Patiently awaiting the Golden Years

OUR president

By Randall Poulton | May 10, 2017

I have been thinking about writing this column since a few weeks after the presidential election but, in a fit of patience, an attribute I am not known for, I have held off until now.

The final straw leading to this essay was a recent story in Rolling Stone. Try this opening sentence on for size: “He (President Trump) looked like a Roman Emperor who had just moved his bowels.”

I would love to ask the writer, Matt Taibbi, how he knows what a Roman Emperor looks like on such an occasion, but that is really not the point. Unfortunately, Rolling Stone has a reputation for running unsubstantiated attack stories, aka fake news (remember the Duke lacrosse team gang rape “account” — a fine piece of fiction). So, in some ways, this rude, fabricated description of OUR president is, by contrast, a minor infraction of journalist standards.

Let me back up the train for a minute. On the day after the election I, like many, was surprised to discover Donald Trump would be OUR next president. But my morning of surprises did not end there. Later, when I attended a board meeting of a local nonprofit, I heard derogatory comments aimed at Mr. Trump. And the anger/hatred was palpable. This from good people holding positions of some import in the local community. Yikes! The tip of the iceberg as they say.

Soon there were anti-Trump “demonstrations” (actually riots) and the full-on media assassination commenced. From what I could discern through the smoke, the president-elect was unfit for office because he is rich, vulgar, a womanizer, anti-Semitic (even though his daughter is married to a Jew), and has a very odd hairdo. Now that I write that description, Trump sounds like a sober version of another iconic politician, Ted Kennedy! My Democratic friends assured me that the over-the-top (some call it “unhinged”) behavior would run its course in a few weeks. It has not, and that is sad and troubling. Hence this plea for fairness and calm.

During my 40-year political “career” I have actively worked to elect Democrats and Republicans. I have given money to candidates of both parties. But, more often than not, I am an “unenrolled” voter, or what we in Maine call an Independent. I offer my political background to demonstrate that, while I voted for Trump, I am by no means a member of the “alt right” (or the “alt left” for that matter). In my experience, the endless attacks against OUR president are unprecedented and uncalled for. And certainly a far cry from the traditional “honeymoon” that normally follows such an election. For example, when President George W. Bush won the race due to the infamous “hanging chads” in Florida, there was some angst among Democrats, but nothing like today’s ugly behavior.

This particular episode from the summer of 2001 is instructive. I was one of those attending a local Democratic fundraiser held at a (another) now-closed Belfast restaurant. Sen. George Mitchell was the headline speaker. Mitchell has always been one of my favorite politicians. Talk about charismatic — the guy is the consummate gentleman, radiating power and fairness. I cannot remember Mitchell’s speech that day, but I sure remember the Q&A that followed.

The first person starts on a rant about how the election was stolen from Al Gore and how George Bush is a no good SOB. Bang! Mitchell firmly cuts off the audience member. Then, in a compassionate and statesmanlike fashion, Mitchell explains to the congregation, in very clear language, the voters have spoken. George Bush is OUR president. In essence, stop the bitching and act your age. Clearly, Mitchell respected Bush and the office and expected the same from this room full of Democrats.

(In an interesting aside, similar to what happened in 2016, the network media had called the 2000 election wrong. They had prematurely given the state of Florida, and the presidency, to Al Gore.)

So, a few years later, Barack Obama defeats Mitt Romney. I did not vote for President Obama, but once elected, I supported him. I truly hoped that he would deliver on the promises he made during the campaign (e.g., government transparency, lower health insurance premiums, stabilizing Social Security). I did not riot and burn down local businesses. I did not suggest that a self-proclaimed druggie, who was unable to pass the bar on his first attempt, or his second attempt, was unfit for office. And, most importantly, I did not excommunicate my friends who supported Mr. Obama. As far as I was concerned, Barack Obama was OUR president and deserved four years to show what he could do. In short, I gave him a clean slate and fair chance.

It seems reasonable to ask that today we all do the same for President Trump. Please! And remember, if he screws up, elections come around every four years. (This fact seemed to be lost on Democrats when they changed the Senate rules to allow confirmation of judicial appointments with a simple majority. Interestingly, when the Republicans followed suit to confirm Judge Gorsuch, it was called “the nuclear option.” I would have called it the “Democratic option.”)

And here’s a quick reality check: So far OUR president seems to be handling his new job rather well: The stock market is up substantially; Ford has agreed to keep jobs in Michigan; illegal border crossings are down over 70 percent; and his nomination to the Supreme Court (one on the names on his list of candidates he released during the campaign) has been seated.

During his visit to Washington, Benjamin Netanyahu recently thanked OUR president for his warm hospitality and expressed his appreciation for OUR president’s strong statements against anti-Semitism. In summary, a real good start in my book. Now, if the Donald would just lose the yellow hair and the weird comb-over, maybe even hard core Democrats would lighten up!

This Month’s Did You Know: By far, the largest employer in the United States is the federal government. Think about the ramifications of that for a minute! Interestingly, just how many people work for the federal government seems to be a fuzzy number with huge variations from source to source. Based on my research, I conclude there are at least 2.8 million federal employees, not including uniformed military personnel and quasi-governmental outfits like the Postal Service and TSA.

In second place is … wait for it … Wal-Mart! As of 2013, Wal-Mart employed nearly 2.2 million people around the world. Of these, more than 1.3 million work in the United States.

In third place is health food giant McDonald’s. According to Wikipedia, 420,000 people are flipping burgers under the golden arches. Rounding out the top five U.S. employers are Kroger and IBM.

Now you know where we work (and where we shop and eat). So, who pays the $2.6 trillion in income taxes our federal government extracts from its citizens each year? According to the Congressional Budget Office’s 2013 report, those with incomes in the top quintile (the top 20 percent) contribute 69 percent of the federal tax revenue. Taxpayers with incomes in the second highest quintile pay most of the rest.

While folks whose incomes fall in the lower 60 percent may pay some taxes, as a group they receive more direct government expenditures (Social Security, Medicare, unemployment) than the meager income taxes they pay in.

Hang on, I agree Social Security is “my money,” withheld from my paycheck during my working years, but in this report the CBO is looking at the inflows and outflows on an annual basis. The bottom line is, there are a lot more people getting than giving, and that is a bad situation in any system. Keep this reality in mind when OUR president rolls out his tax reform package.

Randall Poulton lives in Winterport. He writes a monthly column for The Republican Journal.


Comments (2)
Posted by: Peter Petersen | May 11, 2017 20:27

This is the kind of tone needed in political discourse.  Thanks, Randall!



Posted by: patrick quinn | May 11, 2017 10:50

Randall, OUR president provides copious material for poking fun.  Joking about our leaders is an American institution, like Mark Twain or Horace Greeley, or George Carlin.  Humor is the jovial way to relieve the stress and uncertainty that belies our country. Laugh whenever possible.

I don't like it when people compare Hitler to Trumpf, Hitler wrote his own book and made better speeches.

The Pentagon is changing the nuclear code to exceed 140 characters.....

So Trumpf won't tweet them.

Laugh as much as possible for the future for peace is bleak. Peace.

 

 



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