By Ken Stern 

Smoke, fire, heat and hot air


The secondary heading for this editorial is "our ossified leadership." The political state – and status – of our country is our society-wide failure, whether you read many newspapers or none and whether you discuss vigorously, halfheartedly or not at all with your neighbors, families and friends.

About the ossified leadership: Our accepting presidential candidates on either side of 80-years-old is a failure on Joe Biden and Donald Trump's parts, the leadership of the Democratic and Republican parties – and financers – politically involved citizens and all the rest of us. Every one of us needs to both let go of the 20th century and demand 21st century vision and leadership from much younger people. Biden and Trump were avoiding the Vietnam War 60 years ago when gas was eighteen cents a gallon.

Alas, there is little that the common people can influence here.

Most of us love our country dearly, embrace patriotism and will not miss the Fourth of July parade, but facts and analysis will show that way too many of us are civically lazy and woefully ignorant of American history and the duties and responsibility of citizenship. A faction of us are worried about the wokeness of others. The truth is, on the road to voting and civic participation, many of us have not gotten off the couch, much less sat behind the wheel or gotten out of the driveway on the road to the Constitution and involvement in governance.

Our political parties have devolved into tribes, with committed base factions demanding loyalty from each party's leadership. The candid facts of Jan. 6, 2021 and the last two years reveal a portion of the citizenry do not believe in or trust democracy. A large portion of us only believe in the rule of law when our leader rules.

Given that, U.S. Justice Department special prosecutor Jack Smith can say, as he did and believes, that Trump is innocent until proven guilty, that the purpose of a trial is to present the evidence, argue the case on its merits and have a jury decide.

The accused, Trump, can, and does, call it a witch hunt and warn of a deep state that is out to get him, but he is arguing in the court of public opinion. What if he is a wolf in sheep's clothing bleating for all the sheep to follow him into his den?

Compare, as Trump did, the cases of Biden and former vice president Mike Pence having classified documents. Group together the similarities and separate the differences of all three histories. That is each of our obligations, to sort the wheat from the chaff, the facts from fiction, what is rhetoric and what is reality – and what is important.

Trump's trial will determine if he broke the law; the jury will not rule on his character. Republican voters, first, then perhaps all voters, will decide who their candidate and choice for president is in 2024. For now the choices are all in the camp of our Republican sisters and brothers.

For either party, are Trump and Biden the best their nominating processes can offer the American people?

Benjamin Franklin famously answered "A republic, if you can keep it" at the dawn of the Constitution being approved.

A citizenship working toward keeping the United States united would be more critical of its leadership, both elected and aspiring.


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