At­tacks on Trump’s char­ac­ter are mere dis­trac­tions from the real is­sues

South Florida Times - - OPINION -

For­mer FBI di­rec­tor James Comey likens the pres­i­dent of the United States to a mob boss, calls him “un­eth­i­cal and un­teth­ered to the truth” and de­clares him “morally un­fit” to hold the of­fice.

Big deal, right? Not re­ally, not in th­ese times. Even be­fore the 2016 elec­tion, Trump was video­taped boast­ing about grop­ing women. He said if he shot some­one in the street, his sup­port­ers would still stand by him. Sev­eral women ac­cused him of sex­ual mo­lesta­tion and worse and at least two oth­ers claim they had af­fairs with him and were bought off to keep silent.Yet, true to Trump’s as­ser­tion, nearly half of Amer­i­cans still sup­port him.

Trump is way past the point of be­ing hurt by char­ac­ter con­cerns. They have not caused much worry among his sup­port­ers, the Repub­li­can lead­er­ships in Congress or the Evan­gel­i­cals, self-ap­pointed guardians of Amer­i­can moral­ity who gave him 80 per­cent of their votes. They merely serve as dis­trac­tions from the real is­sues.

Th­ese in­clude the peo­ple whom Trump has picked for his ad­min­is­tra­tion and the im­pact his poli­cies will have on the coun­try. Jeff Ses­sions had racist bag­gage be­fore he be­came At­tor­ney Gen­eral, is nul­li­fy­ing mea­sures or­dered by for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama to curb po­lice shoot­ings and is hos­tile to civil rights.

Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Betsy DeVos is dol­ing out mil­lions to char­ter schools, while teach­ers have to strike for a liv­ing wage. En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency ad­min­is­tra­tor Scott Pruitt, who is fac­ing sev­eral fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tions, is gut­ting poli­cies curb­ing pol­lu­tion and open­ing to oil drilling en­vi­ron­men­tally sen­si­tive lands and all off­shore sites, in­clud­ing off the Florida coast.

Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment Sec­re­tary Ben Car­son has purged the agency’s mis­sion state­ment of prom­ises of in­clu­siv­ity and anti-dis­crim­i­na­tion. This lone black Cab­i­net mem­ber once said slaves were merely “im­mi­grants who came here in the bot­tom of slave ships.”

Some ap­pointees have al­ready been forced out of of­fice and some are un­der crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion or in­dict­ment -- new in­hab­i­tants of the “swamp” that Trump promised to drain. In fact, he has ex­tended blan­ket ex­emp­tion from White House ethics rules for all his se­nior staff.

The Af­ford­able Care Act – Oba­macare – has been so gut­ted that the cost of health care is soar­ing. The re­cent multi-tril­lion­dol­lar tax cuts per­ma­nently doles out hun­dreds of bil­lions of dol­lars to the wealth­i­est peo­ple, with every­day Amer­i­cans get­ting only a one-year ben­e­fit.

Some is­sues do not seem to be on the Trump agenda, such as vot­ing rights, which have been rolled back, unem­ploy­ment, hous­ing and, par­tic­u­larly, poverty. Fifty years af­ter the Kerner Re­port un­cov­ered the ap­palling level of poverty, an up­dated study pub­lished this Fe­bru­ary con­cluded, “There are far more peo­ple who are poor now than was true 50 years ago. In­equal­ity of in­come is worse.” To­day, 46 per­cent of Amer­i­cans are liv­ing in se­vere poverty -- 16 per­cent more that in 1975.

United Na­tions of­fi­cial Leilani Farha, on a tour to look at poverty, was astonished to see the num­ber of home­less peo­ple, in­clud­ing a young man heat­ing tor­tillas in a dirty skil­let in San Fran­cisco.“The last time I saw cook­ing on a side­walk was in Mum­bai,” Farha said, re­fer­ring to the In­dian city. Lack of di­ver­sity in the work­place is seen even in the FBI, of which Comey speaks with such rev­er­ence. Alice Speri, re­port­ing for The In­ter­cept on April 21, said 83 per­cent of the 13,500 agents are white and only 4.4 per­cent are black – down from 5.3 per­cent in the 1990s.

But if the grown-ups are un­will­ing to do the heavy lift­ing, the young are wak­ing up to the coun­try they may in­herit. They have started with guns and school safety, with the March For Our Lives, on March 14, in Washington, D.C., or­ga­nized by stu­dents of Mar­jorie Stone­man Dou­glas High School in Park­land, where a gun­man killed 14 stu­dents and three adults, fol­lowed by a na­tion­wide protest at 2,500 schools on April 20 led by 15-year-old Lane Mur­dock of Con­necti­cut.

Justin Blackman, 16, the only one to walk out of the 700-stu­dent Wil­son Prepara­tory Academy in North Carolina on March 14, was joined by 350 school­mates for the protest this month.

Delilah Ma­trese, 10, of Hamilton Ele­men­tary School in Penn­syl­va­nia, was also alone when she de­cided to walk out for the April 20 na­tion­wide protest – but her fa­ther, Stephen Ma­trese, joined her.

Ha­vana Chap­man-Ed­wards, who ac­com­pa­nied her par­ents to the March 14 rally, also was the only stu­dent at Fort Hunt Ele­men­tary School in Vir­ginia to walk out for this month’s protests. She is only 7 years old and her mother, Bethany Ed­wards, signed her out of class.

“She wanted to rep­re­sent African and African Amer­i­can girls who are vic­tims of gun vi­o­lence, as well as her cousin, Tony, who was a vic­tim of gun vi­o­lence,” the mother said.

To­day it is guns but, as th­ese young peo­ple grow older, at least some of them will ex­tend their ac­tivism to other is­sues as they see the tangled web of lies and de­cep­tion that passes for pol­i­tics. Therein may lie the hope for a much bet­ter Amer­ica.

Whether you dote on “the Don­ald” or rail at his con, one thing is cer­tain: Your eyes are not on the prize. What was called Amer­ica – the Chevro­let, Ap­ple Pie, and Democ­racy – es­pe­cially for our over-forty crowd is long gone. What we have now is two frac­tured main­line po­lit­i­cal so-called “par­ties” that strug­gle for their op­por­tu­nity to gore Amer­ica’s non­rich in dis­sim­i­lar ways.

Amer­i­can plu­to­crats, through their ex­ten­sive lob­by­ing ma­chine, are in­sur­ing that fu­ture con­gressper­sons are all rep­re­sen­ta­tives of wealth, be­cause they all will be wealthy peo­ple. Congress has not had a raise in a decade. More than 60 Con­gress­men sleep in their of­fices be­cause Washington, DC area rents are ex­tremely high. A trickle will soon turn into a del­uge of th­ese civil ser­vants leav­ing for other pur­suits.

“So­cial­is­tic Cap­i­tal­ism” (SC) has al­ways been in play at the top end of Amer­ica’s hi­er­ar­chi­cal so­ci­ety, by plu­to­crats and oli­garchs. Amer­ica’s fa­ther, Pres­i­dent Ge­orge Washington, had a net worth of $525 mil­lion – that’s in 1789 dol­lars folks; you know Washington had more than 300 African slaves, to which he was said to be par­tic­u­larly mean, right? Democ­racy and hu­man rights have been scaled by class since Amer­ica’s in­cep­tion. If you were white and owned prop­erty (in­clud­ing slaves, of course) you could vote – but not your wife nor any other woman could vote. Dur­ing slav­ery and since, it’s been in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult for black peo­ple to re­ceive jus­tice re­gard­ing ac­cu­sa­tions by or about rich to poor white peo­ple, in­clud­ing va­grants.

Those that live the SC life en­joy a shar­ing of wealth and ex­clu­sive in­ter­ac­tion and they call that democ­racy, be­cause they are ab­so­lutely demo­cratic within their vaunted realm of Amer­ica’s hi­er­ar­chy. Var­i­ous lev­els of the Amer­i­can mid­dle class are peo­ple that as­pire to get as close to SC while they roil at for­eign coun­tries whose prac­tices are sim­i­lar, but are not called “a demo­cratic repub­lic.”

Un­for­tu­nately, black Amer­ica ap­pears to not un­der­stand that what glues Amer­ica’s hi­er­ar­chy is al­most uni­ver­sal be­lief that God gave this land to white peo­ple from Europe! Not many white peo­ple can

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