The Boundaries of Character

Author: Gary Hart

Like individual people, nations have boundaries.  These are not geographical borders, but boundaries or principles that define our character.  We’ve all known instances where an acquaintance does something uncharacteristic, and we say “that doesn’t seem like her.”

For more than three years, America has experienced the weakening and even collapse of principles that define us.  America today is not the same country we grew up in and experienced most of our lives.

We know this has been brought about by a president who does not care about our nation’s character or the principles we have proclaimed for ourselves throughout the world.  What is most troubling are the tens of millions of American citizens who don’t seem to care.

Insufficient attention has been paid to those fellow citizens as this president’s anti-American behavior distracted the media almost daily.  They evidence no concern for his path toward authoritarian power, his anger at dissent, his revolving White House door of reputable figure leaving to be replaced by sycophantic, kowtowing special interest lobbyists betraying the national interest daily, his systematic attacks on our intelligence and national security organizations, his delight in offending democratic allies and dismantling decades of bipartisan participation in international organizations.

Can four out of ten Americans really admire this man’s daily erosion of our national character?  Was it inevitable that so-called “reality t.v.” would replace thoughtful leadership?  Are elected officials of his own party so enamored by Washington, which they routinely campaign against, that they sacrifice their spine and their integrity to avoid offending this false prophet?

Donald Trump has set out to break down the boundaries that define our nation.  He has succeeded to a remarkable degree.  Everyone knows that he cannot tell the truth and yet his followers simply Don’t Care.

In five short months, we will have to chance to rescue our nation.  He will do everything in his power to prevent that rescue in his demented effort to dismantle America’s moral and ethical foundation.  The Trump Republican party will do nothing to stop him.  It will be up to the opposition Democrats and the Independent “undecideds” to prevent another four years of remaking America into something it has never been.

Nations have a certain kind of soul, the composite of what makes them who they are.  It is not an overstatement or overly dramatic to assert that America’s soul, possibly for all time, is at stake.

This president cannot experience or express empathy.  He cares more about himself than he does his fellow citizens.  He cannot create; he can only tear down.  He has silenced the billionaires and corporate elites with tax cuts.  He threatens peaceful protestors with the U.S. military.  He has turned over our natural heritage held in trust for future generations to private exploiters.  He intimidates, with little effort, the careerist politicians in his own party

By instinct and upbringing, Americans have concern for each other.  Most of us try to help those in need.  We shovel snow from the walks of the elderly and help push the neighbor’s car out of the ditch.  We care for our communities.  We have a conscience about the environment.  We seek the goodwill of foreign friends.  We welcome the stranger.  We seek the common good.  We work at being better human beings.

This president knows none of these things.  He seeks a different country.  One where it is every man for himself.  And devil take the hindmost.  Every day he is changing America’s defining boundaries and abandoning our traditional principles.

And we are watching him do it.

21 Responses to “The Boundaries of Character”

  1. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    >>>>>>Can four out of ten Americans really admire this man’s daily erosion of our national character? Was it inevitable that so-called “reality t.v.” would replace thoughtful leadership?

    An even more worrisome question is how many of the 60% will choose not to vote or vote for a third party candidate or just write in their favourite political savior because Biden doesn’t excite them?

    And, yet, in this piece, there is no mention of the only candidate with just this side of a snowball’s chance in Hell of ensuring Trump is removed from office. I think it’s time for a little less subtlety through poetry and a little more ‘in your face’ endorsement before it’s too late.

  2. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    There has been a lot of depressing media coverage of late and most of it is just too hard to watch.

    But, there is also an incredible opportunity here for the real America and the real promise of America to come shining through, take on its oppressive past, meet and exceed the challenge to overcome it, finally, to make needed positive change and stand as an example to the world.

    I just saw a report of a piano man from Oklahoma who travelled to Minneapolis to take part in the George Floyd memorial. He was sitting in the middle of a street playing beautiful music on his piano. Then people gathered in the crowd took turns sitting at that piano and playing more beautiful music, black and white, young and old coming together through music.

    The power of music is strong. I’m hoping Biden will use that power throughout his campaign for president in any number of ways to help bring people together.

