By Joey Kennedy
Alabama Political Reporter
Listening to the fireworks go off around me Tuesday, I found myself contemplating what the Fourth of July, or Independence Day, really means.
And this Independence Day, I couldn’t help wondering how we’d gotten here.
How did we end up with a cold, despicable, bully-hearted President? How did we go from one who is deservedly considered one of our best presidents in the history of our wonderful nation (Barack Obama) to clearly one of (if not THE) worst presidents ever (Donald J. Trump) – all in just six months, albeit six seemingly very long months.
Trump doesn’t have the temperament to be a decent human being, much less the leader of the free world.
And Republican Trump, along with his Republican toadies in Congress, are trying to repeal the only viable health care plan we have in this country. Most industrialized nations have guaranteed health care for their citizens; we depend here on the free market, even under Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act has problems, but not those as severe as Republicans want to revisit upon us.
I like the idea of a single-payer health insurance program, like Medicare for all. OK, I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.
It’s the free market health insurance that kills people – as it has in the past, before the ACA.
My mother was a victim. In 1994, she learned she had breast cancer. She didn’t have health insurance (though she wanted it and could pay for it) because she had the dreaded “pre-existing conditions.” Fortunately, she lived in Texas, where the law required Texas residents care despite their insurance situation, and she spent a lot of time (and surgeries) at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where she lived.
But Mom didn’t have the insurance that would have guaranteed close follow-ups. She couldn’t get the post-mastectomy treatments often provided those who had insurance. And a few years after her initial surgery, her cancer returned, metastasized to her bones. She died a painful death, a few months later, with M.D. Anderson still calling her home every month for some kind of payment.
That’s what Trump and Republicans in Congress want to return us to. And people will die because of it. And they don’t care.
My, God, how did we get here?
It appears Trump and Republicans are still running against Obama. Trump himself has undone many Obama programs, whether it be on the environment or national monuments or even improving relations with Cuba.
Trump’s White House is a cesspool of nepotism. His own companies are raking in no telling how much money because he’s president and uses his properties for personal gain with taxpayer dollars. He’s a vulgar man and, frankly, heartless.
How did we get here?
Sure, there was plenty of Clinton fatigue. I suffered from it as well. But c’mon, given the choice: Hillary Clinton or the boorish Donald Trump?
Most people didn’t vote for Trump, but the people who needed to turn out for Clinton stayed home, even as she won the popular vote. I wonder if they’ll do that again, if Trump is still around to run for re-election in 2020.
But Republicans in general have been so ham-handed in how they’re trying to run the country, there could be a backlash in the 2018 election first. As they say, karma can be a bitch. But it’s not guaranteed.
We feel it here in Alabama as well. Our Republican supermajority has shown fairly clearly that it can’t govern. And even once fairly moderate Republicans – U.S. Sen. Luther Strange, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, for example – have tasted the Kool-Aid, and they have turned their backs on principles long held just to try to keep their offices.
Sadly, Democrats in Alabama are so disorganized, they offer few options, though in the upcoming U.S. Senate special election there are some.
How did we get here?
I’ll tell you how: We weren’t paying attention when it mattered. Now, we’re suffering the consequences.
Never in my lifetime (and I’ve lived through the assassinations of John F. Kennedy; Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy; the Vietnam War; George W. Bush; the misguided Iraq War) have we been here. Never have we had our leaders, in such numbers, so deaf to what is best for their constituents.
So that’s what I was thinking about this Independence Day.
We got here, and for now, at least, we have to live with it.
Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column each week for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected]