To the editor,

Former President Obama famously remarked that “elections matter” and now, perhaps more than any election since Lincoln, this election matters.

Consider: Some see this election as a means to look back fondly upon, and even recapture, their own version of the good old days, hopefully including the idea that hard work and delayed gratification builds financial security.

They see no option but “Trump 2020.”

But I suggest that every decade that was lived through by those that now read newspapers had its own issues:

• The ’30s: The Great Depression

• The ’40s: World War II

• The ’50s: Jim Crow segregation

• The ’60s: Riots and assassinations

• The ’70s: Anti-war protests and LSD

• The ’80s: Crack cocaine and drug wars

• The ’90s: Gulf War and L.A. riots

So which Shangri La do you long for anyway?

Others see the election as a means to eventually equalize everyone’s outcomes with an emphasis not so much on hard work but on the redistribution of wealth to the people; the idea being that a never ending list of entitlements from the Fed is the way to security.

For them, the only conclusion is “Biden 2020.”

Here’s the problem with redistribution: Over time, everyone except super powerful governmental officials and oligarchs will be impoverished as the wealth of the nation is drained and centralized every year until there is nothing more to take.

Ever see “The Hunger Games?” Or the poverty in the USSR in the ’80s? Even today, the wealth amassed by Putin stands in stark contrast to poverty all over Russia.

The same could be said of Cuba. And Venezuela.

And China, before they adopted certain aspects of venture capitalism that allowed for a growing middle class. My guess is that their central government will soon begin to take from those that have in order to pay for expanded government programs and largess.

It’s just a matter of time. Are you watching the news out of Hong Kong?

Instead, I argue that each of us should vote for the person that we believe will strive for that elusive “more perfect union” spoken of in the Constitution, which ultimately benefits one and all — financially and otherwise. Homelessness excepted, poverty stricken people globally would gladly exchange places with the poor in America.

This means that we can utilize the founding principles embedded in the Declaration of 1776, in our amazing Constitution, and in its ever more encompassing amendments to forge an even better version of a “more perfect union”— a phrase that admits imperfection from our very inception.

The question is: Does that tilt toward Trump? Or Biden?

Let’s look at the words “more perfect union.”

The word “union” implies a unified nation, where everyone’s rights are forged and protected, instead of ever more fragmented coalitions of interest or identity groups clambering for all manner of micro-rights while denying the macro-rights of others.

Trump? Or Biden?

The “more perfect” aspiration suggests that even what was good in the past for some can be improved upon for others in the present and the future.

Trump? Or Biden?

To some, every step towards improvement serves as a way to focus on the less perfect union of the past. To others, any forward motion serves an an impetus for even greater things ahead.

To me, the whole phrase infers that the good-yet-to-come must arise from free speech, peaceful debate, free elections, cooperation, mutual respect and a Congress (both houses) that relies on clear reasoning instead of swampy rhetoric.

Trump? Or Biden? Admittedly, arguments could be made for either man, but please keep reading.

Our constitutional republic was a hybrid form of democracy when it was put to the States for ratification in the late 1700s and has frequently been termed “an experiment” in our particular form of governance during its almost 250 years of existence.

Problem is, many experiments fail. Some explode. Ancient democracies like Greece and ancient republics like Rome failed miserably.

Perhaps it is the destiny of every form of human governance to fail. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) failed as recently as 1989. And it would be quite easy to see that democracy in Venezuela exists on paper only.

But I’m just optimistic enough to believe that our current form and structure can prevail, at least for now and possibly for a generation to come.

I humbly suggest that on election day this November, the candidates being presented to us couldn’t be more different, despite the facts that:

• Both are aging men with potential mental and/or physical health issues that could arise during the coming four years.

• Both have used their professions to enrich themselves, perhaps even unethically or illegally from time to time.

• Both have questionable moral character as exhibited by past behaviors.

• Both seem to enjoy the respect of his wife and children.

• Both have flipped and flopped on various issues.

• Both have ideologically driven vice presidents.

• Both, for different reasons, have difficulty with clear communication.

• Both have their own versions of truth.

• Both are loosely connected to their faith traditions.

But which man is more connected verbally and at the policy level to the divinely afforded rights “declared” in 1776 as “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” and to the Constitutionally defined rights, most of which are spelled out in the 27 Union-perfecting amendments?

Each of us will answer that question differently as we apply our own presuppositions and understandings of the rights of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

For me, those rights are still “unalienable” (ie: unable to be stripped away from the possessor except for cause, as in the case of a felon in prison) because those rights derive not from men or founding documents but from God, who created us in His image.

Let’s look at them one by one.

Life

Yes, life matters. All life. A Sunday School song from the ’50s became a racial chant in the ’60s: “Red and Yellow, Black and White, they are precious in His sight.”

This is especially true for the frail and innocent lives that are everywhere in our midst.

Our union is less perfect with over a half million impoverished homeless people living on the streets of American cities and with abortion-on-demand instead of abortion restricted to those rare situations where the physical life of the mother is at actual mortal risk as being the law of the land.

We were certainly less perfect in 1857, when the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution was not meant to include citizenship for black people. It would take a constitutional amendment to overturn that ruling.

Thankfully, it was overturned immediately after the Civil War. And we are still becoming a more perfect union as a result. Some are only now realizing that black lives matter.

Perhaps someday the States will have the opportunity to ratify an amendment overturning the travesty of the more liberalized forms of abortion rights that have grown out of the Roe and Doe decisions of the SCOTUS, in the 1970s.

And perhaps someday we will discover dignifying ways and means to address and reverse homelessness.

So too mattered the tragic life of the career criminal and reportedly drug-addicted George Floyd, callously taken by an overly zealous and apparently racist cop, as well as the life of retired St. Louis Police Captain David Dorn, who was killed by riotous looters in the immediate aftermath.

Liberty

Liberty matters too and our union was less perfect when the many rights of liberty were denied to slaves, the right to vote denied to women and various civil rights denied to minorities of many descriptions (handicapped and homosexuals for instance).

We have come so far as a nation. On paper we are more perfect than at any other time in our history.

But in the heat of recent real-time events the hearts, minds and behaviors of some show us that the perfection we aspire to can be quite elusive.

We must not let the noise or the behaviors of the far right or the far left define us as a nation.

The Pursuit of Happiness

Notice the word “pursuit” in the statement on happiness. It’s not that happiness itself is a guaranteed outcome, but that the pursuit of such is afforded to each citizen, legal resident and aspiring visitor in our nation.

Such pursuit must arise from the equal footing of equal opportunities for all, but cannot guarantee equal outcomes because some people do not possess the skills or the grit necessary for success and others tend toward foolhardy lifestyles of drug abuse and/or criminality.

We improve when we focus on opportunities for all, but not when we fling open our borders to every drug- and/or sex-trafficker of women and children or to the myriad of career criminals that seek entry and harbor by illegal means and wind up making things worse for everyone.

We will take a giant perfecting step when border safety, border reform and realistic paths to citizenship are embedded in yet to be written laws.

In my mind, the election boils down to the rationality and reasonableness of each candidate’s expressed policies and political deeds, especially those that derive from the “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” clause and the rights-based amendments to our constitution.

Look at each candidate and ask yourself: What has he actually accomplished in his career (despite his frailties) that works towards the improvements necessary to forge a more perfect union?

For me, unless something drastic happens between now and election day, I shall vote for President Trump (warts and all) because he best aligns with my understanding of the values outlined above and because of the adage, “A rising tide lifts all vessels” — an adage that was more than proven by our president in the three years prior to the COVID interruption.

Mike Womack

Englewood

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