  3. Michael Says:

    We are indeed in a fight for our national soul. A large segment of the population, and the Republican Party, seem intent on destroying it. I swing constantly between pessimism and hope. But even in hope, the fear of who we may actually might turn out to be is always present. Yet over the last week, the protests over the death of George Floyd that have swept through the nation, with people in cities all over the world marching in solidarity, may be signaling something much bigger than simply a victory in November. What we are witnessing reminds me very much of the protests in Eastern Europe in the fall of 1989 that led to the collapse of communism. We might be about to shed the old power structures and the bigotry that was built into them for good. We seem to be reaching for a new and better future. At least I hope we are.

  4. Stephen D. Pillow Says:

    Michael, I hope that your hope wins out. However, I am ever the pessimist and fear a physically violent reaction, revolt if you will, when der Fuehrer is removed from his throne. If you’ve never “lived amongst ’em”, you can’t imagine the visceral hatred that they have for anything or anyone that is in any way different from them. They are racists, bigots, homophobic, and all of the things that we all have accused their anointed leader, and then some. They absolutely HATE YOU. You will not win them over. You are going to have to dominate and subjugate them, but you will never change them. Being liberal your reaction will be that this is too harsh a reaction. I can’t possibly treat another human being, more so a citizen of my own nation in this manner. It’s like trying to tame and care for a rabid dog. Your only recourse is to kill it before it kills you, cause it ain’t gonna change.

    I have lived ‘amongst ’em’, and I fear them mightily.

  5. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    That is why Biden must win handily, without any doubt. It cannot be close.

  6. Michael Says:

    Stephen, I fully expect that Trump will not accept the election results, (no matter how handily Biden wins). I also expect that he will incite violence among his supporters, and that many will commit to it. We may be about to live through a period of domestic white supremacist terrorism where acts like the Oklahoma bombing happen frequently. Hopefully law enforcement will be able to deal with it and eventually snuff it out.

  7. Stephen D. Pillow Says:

    Michael, The problem with depending upon “law enforcement to deal with it and eventually snuff it out” would have been like Lincoln naturalizing the local militias in the South to snuff out the rebellion in 1861. Most law enforcement agencies, especially the local ones (police departments, county sheriff’s departments, and the state police) especially in the South have the same percent of supporters of the current regime as does the local population, in some cases even more. This will also be a problem within the US military, just as it was in 1861, when all of the Southern sympathizers quit the US Military and joined Southern military units.
    This is not going to be a “we’ll just let the police take care of this” type of a situation. The average citizen is very likely going to have to get their hands dirty and take a physical stand on this issue. People’s houses and businesses are going to be destroyed and some of them are going to loose their lives.

  8. Michael Says:

    Stephen, When I said law enforcement I meant the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department. With a new administration that takes the threat seriously and appoints committed people to leadership positions, they will be monitoring and treating white supremacists’ groups as they do foreign terrorist organizations. I agree that many and local police departments have elements of those groups embedded in them, but strong federal oversight could do something about that. Recent news reports have shown that the military won’t let itself be used domestically to abuse citizens; I think that all the statements from military leaders about honoring the Constitution are sending a message to Trump and others that they won’t be part of any scheme not to honor the election results. I am much more concerned about Republican voter suppression.

  9. Stephen D. Pillow Says:

    Michael, I understand your faith that the Federal law enforcement agencies “will be monitoring and treating white supremacists’ groups as they do foreign terrorist organizations.” However, the major problem with white racists in law enforcement is not generally at that level. It is at the state and local levels, and that is where the monitoring needs to be done. If the racists are not removed from law enforcement at those levels, nothing is going to change. “Defunding” local law enforcement, whatever that means, is still not going to rid local law enforcement of its racists. The personnel within the law enforcement agencies themselves are going to have to want to rid their agencies of the racists. That’s the rub. It ain’t gonna happen until the rank and file want it to happen. The biggest road block to this is going to be the police unions and organizations.

  10. Michael Says:

    Stephen, I would expect that the civil-rights department of Biden’s DoJ will be expanded and take seriously the enforcement, not only existing civil-rights laws, and hate-crimes laws, but also whatever expanded limits on policing are going to be passed. The federal government can also deny funding for police departments that do not clean house. I think this will all have a significant effect, assuming the Democrats win in November.

  11. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    I would fully concur with all of that, Michael! I can hardly wait to see who he will pick for AG, knock on wood and all that.

  12. Michael Says:

    Elizabeth, I’m hoping it’s Adam Schiff. We don’t have to just rebuild the DoJ, but the current administration has to be investigated, and if laws were broken people need to be prosecuted. The fact that we let so much slide in the past is one reason we got to this point.

