The Only Alternative

Our very favorite reader is a reluctant supporter of President Donald Trump..He no longer musters any defense of Trump against Trump’s dishonesty and incompetence and corruption crudity, but he feels even greater disdain for the Democratic Party and is continually frustrated that we offer no alternative.
Alas, there is no alternative at the moment, except to begin the difficult process of creating a far better alternative in the future.That means helping the Republican Party of Trump go down in flames,
then trying to revive the Party of Lincoln and Grant and McKinley and Eisenhower and Reagan from the ashes.
America needs a sane center-right party, and always has and always will. Not just to thwart the most destructive ambitions of the left, but to formulate new innovations to improve America’s economy and culture. The party’s economic policy must bemixed but mostly free system based on facts, science and well-tested theories, and not whatever Trump’s gut instincts intuit on a certain day. A sane center-right party would reject Trump’s protectionist trade policies, which favor certain American industries over others and had the manufacturing sector in recession even before the coronavirus and somehow never resulted in those promised greatest deals anyone had ever seen.

The new Republican party should seek to maintain and strengthen the international institutions and the military and trade alliances mostly kept the world peaceful and prosperous since World War II, and stop antagonizing invaluable allies over perceived personal slights and aggrandizing the brutal dictators arrayed against us in exchange for their flattery. It should return to its previous principle of aiding democratic movements anyway.</div.

The new Republican party should be less overtly redneck. America has complicated racial that must be carefully worked out, and defending the confederacy and attacking athletes who take a knee during the National Anthem is not a solution. A more respectful attitude toward women would also be helpful, given the astounding gender gap the party of Trump now has. A new Republican party could continue to champion the rights of white men, but must realize that does no require restricting the rights of anyone else.

The new Republican party should continue to respect the best of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but absolutely reject theocracy, and be tolerant of the many belief systems Americans live by. It can continue to be an antiabortion party, but that cannot be its single issue, and dissenters must not only be tolerated but welcomed into the party.
Above all, a new Republican party would choose its leaders by their qualification and the quality of their character. It would choose men and women capable of responding to the opposition’s arguments with better counterarguments rather than schoolyard taunts and childish nicknames. It would respect the norms of civil discourse, and at all times seek satisfactory compromises rather than total annihilation of the hated enemy.
Admittedly, the downside to this plan is four long years of a Democratic administration, which we would no more relish than our favorite readers. We expect the country would survive that better than another four years of Trump, though. With trust in our constitutional systems and powerful non-governmental institutions, the country survived 16 years of Roosevelt-Truman, eight years of Kennedy-Johnson, four years of Carter, eight years of Clinton, and America somehow survived. Those years left America with a bigger and more expensive government, but they also created Social Security and Medicare and some things our favorite reader now praises. Somehow a Biden-Harris doesn’t seem likely to destroy the country in four short years.
The rebuilding won’t be easy, given how much of the Republican party has sold its soul to Trump, but it won’t be impossible. Much of the conservative electorate — George Will, Jennifer Rubin, Jonah Goldberg, Max Boot, Irving Kristol, Fred Barnes — have remained faithful to traditional Republicanism and unintimidated to call out Trump’s heresies. There are numerous economic and military think-tanks that have continued their center-right ideas with no regard to Trump. Utah Sen. Mitt Romney is the only Republican in Congress to have maintained his integrity, but Independent Rep. Justin Amash would be welcomed back into the party, and surely in each of the 50 states that are Republican legislators and state officials untainted by Trumpism and eager to establish a new and better Republican party. The party should have appeal to both big business donors and rank and file workers who will also pitch, and could be competitive by the next presidential race.
To many of Trump’s dwindling group of supporters this project won’t be nearly entertaining as Trump’s Charlie Callas routines at the rallies, and not so much fun as seeing all the liberals thoroughly enraged, but they’ll get more wins and fewer humiliations.

