Look at the accomplishments of the last four Republican presidents and you’ll find few, if any, shared values with those of the Trump Administration. Ronald Reagan’s supply-side economics initiatives had mixed results at best, but he can be credited with anti-totalitarian/anti-communist rhetoric that led to the reunification of Germany. Richard Nixon is noted for denuclearization treaties, signing legislation establishing the Environmental Protection Agency and opening relations with China. George H.W. Bush oversaw passage of the Clean Air and Americans With Disabilities Acts. And George W. Bush’s major accomplishment was expansion of Medicare to provide drug benefits.
If the Trump Administration does not embrace the values and accomplishments of prior Republican administrations, what about the values of the folks who previously were the heart of the Republican party—soccer moms, fiscal conservatives and guardians of the moral high ground? Their agenda, largely an assortment of “thou shalt not” policies, was labeled “family values.” Today, the family values coalition is silent on many of their formerly most popular positions, such as:
Remember Al Gore and the curse of being called a FLIP-FLOPPER? Now, barely a word is uttered when the party’s standard-bearer reverses position. During the 2016 campaign, Trump said he would repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with better and less expensive health care; that he would protect Medicare, defend the rights of LGBT citizens, not threaten law-abiding undocumented children with deportation, and require Mexico to pay for a border wall. Perhaps consistency truly is the hobgoblin of small minds.
NO executive overreach.
Remember the tsk tsk of talking heads who condemned EXECUTIVE OVERREACH? What an affront to our democratic process, they said, for a president to set policy by executive order when he should achieve his objectives by legislative action. Illegal, unconstitutional said the values constituency. Now these folks fail to challenge an individual who, until the 11th month of his presidency, achieved all of his policy objectives by issuing executive orders.
Remember the outcry over the growing DEFICIT and the proposals to enact a law requiring a balanced budget? The values constituency expressed enormous outrage over those who placed the welfare of future generations at risk by burdening them with onerous debt. Today we hear nary a word about the additional $1.5 trillion of future debt that was legislated largely to benefit wealthy individuals. Some middle-income and poor folks got a temporary tax break but the wealthy folks got a hefty tax break that goes on and on.
NO sexual misconduct.
Remember the condemnation leveled at a president who engaged in SEXUAL MISCONDUCT. “Impeach him!” proclaimed the values constituency. Now, however, we have a president who boasts of sexually offensive, inappropriate and possibly illegal sexual actions; a president who is accused of predatory sexual misconduct by more than a dozen women, a president who endorsed the candidacy of a credibly accused pedophile. It seems as though the moral high-grounders have adopted a bunker mentality.
If the previous values of Republican voters have changed, what new values have they adopted?
The Trump administration affirms its “American Greatness” by reneging on an international climate change treaty, retreating from a Pacific trade pact and threatening to withdraw from NATO, NAFTA and the Iranian nuclear disarmament agreement. The new values constituency believes that America is strengthened with go-it-alone diplomacy and global isolation.
Tax Cuts are Good for the Economy.
Many Republicans believe in trickle-down economics, assuming that reducing corporate taxes will stimulate job growth and enhance wages. They do not remember or choose not to believe that prior tax cuts did not improve the economy. They also disregard industry executives who say they won’t use tax relief to hire more employees or invest in plants and equipment. And they overlook some large corporations using tax savings to buy back company stock. Proponents of the Trump Administration equate the recent surge in stock values with an improved economy without considering those who are the winners and those who are the losers in this economy.
‘Government is best that governs least’ is the philosophy of many past and present Republicans. When industry is freed from regulations, economic growth follows, they say. They endorse the removal of restrictions and reporting requirements on companies that may pollute our water, air and ground; they do not challenge the demise of net neutrality because companies should be able to maximize profits earned on the transmission of electronic data; and they don’t contest the elimination of monitoring, controls and risk assessments governing the marketing of securities by financial institutions. In so doing, the values constituency believes the American economy will reach its full potential. What could possibly go wrong?
Trump Administration supporters believe public safety is enhanced when immigrants, particularly those from Islamic countries, are barred from entering the country; when billions of dollars are spent on a border wall; and when charges are dismissed or no punitive action taken for the killing of unarmed minorities by law enforcement officers. Unburdened with facts to validate their position, many Republicans believe these actions will promote liberty and safeguard our freedom.
What are your political values? Those who subscribe to the current administration’s agenda have a perverse read on traditional American values, asking not what they can do for their country but what their country can do for them. They embrace greed, demonstrate a bunker mentality with respect to America’s position in the world, display intolerance, denigrate government and civil service, and disregard the health of our planet and the well-being of future generations. This is not who we are or who we should want to be.
It’s time to be a true patriot. Speak up and speak out.
Weistock, a Fleming Island resident, is a retired federal audit manager for the Department of Defense and the Department of the Interior Offices of Inspector General.