Here we are in 2018, a full year after Donald Trump became our new president, and the world hasn’t come to an end, yet.
Those who predicted gloom and doom have been proven to be half right. We have had plenty of gloom. The doom, well, as Mark Twain predicted, “The reports of my (our) demise were greatly exaggerated.”
So, what is good and what is not so good. Let’s take a look at the state of the union. Well, at least, let’s take a look from one person’s perspective.
On the bright side … the stock market is at an all-time high at 26,000+ and still going up. That is a 30 percent increase over the past year and more than 120 percent in a decade. Big investors are making money hand over fist.
Gas prices are slightly lower over the past year and hover nationally at around $2.54 a gallon. That is more than a 25 percent reduction over a decade ago and has held steady now for more than 18 months. That computes to about $500 in savings for the average motorist over a 12-month period.
Unemployment is at the historically low rate of 4.2 percent. Economist tell us that 5 percent is full employment. A portion of our workforce is constantly unemployed because of technological advancements in the marketplace. Some are what we term “hard core,” unemployed but most cycle back into the workforce with additional training.
From the not so good perspective we have a more disquieting history in the recent past.
Illegal immigration continues to be a major national issue. We are not alone in having that problem to solve. Most of Europe is facing the same dilemma. The DACA vote looms and 800,000 lives hang in the balance.
We are still at war in the Mid East and it seems to be heating up again with a recent surge of troops. It is a quagmire and just as we seem to have extricated ourselves from that mess, we get pulled back in again. Can we never anticipate “Peace on earth, good will toward men?”
Our president has some “wins” and some “losses” during his first year in office, not dissimilar to most of his predecessors. The thing that is very different is his constant popularity ratings which hover between 30 and 40 percent, well below presidents all the way back to Abraham Lincoln’s time. Those low ratings do not bode well for future successes in Congress nor Republican success in the 2018 elections.
Perhaps the most disappointing thing is the constant attack on the news media from the president. New words and phrases such as, “fake news,” “alternate facts,” and, “the enemy,” have entered our vocabulary. His most recent speech delivered in Europe at the World Economic Forum contained these lines, “How nasty, how mean, how vicious, and how false the news can be.” Expecting some support from other heads of state he, instead, got hisses and boos.
President Trump hasn’t yet realized that the job of the media is not to support the administration. Instead, it is to provide information and to hold power accountable. In short, the media, at its core, is a counter-balance to political leadership. The E.W. Scripps News Media Company’s motto is, “Give light, and the people will find their own way.” News media people are devoted to that philosophy.
President Trump has proven to be the P.T. Barnum of politics. Folks, that isn’t all bad. There is no doubt that, like the circus that traveled the country for a century and a half, he can gather a crowd and mystify the gathering. No one has done it better in recent years. Our democratic approach to governance gives him three more years to make good things happen for the country using his unique approach. “Hope does spring eternal.”
— Dr. Mark L. Hopkins writes for More Content Now and the Anderson Independent-Mail in South Carolina. He is past president of colleges and universities in four states. Books by Hopkins currently available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble include “Journey to Gettysburg” and “The Wounds of War,” both Civil War-era novels, and “The World As It Was When Jesus Came.” Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.