The Republican Senator

Photo by Ramaz Bluashvili on Pexels.com

He’s in his office, in Washington D.C., thinking about his circumstances.
He’s not pleased.
The congressional hearings investigating the attack on the Capitol on January 6th are still going on. He wishes they would go away, but there they are, day after day.
Secretly – he hasn’t said a word about it to anyone – he wishes he’d had the guts that Liz Cheney has shown, taking a leading role in investigating Donald Trump’s role in the attack.
She is doing what she thinks needs to be done, not what her constituency wants her to do.
That’s the hard part, he thinks to himself. Going against your constituency.
‘It takes a certain kind of courage.’
‘The congressional investigation has uncovered enough, as if the facts themselves, as reported by the press at the time of the event, hadn’t been sufficient.’
‘Donald Trump had incited the crowd to march on the Capitol with the intention of disrupting the counting of the electoral ballots. Clearly an assault on democracy.’
Yet there he is, as Senator, sitting in his office, unable to say so.
A pang of shame fills him for a moment.
If he spoke out against Trump he’d face harsh criticism from his constituency. They would demand that he resign. And then, what would he do with his life?
All the attention he gets now would be gone.
No more ‘Senator, tell us about this, Senator, tell us about that…’ No more reporters chasing after him, photographers clicking their cameras, newspapers quoting him, lobbyists wanting his approval, trips here or there to investigate this or that, meetings with foreign leaders… and worst of all… losing the possibility of being picked for secretary of state or… dream of dreams… as a running mate for the presidency.
All he needs to do to keep those possibilities alive is to not criticize Trump.
All he needs is to simply keep lying to himself, repeating that on January 6th, Trump didn’t really incite his followers to march on capitol hill to disrupt the electoral ballot counting… that what he really was doing was asking his supporters to remind the ballot counters of their sacred duty to the country. Remind them to do the patriotic thing. But then things got out of hand.
‘But you cannot hang that on Trump,’ he repeats to himself.
‘The president would never, ever, try to disrupt the democratic process. Far from it, instead, Trump would offer his life to defend it. Because that’s who he is.’
The senator takes a deep breath. ‘It will blow over. I just have to wait it out. We all have to.’
‘I just don’t think I could live without all that attention I get every day.’
‘I’ll admit, it’s a little sad… to have become such attention junkie. But I would get very depressed if I didn’t have it. In a way, though, to have become so dependent on the opinions of my constituency is unsettling… I’m their mouthpiece.’
The thought of Liz Cheney comes to him again. ‘How can she do it? Surely, she won’t be reelected. So what will she do with her life?’
‘Hmm. Maybe, because of her willingness to disagree, she’ll get some nice offers to be a board member with some big companies. She’d get stock options and so forth. And she’d have that pride, that lasting satisfaction, that she’s made a name for herself. People might revile her, but they will remember her for her guts. That’s a nice way to be remembered.’
The Senator leans forward, rubs his face.
‘All is not lost. I could still change my mind.’
‘What makes matters worse is that I don’t think Trump will win the Republican nomination. There will be a big rift in the party and DeSantis will be chosen to run in 2024. But we won’t win the presidency, unless Biden screws up… but so far, unbelievably, he’s holding up.’
‘I don’t think we’ll win the presidency because Biden’s done a good job on the war in Ukraine… and I don’t think we’ll go into a recession… and if we do, it will be mild.’
The Senator stands up and goes to the window where he stands looking out.
‘But what if… I changed my mind and… came out in support of Liz Cheney?’
He smiles.
‘The phone wouldn’t stop ringing and right away Trump would endorse someone to run against me this Fall.’
He laughs.
‘My family would be all upset… but I’d explain and they’d settle down. I’d tell them that I have to do it for myself… for my self-respect. I’d figure out something to do with my time. It’s not like I haven’t earned a decent living before. And if, later on, I’d want to return to Washington, I’m sure I can find a job as a lobbyist.’
‘But do I have it in me to go against the pack?’
He looks out, a determined expression now coming to his face.
‘Deep inside, we’d all want to be like Liz Cheney… and maybe… just maybe… I’m due for a good fight in my life.’

