As a young reporter, I traveled across Canada with the late, great Tommy Douglas, and I can still remember how stirring his speeches were. His rhetoric was richly illustrated by anecdotes, and one of the stories he told came to mind this morning as i pondered the mess America is in.
The story, as I remember it, was about a confrontation he had when he was first elected to Parliament. He recalled advocating a war on poverty that would have cost millions. I don’t remember the exact amount, but for the sake of this story let’s say it was $200 million (which was quite a lot of money back in those days).
Tommy said a senior member of the opposing political party patronizingly remarked that “two hundred million dollars doesn’t grow on gooseberry bushes.”
To which Tommy replied:
I don’t know what kind of bush two hundred million dollars grows on, but if a war were declared today, the honorable member would find the bush.
Yes, governments can always find the money for projects they really want. They do it by raising taxes or by just letting the national debt soar.
As Trump is doing now. You and I (and our children and grandchildren) owe more than $21 trillion, I understand. And it’s going to get worse as the recent tax giveaway to the richest Americans impacts the government’s bottom line.
Sooner or later, Trump will notice the skyrocketing debt and decide we the people need to tighten our belts.
You know he isn’t going to cut his pet projects or stop lavishing tax money on the Pentagon. It’s social spending that will get the axe.
He will tell us seniors America can’t afford to pay the Social Security we are owed. And he will attack our Medicare.
He will slash food stamps for the destitute and abolish school lunches for hungry kids. Educational funds will dry up. Research grants will disappear (you can forget about the arts and sciences).
Meanwhile, his cronies will rake in billions by housing the kids stolen from asylum seekers,by operating prisons for profit and by other nefarious privatization scams.
Why do so many Americans put up with this kind of highway robbery?
Because Trump panders to their bigotry and intolerance. He is about to criminalize abortion, for example. And he is savagely pursuing a racist immigration agenda.
He is also demonizing religious – and all other – minorities. And he is poking the fire of jingoism.
Horrifyingly, millions of Americans are prepared to sell their birthright for Trump’s malodorous mess of pottage.
We will find out ust how numerous these people are when the nation goes to the polls in November.