Will Sellers: The Monroe Doctrine turns 200

When James Monroe addressed Congress 200 years ago, many assumed his annual message would be limited to legislative initiatives. Since he had no spin doctors to help him explain his position, clarify its broad impact, or narrate its context, it was left to him to simply announce the Monroe Doctrine and let others decide its ramifications. Two centuries ago, the New World was shedding Old World political connections as new nation-states were emerging after achieving independence. President Monroe clearly understood the general feelings of his fellow countrymen and realized that the unique American experience provided him a forum to declare his nation’s place in the World Order. The Monroe Doctrine is remembered primarily for its bold limitation on European influence and colonization in the Western Hemisphere, but other parts of the doctrine were of equal importance and expressed American sentiments about the rest of the world. Specifically, the doctrine stated that America had no interest in conflicts in Europe but would respect the existing order in the New World. When viewed in hindsight, the doctrine was in many ways a concise statement of how America viewed the world and coupled its role with a tinge of isolationism. President Monroe told the entire world that the Western Hemisphere was off-limits to European powers. It was a bold move for a nation that was not yet 50 years old and had no military to enforce the policy, but the policy was supported by George Washington’s admonition that America not involve itself in foreign wars. The American Revolution changed the dynamics of foreign policy, foreign trade, and foreign investment. Once the revolution ended, wars in Europe waxed and waned with alliances that switched and boundaries that moved so frequently that it was hard to keep an accurate tally. Monroe understood that America had no interest in these changing relationships and was ill-suited to fully appreciate the dynamics of European diplomatic intrigues. Monroe’s main interest was preserving a sphere of influence with America as the dominant power. There was no need to allow this continent to become a proxy for the varied changes in European politics and reconquest of former colonies. Keeping America stable and secure with its energies devoted toward territorial growth and trade was the president’s ultimate goal. He knew from experience that wars were expensive and diverted time and talent away from domestic improvement. Thus, it was easy for him to disclaim any involvement in Europe, its political theories, and various continental wars, but it was another thing to make a bold statement that European powers were not welcome to assert control over liberated ex-colonies. Even bolder was the assertion that any such involvement by another country would be considered a hostile act against the United States. This provision of the doctrine might be viewed as a NATO-like pledge that any attack by a foreign power against a territory in the Western Hemisphere would be met with force of arms from the United States. Since the United States had a very limited navy and no standing army of any measure, this statement had no enforcement mechanism. If a foreign power tried to invade another country, the U.S. would have been helpless to take effective action, but the Monroe Doctrine had a silent guarantor in the form of the British Empire, which had plenty of ships and troops to enforce the policy. The British acquiesced to the Monroe Doctrine because limiting other countries’ involvement in the New World was advantageous to its long-term interest. It is not a stretch to say that the Monroe Doctrine cemented the Anglo-American relationship while ensuring American and British interests would never again be so adversarial as to incubate hostilities. From this point forward, the two nations would be joined together in almost a common enterprise of trade and international stability. Without having to fight wars, the United States could focus on opening and subduing the rest of its territory. For at least some period of time, the expansion of the country created such opportunities that any foreign influence was not occasioned by military invasion, but by swarms of immigrants leaving the old world behind to seek fortune and opportunity in a new place with little historical memory to retard its progress. Rather than being innovative, the Monroe Doctrine sought to express the consensus of American sentiment about its view of its place in the world. The influx of immigrants would also support this idea that once their home country was on the distant horizon, they were liberated from the politics of the Old World that limited freedom and advancement. Immigrants coming to the United States would gladly agree that they, too, had no desire to involve themselves in the politics of a country they had left. So, while Americans wanted limited involvement with the politics and factious belligerence of Europe, they did not want foreign influence in the New World. Americans would be motivated to apply force only if European countries attempted to assert themselves in our sphere of influence. This was true even in the last century. During World War I, most Americans had no desire to send troops to Europe, but sentiment changed only after a secret German diplomatic initiative was uncovered, promising Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico to Mexico if it would ally with the Kaiser. Ending any thought of European influence in our country’s affairs proved a strong motivator. Likewise, in World War II, Franklin Roosevelt was unable to arouse American interest in defeating the Nazis, but once Hitler’s secret plan to divide Latin America into Nazi-controlled vassal states was exposed, the average citizen began to sense the Nazi threat. For 200 years, the Monroe Doctrine has been a centerpiece of American foreign policy. Its broad provisions continue to affirm a commitment to regional independence and put other nations on notice that the Western Hemisphere is a self-determination zone with no tolerance for foreign influence or territorial threat. Perhaps President Xi Jinping needs a refresher course? Will Sellers is a graduate of

Will Sellers: Remembering President Warren Harding and his visit to the Magic City

