Darrell Berkheimer: Feeling a bit inadequate to the task
I have not been writing lately about politics — because the subject has become quite depressing for me.
And I was seeing myself as being a little less patriotic this July 4th, because we have an incompetent in the White House, and a Congress that is working to negate an array of rules and laws that many others worked so long and hard to accomplish.
Apparently others have been experiencing similar subdued patriotism.
That attitude was cited in a holiday article written by Russell Contreras of the Associated Press. He noted various minority members are experiencing mixed feelings this year about fireworks and parades because of “an atmosphere of tension.”
He reported members of various minorities — specifically Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans and immigrant representatives — are expressing their frustrations and a declining hope for “equality and the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the United States.”
Of course references were made to the prevailing attitudes in the White House and our current leaders in Congress.
With each passing week, there appears to be so little movement in the right directions. It’s not unusual, of course, when our nation sometimes seems to take two or three steps backward before going forward four or five. But lately, it seems the vast majority of the steps are backward.
In the past, I have made it my task to write about political and government changes that I think are needed — and wanted — by most of our average citizens.
But lately, I have felt inadequate to the task — in light of what some of the best columnists in the nation have been writing about our political situation, plus some of the quite errudite contributors to this newspaper.
Many of those writers are making some of the same points I should be making, and doing a better job of it. So I don’t want to copy. I don’t want to be repetitious. I want to be fresh — to cite new points that make people think.
But I also realize that those same points need to be — and must be — repeated over and over if we are ever going to see our elected officials respond appropriately.
I believe we all want: Tax reforms, safety regulations, affordable health care, prescription drugs reform, cheaper higher education, paths to economic security, our civil rights upheld, and especially better opportunities for our children.
In addition, we know that we must continue to maintain and modernize infrastructure and security services, including our highways, airports, police, fire and water services.
I believe these should be the priority issues for our president and congressional members.
Seldom will I write about foreign affairs — and usually only to compare our nation with what other nations are doing.
Today, however, I must repeat what many others are saying, that our president has made us the laughingstock of the world. And just how badly our image is declining is the subject of the latest report by the highly respected Pew Research Center.
The headline on the report says it all: “U.S. Image Suffers as Publics Around World Question Trump’s Leadership.”
The first paragraph adds that “Trump and many of his key policies are broadly unpopular around the globe, and ratings for the U.S. have declined steeply in many nations.”
The report states Trump’s presidency has a median of just 22 percent confidence abroad in stark “contrast to the final years of Barack Obama’s presidency,” which was given a median rating of 64 percent.
The survey was conducted in 37 nations, and Trump received higher marks than Obama in only Russia and Israel.
Trump’s character was cited as a major factor as the report concluded: “In the eyes of most people surveyed around the world, the White House’s new occupant is arrogant, intolerant and even dangerous.”
Although highly scornful of Trump, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Leonard Pitts at the Miami Herald did end his recent commentary with one somewhat positive and inspiring note. He quoted one senator’s remark that “America can change.”
Then Pitts observed:
“For Russia, Cuba, North Korea or China to change would require a coup, blood running in the streets. We, on the other hand, can transfigure a nation through the simple expedient of a ballot. America is a state of constant reinvention.
“Which is reason to hope this secession is not the end of the story, reason to hope we can return this country to some semblance of itself. Reason to hope, but no guarantee. All we have is a fighting chance.
“But America has never needed more than that,” Pitts concluded.
I look upon Pitts as one of the columnists who has written some commentary that I wish I had written. Although he and I both might feel a little less patriotic this year, it’s evident that he recognizes, just as I do, that there’s always a need to celebrate the blessings our nation provides on July 4th.
Darrell Berkheimer, who lives in Grass Valley, is a frequent contributor to The Union. Contact him at email@example.com.
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