I’ve seen a President assassinated, the murder of his assassin and the murder of his assassin’s assassin all broadcast on our black and white TVs.
Later, I saw that President’s brother assassinated as he, too, campaigned to become our commander-in-chief.
I’ve seen a Democrat – from Texas yet! – inherit the Presidency but decide not to seek another term because we had become so deeply entrenched in a war triggering marches on Washington and uprisings at campuses across the country (where students were shot dead by “first responders”).
I’ve seen a President and his Vice-President, both disgraced by scandals, resign from the two highest offices in the land;
I’ve seen our first “unelected” President when the Speaker of the House succeeded his predecessors, as prescribed by the Constitution.
I’ve seen a well-meaning peanut farmer from Georgia, a decent and truly Christian man, relegated to the back burners of history … remembered more for his brother’s beer than his own accomplishments (which finally are being realized and accredited).
I’ve seen a beloved, second-rate actor become President and (again) be shot (along with others) in front of our televised eyes … and, yet, despite the outcry, no real gun controls took effect.
I’ve seen a father and son each elected President: the first for a single term, the second for two.
I’ve seen a President selected by a partisan Supreme Court when the votes were so close and the election errors so many that day after day, week after weeks, a “winner” still couldn’t be called;
I’ve seen a likeable boomer – one of my own generation – impeached while in office because of alleged improprieties dealing with questionable real estate transactions and the man’s penchant for women, including consensual sex with a young intern whose stained, blue dress immortalized the evidence of his infidelity.
I’ve seen the first black man elected President of the United States, yet denied his rightful responsibilities during eight years of impasse with a do-nothing Congress.
And I’ve seen the first woman nominated to be our country’s commander-in-chief … only to be trumped, trounced, and toppled by a lying, cheating, hateful, snarky, scornful, slanderous, sexually predatory, racist, elitist, tax-evading, bankrupt, conflicted con man who knows nothing about governing or diplomacy. He’s become a “brand” who abuses and takes advantage of people, denouncing them daily with tweets and promoting a helter-skelter agenda of favoritism to the rich.
What do these snapshots of our past ten Presidents tell us?
Among other lessons: that rich, white men still rule.
And, once again, that we don’t know what will happen.
Because our systemic inequalities are so deeply entrenched.
Rev. Bruce H. Joffe
Sturgeon Bay, Wis.