Presidential Election: Onward to the Past?

(This essay was originally published by the Newport Daily News on November 15, 2016.)

Though I voted for Hillary Clinton, I am a product of the American system and a believer in it. As such, I am prepared to accept and support Donald Trump as our 45th president. I hope we can all get behind him.

And who can disagree with his main election slogan: “Make America Great Again”. As an American patriot and retired Army officer, I am all for this. I guarded the frontiers of freedom for five years of my life: four years on the Inter-German Border and one year on the De-Militarized Zone in Korea. When President-Elect Trump, a baby boomer as I am, has referred to a Golden Age of America, he seems to look back to the late 40s and 50s, a time when “we were not pushed around, we were respected by everybody, we had just won a war.”

I remember those good ole days. While he was across the Hudson River in New York City, I was a few miles west in northern New Jersey, in a solid middle-working class town, Hasbrouck Heights. Even at that young age, I could sense the vigorous economic growth of the post-war years. A cow pasture at the edge of town suddenly turned into a huge factory; large grocery markets appeared where once farmers sold their vegetables by the bushel-basket.

By the early 60s, America seemed to dominate the world. We had a young, charismatic president with a beautiful wife and two young children, who led us through the Cuban Missile Crisis. American culture pervaded the world: Coca-Cola, blue jeans, Mickey Mouse, Rock ‘n Roll, and Hollywood. Our German landlady in Mainz, Germany, once related to me how in the 50s and 60s, “Made in America” was sought after; however, this was not the case by the late 70s and 80s. Yes, the good ole days—I am all for bringing them back.

Unfortunately, that world is gone with the wind. To name just a few of the changes: In 1960 the world had 3.04 billion people; today it has 7.4 billion, most expecting water, other scarce resources, and internet access. In 1960, China was ranked 6th in gross domestic product and was about to enter its disastrous Cultural Revolution. By 2010, it had climbed to 2nd behind the US, had turned capitalistic, had rebuilt its infrastructure, and was in the process of building a blue-water navy. In 1980, as I walked to teach my undergraduate class, the eyes of just about every student I passed met mine; now, most have their eyes on their iPhones.

A second concern is his credentials. When the Chicago Cubs wanted to break the century-old curse and build a championship team, they did not hire the head of Proctor & Gamble or General Electric. They hired successful baseball insiders, many from our championship Boston Red Sox. By one count there are over ten former Red Sox players and administrators who were acquired by the Cubs, including Theo Epstein, Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Mike Napoli. They also hired a seasoned manager in Joe Madden, a proven performer with 21 years of coaching experience.

Mr. Trump brings to the Oval Office great credentials as a manager, businessman, and communicator; however, these a leader do not make. Especially in the current age of the anything-goes internet and after such an ill-mannered election campaign, it is essential that he be our first citizen of civility. Beyond America, I hope our president can continue to be the leader of the free world and speak to the hopes and aspirations of, not only America’s down-trodden, but the huddled and persecuted masses of the world. Even though the full promise of the American Creed, highlighting human rights and dignity for all, is yet to be fully achieved in our own country, our pursuit of these has defined America not simply for 240 years but for 400, certainly here in Rhode Island.

It has not been simply because of our battleships, bombs, and brains that we have been bestowed with this leadership mantel, but also because of our moral leadership, specifically our defense of human rights and our pursuit of social justice, however flawed and inept these pursuits may have been at times. It was one of us who formulated those transcendent words which continue to capture the hearts of so many: “all men are created equal” and “they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.”

Mr. Trump’s welcomed words of conciliation and unity on election night reminded me of one of his fore-runners, also a Republican, as our country was stumbling toward the Civil War: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies… The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Fred Zilian is a writer and performer. He also teaches history and politics at Salve Regina University.




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3 Responses to Presidential Election: Onward to the Past?

