someone who died or recovered from the virus. And what are the survivors telling you about "no effects" from the virus. There are very serious effects. We don't need doctors or the President to tell us that. We know from our experiences.
On top of that, Trump is blowing his racist dog whistle more strongly.
For example, he’s taking on NASCAR for its decision to stop having the Confederate flag waving at its events. He is retweeting racist videos, then deleting them but with no mention of why. He talks about "thugs" in the street and "anarchists" trying to tear down our country.
His (former?) buddy Kanye West has announced he’s running for president and, if he does, I assume thinks he’ll siphon some votes from Joe Biden to help what he thinks is his Oval Office buddy. But I’m guessing not as many as he may think. After all, he is still “ye” and not likely to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate. Then again…. But I won’t go there. Especially during an election where much of the country, at the moment, more than half the country wants to vote out Donald Trump.
Let’s drill down a little bit. This week’s message out of the White House is that schools “must open” this fall. Now, first, the federal government has no say in what public schools do. Zero. They can apply pressure to try to get their way – say trying to withhold some funding (which really is Congress’ decision to make).
Personally, if I had kids of school age I wouldn’t be sending them to school until I was assured there were many protections added into the class room. For example, masks and social distancing, regular deep cleaning and filtration systems to clean the air.
While the White House may say students must return, that also means older teachers who are more susceptible to the worst effects of the virus must return too. Are we sure?
President Trump, always needing an opponent/enemy, is saying Democrats don’t want kids back in school because he thinks that helps them politically. He said yesterday, “we don’t want people to make political statements or do it (open or close schools) for political reasons.” Uh, yes but… Well it’s too obvious so I won’t say it.
Unfortunately, our society has become more political than it has ever been.
If you're for keeping schools closed, you are a Democrat. If you’re for opening them, you’re a Republican. It’s simple.
But it isn’t.
The pandemic, according to many health care experts, is not under control. In fact it’s out of control in most of the country. If you watch the maps that highlight the surges, you’ll see New England area states are in the best shape. I don’t know why that is other than I do think the politics in those states tend to be more moderate and less Trump v the World. Which means leadership is more moderate and reasonable.
Whether you support Donald Trump or not, what’s important right now is to listen to the health experts. While the President may believe he’s far more expert than the experts, he isn’t. Nor is he supposed to be.
And our lives literally depend on what we do next.
B. Jay Cooper
B. Jay is a former deputy White House press secretary to Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He also headed the communications offices at the Republican National Committee, U.S. Department of Commerce, and Yale University. He is a former reporter and is the retired deputy managing director of APCO Worldwide's Washington, D.C., office.