Seems like it has been a long time since I last wrote anything of substance. This piece likely won’t have a lot of substance, but rather ramblings of words meant to be written and never were.
This will be a slight shift to all-things-dramatic as I write my opinions on current events. Please, do not rebut in a rude manner. As written here, these are my opinions, they do not have to be anyone else’s. I am not trying to convince anyone of anything. My years on this earth and observances of events merit permission to write as does our constitution. My views are my own. It is not my intention to start quarrels or debates. Read it, like it or not, then move on. — MLM
Can Be Dramatic
When I was growing up in the 50-60’s I remember presidents such as Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, and in later years, Jimmy Carter. They were not all great. You will notice Richard Nixon is on this list and he was a stinker. My parents were Republicans and voted for Nixon. Even at the time, I didn’t like Nixon. He appeared in a bad light on camera and I was never interested in listening to him on TV. “He [Nixon] promised to “bring us together again,” and many Americans, weary after years of antiwar and civil rights protests, were happy to hear of peace returning to their streets”. Nixon That has a familiar ring now in 2017 with Mr. Trump in the White House.
Even though as a young person, politics didn’t hold my interest, I was attracted to people who showed integrity and respect for the office. JKF had charisma and brighten up the television screen every time he spoke. As any 8 year old could possibly be drawn to a political figure, I was drawn to JFK as a human being. He spoke with honesty and convinced me he could be a modern president with progressive ideas for the good of America. (Much like Barack Obama spoke.) Kennedy was a democrat and of the Catholic faith, two unfavorable attributes of a presidential candidate in my parent’s opinion. They were always quick to say, however, that those candidates were not bad people. “We vote Republican,” they would explain, and “well, he [JFK] is Catholic and a Catholic has never held office before,” as if that was something undesirable. I didn’t understand, but I trusted my parents. They wanted change in light of the situation in Vietnam at the time and for their sons, one of which went to war a few years out of high school graduation in 1960. (As a female, it was not a concern that I could be drafted in those days.) Of course, they also wanted a president who would uphold the virtues of Christ.
My parents were good people, Christians, working class, hard workers who were committed to providing for my brothers and me. My dad often held down extra jobs to supplement the income. My mom stayed at home until I was a sophomore in high school when she went to work in a department store. Soon after she began her job, I learned my mother could do much more than simply sew my dresses, wash clothes, cook and keep a comfortable house for us to live in. She quickly became the department head for the shoes and men’s clothing at the store. Mom was an efficient, competent worker as evidenced when foreign sailors off the ships docked on the Neches River would come to shop. Often, with broken or no English, the men asked for help shopping for clothes or shoes. My mom communicated as best she could and would size them up simply by looking at them. Then, she would fit them in a pair of Levis or boots sending them back to their ship happily carrying their purchases. It makes me laugh to imagine her gesturing and pointing, speaking in English slowly to help them understand. My mom also had to keep records for the departments she was over, taking inventory, balancing expenses, ordering and stocking merchandise. Mom’s job at the store also bought many dresses, towels and sheets for my years in college.
Then, Daddy, a refinery worker, often worked his days off at other people’s houses painting their house exteriors, fixing doors, laying cement or repairing a roof. When Daddy finished his military service following WWII, he rejoined his young family of two who had moved ahead of him to Port Arthur, Texas. Later they moved to Orange, TX, where my other brother and I were born, to find work. He worked on construction sights for much of that time before getting a job with Pure Oil Refinery in Nederland, TX where he would stay on and retire. (Pure Oil changed to Union 76.) Making a final move to Port Neches, TX, Daddy would continue to work construction or house painting, scheduling the jobs around his shifts at the refinery. He even found time to work around our house, fixing plumbing, painting, or even reconfiguring rooms of our house. Once he torn out a fireplace, removed the front porch and extended our whole living room.
When I reached high school, about the same time Mother went to work in the department store, Daddy trained as an income tax preparer and worked for H & R Block for many tax seasons. My mom and I would smile and tell him how distinguished he looked going to work in his suit and tie, carrying his briefcase. Now as an adult, I realize that Daddy was proud of his accomplishments. He felt he’d come into a better position working in an office, while earning money for us. Daddy was an intelligent man. I often wonder where his career might have taken him had he attended college. That just wasn’t the era in which he grew up to afford college. His family worked hard on an Oklahoma farm. My dad learned what it meant to be responsible for a family as he and his 5 siblings helped with farm chores. As a WWII veteran with a family, he didn’t consider college an option for him and found work that provided the comforts of living for all of us. That is probably why he thought it was important to be able to send his children to college. Both of my parents always thought about family first before themselves. Although, it may sound as if my parents were always working, they always found time to spend with us kids. I never felt deprived or like they weren’t there for me, because they always were.
