The full quotation in the Washington Post editorial said, “They think we are in deep trouble so we need a rascal in the White House to straighten out the mess.” The reference was to the constant 30 to 40 percent of the Republican voters who continue to support Donald Trump for president. Let’s examine the basic premise of the statement.
Our country is in deep trouble:
Our country was in deep trouble in the 1930s when we were in serious economic struggle during the great depression. At that time we had twenty-five percent unemployment, a major stock market crash that cost Wall Street billions of dollars, and no support base for our most vulnerable citizens, seniors and children. Our country was in deep trouble during the 1940s when we were fighting for our way of life with the totalitarian governments of Europe and Asia, Germany and Japan. Our country was in difficulty but not deep trouble with the recession of 2008 that caused us so much concern. The regulations in place and an alert government leadership handled that crisis.
Unemployment is now below 5 percent, down from more than 10 percent in 2008. Gasoline prices are half of what they were seven years ago primarily because we are no longer dependent on foreign oil. The stock market is up from below 9000 to more than 16,000. Just as important, our military which was fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan now has fewer than 11,000 soldiers in the mid-east, down from a high of 187,000 seven years ago.
Are we really in deep trouble? I don’t think so. It has been much, much worse. So, if we are not in deep trouble why do we think we are? That answer is in the constant negative political rhetoric from our representatives in Washington DC and from the news media who quote whatever they say, no matter how far-out the assertion.
There is one basic rule we should all remember when we are taking the temperature of our national state of being. We have two dominant political parties, Republicans and Democrats. A representative of only one of these can occupy the White House at a time. We tend to swing back and forth between more liberal (Democrat) and more conservative (Republican) leadership. Over the last 50 years we have moved from Nixon-Ford (R) to Carter (D) to Reagan- Bush(R) to Clinton (D) to J.W. Bush (R) to Obama (D). Imagine a large pendulum swinging back and forth from right to left with it never settling in the middle. That constant swinging pendulum helps us keep balance in key parts of our government such as the Supreme Court which tends to move regularly from conservative to more liberal and back again.
Remember, that no political party ever won an election by telling the voters what a great job the other side is doing. The outsiders always sound like the “Nabobs of Negativity” as former Vice President Spiro Agnew used to call them. And, all of that negative drags down our national state-of-mind.
Do we need a rascal in the White House?
No, far from it. What we need is a middle of the road president who will listen to the divergent voices in the country and make the moves necessary to pull us together like the big and diverse family we should be and, just under the surface, we are. Our next occupant of the White House must have an understanding of the responsibilities written in the Constitution for the President and must have a vision of the future the people can identify with. Just as important, that President must be able to communicate that vision so we can all see it clearly.
What we don’t need is more negative rhetoric, more political name calling, more vulgarities from the debate stage, and more demagoguery. It is time for the American people to reign in our emotions and look for logic and reason.
— Dr. Mark L. Hopkins writes for More Content Now and Scripps Newspapers. He is past president of colleges and universities in four states and currently serves as executive director of a higher-education consulting service. You will find Hopkins’ latest book, “Journey to Gettysburg,” on Amazon.com. Contact him at presnet@presnet.net.