  13. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    I’m conflicted about that, Michael because, well, that is what the current AG is doing.

    It’s a dangerous path when one administration starts prosecuting the former. It just doesn’t feel right.

    Besides, the Biden administration is going to be very, very busy cleaning up another Republican mess on the scale of another Augean Stables, no less.

    I’d be okay with Schiff but, I’d rather see James Comey there – not because I’m trying very hard to be provocative but, because I think he would be a great AG. I also realize that it ain’t gonna happen!

  14. Michael Says:

    Elizabeth, there can only be prosecutions if crimes are found to have been committed. I am sure there have been many, perhaps including giving classified information to our enemies. The DoJ is capable of doing many things at the same time. As for investigating the previous administration, it is happening right now with the faux Obamagate ‘scandal.’ Republicans have no hesitation launching investigations purely for political purposes. And Comey? His handling of the Clinton email case is the major reason we are in this mess. I don’t think it would be wise for Biden to even consider him.

  15. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    I think it is pretty safe to say that, if a Biden administration starts prosecuting its predecessors, then that Biden administration will get little else done, for more than one reason.

    Now, as for the former FBI Director, I think we’ve been through this before so I’ll just say that Comey wouldn’t even have been in the public eye Re. the Clinton email server situation if it wasn’t for the behavior of candidate Clintons campaign-sabotaging husband – behavior that, at best, was idiotic and, at worst, criminal, if interfering with a FBI investigation is criminal.

  16. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    This faux narrative that “Comey’s handling of the Clinton email case is the major reason we are in this mess” really sticks in my craw so I’m gonna try to get it out, one last time.

    In reality, the Clintons and their collective sense of entitlement did more than anyone or anything to put us in this mess. Because of the very bad judgement displayed by AG Lynch and, worse still, the lack of judgement by Bill Clinton, Comey was put in a wholly untenable position where there were no good options, literally. He handled the Clinton email case judiciously and honourably.

    And, that is why I believe he would have made a great AG. But, life isn’t fair – not for Comey nor for the rest of us. Which is why we must fight for every piece of fairness possible and that starts with honesty and the truth of any given matter.

  17. Paul G Says:


    What does it say about the future of our US republic that an unelected foreign media mogul – for almost 50 years – still holds our elected senate leaders under his fear-mongering knee while sanatizing the president’s most treasonous utterances?

    Will a courageous reporter like Murrow or Cronkite put the sacred oath of US citizenship ahead of a foreign media mogul’s increasingly diabolical subversion of our nation? Mr. Murdoch (90) choked and changed UK governments on his whim before targeting US public institutions, aided by Nixon’s Roger Ailes and Roger Stone.

    But outrages are happening so fast even in this lung-choking pandemic that I almost forgot that veteran fox reporter, Shepard Smith, jeopardized his life and livelihood by publicly stating the president had betrayed the US Constitution. Coincidentally (?) Atty Gen. Barr visited his boss (Murdoch’s) home and Smith “resigned” on tv.

    But who among us understandably distracted citizens saw the knee is, in reality, on our neck? Now, Wallace and Cavuto are increasing targets of this strong-man madness.

    Consider the jeopardy to our republic’s ideal of a “more perfect union” in the president’s response to a June 12, fox interview question on police use of choke-holds: “I THINK THE CONCEPT OF CHOKE-HOLDS SOUNDS SO INNOCENT AND SO PERFECT.”

    But, like the slow-motion sanitizing of the Rodney King tapes, fox news scrolled the words “really compassionate but strong law enforcement” as the interview rolled on.

    Who would have thought an unelected UK media mogul’s dream of shaping US reality for his sole benefit now seems such a suffocatingly inevitable nightmare for all of us?

  18. Elizabeth Miller Says:


    I suppose that many did think how easy it is to shape reality to the whims of a reality shaper and, indeed, has been easy for a very long time.

    Why has it been so easy?

    By the way, I like your running analogy of a knee to the collective neck and its devastating impacts – it can be an effective message!

  19. Michael Says:

    Elizabeth, all the data says that Comey cost Hillary the election. And let’s not forget that no criminality was found. Ever.

  20. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Hillary cost Hillary the election despite the fact that her husband played a starring role in that disaster.

  21. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Hillary wasn’t a criminal. Great.

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