In my experience, many church-going Christians were of a conservative political viewpoint in the 60’s and like my parents, voted Republican for the most part. The Republicans appeared to boast Christian morals which appealed to the religious groups looking to stay out of war. Although, noble on the outside, on closer scrutiny of some conservatives’ viewpoints, it might reveal a closed-mindedness toward differences in ethnicities or other cultures. It is not my belief that my father was like that when it came to issues of race. My brothers nor I were ever allowed to speak badly of a person just because of their race. In fact I recall a specific time while I was attending college that Daddy told me it was okay to be friends with any person of color. He was worried though about my marrying a person of color because of the problems it could cause for me. He did not say it would be wrong. My parents were fair minded people who would help anyone no matter their race. They were not religiously closed minded and my dad especially could change his mind on a matter if given justifiable cause to do so. In my opinion, it was the Christian, conservative values what spoke to them when it came to politics and choosing presidents. They supported the platforms they felt were best for their family and our faith in God.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was president for 8 years of my life from 1953 to 1961. When the presidential election in 1960 came into current news, I recall my surprise that we could have different presidents. Since I was all of 8 years old at the time, having not studied government in school, I just assumed the current president was there until he died. My memories of seeing President Eisenhower (first elected Republican president since 1928) on TV or hearing him speak, while not always understanding his message, I knew he was our president. As a highly experienced military person, he made me feel that we were safe. Or so I thought.
Now, here we are 100 days out from the inauguration of a new president (also running as a Republican) who makes me shutter with uncertainty. Even though, I was not really enamored by any of the presidential candidates running for office in 2016, Trump was the least likely candidate to get my vote. A man of no military or political experience, with the exception of his attending a private military school, announced to run for president of the United States. The absurdity of “The Apprentice“, Donald Trump, as president came across to my ears as a joke. “This won’t ever happen. He can’t possibly survive the election process. Why is he running for president? Is he simply wanting to have more power? He doesn’t have the experience it takes to run our country,” were my thoughts at the time (and still are). Then, as Election Day, November 8, 2016 came and went, my hopes and dreams for the United States were shattered. My reaction as I awoke to the news that Trump had won the presidency, was of deep disappointment. I cried. Cried! At the outcome of an election! I was not a political person, but I became a cable news junky during that election process, drinking in everything anti-Trump that came across written and televised news sources.
Although, the news media may be exploiting his term with way too much coverage, it is addictive to witness a live drama play out before our very eyes. This scary reality show is unbelievably fascinating especially given the amount of inexperience and unpreparedness in which Trump came into the White House. It’s opening night and Trump doesn’t know his character’s motivation or the lines of the script. He is all improv and that is alarming. Alas, with great disappointment and sadness, I listen or read online as he berates anyone who rejects an idea he has or doesn’t kowtow to his reign of bullying. This president is on Twitter social media like a teenager in angst over his life, for heaven’s sake! Unbelievable! It would seem that we are stuck with this “man-child”, as he has been called, for now until at least 2020. (That is if he isn’t impeached first or quits.) It would also appear that little by little some of his appointees to administrative offices are proving to be dishonest and not anymore fit for their job as Trump is for President.
It is my sincere belief that Trump has no idea what it means to truly work as my parents did for their families. He has no idea of the struggles and sacrifices people like my Mama and Daddy make for their families. Sure, Trump can read about people in poverty and he sees news reports (sometimes unproven or biased sources) and reacts, that is he Tweets. He still doesn’t seem to truly understand the working class when he promotes policies that will benefit the rich even though he makes it sound as if they are in the forefront of his policy making. Trump makes rude, disrespectful comments about other people with whom he disagrees. There is no empathy in his words for others. That is not the model of a president we want our children to admire or other countries to look to for help. He doesn’t appear to consider the other side of any story that doesn’t match his own skewed views on planned parenthood, gun control, or health care. Money is not an object to him. He sees constructing an insanely huge wall as the answer to murders committed in our country by foreign enemies. My older brother has passed away. He was a hunter who owned guns and used them with the respect a weapon deserves. My brother was military serving in the U. S. Army back when the country was involved in Vietnam. He was a man with little patience for people with stupid ideas. Even though he would have been on the side of the 2nd Amendment upholding the right to “bear arms”, he would also be for gun control and advocate any law as for gun safety. My older brother would have called Trump an “idiot”. It’s not my intention to advocate “name-calling”, something our president does on a regular basis, but in the case of Trump, “idiot” pretty much calls it like it is.
Man! I miss my big brother.
Perhaps our lesson to be taken from a Trump presidency is that God wants us to become more patient with the “idiots” of this world. Heaven knows I have been attempting to do just that, but some people make it hard. Christians everywhere appear to be divided about this president. Even as my parents, voting Republicans, were blue-collar workers practicing Christian morals, values and attributes, I would find it hard to imagine they would have voted for the man who has become the 45th president of the United States.
My prayer for all of us at this time is that we will come together as a nation to see the truth for ourselves in regard to the politics of the current administration. Trump was woefully unprepared for this job. He would have quickly fired an employee who projected so little comprehension about one of his businesses had he hired a person like himself. It is my hope that Congress along with people of integrity in the position to make changes, will remain vigilant in keeping watch on Trump, forcing him to be accountable to the nation of people whom he serves. May God bless America and keep us ever mindful that God alone is truly in charge.
Written by Mary Lou Ritchey Martin
May 1, 2017