It may be premature to declare the end of Democratic rule, but it is certainly not a mistake to look past the Obama era. The current administration may be destroying itself with scandals.
It is now quite clear that President Obama manipulated what the public was told about the Benghazi attack which killed an American Ambassador in order to preserve an electoral victory during the presidential season. It is becoming more obvious that the IRS knew of the witch hunt against groups that the administration disapproved of, much earlier than is admitted. It is of some concern that IRS officials may have been involved at a level which reflects more directly the administration. Finally, it appears that an attempt to undermine the media was understood and perhaps approved of by officials in an administrative capacity.
I have a particular personal interest in White House scandals because I worked for Henry Rothblatt, who defended the men who broke into the Watergate. Henry was a remarkable figure. He was the one lawyer who came out smelling like a rose when the books on Watergate were written. Rothblatt refused to represent the men in a guilty plea when he found out that they were receiving “hush money” to enter that plea rather than expose the “higher ups.” It was Rothblatt who gave me the reference that ultimately led to my clerking for Federal Judge Malcolm Muir in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
When the great lawyer indicated to me that I was going to be laid off together with the rest of the Washington, DC staff, since he would refuse to plead the men guilty, in return for any amount of money, he asked me whether I had any questions about the case. I inquired as to whether it was true that higher ups were involved. He said that it was “Mitchell and Stans.”
Perhaps what will affect America the most in the long run is not the emerging domestic scandals, but rather the President’s catatonic state on Syria. The world now knows that Iran and Hezbollah have terrorized and seek to terrorize the world through their activities in Lebanon and Syria. Americans have been killed, together with Europeans, and we have expended billions of extra dollars because of the war waged on Western Civilization by these terrorist groups. What has President Obama done about this? He declared that the war is over and that we can now take more moderate measures in fighting the Islamic fundamentalist terrorist war against the West. The President does not seem to be living in reality.
The war against the West is being ratcheted up, and we are now in a historic time where Europe may actually work with the United States to defeat the forces of evil waged against us. Russia and China still want to weaken the West by causing mischief, but now even they have reason to be nervous about Islamic terrorists at their gates. Both Russia and China have to deal with terrorist threats from Muslim ethnic groups either within or adjacent to their borders. This is for both nations a potential reason to ally themselves, at least in part, with the West.
The top priority of the United States, on the foreign front, must be to disassemble Hezbollah and its connection to Iran. This is possible if the administration would more actively support groups opposing Hezbollah and confront Iran with sanctions more aggressively.
One could easily be a Republican in the current environment but for one problem with the Republican Party. The Republican Party seems to have a good understanding in connection with foreign affairs and it appears to appreciate the budget deficit crisis that the United States is facing, together with our overspending addiction. However, what the Republican Party needs to address, if it is ever going to seriously challenge the Democratic Party, is that big business and corporate America cannot be a substitute for big government. Substituting one form of subjugation and control with another does not benefit hardworking people.
If we are going to have less government, less taxes, and less interference with the daily lives of hardworking Americans, then we also need to reign in big business. Teddy Roosevelt understood this perhaps better than any Republican in history. Eventually Roosevelt even broke with his own party to form the progressive Bull-Moose Party because of the decision by the Republican Party to sell itself to corporate interests.
Republicans and disaffected Democrats now have a historic opportunity to seize the day. All Americans understand that the budget deficit and our spending habits are unsustainable. Even Obama is making some weak attempt to get a handle on the budget by cutting down on foreign adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. Obama’s answer to saving money on the budget by trying to pretend that there is no war against the West, is not the answer. While Iraq and Afghanistan may be great places for the United States not to spend money, we certainly cannot shut down the war against terrorism.
What we can do, is make sure that big corporations and those that would seek to control our lives play by the same rules that we want the government to play by. Companies like Apple, Exxon, and their ilk must pay a reasonable flat tax rate regardless of how many fake foreign companies they set up. The United States permits the wealthiest persons and corporations to practice their own brand of socialism. Socialism for the wealthy essentially means that the biggest companies and the richest people do not have to play by the same rules as the rest of us. Someone who gets 100% of their income from municipal tax-free bonds will never pay a penny in taxes to any government. It is going to be difficult for some Republicans to put the brakes on wealthy corporations and individuals that would rob the rest of us blind, thus escaping their own responsibility. Everyone is now ready for lower taxes and less government. In order to do that, those with the means to pay their fair share need to be required to step up to the plate. “Fair share” does not mean soaking the rich; it simply means that they pay the same reduced and moderate tax rates that everyone else should pay.
It will not make corporations or their lobbyists happy to take money out of the electoral process. If we are going to have a scaled-down government, we also need to scale-down the role of money in elections. Every penny that goes to a candidate must be transparent and corporations must not be allowed to equate a dollar bill with a vote as the United States Supreme Court has permitted in the Citizens United case.
A brand of Republicanism that has a rational foreign policy with a smaller government, less taxes and a business community that plays by the same rules as working people is not hard to imagine. It would, without question, become the dominant political party in America.
Clifford A. Rieders, Esquire
Rieders, Travis, Humphrey,
Waters & Dohrmann
161 West Third Street
Williamsport , PA 17701
(570) 323-8711 (telephone)
(570) 323-4192 (facsimile)
Cliff Rieders, who practices law in Williamsport, is Past President of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association and a member of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority. None of the opinions expressed necessarily represent the views of these organizations.