Beating up the President

Out of our society, a very few are chosen to lead. Of these, a tiny percentage attain a position of power, be it political, or position-related. The seemingly unattainable position of President of the United States is, no doubt, the pinnacle of political position. Our president, besides being the Commander-in-Chief, the leader of the free world and all of that other stuff, is, necessarily, a smart person.

Any person, so deeply vetted, must have intellect, poise, charisma, and a command of the political environment. Regardless of the talk on the street, few or no dummies ever occupy the oval office. The attainment of such office requires the ability to coordinate a campaign, generate a plan and to execute it under unending scrutiny, to field each question with a rehearsed and proper answer, to incorporate always, and alienate never. One slip and you certainly will fail.

Jimmy Carter is a brilliant man. I believe that he has all of the qualities that would make a great friend or neighbor. He is honorable. He is selfless. He is of high intellect. He is tested and loyal and is stable in times of stress. I do not believe that he was a great president.

Ronald Reagan had none of the appropriate background. He was an actor. He hadn’t a background in business, economics, or even politics. He had seemingly only a handsome face and a good demeanor, yet, I believe, he became one of the great presidents of our time.

One thing that each of these great men share is this – the absolute distain of the unenlightened. I have heard people call our President names, threaten his life, accuse him of subversion. Things that they would never say about their neighbor, they say openly about our President.

It is a wonderful thing, to live in a place where open dialog is allowed that questions or even denounces our government. We are a unique and blessed society to have the freedom that our constitutional government affords us. With this right goes, too, a level of responsibility. We each are responsible to understand the issues and to form opinions on them, to voice our opinions, and to be a part of the process that is our representative republic. This is, unfortunately, not the case.

Many are drawn into these many oversimplifications of complex problems. They fail to understand the need for debate, the building of consensus, and even civility. They accuse Democrats of being irresponsible with money, of buying votes. They accuse Republicans of being elitists, uncaring for the middle or lower class of citizenry. They polarize and alienate and divide. They stand on position without compromise, unyielding to negotiation, ready to fight to the death over any issue.

They refuse to approve budgets, appropriations, they drive our government to the brink of failure – all to prove a point – yet, the point is pointless. If you look back at the political parties that we have today, you will see that they have stood on both sides of the debate over the years. You will find that they just may be simply against what the other wants.

The prime target on the top of the political pyramid is the President. Our disfunction as a society, our disfunction as a political entity, our disfunction as a country, is focused on this one man. Our ignorance, our bigotry, our judgmental tendencies, all are openly expressed without even the filters of decency, at this one man.

What we say about our President, be he white, or black, man, or woman, Republican, or Democrat, is what we believe about ourselves. Reagan showed us; the office of the President of the United States deserves a level of dignity, and every person who is enlisted by us to so serve deserves, too, that level of dignity.

In all steps of politics, we must find, again, open and honest communication. That is dependent on mutual respect and consideration. It is our own failures that we vent at our leader. It is our own ineptitude that causes us to lash out at the one person who we put in the position of ultimate power within our government.

Scott Cahill

Watching a Great Nation, as it Dies

 

I once dreamed of building great structures as I nailed blocks of wood together that my father brought me from construction sites. You see, my father, too, was a builder. There are two kinds of men in this world, those who build, and those who destroy. Building is a tedious and difficult action. Destruction is simple.

Things that were built with great difficulty and planning, may be cast to dust in an instant. These buildings, bridges, dams, and roadways across our great Nation were built by a sea of men, who worked in the heat and cold with hammers and wrenches. The whole is incomprehensibly complex. It is an insurmountable task. Like eating an elephant, it was done one bite at a time. Now, we sit and watch as it slowly crumbles.

In a cemetery, there are rows of stones. They mark the plots where caskets lie in the ground, lives gone, buried, forgotten, but for a name on a granite marker and the memories of those who live on. It is so for the builder, too. Our monuments are bridges and tunnels, power plants, and dams. The work is hard, the life is hard, but the monuments are magnificent.

Still, time is the enemy of all that is standing. She is uncaring and unkind. She drops her shroud across it all. Time has taken from man the great Roman works. The ruins are left to amaze the onlooker at the wonders gone, aqueducts, coliseums, cobble roadways that once connected the greatest empires, reduced, at last to a tourist destination.

She looks now upon the great works of our fathers. Will some strange men come one day and stand in front of a great iron bridge, half-collapsed in Pittsburgh, and take a picture, reading a plaque about the civilization that once existed at the meeting of these three great rivers? The ghosts of riveters and men of steel look on, as we desecrate their work. They cry in the night as once-great structures become slums at the hands of men who do not value quality, or aesthetics.

I was a boy, once, in Salem, Ohio. Salem is a little city. Once it stood at the crossroads of great industry. On the tracks of steel that connected the east to the west. Still I hear the sounds of the great engines as they churn through the night. I was born to them. I will die to them. They are a part of me, as is every nail and bolt that holds together countless elements of buildings and plants, bridges, and dams.

Salem is different now, time changes all. Salem now has little industry. Great tradesmen have been replaced by the desperate and the corrupt, like parasites on a dying animal, they care not for their host. Much of the good is gone, the mills, the tradesmen, the construction. Salem waits for time, to cast her shroud over the architecture of the city. Buildings with ornate facades, mortar crumbling, stained glass windows, falling from rotting frames, beauty becoming ugly, as the corrupt look on for opportunity.

I left Salem long ago. I left her to fend for herself, as I went to build. I thought that it would be here waiting for me to return, unchanged, intact, whole. Alas, time has taken over. She sneaked in as I moved on and decimated my home. We battle, but one man cannot win in a fight with time. She is patient.

It takes all of us, every hand, every voice, to stand up against time, to stand up against corruption, to stand up against government gone awry. It takes every man to think, to understand, to work, and to protest, to change the failings of our nation. There is no time to rest in a democracy. For, democracy is not a normal state of man. Totalitarianism is the normal state of man. Always, democracy requires effort and action to be maintained. Always, in the void of inaction, totalitarianism shall take over with its insidious evolution.

This is what has become of Salem. It has slipped into a state of despair and corruption from which, perhaps, it cannot be retrieved. Our nation, too, is frought with corruption. It is reeling from the losses of freedom, it subordinates itself to oligarchic elements. Shall we all rise up now to fix what is broken, or will we keep quiet, as freedom after freedom are stripped from us, until at last, there remains nothing of so grand a state, but despair, and fear?

The question is this; Salem, Ohio, or the United States, the problem and its symptoms are the same. Shall we rise up as men and build, again, the crumbling elements of our cities, of our nation, or shall we look away and hope that time is kind, and lets us pass, before the inevitable descends upon our children, to fight the enemies that we failed to address? The choice is this; fight, or fail. There is no other call.

If you wonder, what is at risk? It all is at risk. If you wonder, how far will some go to erode the freedoms of men? There is no limit and no end to the efforts of evil. Are we men who can face discomfort and conflict, or cowards, who hide at confrontation?

Scott Cahill