Now is not the time for political apathy
Pete Souza, the former White House photographer for both Reagan and Obama, posted a flashback photo on Instagram of his latter boss reaching over the shield at a Chipotle. That was funny because I remember when it originally made the rounds in the press. It was about as big of a scandal as you had during the Obama years. He had more than his share of questionable legislative efforts, policy decisions and ugly decisions by his underlings, for sure, but those are not things I would count as scandal. The Benghazi attack demonstrated poor judgment on the part of decision makers, but he really owned it. W. may have gone to war on false pretenses, but I’m not convinced he acted in poor faith. Clinton humped at least one intern, so that was a bona fide scandal. H.W. Bush was OK. Reagan had Iran-Contra. Carter and Ford weren’t strong presidents, but relatively scandal-free.
Then we have President Trump. Americans have become so partisan that they would cast aside their own morals and beliefs to vote for someone who said he could “grab [women] by the pussy,” insult a former POW like John McCain and then a gold star family, make fun of a disabled man, and spouted thinly veiled racism constantly. And mind you, this was before the election. At this point, I know those who defend Trump start pulling the “but Hillary!” card, but you can’t logically arrive at any moral equivalency here. She was unremarkable, and probably unlikeable, yes, but being ignorant about IT and dismissing a non-conspiracy like the Benghazi attack (that was investigated three times by Congress) is not on the same scale as someone with total disregard for entire classes of human beings. None of us would hold a job in the private sector if we had Trump’s record.
However, political apathy got the best of us. When Clinton failed to delight or inspire, we got lazy, along with her campaign, and while Trump didn’t even have a majority of the votes, in the end it didn’t matter. We didn’t do enough.
Now we have a president that is more concerned with being popular than governing. He reportedly spends more time watching TV than he does consulting with smart people who aren’t related to him. He lies about completely benign things that are easily refutable by his own previous statements or anyone with a basic sense of curiosity. He’s the least transparent of any president in our time, when he has so much to gain personally from his position. He shuts off access to the press and hides the White House visitor logs. There are ethics questions at every turn. Nepotism and croneyism are the new normal. Senior officials keep getting fired. And for the better part of a year, we’ve had a man who is so cavalier about the Russians that he simply doesn’t care if they interfered with the election.
This is just six months in. There have been more shit storms in 180 days than in any presidential term in the last four decades.
How can anyone, of any political leaning, be OK with this?
This is not about policy. As inept as I believed that George W. Bush was, his record wasn’t without objectively solid wins, and at no time did I believe that he wasn’t well-intentioned. (Now, Dick Cheney, not so much.) For years I’ve said that a two-party system tends to keep things balanced, until recent years when both parties have pushed further into ideological extremes. Trump has no policy. He never did. Every politician says they’re going to promote economic growth and save us from the bad guys, but it’s all talk without specific action in mind. “Build a wall” and “create unbelievable jobs” are not actions.
Because there is something new almost every day, we’ve started to get comfortable with the idea that this is routine and normal. It’s hard to be concerned or angry all of the time, so when the next thing hits tomorrow, we brush it aside.
And again, we will continue to get the government we deserve.
Contact your senators and representatives. Let them know this is not OK. This is bigger than you or me picking a team and standing by it. You can’t defend a person who punches two people in the balls by pointing to some other politician who gave someone the stink eye. There is no moral equivalence going on here. This is your nation, and it’s being run by a man-child who embarrasses us on the world stage and puts our future at risk.
This is not the time for political apathy.
Originally published at jeffputz.com.