I have been writing my weekly column for more than five years now and have written on various topics from gun safety to campaign finance reform to voting rights to the impact of gerrymandering to the state legislature refusing to fix the unfairness of the federal tax plan on Maryland taxpayers.
Most often, sadly, I have written about Donald J. Trump and his rise to the presidency and his dismantling of democratic ideals and institutions.
My time as a columnist for the Montgomery and Prince George’s Sentinel newspapers just so happened to coincide so directly with the presidential campaigns leading up to the 2016 election and then the administration of Trump. As such, I am in a position to look back at the numerous columns I wrote during that time period. And I am in the position, as well, to say to anyone who cares to listen, “I told you so!”
Back in 2015, I wrote a couple of columns that immediately come to mind. On July 16, 2015, my column entitled “Actions speak louder than symbols” dealt with the controversy surrounding the displaying of the confederate flag. The main point of the column was that merely removing the symbol, whether it be a flag or a statue, does not remove the underlying root of the problem, the underlying racial hatred.
In this column, I went on to refer to maybe the most significant symbol of the ideals of America, the Statue of Liberty. I wrote the following:
“Speaking of symbols, is there any greater example of a symbol than the Statue of Liberty, standing tall in New York Harbor, with the inscription by the poet Emma Lazarus:
“‘Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’
“The Statue of Liberty is the symbol of America welcoming immigrants to its shores. Yet, how ironic is it that just a few miles north, along the Gowanus Canal, through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and up West Street to midtown Manhattan is the headquarters of none other than Trump who gained recent attention for his racist rants against Mexican immigrants? The result of those racist rants? Trump jumped up in the Republican candidate polls.”
Actions do, indeed, speak louder than words, even, regrettably, the words of Lazarus. There are all too many examples that underscore the rampant hypocrisy found in our society and the mistaken belief that symbols can take the place of action.
Jump to today and Trump’s acting head of the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services, Ken Cuccinelli, is rewriting Lazarus’ immortal words to include “…who can stand on their own two feet.”
In another column entitled “The Patron Saint of the GOP” published on August 20, 2015, I wrote extensively about how the Republican Party was no longer the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt or Dwight David Eisenhower. It was not even the party of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan or George Bush any longer. No, I wrote way back then how the patron saint of the new Republican Party was none other than Trump. Sometimes being correct is more disheartening than being proven wrong.
Let me share with you exactly what was written back then starting with why Republicans should no longer point to Reagan as their patron saint:
“How about two-term Republican president and the president who brought the conservative movement into the mainstream, Ronald Reagan? He has got to be the one since most Republicans already are in favor of granting him sainthood. Alas, not so fast. Let us not forget ‘Iran Contra.’ Former President Obama is currently receiving a great deal of Republican backlash for seeking a negotiated solution to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. I can’t imagine that Reagan supplying weapons as part of the Iran Contra scandal could sit well with today’s Republicans (except for the blatantly hypocritical segment of their party, which is a significant segment).
“Moreover, it should be remembered that Reagan paved the way for Obamacare through such actions as signing the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) which barred hospitals from turning away patients based on insurance or citizenship and he also doubled the size of Medicaid throughout his presidency. He also signed the Simpson-Mazzoli Act, a bipartisan immigration reform bill that created a pathway to citizenship for three million undocumented immigrants.
“If that is not enough, remember that Reagan supported the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. Moreover, civilians were legally allowed to own fully automatic rifles until 1986 when Reagan signed the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act banning them. It was Reagan who said: ‘With the right to bear arms comes a responsibility to use caution and common sense on handgun purchases.’ He did not support tax loopholes that allowed, in his words, ‘millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10% of his salary, and that’s crazy.’
“The best example may well be Reagan’s position on voting. It was Reagan who said ‘For this nation to remain true to its principles, we cannot allow any American’s vote to be denied, diluted or defiled. The right to vote is the crown jewel of American liberties, and we will not see its luster diminished’ (unless, of course, in a state that has both a Republican governor and Republican legislature).
“No, Reagan just doesn’t cut it as the face, let alone the patron saint, of today’s Republican Party. No, we will have to look further, but not any further than today’s headlines.
“The name of the face of today’s Republican party and maybe even its patron saint is none other than, yes, Trump.
“Let me explain. As the polling numbers indicate, he is clearly in tune with the Republican base. Republicans are looking for someone to lead their party who ‘tells it like it is’ even if there are no substantive ideas or details. Just like the party platform, behind the rhetoric being so inarticulately espoused. For a party that has alienated minorities, women, the middle class and so on, is there a better face for the party than Trump’s who raised the ‘art’ of alienation to a historic new level?
“The critical thing to remember is that, since the party is so focused on catering to the one-percenters, having a member of that exclusive club as the party’s face sends a clear message to the other 1% members. No, I think if the Republicans did not have Trump as the face of its party, it would be making a ‘HUGE’ mistake…but don’t take my word for it; just ask the ‘Donald’ himself.”
Remember, this column was written back in the summer of 2015. I think I more than earned the right to say I told you so!