  1. Dan Meucci says:

    Fred I am sorry you voted for Hillary Clinton but that is another issue. What Donald J. Trump brings to the Oval Office is a complete flushing of the old Washington establishment…both a Democratic and Republican system which had totally broken down. No matter who was in power the results were always the same, more “political correctness” at the cost of the middle-class taxpayer by the Progressives in each party. Politics based on the professional political class
    has evolved into a constant uptick of more give-a-way programs and centralization of power in Washington, DC with little or no regards to the Constitution. Your analogy about the Chicago Cubs
    makes no sense to me? Comparing the US Government to a baseball team is not apples to apples. Why? Because baseball is such a niche business in the World of businesses. Yet Donald J. Trump’s vast Billion dollar business Empire is a good comparison. Our government is bloated and over staffed with incompetent employees being protected by large government unions. The Trump organization is a streamlined business team working at peak efficiency. It is not uncommon in both businesses and governments to pick CEOs from different industries to change the culture of an old organization. Did you know the US Government offers similar welfare programs from 25 different agencies and departments with different names as just one example of waste. A businessman like Donald Trump is needed to return our government to a functioning workable entity which will accomplish the people’s business. Also under the Obama administration “Rule of Law” and our Constitution has been reduced to a joke. As a former Military Officer you signed a pledge and oath to protect and enforce the Constitution and the laws of our country. I don’t think when you were taking the pledge you found a clause in the oath indicating you could pick and choose the laws or orders you wanted to follow? In essence our very existence of our Constitutional Republic by not only Obama but the socialists, mulita-culturists, like Hillary Clinton who feel the government of the people, by the people and for the people are to stupid to understand the importance of the truth. Obama and Professor Gruber had many meetings concerning Obamacare and understood the new ACA would increase premiums, lower benefits, and force you to choose a new Doctor. Yet, Obama ran on the lie, “If you like your plan you can keep your plan, if you like your Doctor you can keep your Doctor and your premium will go down by at least $2500 per year!” Another example of breaking the law, sanctuary cities (over 248 cities) have sprung up under Obama and liberal Progressive Mayors across the country. The simple fact of breaking the federal laws on immigration doesn’t matter to any of these Mayors.(including Providence, RI) Yes, I understand how our World has changed since World War Two, but our Constitution is still the moral high ground if we follow it as our founders envisioned. Our country has been the most generous to other nations in the history of the world. Yet our current crop of Mulit-culturist politicians like Obama would have us throw open our borders to people who would harm us and drown us in masses of indigent people who only become a burden to our society. The programs that Mr. Obama has instituted in the name of “Social Justice” but just wealth transfer by another name. Mr. Trump understands this problem, as does the “The Trump Movement.”
    Without borders and control of immigration we will lose our sovereignty as a nation as Europe is currently finding out.
    “Onward to the Past,!” I love your title. We need to do this by passing a new Constitutional Amendment for “Term Limits.” Our founders believed service to our government was a privilege not a vocation. Bill and Hillary Clinton are great examples of two people who have lived high off the prestige of high office. (Peddling influence of high office as if you would diamonds) Thirty minute speeches for 1 million dollars…please. The Clinton Foundation is nothing but a front for funneling foreign dollars into the pockets of Bill and Hillary. (Only 10% of the money taken in was actually spent to help the poor) If you don’t believe me take a trip to Haiti where the Clinton Foundation was suppose to rebuild after the earthquake. Ask the people in Haiti how they like the Clinton Foundation…
    in summary Donald J Trump is a symbol of the electorate’s utter and complete rejection of Obama, Clinton, Reid, Pelosi, Boxer, Schumer, Warren, Biden and the rest of the Socialist Elites who have been controlling Washington, DC for over 75 years. Civility is not the answer while draining a swamp. It is time for truth and honesty in order to rid our government of these professional politicians, professional bureaucrats, consultants. This movement is so powerful it will wash away the lies of Social Injustice, false claims of racism, and get rid of many welfare programs which has a drug for the entitled welfare classes since LBJ and has kept them on the government plantation much like slavery did under the democrats. We should also rein in our colleges and universities that are spending money on crying rooms, safe spaces, crying days off, and flag burning over the Trump election. We need to get back to basics on all levels up through college explain to students what our Founding Father’s and our Constitution is so unique in History…not the Howard Zinn faux history of the American People.
    I predict Donald J Trump will be remembered in History as the President who saved the Republic from the “Trojan Horse” built by the Globalist, Progressive Socialist and Democratic party,

    • Fred Zilian says:

      Thank you for your very thorough and impassioned critique of my essay. You have said much, some of which I heartily agree. Hope we can get together soon to discuss.
      Thanks, again. All best for the holidays.

  2. Daniel F Meucci says:

    Fred, Thank you for your conversation this morning on phone. My best too you and your family for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
    Dan and Jeanne Meucci

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