Eight years ago, Barack Obama promised change. His political slogan was the inspiring “Yes We Can.” A vast majority of Americans dreamed of an expanded popular participation in the social fiber of our great nation. Voters lined up on election day to cast their ballot for the first African-American man to reach the highest political office in the land with residence in the White House.
With strong emotions, large segments of the country envisioned the realization of the President’s campaign promises. It was exhilarating to think that the United States would disengage from the war in the Middle East after the horrors of torture and escalations of war lagging from the Bush/Cheney administration. The extended incarceration of our enemies in Gitmo would soon become one more inexcusable event in our national History. Instead, exhaustive diplomacy would become our prized tool to prevent other wars. We would achieve the peace long-desired by everyone at last. Mr. Obama’s election would signal the dawn of a new society; one Martin Luther King envisioned, the judgment of individuals by the content of their heart replacing the abhorrent notion of hatred over the color of their skin.
There would be equality in economic opportunities. It was the end of the status quo keeping the middle class at bay, unable to achieve greater financial success by personal initiative and hard work. The success of Mr. Obama would end the hegemony of the powerful and the well-connected over everyone else. All hard workers would have equal access to the realization of their goals and aspirations. In one sentence, we hoped to achieve at last equality of justice, signaling a more auspicious tomorrow for our children to grow up in a more perfect Union.
Alas, eight years later we deal with a different reality. We suffer from an array of senseless violence in cities across our nation. We read statistics pointing to increased criminal atrocities in our cities, surpassing levels attained eight years ago.
We count today larger numbers of incarcerated individuals. Daily on television we watch communities mourning the death of innocent children at the hands of mentally unstable individuals in dire need of access to mental health facilities and professionals. All around hot points in our cities there are individuals gunned down in turf wars and gang violence. Many of our inner city neighborhoods have become battle zones where sorrow and anxiety prevent our youth from studying, working, playing and enjoying themselves over fear and insecurity. We saw Chicago, Baltimore, Ferguson, Dallas and Baton Rouge in the news for the wrong reasons. In dismay, we learn of individuals in desperation targeting the police, seeking with inexcusable violence to raise awareness for the excesses of a handful of thugs dishonoring their badge by failing to serve and protect the citizens in their communities.
Government statistics demonstrate that more people live in poverty today than before. Fewer individuals are working full-time. To attempt to make ends meet, our breadwinners work two and three jobs, mostly without benefits beyond their hourly wage. The labor participation rate is at its lowest historical level while our population is at a peak. The median income per capita is lower now than it was eight years ago. Extreme poverty in the US–that is households living with less than $2 per day before government assistance–more than doubled, from 636,000 to 1, 460,000 households, including 2,800,000 children, between 1996 and 2011, with most of this increase occurring between late 2008 and early 2011, according to H. Luke Shaefer & Kathryn Edin’s 2012 published work, Extreme Poverty in the United States*.
Woefully, the last eight years have brought an escalation of the wars across the Middle East. We’ve learned of an Arab Spring insurgency across northern Africa to overturn authoritarian despotism that turned against us and our desire to instill our democratic values in their region. Our State Department working stealthily with CIA operatives and with other US government agencies tried to foster a more American-centered outlook for prosperity in a region of the world where conflict has existed for two thousand years; a region primarily guided by religious beliefs in conflict with our Jude0-Christian traditions. However, despite our best intentions and those of our Secretaries of State beginning with Hillary Clinton and followed by John Kerry, the product of our unsolicited although well-intentioned meddling brought more chaos, more death and more destruction to the region, turning our effort into the reason for more hate directed at us as a country, with ordinary Americans bearing the brunt of their misplaced anger. Tens of thousands of families were displaced from the region and continue to seek refuge in Europe, the Americas, Australia and the rest of the democratic countries around the world. There are possibly hundreds of thousands dead by the wars of American involvement. We face strong opposition to democracy because the people of the region haven’t learned to separate their political and economic life from the strict mandates of their religious beliefs.
