Purely Political, By James Buckley
From the ride down the Golden Escalator at Trump Tower in New York City on June 16, 2015, to the events of January 6, 2021, it was nearly six years of political fun and furor.
Even if you didn’t vote for him (and I did, twice), you miss him.
I mean, really miss him.
Donald J. Trump, our 45th president, duly elected in 2016, took office Jan. 20, 2017, and the following four years of his presidency constituted a political roller coaster ride of historic proportions.
His instincts were spot on.
His smile was infectious.
His indoor tan was … curious.
And mostly (except for those tweets), he did everything right.
A CHALLENGE TO THE ESTABLISHMENT
Let’s begin at the beginning: his inaugural address, which offered anything but glad-handing comity.
It was dark.
Oh, it began lightly enough, with President Trump thanking the various ex-presidents and the chief justice, commenting on how this was in the great tradition of the peaceful transfer of power, etc.
“For too long,” he began, “a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government, while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished,” he continued, “but the people did not share in its wealth.
“Politicians prospered,” he admonished, “but the jobs left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country… That all changes, starting right here and right now …”
It got even darker.
“Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation, an education system flush with cash but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge, and the crime, and the gangs, and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”
You could feel the uneasy tension building in the assembled political bigwigs surrounding the capitol building.
He went on:
“For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military. We’ve defended other nations’ borders while refusing to defend our own. And spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas, while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay. We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon. One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind. The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world.”
“From this day forward,” he promised, “it’s going to be only America first. America first.”
And, he kept that promise, though the attacks against him came swiftly from many in that crowd. After all, they were the ones who had benefited so greatly from policies that had indeed impoverished the working class and gutted small cities across the nation as manufacturers and their factories were lured off-shore with tax breaks and benefits so generous it would be stupid not to take advantage of them.
MANY SUCCESSFUL ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Here are a few things you can chalk up as Mr. Trump’s successes in the face of opposition from nearly every Washington, D.C. power center, including his own Republican Party:
— Walked hand in hand across the DMZ (De-Militarized Zone) between North and South Korea with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
— Finally moved the U.S. embassy to Israel’s capital city: Jerusalem.
— Negotiated the Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
— Enacted economic policies that produced the lowest unemployment rate (3.5%) in 50 years and not only the lowest unemployment rate ever for black, Hispanic, and Asian Americans, but also the lowest poverty rate on record.
— Halted caravans of people heading for the U.S. southern border and stemmed the flow of illegal entry.
— Managed to install three (count ‘em, three!) conservative justices to the U.S. Supreme Court.
— Replaced the job-stealing NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) with USMCA (U.S. Mexico-Canada Agreement).
— Made the case that China was “eating our lunch” and that its WTO (World Trade Organization) designation as a “developing” nation was allowing the Chinese Communist Party to take trade advantage of the United States. President Trump – despite the delusional but well-organized campaign led by Hillary Clinton and her enablers to convince the public that Mr. Trump had “colluded” with Russia to steal the 2016 election and would do Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bidding – repeatedly suggested that it would be a good idea to get along with Russia.
— As soon as it became clear that COVID-19 was going to be a substantial risk to the U.S. population, he launched Operation Warp Speed to support efforts of various medical entities to create a vaccine to defeat the virus.
— Fostered policies that led – finally – to U.S. energy independence.
— Created the Space Force; encouraged creation of more Opportunity Zones in rundown city neighborhoods; insisted on using only Made in America items in all U.S. government projects; encouraged businesses to return manufacturing to these shores, and generally broadcast an upbeat assessment of American labor, management, and expertise.
No one knows for sure how a President Trump would have handled the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the stock market collapse, the $100-plus cost of a barrel of oil, the recurrences of COVID-19 variants, the overturning of Roe v. Wade (if it happens), an inflationary spiral, a possible recession, the interest rate surge, or any number of emergency situations that may arise. But it seems pretty obvious that a majority of Americans are now in a position to state that they believe President Trump would be a better choice to face and deal with whatever occurred.
Unfortunately, we’ve replaced the pugnacious but optimistic “Happy Warrior” Donald J. Trump (with apologies to the late Hubert H. Humphrey) with dour, sour and cognitively impaired Joe Biden — a truculent, pessimistic and hopelessly inarticulate man who seems out of place not only in the White House but wherever he appears in public. Unfortunately, his replacement, Vice President Kamala Harris, is so odious, so incompetent, so inauthentic, that no one wants to see Sad Sack Joe leave office before his time.
All I can say is that November 2024 can’t come soon enough.
James Buckley is a longtime Montecito resident. He welcomes questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. Readers are invited to visit jimb.substack.com, where Jim’s Journals are on file. He also invites people to subscribe to Jim’s Journal.