Point of View Columns

The Birth of Trumpageddon

Historians will undoubtedly look at the 2016 presidential campaign as being unique. The looming and tantalizing presence of Trumpageddon will virtually overshadow everything, much the same way as Donald Trump himself sucks up the media oxygen every day of this very bizarre year. But the most astute historians will go back a half century earlier to discover the roots of Trumpageddon, roots that have nothing to do with Donald J. Trump and have everything to do with the intentional reinvention of the Republican Party in 1964.

Prior to 1964 the national Republican party was indisputably more progressive when it came to civil rights for black Americans. After all, the Democratic Party was deeply rooted in the South, roots that went back as far as the end of Reconstruction and the federal occupation of the formerly treasonous Confederacy in 1876.

After all, the Republican Party came into being with the abolition of slavery being a principal plank in its national political platform in 1860. Abraham Lincoln, the author of the Emancipation Proclamation was a Republican. And when the seething South was liberated from federal occupation in 1876, due in large part to the tricknology of Rutherford B. Hayes who swapped the freedom, civil rights and physical safety of Southern black people in exchange for the presidency, southerners embraced the Democratic Party as their own.

The Democratic Party in the South was the party of Jim Crow and lynching. Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican president, invited the first black American to dine at the White House. Woodrow Wilson, a Democratic president, hosted the premier of “Birth of a Nation” in the White House.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democratic president, never supported anti-lynching legislation for fear of alienating his Southern party members. And it was Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican president, who sent federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas to enforce the Supreme Court’s decision that racially segregated public schools were unconstitutional.

Prior to his untimely death, Democratic President John F. Kennedy was nowhere near a staunch supporter of the Civil Rights Act that was passed posthumously. And in 1960, Richard Nixon, his Republican opponent in that presidential election, had virtually the same amount of support in the national black community as did Kennedy.

As late as 1964, the Democratic Party was the home of  blood-soaked and hate drenched racist villains such as Thurmond and Stennis and Faubus and Wallace and Bilbo. And in 1964 every state that had been a part of the Confederate States of America was firmly on the Democratic side of the national political register.

And then the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed with the urging of Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson, followed by the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And as if by magic, during the following decade, the Republican Party was ascendant in the South, vacuuming up all the disenchanted white Southerners, supposedly in the name of conservatism and state’s rights, but in reality the transition was fueled by the deep and abiding resentment that black Americans were afforded some measure of citizenship and recognition of their humanity by the Damned Democrats.

Should there any be any doubt regarding the linkage of race and the Republican ascendancy, it should be remembered that Ronald Reagan, the patron saint of Republican conservatism, launched his national presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, less than twenty years after three civil rights workers were lynched within miles of the podium on which he stood. And when Reagan proclaimed that “government was the enemy”, he was referring to that same federal government that was often the only source of protection for black Americans seeking asylum and vindication in their own country. That dog whistle blew loud enough for white ears in the South and throughout the nation.

It should, therefore, be no surprise that the modern Republican Party, reborn in radical response to the advancement of racial civil rights progress would be the home of the impending Trumpageddon. It certainly should be no surprise that the political party that turned a blind eye to the clearly racist and racial efforts to delegitimize the first African American presidency would serve as the incubator for those would seek to delegitimize the entire apparatus of the federal government.

Republican leaders like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell who refused to extinguish the dark magical thinking that claimed that Barack Obama is a Muslim, or “hates America” or is not even a citizen, cannot be surprised that a master manipulator like Donald Trump could harness this malevolent harvest and turn it into a movement. And now, for good historical reason, Trumpageddon is upon us.

The Republicans are reaping what they have sown, and that harvest is being served to America.

 

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Point of View Columns

The Sky is Falling………..Really!

On the evening of May 12, 2015 an Amtrak train derailed just outside of Philadelphia. What we know is that 8 people died. What we know is that over 200 people were injured. What we know is that it is the deadliest train crash in this country in 7 years. And what we know is that another tragedy will happen. It is only a matter of time.

What we also know is that this country has a $3.6 trillion infrastructure deficit. That means that the United States needs to spend almost $4 trillion before 2020 just to repair and maintain the current decrepit and crumbling infrastructure of the so-called greatest nation on Earth. This multi-trillion dollar figure does not include a single new bridge, new highway, new airport or new railroad system. What we are talking about is the most expensive patch and repair job in history.

It is a damn shame that of the 83,000 dams in this country, almost 10,000 of them are considered to be high risk. Over 50% of the dams in this country are over 50 years of age and it is only a matter of time before some monstrous dam disaster inundates a huge swath of this country killing countless Americans and costing countless billions of dollars.

And while we are on the subject, there are over 300,000 miles of federal highways and major roads in this country. According to the Federal Highway Administration 45 percent, or 135,000 miles of these roads that carry families, schoolchildren, explosives and the food that is on your table are considered to be not in good condition. And more than 71,000 of this country’s bridges are rated as structurally deficient and 78,000 bridges are rated as functionally obsolete. These are roads and bridges that carry the families, schoolchildren, explosives and the food that is on your table. It is more than logical to assume that when it comes to the next tragedy, it is only a matter of time.

And as anyone with a car knows, poor road conditions are expensive, costing American drivers $67 billion per year – an average of $335 per motorist. And the Associated General Contractors of America estimate that the construction industry loses $23 billion annually due to delays caused by traffic congestion.

The problem with these statistics is that they tend to anesthetize the public instead of rousing people to action. There are so many signs of the decay and deterioration of the American infrastructure that all one has to do is visit an American airport, ride on an American railroad or be aware of the fact that some of the water pipes in its greatest city – New York – are made of wood and were built by the Dutch centuries ago. Yet the statistics and the actual personal witness of decay have not been enough to move this country in the logical direction of rebuilding its infrastructure before a cascade of tragedies and disasters leave us all in endless rubble and wholesale carnage.

It is a fact of history that this country has not been invaded by a foreign power since the War of 1812. With the exception of a few harmless Japanese balloon bombs in World War II and 9/11 of course, the United States has been remarkably untouched by the wars of the world. And ironically, it is this fact of history that has resulted in this country having critical infrastructure components that are many times more than a century old.

Every major country in Europe suffered widespread devastation during World War II. Japan, China and Korea were subject to bombings that left the major cities of those countries in ruins. As a result, just about every aspect of these countries had to be rebuilt – airports, shipping terminals, factories, power plants, dams, railroads, bridges, highways and housing – all had to be replaced. And they were replaced with 20th century technology making it easier for transitions into the 21st century.

Yet, as this incredible infrastructure disparity oozes into plain view, infrastructure repair and replacement is simply not in the current political discussion. Social issues, trade agreements and foreign policy are of incredible importance. But so is this country’s infrastructure.

The Teapublicans see infrastructure expenditures as just another item to be sacrificed on their No-Tax altar. Democrats fear the “tax and spend” label so much that many times they stand mute as this country literally collapses before our very eyes.

And so we mourn the loss of life in Philadelphia with the very clear knowledge that this will not be the last time that lives will be lost due to the damaged and decrepit American infrastructure. It is only a matter of time.

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