Symptom

Symptom
By
Leonard Zwelling

Donald Trump is not the cause of the current state of American misery. Had Hillary Clinton won in 2016, we would still have the virus and that’s problem number one. We would still have the fires and climate change. That’s problem number two. The virus would still have caused the economic downturn, but I really doubt Hillary would have done any better although she might have been more honest about it. Might, given her history. The depth of the economic mess was made by our response to the virus which could have been different, less frantic and shorter in duration. New York City’s plight did not have to be everyone’s. Finally, we would still have George Floyd and all that has transpired, although the depth of the racial unrest might be less under a President H. Clinton, I seriously doubt it. This has been cooking for 400 years.

Rather than cause all of this, Donald Trump is a symptom of American malaise.

Its origins may lie in the end of the Second World War. America won. America saved the world from fascism. America took off after the war and grew and prospered, but perhaps our complacency rose. Things would get better forever, we thought. I thought. Then came the Kennedy and King Assassinations, Vietnam, Watergate, Iran-Contra, Monica, 9/11, and the economic collapse of 2008. America has been through a lot with many leaders promising improvement and few delivering for very long. Is it any wonder that many people (a minority, but many) felt that perhaps a non-politician, TV game show host and self-declared billionaire could make things better? Surprise. He hasn’t. Now we have a choice between him and an even older white guy who no one is quite sure is all there. What a choice!

But we should be less concerned with our horrible choices for president than we are with our national character. In WWII we rose to the occasion. Out of the depths of the Depression, America rallied, mobilized and defeated formidable enemies. The energy of progress fueled by a hunger for normalcy grew through the 1950’s and exploded with the election of JFK. This is my life. I lived through this American era of victory and now, as Mr. Trump put it during his inauguration, “American carnage.” Mr. Trump did not invent the carnage. He was simply describing what he inherited. I am not one of those who feel Barack Obama was a great president. He inherited wars and kept us in most of them. He did get the economy going in the right direction, but really didn’t help the health care problem all that much with the ACA. His unique position to aid the pursuit of racial equality was totally squandered for reasons that still escape me. He kowtowed to the worst of foreign enemies in Iran and did not make us the least bit safer as ISIS rose on his watch.

We are still looking for help, but only through our own actions can it be found.

Mr. Biden is no solution, but at least he is a decent man who has empathy and understands human pain. He will be a better leader than Mr. Trump. I do not have an easy solution for the duplicity of the United States Congress. The leadership of both parties is dreadful and must be replaced. Unfortunately there is nothing that we can do about the Democrats clinging to an 80-year old abuser of her privilege at the hair salon and a group of impotent senators who could not lead their way out of a paper bag. The Republicans are no better. No wonder Mr. Trump has to constantly issue executive orders. Congress simply won’t do its job.

I believe defeating Donald Trump on November 3 will be a good first step back from the American carnage that actually gave birth to his candidacy and presidency. It is up to Mr. Biden to bring the sides together and reformulate a common path to American renewal. There isn’t much Biden can do about Congress, but he can try to get the leaders in a room working together and do it himself not use subordinates because he hates the Speaker.

Mr. Trump is not the cause of all evil as some would make him out to be. He’s a self-centered narcissist and an awful person with no empathy, but mostly he’s ineffective. Other than his conservative judges and not interfering with the economy, he has done very little outside of the Middle East where he actually may actually be doing some good. I think his perception of China is right, but his ability to turn that into meaningful results has yet to be demonstrated.

Trump is not the whole problem. He’s a symptom of it. Unfortunately, removing a symptom does not cure the disease although it may make the patient feel better. America’s problems are not of Mr. Trump’s making. He just has made everything worse. Biden will just be a bridge to the future. There is no guarantee things will get better. With Trump, they are bound to get worse.

Two roads. Take one and we go on like this. Take the other and maybe we recover. Maybe.

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