“I am the one who is ultimately accountable to the American people. No President should ever be protected from the truth,” President Reagan said. It was August 12, 1987.
I remembered these words spoken by a Republican President, the one whose name is invoked repeatedly by Republicans today, even as they move farther and farther away from his legacy.
I was listening to President Trump’s response to a German reporter at his press conference: “That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox, and so you shouldn’t be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox.”
As Trevor Noah quipped on The Daily Show, “Don’t ask me, I am not the President. I just work here. Fox News is the President.”
We have traversed thirty years since President Reagan made his statement, but we did so in different directions. Let “time” not be the singular measure of our journey because we all learned and transformed differently. It seems as if the journey has been to move backward for Ronald Reagan’s party.
In 1987, Silicon Valley was making silicon and the Internet was about to be unleashed. India Currents was launched in April 1987. There were few Indian- Americans in the valley and the few that were here were busy working in the high-tech industry. The Y2K surge was still in the future.
Republicans were in the White House and they were busy solidifying Reagan’s legacy. The seeds they planted didn’t result in anything President Reagan would have approved of. From the witch-hunting of the Clinton administration to the empowerment of neocons in the Bush administration, the world convulsed under their onslaught. Fake WMDs were used to launch a war that killed our young men and women in uniform, and countless civilians. It caused the ballooning of our debt and destabilizing the Middle East was the ultimate reward. When all of this was happening, the Democrats were nowhere to be seen.
But worse was to come during the Obama administration. The Republican party placed itself ahead of the nation for the first time. Majorities in the Senate and the House were not used to enforce fiscal conservatism or less government. Their sole objective became to “bring down the Presidency of Barack Obama.” They blamed Obama for the bad economy and the ineffective foreign policy.
Democrats, once again, seemed powerless and leaderless in Congress as they faced the Republican majority. They wouldn’t speak up. And for Republicans, the nation didn’t matter, citizens didn’t matter, only the Party mattered. What a decline of American politics!
I felt that the Republican party had hit rock bottom and the Democrats had vaporized: not to be seen again. But what did we know?
I recall a prophecy by the celebrity psychic Jeane Dixon. She prophesied in the 1960s that the Third World War would be fought with America and Russia on the same side and China on the other. In the 1960s this was unthinkable. China was a third world country and there was a Cold War raging between America and the erstwhile USSR.
Well, it seems that her prophecy is looking more plausible than initially thought. If Russian involvement in the American elections can indeed be proven, Republicans may have colluded with Russians, not to fight China, but to keep Democrats out of the White House! What would President Reagan think of this state of affairs?
If you have read Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series you will recall the character Mule. He is a mentalist who has the ability to reach into the minds of others and “adjust” their emotions. He uses a subtle influence of the subconscious which makes individuals under his influence behave otherwise than they normally would. This gives Mule the capacity to disrupt Hari Seldon’s plan by invalidating the underlying assumption that no single individual could have a measurable effect on galactic socio-historical trends on his own, because the plan relies on the predictability of the actions of very large numbers of people.
To me, the American Constitution represents Hari Seldon’s plan because it sets rules to counter forces which could disrupt the nation. However, we have a President who has successfully understood and convinced the minds of enough citizens to win the White House and govern by his ideas which, to many of us, seem unjust, unfair and regressive in many ways.
We need to stop sinking. We need a leader to free Americans from his trance. We need to rise and float once again.
I hope that we have hit rock bottom!
Vijay Rajvaidya is the Managing Director of India Currents magazine.