Oscarvaldes.medium.com, apple podcasts

Trump’s Lament

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

He riled up Republicans in 2016 with a promise of remaking their world.
But he couldn’t deliver.
He had overpromised.
Rather than speak to his supporters and tone down their expectations, he kept up with the unrealistic notions.
Tweeting was a way of avoiding the reflection necessary to engage in a dialogue with the opposition. But he couldn’t muster the political courage.
So he tweeted some more. Maybe he reasoned that keeping his followers entertained would suffice. It didn’t.
The famous Wall was a distraction. It never got built, but there are patches of it, here and there, like relics in a battlefield.
Make America Great Again was a bust
In this age of growing interdependence you need allies. But he couldn’t muster the discipline and forethought.
Still he kept stirring up partisanship, fostering divisions amongst Americans and eluding the dialogue that sits at the center of any attempt to build bridges amongst ourselves.
In foreign policy he could not stand up to Putin. He could not say to the Russian dictator ‘do not meddle in our elections.’
And so Trump’s character flaws mounted and mounted.
There was that one time when a female staffer in his administration had quit and then criticized him. He answered by calling her ‘a dog’.
And then, to crown his history of misjudgments, he incites a crowd to march on Capitol Hill on January 6th. Testimony emerged during the congressional hearings on the matter that he wanted to personally lead the assault on the capitol, to disrupt the electoral ballot counting.
His own staff had urged him to not proceed with his intentions. He even tried to coerce his vehicle’s driver to take him there. But the man objected.
In the end, he had to accept that his administration had been a failure. But it’s been rough getting there.
He may have started to accept reality but a side of his still fights it.
Most painful of all was that he had a chance to make a difference but he botched it.
He has trouble living with that.
In the face of events, sane Republicans recognize what a disaster Trump has been for the party. But it will take time to process. They are now looking in the mirror and acknowledging that they did elect him and cheered him on. Eventually, those sane Republicans will find their truth and Trump will not get the nomination for president he still hopes for.
His time has passed and he has to live with his lament, the opportunity to lead that was botched and botched badly, because he dared not think of all Americans.
Sadly, he will go down as the worst Republican president ever.
He knows it and it hurts.
Sane Republicans’ reckoning with themselves will require time, time to relearn to trust their judgment, which is why I believe they will not win the next presidential election.
If Biden chooses not to run, that election will belong to a woman, and the woman will be from the democratic party.
Maybe it will be Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar or Cortez Masto, or another person yet to emerge.
And history will move us on.

Oscar Valdes, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts.

Trump on Roe vs Wade, Putin and the War

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

He’s standing in front of the window of his office in Mar-a-Lago, which looks out onto the golf course.

‘Finally… my vindication… Roe vs Wade is overturned because I put in those judges. My vision and determination have been proven right.’

He smiles to himself, rubs his chin gently.

‘And this marks the beginning of my return to the White House. I feel very excited.
The nation is longing for sanity. What are we doing in Ukraine?
Unbelievable.
If I had been president, as I should have because the election was stolen from me… there would not have been a war in Ukraine. We wouldn’t have had this god awful problem with inflation, people wouldn’t be suffering with high gasoline prices… and thousands and thousands of Ukrainians and Russians would be enjoying their lives with their families.
All that upheaval, the mass migrations, lives destroyed or turned upside down, buildings demolished… unbelievable… all of it… I cry when I see the scenes… all of it was preventable… but the democrats didn’t see it… they just can’t… it’s not in them… they’re an inferior brand of politicians.’

He shakes his head ruefully.

‘If I had been in office, Putin wouldn’t have had any reservations about picking up the phone and calling me up, “Donald… I’m feeling very uncomfortable with Zelensky in Ukraine carrying on about wanting to apply for membership in NATO… I don’t like it. I need your help. I’m feeling like they’re setting a trap for me.”
Yes… Putin would’ve been honest with me… because we had that kind of relationship… and I would’ve helped. I would’ve asked him what he wanted… and he might’ve said something like, “I need to take Ukraine back… like when we had the Soviet Union. Since then, they have been a shambles, riddled with corruption and now they have all these neofascists infiltrating the government…’’
And I would’ve said… “Vladimir… make it quick… if it drags on it becomes a problem… so do it fast… it’s the humanitarian thing to do, anyway, so we can spare lives. Can you do that?”
And we wouldn’t have had this disaster that the democrats and the EU have created.
Amazing. What a difference a man can make in the course of history.’

