Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Most Mocked Man in the World

Can we objectively consider the viewpoint of another and understand, or do we quickly decide their perspective is without merit? Here's a chance to find out.  Read this excerpt from a well-written piece with a different point of view and perhaps different value system.  Which points might be relevant to today's discussion?
“He is, as of this writing, the most mocked man in the world.”
     A man who wished to become the most powerful man in the world, and by happenstance and intervention and a series of disasters was granted his wish. Surely he must have imagined that more power meant more flattery, a grander image, a greater hall of mirrors reflecting back his magnificence. But he misunderstood power and prominence. This man had bullied friends and acquaintances, wives and servants, and he bullied facts and truths, insistent that he was more than they were, than it is, that it too must yield to his will. It did not, but the people he bullied pretended that it did. Or perhaps it was that he was a salesman, throwing out one pitch after another, abandoning each one as soon as it left his mouth. A hungry ghost always wants the next thing, not the last thing.

     This one imagined that the power would repose within him and make him great, a Midas touch that would turn all to gold. But the power of the presidency was what it had always been: a system of cooperative relationships, a power that rested on people’s willingness to carry out the orders the president gave, and a willingness that came from that president’s respect for rule of law, truth, and the people.  A man who gives an order that is not followed has his powerlessness hung out like dirty laundry.  One day earlier this year, one of this president’s minions announced that the president’s power would not be questioned. There are tyrants who might utter such a statement and strike fear into those beneath him, because they have instilled enough fear.

     ... This would-be tyrant didn’t understand that he was in a system where many in government, perhaps most beyond the members of his party in the legislative branch, were loyal to law and principle and not to him. His minion announced the president would not be questioned, and we laughed. He called in, like courtiers, the heads of the FBI, of the NSA, and the director of national intelligence to tell them to suppress evidence, to stop investigations and found that their loyalty was not to him. He found out to his chagrin that we were still something of a democracy, and that the free press could not be so easily stopped, and the public itself refused to be cowed and mocks him earnestly at every turn.

     The man in the white house sits, naked and obscene, a pustule of ego, in the harsh light, a man whose grasp exceeded his understanding, because his understanding was dulled by indulgence. ... One way or another this will kill him, though he may drag down millions with him.  One way or another, he knows he has stepped off a cliff, pronounced himself king of the air, and is in freefall.  Another dungheap awaits his landing; the dung is all his; when he plunges into it he will be, at last, a self-made man.

______________________________________________(the author is a liberal activist, obviously)
Apart from the prophesied disaster for millions, is there some measure of usefulness in the description, that he is perhaps unfamiliar with the workings of political office, checks and balances, and limits of authority?  And rule of law?  And truth?  Has he in some measure bullied his way to the office?  Of course.  Is he a prolific liar?  Consider: 70 percent of Trump’s statements (those checked by PolitiFact during the campaign) were false, 4 percent were true, and 11 percent mostly true.  The statistics since inauguration are similar.  Is that a problem?

To keep things in perspective, critics of Clinton were equally and accurately derogatory.  She was portrayed as a behind-the-scenes manipulator, untruthful, ethicless, and conscienceless.  The DNC was unveiled as unrepresentative of the party.  All such elements are necessary to our understanding and discussion if we are to make our way forward.

Americans are generally dissatisfied with governance and politicians.  Public approval of our Congress has reached historic lows in recent years, and little has been accomplished to the satisfaction of the general public.  Healthcare has seen great change but not improvement in quality, cost, or availability.  International trade has seen great change but not without extraordinarily harsh impact on the developing nations.  The economy has made great progress but only for the wealthiest, particularly in the developed nations.  The GAP between rich and poor continues to widen at an accelerating pace, and the middle class has declined below the 50% threshold.  

We've taken our step toward change.  Can we understand the various concerns of the citizenry?  Can we discuss them thoughtfully?

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