What makes this so hard for me is that I know he is a smart guy. I have known Jack for at least 20 years. Our kids were friends. Our wives were friends. We have probably drank a small brewery of beers together. We have camped together, watched cars circle a track 10,000 times together. We have dissected every topic you can imagine together typically coming to opposite conclusions. But over the last five years or so we have drifted apart primarily because of our political and social beliefs.
In 2009 Jack lost his job. He says he quit which is fine but the bottom line he was no longer working for the company he had been working at since college. I remember we had lunch not long after he “quit”. America was in the beginning stages of the “Great Recession”. Barack Obama had just been elected President. Banks were failing. Manufacturing was failing. Unemployment was high and the stock market was in the dumpster. My own personal business was not good but I had some savings and residual income coming in that helped.
Jack told me about his plans over lunch. Ideas he had for new ventures. His plans would take advantage of the textile plants need for work. But he needed money. He needed partners. He was looking for cash in a market that was short on capital. Banks weren’t loaning money and investors were sitting on theirs. What he would also soon discover is that “partners” in a down economy don’t always have your best interest in mind. Desperation turned otherwise honest people in to charlatans, swindlers, and cons and Jack met a few of those. In the end his ideas turned into dead ends and he wasted a lot of time and sadly money he could ill afford to lose.
Fast forward 10 years later. I ran into Jack at a burger place we both frequent. We caught-up on children, wives, people we knew in common. I asked what he was doing. He was still chasing a few ideas. He had made a little money on some of them and overall he was optimistic. But the source of his optimism is what surprised me.
In Jack’s mind Obama was to blame for the “Great Recession”. The world came crumbling down on top of him because of eight years of Barack Obama. Finally, he reasoned, business, the economy, and the stock market had been stabilized with the election of Donald Trump.
I was stunned, not surprised given both his political and social leanings, but stunned none the less. I lived through this same period. I experienced the same business downturns that he had. And I also knew when it all started, not with the election of Barack Obama but after George Bush made some of the same regulatory changes that Trump is making today.
Bush, like Trump, believed that big business didn’t need the government looking over its shoulder. That market forces would take care of any corrections that needed to be made and that CEO’s making 100 million dollars a year were smart enough NOT to screw their meal tickets, the men and women working on the floor making widgets, happy just to have a job. CEO’s have one loyalty and one loyalty only do whatever needs to be done, hook or crook, to keep stock prices-up, and stockholders, of which they are one, happy. That single minded focus and lack of oversight is what caused the “Great Recession” and Barack Obama was the reason this country clawed its way out of it.
In three short years Trump has convinced a segment of the population that he alone has saved our country from utter ruin. That he alone is responsible for the record earnings in the stock market, low interest rates, and low unemployment. He has convinced the Jacks of the world that he inherited an economy on the brink of disaster. That he has not only saved business but our political and social lives as well. And Jack has bought it hook, line and sinker. Why? Because in Jacks mind a Democrat, a socialist, a black man wasn’t capable of doing it.
There are all kinds of charts and graphs that prove the point that the Great Recession was caused by Bush, fixed by Obama and that Trump is just riding on Barack’s coattails. But I don’t need charts and graphs, I lived it. I remember the struggles. I remember trying to come-up with college tuition. I remember dipping into savings to make house and car payments. And I remember the pain of selling stock, investments I was counting on in the future, to pay taxes on earnings I didn’t see. Barack Obama didn’t cause that pain, George Bush and the Republicans did and sadly Trump and the Republicans today are taking this country down the same rabbit hole, short term prosperity for long term liabilities.
“How do you impeach a president who has won perhaps the greatest election of all time, done nothing wrong (no Collusion with Russia, it was the Dems that Colluded), had the most successful first two years of any president, and is the most popular Republican in party history 93%?” – Trump tweet
It’s a small city and I am sure over the next 10 to 20 years I will run into Jack again. When we do we will catch-up on children, maybe grandchildren by then, wives, and people we know in common. My hope is that Jack will have mellowed his views some, he certainly has both the smarts and the capabilities to do so. I would suspect that there will be a treasure trove of documents and books about Trump by then. Information about his corruption, his and his family’s dishonesty, and the Russian connection. All of these issues and concerns about Trump are plain as day to me now, but not Jack and millions like him. Maybe information in the future will change their minds but my bet is it won’t.