Saturday, January 21, 2017

An Open Letter to President Trump

Dear President Donald Trump,
   I am writing to you because I feel that our country is at a dangerous crossroads.  We stand at the intersection of Cultural Divide Place and Economic Cliff Road.  I write to you not as someone who is a Republican and voted for you, nor as a Democrat who voted for Hillary -- I am neither of those things.  I did vote, but like millions of Americans I chose to vote for the person who best represented the person I felt embodied the direction I thought was best for the country.  I write as one of the millions who recognizes that we are not Republicans, we are not Democrats, we are not conservatives, liberals, Gen Xers, Millennials or LGBT.  I write to you as an American, as someone who desires the very best for this country, and not one individual or one group.  Because I know that when the country is free, prosperous and respected across the globe, it is better for everyone.  And this letter is a plea from myself, and the millions like me who long for an America that represents what we think the founders of this country would have envisioned for the United States of America in 2017.

  I know you are under immense pressure to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  In fact, you fired a shot over the bow of those who are impeding the correction of this horrific legislation as your first Executive Order.  Your Executive Order commanding that the "burden of the Affordable Care Act be lessened" said you intend on following through on your promise to "repeal and replace" the ACA.  I urge you to do just that.  Keep the pressure on Congress to act to correct the misguided effort to appease those who demanded universal health care.  Those of us out here in the middle of America who understand how these things work know that the ACA did nothing to give people health care, because health insurance is not health care, and insurance that you cannot use is of no benefit to you.  Nonetheless, President Obama promised the country health coverage that everyone could afford and he failed miserably at that promise.  And I think that the majority of the country would agree that the Affordable Care Act is bad legislation that fails to deliver on the promises, and creates an unhealthy and unconstitutional burden on the American middle class (if that even exists anymore).  That being said, the ACA has some good components to it!  It is absolute that Congress not throw the baby out with the dirty bath water, and you Mr. President have the power to ensure that does not happen!  Americans need affordable health insurance that guarantees the ability to seek out the health care that you are paying for when you need it.  That means that there can and should be plans that guarantee access to particular types of coverage, while not guaranteeing others.  And this should be laid out in obvious and easily readable plan documents.  The ACA takes steps toward this, without enabling any real health care.  Fix it and help create a system by which those who pay $1,500 per month for "good coverage" do not have $2,500 deductibles under any circumstance.  Make sure that the replacement continues to guarantee pre-existing conditions are covered without pushing the cost through the roof.  Yes, we all understand that  pre-existing condition will be more expensive to cover and that must be passed on to the plan cost, but there are ways to shift funding to help ease the burden.  One of those ways is to do away with this silly notion that people who are not going to use the insurance (those under 30) should pay for most of it.  It is not going to happen - stop the craziness and fund this in a common sense way.  One of those ways is to reduce the age in which children can be covered on their parents insurance from 26 to 18, with the caveat that if they are enrolled in an undergraduate program they can be covered for 4 additional years no to exceed 23 years of age.  That alone dumps millions back into the pool that will need to secure coverage.  But do not build the funding based on the idea that 100% of those that are 18-30 will buy this, and then mandate it.  Americans do not support the mandate of buying anything from the government, let alone health insurance.  Throw that out!  Instead, make it coverage people want to buy and are encouraged to buy because it is good insurance backed by the best health care in the world (which we already have -- we just cannot afford to use it).  Listen to the doctors!  I know people will tell you the doctors become rich off a system that benefits them, but the reality is that doctors have to reduce the quality of care when pressured by the government and bad insurance  to reduce costs.  Put the power to treat back in the hands of the people who know and understand health the best: the doctors and nurses, and take it away from those who only profit from not covering claims.  We need a system that covers everyone, including those who are not citizens -- please fix this broken system and do so by replacing the bad law that exists today.  Above all -- look at what will benefit this country as a whole, including reducing the burden of cost on those who are not utilizing the service and allowing them to stimulate the economy by spending that money to better their families instead.  

