Pluribus Unum

Last week Donald Trump was interviewed on a morning news program. He was asked whether it was his intention to enter the Republican primaries as a candidate for president.

It was an extraordinary Q/A as Trump outlined how President Obama had failed the nation. He said that he wished the disaster that Obama has wrought was not the case, but there it was, and so he felt compelled, however reluctantly, to consider running for the presidency.

When asked about his previous comments about Obama's birth certificate, Trump did not equivocate. He said he had people researching his birthplace and had grown increasingly convinced that Obama was born in Kenya and not in the United States. It was an astonishing statement, offered as fact. This would mean, of course, that all of the documents produced by the State of Hawaii and the hospital and the birth announcement in the Honolulu newspaper were forged at birth, part of a grand conspiracy.

When asked if he supported the tea party, he said, again without equivocation, yes.

He insisted that if he were president, he would quickly fix America, as if our country was just another corporation that he could take over — America-Trump Inc.— and with a few meetings and a few phone calls and a few utterances of "you're fired" he would set our nation back on course. What he failed to understand, and what the interviewer ignored, is the fact that the president is not a CEO with unlimited power to do what he or she wishes. There are checks and balances and there are two other branches of government that are as integral to our democracy as is the executive branch. And not to forget the fourth estate, the press, such as it is.

Trump, with his confidence ever morphing into arrogance, is the quintessential Republican-tea party-libertarian-corporate hybrid candidate.

These Hybrids (once known as the GOP), who now dominate the narrative in Washington, subscribe to a philosophy that began with Reagan and is now embedded in the party's DNA, no matter the issue. Reagan stated with resonance, "Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem." So brief, so banal, and so fraudulent. A bumper sticker.

Hating our government — wanting to shut it down, shrink it, drown it in a bathtub, jettison those agencies that oversee the safety of our food, water and air, shred the safety net and let people fend for themselves — has become the Hybrid Party's mantra. Hence its hostility to Medicare, Medicaid, public education, Head Start, Pell Grants, consumer protection, health care reform, the EPA and, of course, Planned Parenthood. These folks hate big government intrusion unless they don't, abortion and women's health issues being a good example. Their hypocrisy is palpable.

Know that this debate is not about the deficit. If it were, then the Republicans would have allowed the George W. Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire, adding billions to the treasury. Know also that "trickle down" is a con, a chimera.

What is driving the new Hybrid Party is an ideology that is married to those uber-corporations that have, and will, invest millions (thank the Supreme Court and their Citizens United ruling) supporting candidates who promise to wreck the unions, truncate unemployment insurance, offer vouchers in place of Medicare, privatize Social Security and weaken or eliminate regulatory agencies while ignoring the fact that we are spending billions on military hardware that benefits the contractors but robs our nation of much-needed infrastructure rehab and cutting-edge education and research.

What the Republicans cum tea party have forgotten is that our nation's motto has always been "E Pluribus Unum": "out of many, one." It is written on the Great Seal and on our currency. It has come to mean that America is a nation of many, and out of our astonishing diversity we have fashioned one country.

This motto also means, implicitly, that America is committed to taking care of its people. We have an obligation to one another and not just to ourselves. There should be opportunity for all, not just the top 1 percent. If we fall seriously ill, care will be provided. If we are out of work, support will be offered until a new job can be found. We will pay taxes, equitably, no exceptions, so we can build roads and clinics and schools and firehouses and police stations and public places to enjoy. We are individuals — our traditions and history affirm this — but we are also a community. Out of many, one.

And we have always believed in the common good. This planet, with its finite resources and species and habitat, belongs not just to a few, but to all of us. That is the spirit of America and that is what the Hybrid ideologues have forgotten.

Chris Honoré lives in Ashland.

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