When a new year presents itself each January we’re usually optimistic that our hopes will become reality and problems be resolved to the benefit of all. Unfortunately, 2024 will likely be a year of increased economic turmoil, political and social division and military danger.
We could start with the nation’s debt that is around $30 Trillion and expanding at the rate of nearly a trillion dollars every three months. That is not sustainable for any nation’s economy. At the beginning of this century before “911” our national debt was but $5 trillion. That event dramatically changed America and not for the better, neither economically nor how we governed ourselves. Rule of Law and respect for our constitution has been severely compromised with federal agencies seemingly placing themselves outside the law as any disfavored group or individual may testify. When even a former President of the United States finds himself at the mercy of persecution by multiple government agencies while in office and afterwards, what hope does an average citizen have that their rights will be respected?
Former President Trump can be abrasive to the point of being obnoxious, petty and quite arrogant. He evokes visceral hatred from his political opponents due to his personality but most certainly for his policies which gored more than a few sacred cows amongst the self-appointed elites. He spoke for huge blocks of Americans who felt they had been forgotten and abused: when they’re remembered they’re insulted with disparaging language as their concerns are arrogantly dismissed. Trump is either hated or loved with little middle ground. Even so, he deserves all the rights of anyone under our system where rule of law is supposed to prevail, even for the worst offenders.
For Trump, the presumption of innocence and fair due process has been tossed out the window. Indicted by multiple states and the federal government by hyper-partisan prosecutors, the rules that normally apply to protect a defendant are both abused and ignored. A judge ruled in a New York civil proceeding that Trump’s Florida properties, easily assessed at nearly a billion dollars in worth is arbitrarily assigned a value of $18 million by the trial judge, the contrary opinions of real estate experts, banks that denied being defrauded and multiple legal experts are ignored. Trump is not permitted to present their facts into evidence and the judge will not change his ruling. In another case the statute of limitations is exempted to permit a decades-old case to go forward against Trump, he’s denied effective legal counsel as law firms are threatened if they represent him, he’s denied the right to discovery of evidence and to present exculpatory evidence in his defense. This occurred in the most recent cases to bar him from the ballot as a panel of state judges ruled he violated the constitution by instigating an insurrection during the January 6th riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Not one of the 1000 or more persons prosecuted for the events of January 6th was charged with insurrection nor has any federal prosecutor suggested that the riot was an insurrection. All were charged with lesser charges except for a few individuals charged with conspiracies not involving Trump. An insurrection didn’t occur and despite pundits railing otherwise, Trump’s culpability for the January 6th riot might be moral or political but not legal. Trump hasn’t been charged, indicted or convicted of any offense regarding January 6 yet state election officials are insisting he be punished without a trial for a crime that didn’t occur. He’s being subjected to a series of kangaroo court proceedings across the country by various hyper-partisan prosecutors and is not receiving fair and impartial treatment by the legal system, either state or federal. This does not bode well for the nation as this charade plays out during 2024.
We face a host of other nearly intractable problems this year, not least of which is massive illegal immigration across our southern border. Last December, 300,000 migrants crossed our southern border, nearly 7 million since Biden took office. Our cities are being overwhelmed, services crippled by thousands of migrants requiring every type of humanitarian assistance, flooding schools and shelters, living on the streets. No country can assimilate so many people in so short a time, especially when they demand we provide them with everything they need and many hold political values not compatible with a democratic Republic. The president remains on vacation again while his spokesperson insists there isn’t a problem.
Our national security is threatened from increasingly hostile foreign entities that are developing nuclear weapons and intercontinental missiles; terrorist organizations continue to attack our military forces overseas and our response is tepid. We have a military 1/3 its size of the 1990 force that won the Gulf War in 100 hours; it’s prohibited from decisively winning and tactical victories are arbitrarily discarded as social engineering demoralizes our troops. Recruiting has fallen significantly as veteran troops leave in disgust. We are vulnerable as never before and our leaders seem oblivious to emerging dangers to the homeland.
America is in economic, political, military and moral decline, divided to an extent not seen since the pre-Civil War 1850’s. Please excuse me for not being overly optimistic about the coming year.
Al Fonzi is an independent opinion columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.