Charles E. Richardson

Even in the days of Trump, elections still have consequences

There has been a lot of gnashing of teeth over President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks. An oil man for secretary of state, a general with the nickname “Mad Dog” to head up defense, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., for attorney general, Betsy DeVos for education, and former Texas governor Rick Perry at Energy, to name a few.

This may surprise a number of my regular readers, but I can’t bring myself to get upset. When Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, I expected him to surround himself with his team. Why should I expect anything different from Trump? What’s good for the Democratic goose is good for the Republican gander.

I’m not a politician. My views don’t float in the wind or wait for the latest poll numbers to arrive to see what side of an issue I should sit. In the words of two of my favorite bow-tie wearing judges on the Georgia Court of Appeals (watch out Georgia) Stephen Dillard and Tripp Self: You have to be “intellectually honest.”

As judges, that’s what they are called to do everyday. Lady Justice is supposed to be blind, but many times she’s peeking, that’s why we have a Court of Appeals. Being intellectually honest is something, I think, we should all strive to become.

“Intellectual honesty” may sound a bit highfalutin, but it’s not. It simply means being consistent. It means your opinions are not governed by who’s in office or to what political party holds the reins of power. I could cite dozens of issues if I had the time and space where politicians have taken contradictory positions on the same issues. They have no shame. Why? Because they know our memories last about a nanosecond. They bank that we’ll forget what they said. And so far, they’re pretty much right.

I’m not saying that once you take a position you’re stuck with it forever. The ability to see another point of view is important, but usually, shifting positions takes a great deal of thought and consideration — and a skill many of us just don’t have: Listening.

I’m a little different. I may have killed a large number of brain cells, but I remember when President Obama said, “Elections have consequences and at the end of the day, I won.” He was right then and the consequences the nation now faces — whether they be deemed good or bad — were made in the election booth and if Trump wants to submit the Tooth Fairy to be secretary of interior, I’m down with that. It’s up to the Senate to confirm his choices.

I don’t much worry about what one man, even the president of the United States, can or will do. Presidential promises are almost impossible to keep. I remember well the hoots and catcalls hurled at Obama supporters deriding them for believing his promises, too.

I don’t even worry about Republican promises to repeal Obamacare or the desires of House Speaker Paul Ryan to curb Social Security and Medicare. Why no worry? That’s what the people voted for. If they didn’t know it could come back to bite them, oh well. Be careful what you ask for.

Truth be known, most people at the bottom of the economic ladder are accustomed to getting scraps from the table of prosperity. They’ll continue to get scraps. It wasn’t poor folks who were having their homes foreclosed or watching their jobs head offshore. The group that will pay the most are members of the middle class. They’ll learn first if presidential promises aren’t kept. They’ll feel the first pinch if their health insurance disappears or their 20th century jobs, promised to come back, don’t magically materialize.

Do I worry about anything? Certainly. I worry that if too many people look around and see their hopes dwindling, that to quell the rising unrest, world events could be used as an excuse to deploy the world’s most powerful military as a tool. I have too many family members who are part of that military and they too realize — elections have consequences.

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