Our soldiers remain stationed around the world. They’re charged with maintaining the peace and with upholding democratic principles where we truly should not remain securing lines of communication that seem to benefit exclusively large conglomerates of multi-national corporations. In the absence of a Central Bank, our economy is held up by the Federal Reserve System, commonly referred to as The Fed. It’s an entity owned by private banking concerns that fixes our rate of interest and the nation’s money supply. Without a doubt, The Fed rules our nation’s financial life and its power extends beyond our borders to influence the central banks of other nations by its immense financial power. The Fed has the power to override the free market by fixing an arbitrary rate of interest for financial transactions. Its day to day operations remain shrouded by a veil of secrecy granted by the Congress without even the basic accounting notion of auditing the books.
Retired Americans see the fruit of their lifetime of frugality to ensure a dignified lifestyle in retirement reduced to negligible rates of interest in savings accounts. To obtain better returns, old folks are forced to assume more risk than prudent individuals unable to replace their capital if lost should undertake. At the other end of the age and labor spectrum, we find that as a rule Millennials remain living at home with their parents because their large college debt prevents their financial independence. Our youth is vastly unemployed and the lucky few who successfully found work are mostly engaged in part-time job assignments.
In recent weeks we saw Mr. James B. Comey, the current head of the FBI, recommending no legal action after an exhaustive investigation of Hillary Clinton’s subterfuge with a private server in her basement. Most adversaries consider her actions the product of elitism together with the desire to circumvent the Freedom of Information Act. Mr. Comey acknowledged Mrs. Clinton had not been truthful and forthcoming with accurate information. In fact there were thousands of emails missing, many covered secret information, restricted information, sensitive information, classified as national secrets that she mishandled. Publicly she denied any knowledge of computers and an innocence belying her position as a former First Lady, a former US Senator and as Mr. Obama’s first Secretary of State. In fact she had lied multiple times when directly asked about her emails. Mr. Comey’s recommendation was based on a prosecutor’s inability to prove intentional misconduct if an indictment followed their investigation. It was more suitable to all involved to refer to the thousands of missing emails and the public denials related to the incident as incompetence. Despite Mr. Comey’s public assertions on national television days earlier, days later we witnessed Mrs. Clinton reiterating that she had not lied and that it was clear she had not committed any crimes. There are several conflicting accounts of less powerful figures who faced criminal charges for similar actions as those of Mrs. Clinton and none was hoarding information in their private servers or used special software to remove all trace of deleted documents. For more information read this document.
Now I ask, is this the United States of America envisioned by the Framers of the Constitution? Is this the legacy we want to leave our children? Is it the profile of a successful eight years in office? Finally, do we want to grant Hillary Clinton the opportunity to continue and expand the work of President Obama as she vehemently proposes to the American people?
Certainly, there are questionable qualities in Donald Trump. As a candidate some think he’s not conservative enough. Some believe his large experience with bankruptcies and failed businesses underscore a skillful fast-talker who will sell us out to the highest bidder. Many believe he’s insincere when he advocates himself as the spokesman for the neglected middle-class because his past dealings and self-disclosed vast wealth make him a member of the elite. All these negative assertions narrow down this piece to one final question and a personal regret.
What would be better for America at this juncture, a proven liar, a corrupt elitist whose actions have demonstrated failure after failure during her tenure as Secretary of State with years of increased racial tension as minorities of color enjoy less and less opportunity under politicians partisan to the Democratic Party in Congress, someone at present proposing an expansion of the status quo that keeps everyone poorer or the alternative, someone whose reputed bigotry by the commentaries he has personally made contradict his success as a businessman and his personal interaction with thousands of employees, most of whom attest to his tolerance for people of all races and origins, whom they identify as being more focused on results than pedigree, an entrepreneurial billionaire without any financial need to sell the power of his office to the highest bidder?
While Americans are able to select from a larger list of candidates by resorting to multiple other political parties whose candidates appear on the ballot, the reality is that only one or two exceptional elections saw a third-party candidate win the White House in the last one hundred years. It’s only the donkey or the elephant controlling the outcome of our elections. No other party has the deep pockets required to nominate and match the expense of promoting a candidate for president. Regretfully, former Texas US Congressman Ron Paul with the libertarian philosophy he advances never made it to the debates. It’s clear to me that given the present state of our national interests, only ignorance of party principles would detract the overwhelming majority of voters from choosing in November a libertarian candidate for President of the United States.