    Topic number two bleeds from the first one: Liberty.  This is a country who's ideals are based in one, simple ideal... Liberty and Justice for All.  We are absolutely a nation of laws, but so much has happened in the past twenty years that weakens the respect for law and law enforcement.  At the very heart of that issue is the governments flagrant violation of our basic right to liberty.  We do not need a cadre of police officers who do nothing more than "uphold the law" as the Supreme Court has commanded them to do.  We need law enforcement officers who are trained to handle situations they will encounter everyday with thoughtful and skilled responses.  We need law enforcement who are confident enough in that training and their own skills to be able to act with compassion and an even handed enforcement of the laws in a way that is fair and balanced for everyone - no matter your skin color or religious affiliation.  President Trump, you made many statements about fixing our immigration problem.  Unfortunately, your words during your campaign fly in the face of liberty and our history.  We have a history of welcoming immigrants, and an immigration policy that grew to support its needs but lost its way as the Great Depression set in.  I urge you to read your history of the Immigration Act of 1917 and the subsequent immigration law that has served to give us our immigration problems of today, and act thoughtfully on it.  You cannot guarantee the liberty of some by minimizing the liberty of others.  Forget this silly wall, because it will only serve to be your Guantanamo Bay.  Give immigrants a clear, concise and simple path to citizenship that anyone who desires to stay in America can traverse.  With that in place, the United States can then move forward with effective policy on deporting those who come to America for no other reason than to take what we have and give it back to their home country, leaving nothing here.  You spoke of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, but what of the Patriot Act?  Immediately push for Congress to repeal the Patriot Act -  the biggest violation of our Constitutionally guaranteed right to our right to freedom and privacy that exists today.  I know it was universally supported and renewed by both parties since it was passed in 2001, but "drain the swamp" as you promised -- work to have it repealed!  In line with that, end this ridiculous push for Real ID -- no American wants to "show their papers" as they move through their own country.  Americans have the right to conduct themselves as they wish, so long as that does not impede on the right of others to do the same.  Fight for that.  Fight the urge to empower the office, and work with Congress to achieve these goals -- the way the founders intended it to work.  Remember President Trump, "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" -- we can't have the third without the first two.

   Our economy is sitting on a cliff.  After President Clinton and Congress worked together to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act in 1998, our economy has been victimized by banks who lend frivolously and then blame the consumer, and that has caused Wall Street to become so disconnected with the American economy that it is really only for the rich.  I know that you know big finance better than the vast majority of the rest of the country, however it is important that you remember that the middle class is failing.  We have become a nation of have and have-nots in the past 8 years, perhaps moreso than anytime in history.  Action must be taken to restore the American Middle Class, ease the burden put upon those who work 40-50 hour work weeks and need two incomes and pay for social programs that fly against the ideas of individual achievements -- but remembering that there are Americans who need temporary assistance to get back on their feet.  These needs can be balanced - and your role as President is to work with Congress to balance them... not to trade insults, or stand on ceremony.  End the endless stream of regulatory fees, undue taxes and money that does nothing more than fall into holes in Washington.  End the Federal Reserve bank, put the country back on the road to the Gold Standard, stop health insurance as a revenue stream and abolish the IRS.  Help reform the way Americans pay for government services in a simple, single method that is fair and balanced to everyone.  Balance the budget -- give the American people their money back -- reduce our debt.  You can do all of this, and it will serve to build a stronger America.

   The military is a hot-button for many.  Look at the Libertarian non-aggression principle for inspiration here.  Stop bombing innocents for no other reason except where they happen to have been born.  Yes, American recognize there is a threat in ISIS, but many of us also recognize that the foreign policy of the United States helped create Al-Qeada and ISIS.  Bombing civilians and hospitals does not serve to achieve our goals.  Instead, it is a time for America to stop the bombing and baby killing.  It is time to look inward and rebuild our military to a position of strength from within, instead of being spread too thin across the globe.  Once you've considered a non-aggression way of thinking, channel a Roosevelt and adopt a "Walk softly and carry a big stick" mentality.  One thing we have learned over the past sixty years, peace through strength can work... but in that time we've lost the respect of the world by bombing them into submission, and then cow-towing to them over the past 8 years.  Stop it.  Instead of spending our enormous military budget on bombing innocents, spend it on rebuilding our Navy into one the world has never seen.  Outfit of Naval aviators and Air Force with the best technologies to defend our borders and those of our greatest allies.  Peace through strength - make it mean something instead of making us the joke we are today.

