For those of you that follow me on social media, you know I post on a variety of things, but mostly I write and post on government affairs. Sarcasm and black humor are strong undercurrents of my writing style, which only a few of my followers appreciate.
Above all else, I feel a commitment to be true to what I know is factual, whether you agree with that or not. For me, as it should be for most commentators, writing about public figures, especially politicians, requires a sense of consistency.
In this day and age it doesn’t take any real courage to criticize that with which you disagree. Say pretty much anything online, and a digital flash mob will appear like a school of piranha, gnawing at you one reply at a time. For the most part, I have built up immunity to the folly of modern online debate.
As with every presidential era, people are usually in one of three camps, fervent supporter, ardent opponent, indifferent – nonaligned (for lack of better words). Through all the clatter that permeates our political discussion, many of you would be surprised how many people fit in the third group. However, this group often is standing on the sidelines watching the other two battle it out, shaking their heads in bewilderment. I often find this third group to be my biggest “fans.” Yes, even I have fans.
So, in the Trump presidential era, where do I stand? The same place I always have, firm.
I find it humorous that one group believes me to be a “Trumpster,” while others believe me to be a “Never Trumper.” I am neither. I am me, an individual thinker with the capacity to surprise you. Which means I have on numerous occasions irked both sides of the predominate political parties.
Quite often on social media, in letters to the editor, or by email, demands are made of me to choose principle over party. The person making the demand starts with the false assumption I don’t do that already, and with few exceptions, these same people fail to live by a standard they wish to impose on me. Of course, they would disagree with that, usually repeating ad nauseam, “but it’s different.” No, it really isn’t. The only thing that makes it different is your desire to believe the situation “is different.”
So, let me state a few things I know are fact. President Trump is a liar, just as President Obama was. President Trump did not handle the Helsinki Summit well. The extreme far left (including many in the media) mishandled the reporting of the Helsinki Summit, pushing too hard on commentary and not hard enough on objective analysis. The calls referring to Trump as a “traitor” or “treasonous” are unhinged, and a disproportionate response to the situation, just as those who referred to President Obama in the same manner were ridiculous.
Tariffs are a blunt, economic instrument that are not tools of negotiations, in the same way the character of Sheriff Bart (Blazing Saddles) holding a gun to his own head is great comedy, but would never work in the real world. The proposed $12 billion in taxpayer money to farmers is due to the tariffs with China. The “payment” to the farmers is a bailout, and five or 10 years ago many people applauding both the tariffs and bailouts today, took to the streets with the pitchforks to protest the same when Obama and President Bush proposed them. Yeah, I know, “but Jeff, it is different.”
The fact in our near trade war with the EU is both sides managed to pull back from MAED (Mutually Assured Economic Destruction), but not before world markets were adversely affected, people’s financial stability disrupted, and we ended up in almost the exact same place we would have ended up without the proposed tariffs; a promise to talk further. The big difference of course is the market uncertainty and public anxiety would have been avoided.
People on the extreme far left would love for me to attack Trump, praising me for being principled merely for appearing to be picking up a stick, joining their mob and wailing away on Trump. You will be greatly disappointed. I am nothing like the throng of agitators that have lost their minds since Trump’s election. I refuse to pick up a stick and join the mob just for the sake of being part of the mob.
Likewise, many “allies” would love for me not to criticize Trump, either because they believe he does nothing wrong or the mob that represents the “other side” is doing more than their fair share of criticizing.
My response is what it has always been. Politicians are our employees, we are the employers. They are not gods for us to worship, but people to be held accountable. We fail our responsibility as citizens when all we do is attack those we oppose and praise those we support. We have the power to correct the actions of those we elect, especially those that find favor in our positions. To do anything less is a failure on our part.
When I offered my thoughts and rebukes of policies advanced by Obama, I was applauded and chastised. When I offer my thoughts and rebukes of the policies of Trump I am applauded and chastised. And guess what, that is what standing firm looks like. In the words of President Lincoln, “Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” All I have to say to that is “Hear, hear!”