— Bud Norman

The Third of July

As patriotic Americans we don’t want to spend the Fourth of July with another screed about the President of the United States, as it’s supposed to be one of those all-too-rare apolitical and non-partisan days, so we’ll get it off our chest on the Third of July. President Donald Trump seems intent on turning Independence Day into another one of his endless campaign rallies, with a heaping helping of militarism on top, and several million taxpayer dollars thrown in, with big-bucks donors getting front row seating, and we find it outrageous.
Starting with President George Washington it has been a time-honored tradition for presidents to stay out of the spotlight while the country celebrates the birth of America, except for a brief and humble statement acknowledging the occasion, but Trump cares little for time-honored traditions and always on insists on being the center of attention. He’ll be hogging a stage that’s been set up on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, claiming credit for the traditional fireworks just as he claims credit for people saying “Merry Christmas” in December, with generals and admirals of the American military standing next to him as tanks and troops march down Pennsylvania Avenue as fighters and bombers fly overhead.
Trump is calling it a “Celebration of America,” as if it were his novel idea to celebrate America on the Fourth of July, but everything about it seems a betrayal of American ideals.
The basic idea of the Declaration of Independence that was signed on the Fourth of July in 1776 is that all men are created equal, none are above the law, none are irreplaceable, and America’s greatness derives from e pluribus unum. Trump openly brags about being exceptional, brazenly violates the rule of law and dares his opponents to do anything about it, has repeatedly said that “Only I can solve,” and claims full credit for supposedly restoring America’s greatness by his clear efforts to divide the country. If he somehow manages not to do so on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on the Fourth of July we will be surprised, but his mere presence there seems to imply his usual political rally rhetoric.
America’s military might won our independence from Britain, and has maintained our freedom throughout some very difficult years ever since, so of course it deserves some gratitude on the Fourth of July. Still, the show of strength that Trump has planned is not the way to do it. The top military brass has made it clear to Trump that their soldierly humility makes them uncomfortable flexing their muscles in gaudy parades, the enlisted men and women would probably prefer to have a day off with their families rather than being props in a Trump propaganda ploy, and the whole thing seems more like something you’d see in the old Soviet Union or modern day North Korea rather than in the United States of America. The draft-dodging Commander in Chief bragged the parade would include the Sherman tanks, although there haven’t been any Sherman tanks for more than 50 years, and he also bragged there’d be the newest Abram tanks, although they’re actually called Abrams tanks.In Trump’s skewed worldview America is great because it can kick any other country’s ass in a war, but to our thinking America has that capability because a nation of free men and women and free markets that doesn’t want a fight with anybody made it rich enough and great enough to sustain such a formidable force.
As rich as America is it’s more than $20 trillion in debt, and racking up a trillion more every year even in what Trump calls the best economy ever, and Trump’s show of force won’t help with that problem. He’ll spend millions with the flyovers, millions more rolling tanks and other armored vehicles over streets that weren’t designed to bear such heavy loads and will surely require expensive repair afterwards, and he’s diverting some $2.5 million dollars appropriated for the upkeep of national parks to pay for the stage on the Lincoln Memorial and the other changes to the time-honored tradition of Fourth of July celebrations in Washington, D.C.
Way back in our early teens we had the good fortune to be in our nation’s capital for a couple of Independence Days, and we can say that even Trump couldn’t have made it any greater. They had great fireworks even then, which lit up the skies over the Washington and Lincoln and Jefferson memorials and the Capitol and the reflecting pools and the rest of the gorgeous National Mall, and it was jam-packed with Americans of all hues and every variety, and nobody seemed to care much who was a Republican or who was a Democrat. Rich or poor didn’t make any difference, either, and there was a wonderfully palpable sense of e pluribus unum.
Tomorrow we expect there will be a lot of people in those red “Make America Again” ball caps showing up for another Trump rally, as well as a lot of people and that “Baby Trump” balloon showing up to protest the President of the United States, so at least a few fist fights will result. You can add the D.C. and Capitol Hill police department’s costs to the total bill, and subtract that from how great the Fourth of July used to be on the glorious National Mall of our nation’s capital. The big bucks donor who bought the front row seats for Trump’s speech and “Celebration of America” might not notice, but any average American who gets caught up in the potential riot surely will.
Our plan for tomorrow is to watch our city’s annual dazzling fireworks display in front of the Wichita Art Museum on the banks of the Little Arkansas River, which will light up the skies over the ¬†Keeper of the Plains statue on the nearby confluence with the Arkansas River that marks the spot still ¬†held sacred sacred by the plains Indians. We look forward to sharing the moment with Wichitans of all hues and every variety, and not caring who’s a Republican and who’s a Democrat. Wichita still has a palpable sense of e pluribus unum, and now that we’ve got this off our chest we won’t let the likes of Trump ruin that on a Fourth of July.

— Bud Norman