Granted, it’s early to make conclusions about our new president and his cabinet. Nevertheless, there are a couple of serious concerns here that have already come up in the past two weeks.
The U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights and political traditions have established freedoms that have not been seen, even considered, in many parts of the world. They are (1) a free and fair vote and (2) a free and respected press. These are two premises upon which our American society, its values and standards, has been built and have endured the tests of time for more than two hundred years.
President Donald J. Trump now insists, regarding the last election, the one that elected him, that there were three to five million who voted illegally and, further, that these fraudulent voters cast their ballots for his opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton: This proven would enable Trump—who won the Electoral College vote—to claim the popular vote which every pertinent fact on the subject has denied him so far.
He demands that an investigation take place even though there is a total lack of evidence to back up his assertion while a universal conclusion has been reached that there was no fraud. When Trump makes charges of this kind he reinforces the prejudices of his true believers, who apparently believe, without question, everything he says, while, in doing so, they undermine confidence in our democracy which, as we know from history, is a fragile condition.
Another matter that confounds is Trump’s assault on the free press. He calls reporters the most dishonest people on earth and persons who lied about his inauguration turnout numbers. He also has made a huge effort to disagree with the numbers who showed up in cities all over the nation to advocate for the protection of women’s rights and to denounce him as president.
Photos of the two events, the inauguration and march on Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, cannot lie but Trump says they do, causing one to wonder whether a reputable ophthalmologist should be brought in. Of course, America’s press is human and has made mistakes; yet, to accuse all the press as willfully practicing mendacity is silly, sad and subversive.
Though I want to know more about how he will ultimately deal with immigration, trade agreements and treaties, Social Security and Medicare, “the Wall,” the Affordable Care Act’s replacement, the appointment of a Supreme Court justice, voting rights, sanctions against the Russians, NATO, and other urgent and pressing domestic and foreign matters, my immediate concern is the effort on his part to deny voting rights and dictate what reporters write and say about him.
We want change that financially benefits all Americans, improves all facets of our infrastructure, and keeps us safe from harm as much as possible. However, to improve on some conditions of life in these United States does not mean one favors a totalitarian state, a dictatorship, tyranny or a fascist government to take the place of what we value, cherish and do not want to lose for the sake of any one man’s vanity, a need to make himself larger at freedom’s expense.
(Gene H. McIntyre’s column appears weekly in the Keizertimes.)