The Lion or the Lamb?

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By HOWARD BARBANEL – Opinion

President Donald J. Trump is annoying, abrasive, irritating and somewhat of a jerk, in other words he’s a typical brash, loud and pushy New Yorker of the kind that was prevalent through much of the 20th Century, the kind of person who gave New York a bad name. The kind who made most Americans hate New York, the way they do Frenchmen in Paris.

New York City was once rife with hungry “take no prisoners” shtarkers (big shots). They were endemic to the garment center, to finance (many are the wolves on Wall Street), to media, entertainment, fine dining, advertising, fashion, sports and real estate. New York didn’t become the biggest and richest city in the nation and one of the most important in the world because of milquetoast middle managers and bureaucrats. Skyscrapers soared in tandem with edifice complexes and outsized egos. You could see the hustle, bustle and jockeying 24/7 in real time. “The city that never sleeps” as Sinatra put it. And Donald Trump is the embodiment of that ethos, of that culture, of that milieu, it suffuses every cell of his DNA.

He has been grating as President these past three and a half years. He’s probably been grating his whole adult life. That’s the nature of entrepreneurs and most particularly of billionaires. They didn’t get to the top of the heap by playing patty-cake or being Mother Theresa. Business in New York and especially real estate development is a gritty, no holds barred hourly slugfest that doesn’t pity the weak, the meek or the failed. There are no trophies for coming in fifth place. It’s Darwinian to the extreme, where only the strongest thrive and rise to ethereal heights. You either get stuff done or you’re road kill and it can happen in a New York minute.

Trump doesn’t know from niceties when he has a job to do or a deadline to meet. It’s all nonstop bare fisted brawl where often you get battered as badly as the guy you’re pummeling. Most Americans born after 1985, have no recollection of these guys but when I was a kid, teenager and young adult, they were ubiquitous and if you went to work for some of them, you needed to get tough fast and have a thick skin. Work was a four-letter word; you were expected to give 110 percent and fools were not suffered gladly if at all.

For all his gruff manner and bull in the china shop ethos, Trump has gotten a lot of stuff done:

The Economy

On the economic front, Trump ignited the biggest boom in decades by lowering personal income taxes for most Americans, slashing corporate taxes and cutting reams of government red tape that impeded business from creating jobs, leading to the lowest unemployment rate since 1969, or, in other words, in most Americans’ lifetimes. More Blacks and Hispanics and women were employed than ever. The percentage of Americans in the workforce was at a big high and believe it or not, the wealth and income gap between rich and poor shrank significantly as those in the lower income brackets saw real wages and the value of their investments rise by several multiples while those at the top experienced little to no growth from 2016-2019. Manufacturing of real things returned to U.S. shores as factories reopened and capital investments grew. Under Trump, America has become energy independent for the first time in 50 years. The stock market hit all-time highs, which has a direct impact on nearly all Americans through their pension funds, 401K’s or IRA’s. Residential real estate values had exponential growth and he was the first President to stand-up to China’s unfair trade relationship with the U.S. which included their wanton theft of American intellectual property. He also renegotiated NAFTA and signed a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico that protects American jobs.

COVID-19

Regarding the COVID-19 Pandemic, despite some initial fumbling, the Trump Administration solved the mask shortage, solved the PPE shortage, solved the ventilator shortage, opened military field hospitals in critically hit cities and states in record time. He also got “Operation Warp Speed” going which has fast-tracked both a vaccine for COVID-19 and needed therapeutic treatments. By barring travel from China on January 31st (much to the consternation of his critics) and then closing off Europe a few weeks later, he probably saved hundreds of thousands if not nearly two million American lives. Original projections were for 2.2 million dead. The roughly 200,000 fatalities are a huge tragedy, but without the steps taken by the Administration through May, the numbers would have certainly been far worse. Europe’s fatalities are comparable to those of the U.S. and does anyone really believe only 3,300 people died from COVID-19 in China? The CARES Act pumped $3 Trillion into the economy to keep America afloat. Because of the lockdown, some 22 million jobs were lost almost overnight, but nearly 12 million have come back in the past two months. Job growth will plateau until there is a vaccine or the disease withers away. The leisure, travel, entertainment, event and dining industries all have taken a horrible blow from lost jobs and these won’t return for a while. But the existential question is, “who is best qualified to return us to prosperity and a booming economy?”

The Courts

On the judicial front, Trump has appointed nearly 200 Originalist/Constitutionalist federal judges along with two Supreme Court justices with a third likely on the way. Originalist judges interpret the constitution as the original framers of the constitution intended and do not create new laws and legislate from the bench, thereby upholding the legal traditions that bind our country and government together.

Foreign Policy

The Trump Administration has achieved historic breakthroughs in peace between Israel and other Arab nations for which he’s been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. He also made good on his promise to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and recognize the city as Israel’s capital. He also recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights from which Syria used to bombard and terrorize Israeli civilians. He wiped out the ISIS “Caliphate” and has put enormous pressure on the radical Iranian Ayatollahs to stem their nuclear and global terrorist ambitions. He has forced our NATO allies to pay their fair share of defense spending and he’s been disentangling us from never-ending intractable foreign wars, bringing our troops home. He managed to build or strengthen hundreds of miles of border walls and barriers and most significantly, convince Mexico to post their own troops on the U.S. – Mexican border to stop waves of illegal immigrants from flooding into the country.

Veterans and Military Affairs

Trump managed to finally straighten out the disgracefully poor Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals and permit the VA to fire incompetent employees along with allowing veterans to access private healthcare so they don’t have to wait weeks or months for treatment. The military has been fully refunded and is being rebuilt to Reagan-era levels. Our soldiers have received successive pay raises. There are hundreds more accomplishments, but space inhibits the ability to list them all.

Joe Biden

Joe Biden is a wonderfully avuncular and pleasant grandfatherly figure who would be soothing to the psyche for the year or two he’d probably last in office. Are you ready for President Kamala Harris? Biden is a lot easier on the ears than Trump, but are we voting for “favorite grandpa,” a Homecoming King or student council president or for someone who will get the job done? Biden has promised to raise income taxes, business taxes, estate taxes, capital gains taxes and even create wealth taxes. He has adopted the Bernie Sanders’ “Green New Deal” which seeks to eliminate fossil fuels in 10 to 15 years and your cars along with it. He’s signed-on to the notion of effectively eliminating private health insurance and private health care for the 180 million Americans who now have it. He’s for defunding the military and he’d roll back Trump policies in the Middle East and China.

In a Biden Administration, you’ll have a lot of members from the far left wing of the Democratic Party – people who have been pro-indefinite draconian lockdowns and who have been permitting and abetting the last six months of rioting in Democrat-run cities along with supporting the “defund the police” and other soft on crime policies that have been in vogue in certain trendy circles as of late. They are also for racial preferences, quotas and set-asides as opposed to equality of opportunity, equality before the law and advancement based on merit.

This is an existential choice between two dramatically different visions for our country. We have the lion on one hand and the lamb on the other. For a stronger and more prosperous America, we need the lion, even though he roars.

Op-Ed/Opinion, it endorses a candidate for President of the United States. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and not necessarily those of The South Florida Sun Times.

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