Next to the window stand a few golf clubs. He crosses and selects one, which he now holds in his hands and start to motion as if he were about to tee off.

‘What this obsession with freedom? If you feel unfree take a vacation… that will do it. If you feel unfree, go out and make money, lots of it, that will do it.
With me in the White House… the moment the EU members would’ve felt rattled by Putin’s move to take over Ukraine, I would’ve invited them over and said, let’s be practical, what use is Ukraine to us? And they would’ve looked at each other and nodded. And I would’ve added, if we put sanctions on Russia, then they will retaliate and cut your oil and gas supplies… which will hurt the economy and nobody will be happy. Anyway, I’ve been onto you guys to increase your defense spending to 2% of GDP and you haven’t done it, so why get all upset now?
Go with the flow.
“But what about Ukraine’s freedom?” some would’ve asked, and I would’ve answered that it’s up to each nation to deal with it. We can’t do it for them. I’ve known men who were in relationships where they were henpecked and they loved it. So it’s up to each individual nation. If Putin is still president of Russia is because Russians like it that way, otherwise they would’ve thrown him out.
Same with the Chinese, if they haven’t revolted against Xi Jinping is because they love it.
We’re not created equal. Law of nature. So with freedom.’

He swings the golf course. And again. Still dreaming with that hole in one he’s never got. But the Roe vs Wade decision has come close to giving him that sense.

‘If I had been in office there wouldn’t have been this horrible problem with inflation and people starving. Instead the markets would be soaring, everybody getting richer and richer. But the democrats, instead of putting Zelensky in his place and telling him to cool it, fell for his act. Freedom!’

He laughs.

‘If I had been in power I wouldn’t have insisted on any sanctions on Putin and said to my fellow Americans, let’s not push Russia onto China’s arms… instead let’s build a good relationship with them. I’m more worried about China wanting world supremacy than Russia. But I can work with China, too. For now we got the tariffs that I put on them and they’re working.
With me in power, American businesses would not have had to leave Russia and would be making all kinds of money. And when I returned to Moscow aboard Air Force One, I would’ve been able to get myself a Big Mac.’

He smiles to himself as he returns to the window and to look out onto the golf course again. In the distance he sees his son in law, Jared, and Ivanka, walking on the greens, golf clubs in hand.

‘This overturning of Roe vs Wade has made up my mind. I will run again. The hearings on the January 6th incident will amount to nothing, since I never incited any violence, all I wanted was for American patriots to remind the people counting the electoral ballots that there might be some cheating involved… but it got out of hand. I regret the loss of lives.
So… I will run for president in 2024 because the nation needs me. The country has lost its way and I can set it back on the right path. Get the wall finished also.
As far as running mate is concerned, I’ll have to think about it some more. But I’m starting to think of Nikki Haley. Between the two of us we’ll cream Biden – Harris. They won’t have a chance. And after 4 years I’ll retire as the most consequential American president ever.’

He looks up at the ceiling.

‘God, you’re with me, ain’t you? Ha! I know you are.’

Oscar Valdes, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts

Digesting Trump. Squaring with Immigration

Photo by William Fortunato on Pexels.com

First of all, digest Mr Trump the nation must. 

Digest him as in understanding what drives him.  

Otherwise we leave unprocessed the yearnings and motivations that led his followers to the absurdity of the assault on the Capitol on January the 6th and make a repeat possible.

Otherwise we leave unprocessed the ongoing attachment by a significant sector of the Republican party to a man who lacks the ability to lead.

Mr Trump can stir and inspire many people but that does not make him a leader. 

A leader is the person who can work with those they inspire to elevate them through a greater understanding of what ails the nation, not simply to play to their passions. 

If the so called leader does not do that, then they are no more than a rabble rouser. 

At the very core of what divides the nation today are immigration and inequality of opportunity.

I’ll take immigration. 

There is a reluctance in the average Trump supporter to accept that immigration is essential to our path forward.

Without immigrants from all over the world – not just from England and Ireland and Germany and Scandinavia – we would not be where we are.

