Columnist Susan Timberlake: Seeking Smarter, More Effective Government

Originally published in the Daily Hampshire Gazzette. Support local news!

I read with great interest the column by Clare Higgins “Reflections on Obama Presidency” (Weekend Gazette, Dec. 31-Jan. 1).

She is an accomplished politician and executive. More importantly, she actually knows how to use power and get things done. She is one of my favorite Democrats.

I mention this because, as a lifelong Republican, I seek out leaders who have demonstrated experience and ability. They must be able to articulate their plans, justify them with argument and be willing to use all avenues of available power to get them done. There must also be transparency.

For example, Elizabeth Warren, while holding no political office, was able to force our government to create and eventually staff the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She knew exactly when to move and when to pressure, when the timing was right. Then again, she used to be a Republican.

My candidate in the presidential race was Christopher Christie, so I am a little concerned about our President-elect Donald J. Trump. While both were accused of being “bullies,” Chris Christie negotiated very hard with the unions, but he did not attempt to dismantle them. He knows the law and its procedures and many shortcomings. (I hope he gets his day in court to clear his name and isn’t left hanging in the wind as an unindicted co-conspirator in “bridgegate.”)

While DJT got rich and has maneuvered in every negotiation to self-enrich, to declare bankruptcy to get out from under his obligations; CC lives in the house he bought with his wife 30 years ago and made all the sacrifices required to be a public servant. Half Irish and half Sicilian, he “tells it like it is” right into your face while keeping you close with his arm around your shoulder. If you ask for an explanation, he will give you one that will include what he is valuing and why. He even listens to your answer and considers what you said. He will tell you why he disagrees with you, if he does disagree.

So I am concerned about what is going to happen next with DJT. As described by Peggy Noonan, my “GOP Republican party is shattered.” Here are some potential donnybrooks.

What if DJT decides not to nominate a Supreme Court justice until year three or four of his term? This would hobble the Supreme Court (split 4-4) and leave room for the executive branch to go some places it shouldn’t go. It would leave holes that states could drive a truck through in the short term. Pick your issue.

What if Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell send their budget up – privatizing Medicare and Social Security (in alignment with Wall Street and the unnatural desires of Goldman Sachs)? Will DJT sign it once he gets the items he wants, or will he veto it and shut down the government? No one knows what he will do. Even he may not know what he will do. Does he understand or care about the implications?

I wish his supporters would stop talking about a return to “natural law.” Who knows what that could be an excuse for, especially with Jeff Sessions as AG.

The opening up of Cuba is long overdue. (Thank you President Obama for taking this risk.) Will DJT simply reverse the executive order, or will he threaten to vacate the order while having his children get in line to build a hotel there with all the venture capitalists? Instead of GOP this could be GEK “golden era of kleptocracy” in the United States (as well as in Cuba).

What if DJT decides to “pardon Hillary” even though she is not being investigated and not been indicted, implicated nor found guilty of any crimes? The spectacle, created by the president of the United States, would be the ultimate fake news story.

Mike Pence always says, and I quote: that he “is a conservative first, then a Christian, then a Republican. In that order.” I worry that our soon-to-be vice president neglects to mention that he is an American at all in his self-description.

In conclusion, I think all of us reasoned, thoughtful Americans, will continue to work hard and try to be civil to each other in spite of fake news stories and foreign interference in our affairs. We need to work on our democracy right now and watch out for our own civil rights and those of all other Americans.

While I may want smaller government, and you, a Democrat, want more programs and supports, I think we both would like smarter, more effective government. Perhaps we can start there.

Susan Timberlake, of Florence, is co-producer and co-host of “Civil Politics” on WXOJ-LP (103.3 FM, Valley Free Radio) at 7 p.m. Fridays.

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