MARLBORO MUSINGS:  Oh, Say Can You STILL See?

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With the rising of the sun tomorrow morning, a new day will truly dawn in America with the ending of the Obama years as, for better or worse, Donald J. Trump will awaken set to take the oath of office and become the 45th President of the United States.

And no, this is NOT a movie.

What the days that follow Trump’s swearing in will bring or be like only God knows, and only time will tell. Personally, I’m crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. But if the events and back-and-forth allegations in the run-up to inauguration day are any indication, “contentious” and “testy” might be the operative words moving forward.

Hang on, folks. This might get crazy – and then, given the players and egos and track records of those involved, not to mention the stakes, even crazier.

It’s already three quarters nuts. Just look at where we are.

First off, we have a presidential election that is still hanging around, being a burr under our social saddle like a really bad head cold that just won’t go away. Or like some horror show maniac that, no matter how many times we stab it in the heart with a stake, or shoot it with silver bullets, or shine a mirror on it, just won’t die. It’s turned into the Zombie Election of 2016.

We’ve argued about votes — electoral versus popular, debated if dead people cast votes, recounted votes, and generally rehashed every aspect of the election all but to death, and yet here we are, on the eve of Inauguration Day, still arguing about it. And still angrily, at that.

We’ve basically ripped the social fabric of our nation apart fighting and snapping at one another over things that are speculative at best. That’s disappointing; I thought we were supposed to be Americans, not adversaries.

And look at what we argue over…Russian hacking and/or fake news? Who knows? I sure don’t – but I am pretty sure that Putin had very little to do with Hillary deciding to forego any campaign ads or stops in Wisconsin, a state it later turned out she desperately needed to win. The same with the Wikileaks stuff. I have not a clue the source of that data. I just know that the content was not disputed, and that it was very revealing, so much so that it resulted in the resignation of the Democratic National Committee chair for her role in rigging the primaries against candidate Bernie Sanders. That wasn’t exactly endearing. Neither was the revelation that debate questions had been provided to the Clinton camp prior to events, and that some mainstream media figures were allowing the Clinton team to actually edit items prior to publication or printing. And with regard to the FBI, while I agree they should have stayed clear of the election itself, the fact is Mrs. Clinton is extremely fortunate to not be facing serious charges for her private email activities. Many others are incarcerated today for committing far less serious offenses.

The simple fact of the 2016 presidential election is that the Democrats put forth a flawed candidate who ran a flawed campaign, so much so that a political neophyte like Trump, who shouldn’t have had a chance, could beat her. She had so many negatives voters like myself, looking for true change, had little choice in the voting booth.

Now, instead of looking back in anger, the Democrats need to get serious about recognizing that they have to move back toward the center; their embracing of multiculturalism and political correctness is a large part of why they have lost over a thousand seats in the past decade. And more than two dozen seats will be up for grabs in 2018. That’s not good; we need at least two strong parties in order to maintain a proper political system of checks and balances.

Anyway, it’s time to put the 2016 election in the past; all of that should be water under the bridge. Should be.

But nope, now we have the “illegitimate” president crowd, an increasing number of primarily U.S. House Representatives democrats, led by 60’s civil rights icon John Lewis of Georgia, who have decided to make a statement by not attending the inauguration ceremonies tomorrow. It’s not unprecedented, and that is, of course, entirely within their rights.

It’s also, from my perspective, a mistake.

I realize that Representative Lewis thinks he is acting righteously in his decision, but with all the reverence and respect that I can possibly muster, I think he is dead wrong in this matter. And it is not just me thinking that way, it’s also former Black Panther members, community leaders, clergymen, and other noted individuals, most of whom I’ve noticed are not concerned with the filling of political coffers.

The bottom line is democracy is a participatory endeavor; you don’t just stay home when things don’t go your way. You button up and, whether you like it or not, go out and do what your country’s traditions ask of you, and you do it for your country and your constituents.

At a time when we are as divided as ever in my adult life, with the nation split almost evenly by the election last fall, and with plans to disrupt the inaugural festivities making the news – fake or not, who knows anymore – the thing this nation most sorely needs right now is leadership. And leadership is not rejecting the responsibilities of positions of power solely upon baseless and vague unproven allegations or assertions.

While Rep. Lewis and the others are well within their legislative and personal rights to take issue with president-elect Trump, it seems to me that they could have had a far greater and much more positive impact on circumstances in our nation if they had joined with Dr. Ben Carson, NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown, and comedian Steve Harvey and set about trying to prove to kids in America’s broken and crime-ridden inner cities that “hope” and “change” are not just words used in Washington, or by a politician on the campaign trail. I can’t think of anything that would be a better legacy or provide a more fitting end to Rep. Lewis’ career than to be a leader in an effort to get his fellow legislators involved serving as role models for youth, rather than the foul-mouthed rap artists who ridicule Brown and Harvey for trying to work with Carson and Trump.

To each his own, I suppose.

Truth is, it’s difficult to defend Donald J. Trump, the man. But on that same note, given the options offered last November, it’s not that difficult to defend a vote cast for him. There’s much about the guy that can irritate, much about him that I would change if I could. I wish he weren’t so thin-skinned and so quick to react to perceived slights, or even overt attempts to ridicule or humiliate him, even humorously. It’s a bit unnerving to get tweets at 7 in the morning because your president-elect is upset with actor Alec Baldwin about a “Saturday Night Live” impression. (It’s just as upsetting that he even watches that show; it hasn’t been funny since Eddie Murphy left.) And I’d imagine you don’t live the life of Trump without accumulating a few skeletons in your closet, so I’d bet we’ll have an interesting four year term. Or at least a wild start to it.

Regardless, whether you love him, hate him or, like John Lewis, just feel him to be “illegitimate,” the fact is Trump ran the race, weathered the blows, and won the seat. And for that alone he deserves the traditional 100 day grace period to see what he can accomplish or get rolling, to set the tone for his presidency. And even though he seems to have gotten a head start on the job, he probably won’t get the “honeymoon”. But I don’t think he’s going to mind.

Because at his age, I think – and pray – that, just as I wished about Rep. Lewis, hopefully Trump will see this as a chance to establish his own legacy, the lasting mark that Donald J. Trump will leave on this world long after he is gone. And he appears eager to take on the task. Big buildings will eventually be torn down or sold, but “Making America Great Again,” well, that has some serious staying power. If he can pull it off. I hope his ego alone will keep him from failing.

Things are about to get dramatically different, and probably a little weird, too. But hoping that Trump flops is like shooting holes in the very boat that you are aboard. That’s not so smart, and hard for me to understand.

Seems to me we’d all be wise to heed the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., who said: “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

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