All He Knows Is Tearing Things Down

In the midst of relief on the part of many today over the failure of the Senate Healthcare Bill, some shocking remarks from President Trump. The President suggested that absent the ability to either pass a new plan, or repeal Obamacare, that we should just let the healthcare system collapse:

“And I think you’ll also agree that I’ve been saying for a long time: Let Obamacare fail and then everybody is going to have to come together and fix it and come up with a new plan…”

It’s a disastrous idea and one that we should hope does not happen. It reflects a certain “corporate raider” mentality President Trump brought with him to Washington.

Can’t acquire that company you want?

The corporate raider knows what to do.

Saddle it with lawsuits. Get enough control of the shareholders to tear it a part internally. Sell off the pieces. Then, from the ashes, bring forth something new.

It’s an ugly way of doing business. But I think we can all agree, quite common among certain bloodthirsty capitalists.

But it’s a horrible way run a country. Because in the case of the government, you’re always talking about some social service that affects real people’s real lives. That’s what government, and its most basic, is. Some tangible thing that effect the real lives of real people.

In the case of healthcare, it’s one sixth of the US economy, and represents programs that, should they fail, could literally mean that people die.

But nobody should be surprised. Because while this nakedly cynical and pessimistic strategy is perhaps most clearly seen in the person of President Trump, it’s a tactic that is embraced by far too many on the political right for decades now.

Friends, *some* in the Republican Party —for a period of decades now— have made it a goal to dismantle, defund, and otherwise diminish any service provided by any level of government.

They have underfunded schools, leaving them so understaffed and poorly-resourced, that the extreme solution of “vouchers” can seem like a good idea.

They have defunded law enforcement to the point at which private security guards, and private prisons must seem reasonable to some.

They have shut down the government on several occasions.
They have stalled and delayed, in unprecedented ways, Supreme Court picks.

Everywhere you look, you see examples of this strategy. It’s a “do nothing” strategy. But with a specific purpose: Make things so bad that the American people will allow us to do things our way, without any conversation or cooperation between the political parties.

Donald Trump is not the OPPOSITE of this strategy.

Donald Trump is a predictable pinnacle of 40 years of this kind of contempt for the role of government and public policy in our lives.

It started with patron saint, President Ronald Reagan, who long ago said:

“Government is not the solution to our problem….government IS the problem…”

It morphed into the work of lobbyists like Grover Norquist who famously said:

“I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”

This has become the mantra of far too many Republicans for far too many years. They have sewn distrust and frustration with government, and reaped political benefit for doing so. They have jumped on the coattails of every anti-government movement for the past 50 years, no matter how fringe the group or cause, in hopes of reelection.

And what happens when you do that for all those years?

People start to believe it. People start to lose faith in government. People start to distrust the ability of government itself to do or accomplish anything. Tearing things down, rather than building things up, starts to sound reasonable.

And, finally, at the end of this cynical and nihilistic process, you elect somebody like Donald Trump. The ultimate outsider. The guy whose entire living was made by tearing things down through lawsuits, intimidation of contractors, and a scorched-earth, “winner takes all” philosophy.

Trump is not the OPPOSITE of the anti-government strain of Republicanism. Trump is the predictable result of this 40-year philosophical insurgency within the government itself. 40-year years of tearing down, through defunding government, devaluing government service, and generally trying to drowned it in the bathtub.

Donald Trump, candidate and now President, was created out of the ether of these ideas.

I should note that many Republican friends I know lamented Trump. They talked about how he “goes too far.” The mourn how he has stolen their party.

No he didn’t. Everything he’s saying and doing is emblematic of this “corporate raider” approach to governing that has been a part of Republicanism for decades. Far too many Republicans tolerated his disgusting slurs against women, Muslims, Latinos(as) and others, because they believed he had the skills to lead as a business man.

He does have skills.

But they don’t work for a President.

So, now it’s up to Republicans and Democrats to restore America’s faith in its government. They must (yes, on both sides) come together in unprecedented ways.

Can they do it? I don’t know. The dis-incentives for both sides are great. But we need them to try. We need them to come together and use the one word that neither Trump nor the House Freedom Caucus will never understand: Compromise.

Republicans: It’s time to repent of your 40-year strategy of murdering government from the inside.


Lead like legislators. Propose programs that make a positive difference in people’s lives, and don’t just tear down, or phase out. Stop being the “party of no.” You have a majority.

For all its flaws, Obamacare brought millions more into the insurance marketplace, has saved lives, and (you are hearing at numerous town halls) is surprisingly popular.

So, help fix it.

Democrats: Don’t become the new “Party of No” and obstruction. You hated it when Republicans did this for eight years. So don’t do it to them.

Read the “Golden Rule.” It’s a thing. Live it.

Come to the table with ideas as well.

We need leaders in the Senate, on both sides of the aisle, to lead us.

They are the only national leaders who can, it is beyond clear the President can’t.

All he knows how to do is tear things down.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He is Senior Pastor of Kessler Park UMC United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas. Previously, he was pastor at Northaven UMC in Dallas for seventeen years. Eric loves to write on topics of spirituality, social justice, music/art and politics. The entries on this blog reflect that diversity of interests. His passion for social justice goes beyond mere words. He’s been arrested at the White House, defending immigrants and “The Dreamers,” and he’s officiated at same sex weddings in his churches, in defiance of what some believe is Methodist teaching. Eric is an avid blogger and published author, and 2017 recipient of the prestigeous Kuchling Humanitarian Award from Dallas’ Black Tie Dinner. (Human Rights Campaign) Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He’s a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named “best judge” by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County, and is currently the longest service district judge in that district. She was re-elected for a fourth term in 2018. They have the world’s best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. Find links to Eric’s music-related websites, at the top of this site’s navigation menu.

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