AT LENGTH-Amidst the uproar over Donald Trump’s latest tweet, his latest cabinet picks, and the latest revelations on the impact of Russian hacking on his surprise election win, the airing of Michael Kirk’s documentary film, Divided States of America, on Frontline (PBS) was overlooked.
The documentary, which aired on January 18, examines President Barack Obama’s two terms in office and the widening divide over politics, race, and economics. The film noted that when Obama was elected eight years ago, Democrats became a majority in both houses of Congress. Pundits prognosticated that the Republican Party would be out of power for at least a generation.
The documentary, however, reveals how, instead of accepting the dead-on arrival prognosis, Republican Party members gathered at their favorite watering hole and mapped out a plan to stop Obama. The plan from the very beginning was to keep any of his objectives from ever being implemented or passed. And that’s exactly what they’ve done for the last eight years.
Their strategy explains a great deal about why so little has been accomplished by this Republican-led Congress, which was won back a majority of seats, starting with the House of Representatives in 2010 and the Senate by 2012. This is also why Obama began to increasingly turn to using executive orders to accomplish his agenda.
The stalemate was planned by none other than Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House and a co-author and architect of the Contract With America.
It also reveals how politically naïve Obama was to the ways of D.C. politics as he tried repeatedly to cross the divide between liberals and conservatives and weld bi-partisan support for the economic recovery and the Affordable Care Act, subsequently dubbed ObamaCare.
This was probably Obama’s greatest failing as president. Under his tenure, the nation has only grown more divided. In the end, that divide created both the Tea Party revolt and the election of someone who is the exact opposite of Barack Obama. Our country hasn’t been this divided since the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War era.
As the nation celebrates the legacy of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. with street parades and closed government buildings, I’m reminded of how my generation reacted to the assassinations of national leaders like King, President John F. Kennedy and his brother Sen. Robert Kennedy and never found satisfaction in the official explanations given. This was also so after the FBI Counter Intelligence Program was exposed following the 1971 burgling of an FBI field office of classified dossiers which were distributed to the media. News of President Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal spread. He and his merry band of political plumbers were caught red handed.
President Obama likes to quote Dr. King regarding the nature of justice, saying:
‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice,’ many of my generation are still not willing to wait, nonetheless endure a repeat of the injustices of the past. This is among the many reasons why I, and millions of other Americans, am not going to ‘just give the new guy a chance to prove himself.’
Trump has already lost his opportunity to unite this nation behind his alt-version of reality.
(James Preston Allen is the Publisher of Random Lengths News, the Los Angeles Harbor Area's only independent newspaper. He is also a guest columnist for the California Courts Monitor and is the author of "Silence Is Not Democracy - Don't listen to that man with the white cap - he might say something that you agree with!" He has been engaged in the civic affairs of CD 15 for more than 35 years. More of Allen…and other views and news at: randomlengthsnews.com.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.