It is hard for the average Trump supporter to accept that.

Without immigrants we will not have the hard edge to answer China’s challenge.

Business loudly asks for them. ‘Give me your immigrants!’ the business community says loudly to the world. ‘If you want to work hard and make something of yourself, this is where you must come!’

The average Trump supporter, fearing they may lose standing in their own land, is reluctant to endorse that call. 

Trump sensed that and said to himself, ‘this is my ticket to the White House. God knows that in all my years I’ve never done a thing for anyone in public life (a life mostly spent building hotels and golf courses for the rich and then filing timely bankruptcies) but I now see this great emotional need in Americans, so why not milk it?’ 

And people fell for it. 

Many Trump supporters realize now that something is very wrong with the man they voted for but are having trouble moving past. 

Immigration has much to do with it.

Immigration is not an easy subject. The rest of the world is also having trouble dealing with it. 

But hold on to those antipathies and gradually nations will lose their competitive edge.

Hold on to those antipathies and you lose the stimulus for renewal.

To our credit, in spite of strong nativist sentiments, America has kept its doors open to immigrants. 

Immigrants equate renewal. Renewal equates progress. 

Keep our doors open and we will have plenty of brain power to shape our future.

Close them and we will injure ourselves.

Trump could not lead because he could not build bridges. Not to other Americans, not to other nations, not to himself. Yes. Let me restate the latter. He could not build bridges to himself. If he had, he would have become an integrated man. But he did not. An integrated man is one who reflects and recognizes others may have better formed opinions than his. Trump could never do that. And thus his fundamental failing. 

An integrated man would have accepted the loss in the election and asked his supporters to accept the results, examine the mistakes made and move past.

An integrated man would have accepted that the doctors in the Center for Disease Control knew more about viruses than he did. If he had, he would probably have won the election in spite of all his failings. 

But he could not accept any of the above because he does not have an open dialogue with himself that can lead to reflection and to accepting that others may know more than him. 

Doctors at the CDC spend all their time dealing with viruses, but Trump thought he knew more than them.

But the man could tweet. Oh, yes. And degrade others. And make stuff up. Plenty of it. 

That so many Americans fell for his act and still do is something that needs to be digested. 

Processed. Understood. So we can move on.

The whole nation has to process a profoundly maladjusted leader and why we chose him in 2016.

That is on all of us. That is on the entire nation.

If we do not do the processing required, then we will repeat the same mistakes.

We cannot afford that.

China, of course, is counting on us not doing our homework. And so are all our detractors in the rest of the world.

Oscar Valdes. Oscarvaldes.net

Trump – The Day After

He’s in the Oval office and his adult children, Ivanka, Eric and Donald Jr, are seated across.

He’s in a sad, pensive mood.

Both Facebook and Twitter have banned him from their accounts for the remainder of his term.

Some of his staff have resigned.

The phone is not ringing like it was before.

The TV is muted but still the scenes of the chaos from the assault on the Capitol the day before are replayed.

He looks at his children. They’re all quiet.

Trump – I didn’t intend for it to get out of hand. But I was well aware that the electoral ballots were being counted.

Ivanka – It was horrendous… the disrespect of the Capitol… I could barely watch it.

Donald Jr – You didn’t intend for it to get out of hand…

Eric – Right… it just happened… it was a patriotic demonstration… people need to be able to protest… it was probably some communists in the group masquerading as your supporters that stirred up the rest. We’ll have to investigate.

Trump folds his arms.

Trump – I suppose… I wanted to write my own ending to my presidency… not wait till Inauguration Day.

Ivanka – That you did.

Donald Jr (glancing disapprovingly at Ivanka) – It’s not like this is the end of his political career.

Ivanka – I think it is.

Eric – What? No. Dad… this will blow over… look at all the Senators who have come out in favor of overturning the election, even after the riots.

Donald Jr – There were too many irregularities…way too many… it’s not the end. It can’t be.

Ivanka – Excuse me, but I don’t see what’s the point of glossing over the issue. This is the end. That’s it. No more.

Eric (miffed) – The end… after 74 million people voted for him?

Donald Jr – Of course it’s not the end.

Ivanka rises and walks off a few paces before turning to her brothers.

