Obama’s success, Trump’s challenge
“When economic power became concentrated in a few hands, then political power flowed to those possessors and away from the citizens, ultimately resulting in an oligarchy or tyranny.” John Adams
“As riches increase and accumulate in few hands … the tendency of things will be to depart from the republican standard.” Alexander Hamilton
“Progressive taxes are required to prevent a permanent rich aristocracy that then buys government and ends democracy as happened in England.” Thomas Jefferson
Republicans disseminate many false ideas, including the idea that “Democrats demonize success,” meaning wealth. The quotes above show what the Founders thought about a small number of people accumulating great wealth; they were against it. Apparently they demonized success too.
In reality, it’s Republicans who demonize success. They praise those who were born into wealthy, powerful families, with everything handed to them, such as Donald Trump and George W. Bush. Those who actually achieve success on their own, such as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, are vilified and ridiculed, as if rising on one’s own merit is shameful.
President Obama was born into a middle class family, raised by a single mother and his grandparents. Obama attended two Ivy League universities, Columbia and Harvard, earning a law degree. He paid for college the way millions of us did — scholarships, grants, loans, and work. He didn’t finish paying off his student loans until 2004. He earned everything on his own.
If GW Bush and Trump had had to pay their own way through college, they could have barely afforded community college. Bush got into Yale because he was a “legacy,” not because he was qualified. Trump finally got into Wharton due to family influence, not his academic record. Both men made mediocre grades. At least Bush earned an MBA. Trump couldn’t even manage that.
Both Bush and Trump were handed businesses and money to play with. Both went bankrupt several times and had to be bailed out, Trump by tens of millions of dollars. This, to Republicans, is evidently a sign of success. Obama and Clinton, on the other hand, must be evil, since they earned their law degrees without family influence or money. How despicable!
Obama had several “real” jobs, including several years at a Chicago law firm, but he decided to go into public service and not just make a lot of money. For that, he has been derided over and over by Republicans. They don’t seem to mind how many people’s lives are destroyed by someone like Trump, as long as he can brag about how much money he’s made and how little tax he’s paid. That’s apparently their definition of “success.”
Since Obama is truly a self-made man and earned everything he has, Republicans had to find other ways to demonize him. They settled on several charges, including that he wasn’t born in America (he was), he’s a secret Muslim (he’s not), and he constantly violated the Constitution (he hasn’t).
For years, I have been asking for anything specific that Obama did that was in violation of the Constitution. To recap, there were two conditions. Obama’s supposedly unconstitutional action must be something that was never proposed or done by any Republican president, and it has to be something that actually happened. I’m still waiting for an answer after all these years.
Republicans predicted that Obama would do terrible things, none of which happened. No guns confiscated, no internment camps for American citizens, no martial law, no repeal of any Constitutional amendments, and so on.
A Nov. 2 Letter to the Editor called Obama “odious,” without any actual examples. To illustrate “odious,” Trump could write two new books, “The Art of the Steal” and “The Art of the Feel” filled with the odious things he’s done. Funny that Republicans would admire someone like that.
In contrast, when Obama leaves office on Jan. 20, 2017, he passes on a legacy of preventing another Great Depression, saving 1.5 million auto industry jobs, creating over 15 million new jobs, bringing unemployment below 5 percent, not starting any new wars, preventing another major terrorist attack, and providing health insurance for over 20 million Americans who didn’t have it before. Republicans see these accomplishments as failure.
As Trump enters office, please watch what he does, not what he Tweets. If he does half as well as Obama, I’ll be happy. If we come out of his administration with our civil liberties intact, I’ll be ecstatic. I don’t expect it, but I’ll hang on to hope.
Jeanette Strong, whose column appears every other week, is a Nevada Press Association award-winning columnist. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.