The President of the United States requires an tremendous amount of endurance. Being President requires an astounding about of commitment, discipline, and willpower to endure the never-ending stress of the position and the scrutiny of a population quick to criticize and slow to show appreciation. POTUS is not just a job. It is a lifestyle of leadership and selfless public servitude. Those Presidents, who find themselves incompatible with this lifestyle choice, have been consumed by the job; whereas, the greatest of Presidents have seized the opportunities offered to them by the Presidency and have been transformed by the power and responsibility of the Office into the greatest of leaders.
President’s Day was crafted from the birthdays of President George Washington and President Abraham Lincoln to honer those who have taken on the responsibility of the Executive Branch. It is, however, great Presidents like Washington and Lincoln who are remembered on Persistent Day. George Washington faced the herculean task of of building a government, a new form of government, in a post-war nation of former colonies reluctant to cooperate and even more reluctant to empower a centralized government. Abraham Lincoln presided over a civil war and a massive cultural revolution that ended with the demise of slavery. Today, the US faces an ideological political civil war that requires the same level of leadership potential.
The Trump Administration may be steeped in controversial due to the provocative nature of Donald Trump, stiff resistance to an emerging public policy agenda, and staffing choices, but the President still has a job to do. Where the President’s domestic policy will be shaped by the President, his staff, the reaction of Congress, and public sentiment, he will enjoy a larger degree of independence when it comes to setting foreign policy. Committing to the abandonment of free trade agreements and demanding US allies take a more equitable stake in their partnership with the US, Mr. Trump has already opened the floodgates to change and an extremely ambitious foreign policy agenda. Like his predecessors, he will, of course, have to deal with the issues that he has inherited. In terms of foreign policy and national security, frozen US-Russian relations tops the list of priorities.
When it comes to US-Russian relations, Mr. Trump hopes to hit the reset button. In fact, Trump’s failure to outright condemn the Russian seizure of Crimea, which started the Ukraine Crisis, and willingness to repeatedly praise Russian President Vladimir Putin for his strong leadership qualities has earned him considerable criticism. The handling and firing of his National Security Adviser Micheal Flynn over his secretive and inappropriate contacts with Russian officials has only provoked further scrutiny of Trump and his team. Where Trump faces intense pressure to condemn the Putin government from within the US and America’s NATO allies, Mr. Putin appears to want Mr. Trump’s support for Russia. Putin is apparently willing to “reward” the US for cooperation on the Syrian Civil War and the Islamic State under Trump, yet it also appears the Putin government intents to "punish" the Trump Administration for dissent as it did the Obama Administration.
Donald Trump should be commended for firing National Security Adviser Micheal Flynn after it was revealed that he had improper contact with Russian officials and misled Vice President Pence about the nature of his dealings with Russian officials. Given Flynn’s forced resignation comes only weeks into his and Mr Trump’s tenure, the affair emboldens Trump critics and, most likely, undercuts confidence in the Trump Administration. On the other hand, the willingness to take action against discredited public officials like Flynn, who need removed from government, is very much needed. The willingness to fix a problem or a mistake, instead of burying it, is in short supply when it comes to politics.
Republican should also be commended for standing against Andrew Puzdera as a thoroughly unfit nominee for Labor Secretary. Mr. Puzdera’s failings as an employer and head of an industry that survives by suppressing the cost of labor makes him more qualified to act as the anti-Labor Secretary than an the advocate for labor. When it came to confirming Secretary of Education Betsy Devos, Republicans chose to vote with the head of their political party and against Democrats when they needed to vote based on the quantification and personal merits of the nominee. Devos is a wealthy political hobbyist who has a superficial understanding of education and lacks the insights needed to contribute anything constructive to education policy. In a polarized political environment, it is heartening to see Republicans making decisions based on substance and not political calculations.
China’s infamous air pollution has had such an averse impact on residents living near industrial centers that an increasing number of lawyers are willing to risk their careers and freedom to sue the Chinese government for failing to take action. The condition of China’s air quality has degenerated so much for so long that clean air is increasingly seen as a major human rights issue in china. In the United States, regulations and the enforcement of those regulations helped save the residents of cities like San Francisco from dirty air. Health and environmental advocates, including States, have even successful used America’s legal system to compel unwilling political leadership to regulate the pollution of industries economically compelled to resist regulation, which was the case under the George W. Bush Administration. China is, however, not the United States. On the other hand, America faces threats that are making the US more like China.
China has a legal system, but it is not a system that promotes the rule of law, i.e. provide equal protection for all. The legal system in China is geared toward ensuring stability and the rule of the Communist Party. Unlike China, the US has, for example, an independent judiciary that has the power to overrule the political leadership. The US also has a Constitution that sets limits on the power of government to act, whether it is acting with or against the will of the People. The legal system in China does not constraint government, but it does constraint the behavior of citizens to suppress dissent. The Chinese legal system is a series of technical hurdle that, at best, Party officials have to navigate in order to give the appearance of justice and establish the legitimacy of government oppressive, which demonstrates why threats to the US judiciary independence represent a real problem.
The United States is trapped in a vicious cycle of extreme partisan polarization and political dysfunction. Today, Donald Trump is the President and Republicans control Congress. They are utilizing every power of the Executive Branch, including Executive Orders, to pursue an agenda that appeases their influential members, whether or not that agenda serves the broader interests of all Americans. Democrats, as the current Congressional minority, are using every tactic possible to derail the policies of the Trump Administration. Under the Obama Administration, the situation was inverted. Under the next President, the same Executive overreach and Congressional obstructionism will likely persist. Only when the two sides recognize the need to address their mutual interests as Americans and seek mutually acceptable solutions will this cycle be broken.
The problem is that Republicans seek nothing less than Republican-favored policies and Democrats seek nothing less than Democrat-favored policies. Neither side wants public policy solutions that actually solve problems by addressing the diverging interests of all Americans, i.e. solve every aspect of the problem. Sometimes this means adopting Republican-favored policies and sometimes it means adopting Democrat-favored policies. In today’s dysfunction, however, Republican-favored policies are unacceptable to Democrats, because they are Republican-favored policies, and Democrat-favored policies are unacceptable to Republicans, because they are Democrat-favored policies while there is no room for alternatives. This polarization is, however, a distraction from a much greater threat posed by those who use this dysfunction to seek power.
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