Ivanka – Just what are you doing? You’re not helping anybody here. This is not what dad needs now… not what any of us needs now.

(she now faces her father)

What you needed from us after the voting ended and it was clear Biden had won, and still you kept denying the evidence, was for all of us to have come together, sit you down and just tell you, ‘Give it up, dad… you lost… and the longer you keep denying the truth, the more likely you will be of doing something stupid, really stupid, which is what yesterday was all about.

Donald Jr (jumping to his feet) – Stop it, okay, stop it now! You’re being disrespectful.

Ivanka (firmly) – No, you stop. Since when is telling the truth disrespectful?

Eric – You’re getting hysterical.

Ivanka (calmly) – Isn’t it really easy to call me that, Eric? What about what I just said we should’ve done?

Eric – Dad had it under control all along.

Ivanka – No, he didn’t. He never did have anything under control. And he didn’t because he didn’t muster the guts to do it.

Donald Jr – Don’t talk like that!

Trump – Let her talk.

Ivanka returns to her seat. She leans forward and then, holding her face, struggles to hold back her tears as she looks directly at her father.

Ivanka – I’m sorry dad… but you screwed up… you really did… this is big… really big… and there’s no turning back, is there?

Trump nods slowly.

Trump – No… there isn’t.

Ivanka – There will be no more presidential campaigns for you… no more rallies… you’re done politically… and maybe even as a businessman…

Donald Jr – What are you saying?

Ivanka (ignoring her brother, still looking at her father) – Who’s going to return your phone calls?

Trump is silent.

Ivanka – And all because you couldn’t process the pain of your loss… all because you couldn’t pause to admit your mistakes and learn from them.

Trump now rises. He crosses to the window and looks out. The sun is setting and the city’s lights are turning on.

Trump – There it is… isn’t it? As simple as that.

(pause)

I’m going to miss Washington. Yes, I am. The thing is… I had great moments as a president… I’ll never forget those moments… but I failed overall… and I did because I gave up on trying to reach out to the other side. If I had… I would’ve learned as I went and I’d have won the election. Take the Covid crisis… if I had just let the doctors take over and tell us what to do… instead of me fighting them all the way… then it would’ve been different. But I had to hog the mike. I had to be the one always in front of the camera. I was too insecure to let it be otherwise.

He turns around, walks back slowly to his seat and sits down.

Trump – Ivanka raises an issue I had not thought about… caught as I was in my own anger… I may have damaged the Trump brand… and that may affect your careers.

Eric – Never mind that, dad, we’ll deal with it.

Donald Jr – It’s not over. Give it some time… and you’ll be able to run again in 2024. And beat Biden.

Eric – People love you… and they will forgive you.

Trump leans forward and looks down at the ground for a moment. Then he looks up at Ivanka.

Trump – What do you think I should do now?

Ivanka – Apologize to the nation.

Trump – Apologize?

Ivanka – Yes, dad. If only for your dignity… for your self respect. You need to go on national television and apologize to the nation for all your mistakes. And maybe… maybe… you’ll find forgiveness.

Trump – All my mistakes?

Ivanka – Yes. You don’t have to mention all of them, I suppose… but just say that you’re sorry for all your poor decisions. You should include yesterday.

Trump – You think they’ll vote for me again?

Ivanka – Dad… forget about running again… what we’re looking for is for you to show humility… and maybe find forgiveness.

Trump – My political career is over?

Ivanka – Yes. Over.

Trump – I destroyed it myself?

Ivanka – You did.

Silence for a moment.

Trump – Do you still love me?

Ivanka – I do. I wish though… that I had been more forceful in trying to get you to listen to me. I regret that.

Trump – You tried… many times… but I didn’t get it. Thank you. I appreciate your words.

Eric and Donald Jr look at it each other, uncomfortably.

Ivanka – Dad… I think we should leave you alone now… so you can start working on your apology to the nation. There’s no time to waste. You must act now. I’ll be glad to read it before you go on the air.

Trump – Thank you,

They all rise and he hugs each one of them.

They exit.

He remains standing for a moment and, after the door closes, he goes to his desk and sits down. He picks up pen and paper. He looks up at the portraits of past presidents. Then, he starts to write.

‘Fellow Americans…’

                                                            The End