Election Day is less than 50 days away. Early voting arrives sooner, obviously. Some don't care about voting, some are filled with anxiety, some are hopeful for change or the status quo. Many believe that elections change nothing. After the events of this year, I would vigorously dispute that notion.
Change will happen, whether Trump is re-elected or Biden wins. Change is neither wrong nor right; it is just different. The events that motivate or accelerate change are what really matter. This year, by any measure, has been eventful. Viral epidemics, economic shutdown, record unemployment, raging fires in the West, hurricanes in the South and social unrest will prompt a change in November, regardless of who is elected president.
In 1984 I voted to re-elect Ronald Reagan. I wanted to keep the status quo. The nation had not had eight years of the same president since Dwight D. Eisenhower served out his term in 1961. My reasoning was that another four years of the same policies would provide some stability to the country. We have had three two-term presidents since, and we are not better now. The concept of stability is beyond the current president's understanding.
I definitely want change now. "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" is the question candidate Reagan asked of America in 1980. If they are honest and objective, no one can say that the United States is better now than four years ago. Reagan's Republican Party is gone, replaced by the cultish Trump Party, led by a man who demands unquestioning loyalty in place of competence. A man who idolizes the leaders of what was once known as the "evil axis." A man who cannot learn, who will not listen to those who have more knowledge, because only he alone, in all his selfish wisdom, can fix it. A man who counts on his followers to be "low-information voters," refusing to learn new developments or verifying facts on their own. They are an unquestioning flock of sheep mesmerized by charismatic slogans and appeals to their baser animal instincts.
The GOP I once knew was honorable. They wanted smaller, more effective government, fiscal discipline, and accountability. George W. Bush strived to incorporate "compassionate conservatism" within the Republican platform. Reagan saw America as a "shining city upon a hill," guiding freedom-loving people "of all kinds." But during the recent Republican convention, no platform was put together. Let me correct that statement: The platform was "whatever President Trump wants." No specifics, no shiny new ideas, just whatever Trump wants. That, more than anything, signifies the death knell of the Republican Party.
This year, we saw incompetence in response to a worldwide epidemic, resulting in almost 200,000 American deaths. We witnessed the worst unemployment rates since 1930. Even now, the unemployment rate is still more than 8 percent. The United States' national debt is projected to exceed the size of the entire country's economy next year, according to the Congressional Budget Office. If so, it will be the first time since 1946 that the federal debt is larger than the gross domestic product. Financial restraint used to be of importance to Republicans. Trump, in 2016, pledged to eliminate the national debt in eight years. Instead, it will have increased by $8.3 trillion or more.
If Trump is re-elected, what more can we expect? Higher turnover of West Wing staff, more tell-all books, more Republican Party leaders expressing their regrets for supporting the man? More tweets, more name-calling, more childish behavior, and even less attention to the office's duties? The GOP may be so damaged that no Republican will be elected president for a long time.
If Biden is elected, the fear is that the "radical left" will take over. There is little evidence to support this notion. Biden is a plain-vanilla Centrist moderate in his thinking, as evidenced by his 40 years in politics. Most Democrats run left of center while campaigning but move to the center once in office. Unlike the GOP, the Democratic Party is so diverse that no one faction can dominate the others. Sure, there are a few with socialistic tendencies, but their influence is limited. Only the far-right media perpetuates the hysteria of gun confiscation and community ownership. Some socialist ideas have merit and are worth considering, but we are a long way from abandoning capitalism.
But change will occur despite our best efforts. Our parents watched the youth of the '60s protesting and rioting and swore the country would wind up in the trash. Turns out that many of those protesters became conservative Republicans and progressive Democrats. I may not be comfortable with some of the changes being tossed about by the younger generations, still, their time is coming, just like it did for the Boomers.
For all of the chaos created by Donald Trump, our check-and-balance system has held firm. Our most powerful check system, the election of national leaders, is the most important. Is it coincidental that the current president and administration are now questioning the legitimacy of this year's election process? Change happens, but if it results from a rigged process, no good thing can come from it.
-- Devin Houston is the president/CEO of Houston Enzymes. Send comments or questions to [email protected] The opinions expressed are those of the author.