   Above all else, you should be reading into what I've written above that I am pushing for a smaller, more efficient government.  Because you cannot continue to pay for the one organization that has the highest number of six-figure jobs in the country without taxing Americans into poverty.  Reduce the size of government... we do not need the IRS if the tax code is simple and easy to understand.  We do not need a Department of Education if education is left to the states to manage based on a simple set of federal standards that are not backed by the threat of federal funding.  There are other efficiencies that can be had -- and I leave it to you to find them and push for them.  That is not to say that there is no room for great social programs, and areas that interface with the federal government to ensure things like the National Park Service, but tax payers should not be tasked with supporting an office in Washington for every whim.  Instead, create a system that is based on volunteerism, donations and is supported by government policies that encourage and make these possible.  The biggest threat to giving and volunteering is the government induced financial burden.  Remember, we need a smaller government -- but no one is going to volunteer to quit and give up their government guarantees and funding unless they know everyone else will do it, too... so push it forward and make it happen across the board!  Work towards that which Republicans have claimed to be in favor of for decades: Smaller, Smarter Government.

    President Trump, I stand here as someone who did not vote for you but I offer you the opportunity to do the job that the country elected you to do.  I stand here as someone who did not vote for President Barack Obama in 2008 or 2012, but watched how is election to the office divided a nation like none before him, except maybe President Lincoln.  I watched as conservatives vowed to stand in his way at every turn, and until 2012, effectively try and stop him from being effective.  After that, the Republican led hill worked to cooperate with him -- but the stage had been set.  The people were opposed to President Obama in a way that created a negative dialogue.  No matter what President Obama said, it was wrong.  No matter what he did, they were against it.  I stood as someone who was largely in disagreement with his policies, but still supported him as a President.  I spoke out against things I did not agree with, but recognized that he was President nonetheless even if I thought he was wrong.  Today, liberals and Democrats stand opposed to you out of principle.  They claim conservative never have President Obama an opportunity to work, why should they give President Trump the opportunity.  I answer it simply and say, "for the good of the country."  I tell them to rise up above the fray, act like an adult and work towards what is the best path for America.  Speak out when you must, but bridge the divide at every turn in our culture.  We must heal the wounds that were opened in 2008... we must heal the wounds that were widened in November of 2016.  The United States of America must unite in spirit, even if we continue to criticize the way in which we work.  We can do it, but we must have leadership that we believe in.  And that is your job, Mr. President.  Give us leadership we can believe in.

     And whatever you do, do not be afraid to look at how others do it for inspiration -- but do not fall into the trap of "Canada does it this way, so we should, too."  We are not Canada, Sweden or Switzerland -- we are the United States of America.  The history of our country is not one of a people who came up with our own ideas... we are not a country that led the world in initial ideas.  What we are is a country who can see the promise in things, ideas and people.  We think that the Wright Brothers pioneered flight... and they did... sort of.  But they drew on creations from the French Montgolfier brothers, the German Glenn Curtiss (who arguably beat the Wrights to flight) and even Da Vinci.  They took their ideas, their work and their failures and they flew.  Many Americans may not realize it, but if not for World War II and German aggression, human beings may have never went to space.  It was the Nazi German scientists Werner Van Braun who was the key cog in the American space program, that the United States took and helped make his ideas work and become successful.  This is what America does.  We take the best ideas from around the world an "Americanize" them.  Who can argue with General Tso's Chicken, after all?

   In closing, you have taken on a big job, Mr. President.  One I do not envy you.  I urge you to think of all Americans as you act, and think of Americans first.  Work towards strengthening America first, as a method to create a more global peace and prosperity.

   An American Patriot

Bruce holds a degrees in Computer Science, Biblical History and American History from Temple University, Liberty University and American Public University.  He is a member of the Historical Studies Honor Society and the Saber and Scroll Society.  He has worked in educational technology for over 20 years, specializes in building infrastructures for schools that work to support the mission of technology in education in the classroom.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  

Be on the lookout for Towering Pines Volume Two: The Sound and the Fury, and Starbound (working name) which are currently a works in progress.

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