One Hundred years ago, President Warren Harding died unexpectedly. Occupying the White House for a little more than two-and-a-half years, he was a popular president, having been elected with the largest margin of victory of any presidential candidate before or since. Following his death, several scandals, both public and private, tarnished his reputation and obscured several significant accomplishments. Though he had been involved in Ohio state politics, the highest state office Harding ever held was lieutenant governor; he had been defeated in his lone attempt for governor. He later ran for U.S. Senate and was successfully elected. At the 1920 Republican convention, several regional factions deadlocked the balloting, and no consensus candidate materialized. When party leaders met in the proverbial smoke-filled room, Harding emerged as the compromise presidential nominee. In one of history’s coincidences, Democrats tapped Ohio Gov. James M. Cox as its nominee against Ohio Senator Harding, one of the few instances when two general election candidates from the same state opposed each other for the presidency. Unlike his opponent, Harding did not engage in a frenetic nationwide campaign. For the most part, he capitalized on the failures of the Woodrow Wilson administration and the dissension within the ranks of the Democratic Party. He would win the presidency with more than 400 electoral votes. The economy Harding inherited was in shambles. The country was just getting settled after the dislocations of World War I, income tax rates exceeded 70 percent, government regulations of industry were significant, and unemployment was on the rise. To address the challenges of a sluggish national economy, Harding appointed Andrew Mellon as Treasury Secretary. Mellon was a banker and technocrat who understood finance and economics better than anyone. With Harding’s approval, he proposed an economic policy that created the “Roaring ‘20s.” Given such high rates of confiscatory income taxation, capital was not properly employed as high-wage earners saw no incentive to work hard and pay more than 70% of their earnings in taxes. The wealthy kept their money in safe investments like low-yielding government bonds that shielded interest income from taxation. Fifty years ahead of the Laffer Curve, Harding advocated legislation that eventually reduced the highest tax rate to 25 percent and completely exempted many lower-income earners from taxes. On the expense side of the ledger, he significantly reduced government spending and established a separate budget office to apply business principles to government administration. The result was record growth and low unemployment. The Harding administration was not in favor of an engaging foreign policy and limited any U.S. involvement in world affairs. One critical exception was hosting a disarmament conference to force the major world powers to limit construction of large naval vessels. But, like most disarmament or other international treaties, unless there is an effort at monitoring compliance with an enforcement mechanism, the treaty is merely a cordial agreement that, over time, is observed in the breech. Given Harding’s overwhelming popularity, he was invited to visit the Deep South and help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the City of Birmingham. Presidential visits on such occasions are usually non-controversial and entirely celebratory in nature. No one would have faulted President Harding for the standard congratulatory remarks, but he had a different idea. To an assembled crowd that totaled more than 100,000, Harding addressed the issue of race relations head-on. This should not have been too much of a surprise, as Harding strongly supported anti-lynching legislation that levied a $10,000 fine in any county in which a lynching occurred and gave federal courts jurisdiction to prosecute local officials for failing to act and indict perpetrators for murder. When he mounted the rostrum in Capitol Park, Harding saw the clearly segregated audience. And while he used the occasion to congratulate Birmingham on its industrial growth and contributions to economic development, he pivoted and personalized his remarks to advocate for racial equality. In words that still resonate today, Harding said, “I believe in absolute equality in the paths of knowledge and culture, equality of opportunity for those who strive, equal admiration for those who achieve. I want to see the time come when black men will regard themselves as full participants in the benefits and duties of American citizenship.” Otherwise, he said, “Whether you like it or not, our democracy is a lie unless you stand for that equality.” As these remarks were spoken, loud applause came from the segregated black side of the park while stony silence emanated from the white side. This was the first time that any national Republican so directly challenged the reigning segregation orthodoxy in the South. While southern leaders dismissed these remarks, others saw this as the beginning of a national sea change in dealing with racial politics. In speaking truth to power, Harding’s courage would be attacked by the enemies of justice and fundamental fairness. Though his administration tried to move forward on some of his initiatives, he was unable to muster the votes in the Senate to pass civil rights legislation. Even President Franklin Roosevelt, who had significant majorities in both houses, later refused to champion Harding’s anti-lynching initiatives during his own administration for fear of losing Southern votes. Less than three years into his term, Harding died suddenly from what most historians attribute to a heart attack prompted by long-term cardiac issues. His untimely death resulted in a large outpouring of grief, especially among those who had heard his speech and witnessed his sincerity, but Harding’s courage in addressing the issue of race in Birmingham is largely forgotten today. When several scandals came to light after his death, Harding’s popularity waned. While he was never personally implicated nor accused of profiting from his position, many of the friends Harding had placed in positions of authority were. Even though several cabinet members suffered the consequences of their greed, Harding’s reputation has not recovered from the corruption of his vainglorious friends. Notwithstanding the scandals, Harding’s legacy for electoral success, economic achievements, and national wealth remain unsurpassed. Will Sellers is a graduate

Jim Zeigler:  Pearl Harbor in Alabama

Eighty-one years ago, in the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese forces surprised and killed 2,403 Americans and wounded more than 1,100. Thirty-two Alabama servicemen died aboard the USS Arizona, docked in Pearl Harbor. In a speech to the U.S. Congress the next day, President Franklin Roosevelt referred to December 7, 1941, as “a date which will live in infamy.” That prediction remains true on this observance of Pearl Harbor Day, 2022. In December 1941, the people of Alabama, and indeed most of the then-48 states, did not know where Pearl Harbor was. They learned quickly and have never forgotten. The 1941 Congress quickly passed a formal declaration of war, and America entered World War II. The attack on Pearl Harbor swept away the feeling of security of many Americans that we were immune from attack due to our separation from the old world by the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Suddenly, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, did not seem so distant from Alabama. The Pearl Harbor attack ignited American determination to disable the Japanese war machine. Americans were filled with patriotism, and individuals sought to aid in victory. Many enlisted in the military and fought for their country. My own father, Bloise Zeigler, was already working in a defense-support job at Huntsville Arsenal (now Redstone Arsenal). Two days after Pearl Harbor, Dad went down and enlisted. The next day, management pulled him into the Huntsville office and told him they had gotten his enlistment canceled because he was needed in the defense effort right where he was, in a vital defense job. He served his country right here in Alabama. For other Alabamians, their role in the war effort consisted of rationing their use of items such as gasoline, sugar, butter, and canned goods. A war was to be won, and Alabama folks were willing to do their part to win it. As we remember those who lost their lives in the Pearl Harbor attack, let us be mindful of the privilege of living in America. After World War II, America became a world superpower. Today, America is blessed with abundant wealth, resources, and global influence. Most of all, America is blessed with citizens who face adversity with resilience and determination.   Jim Zeigler is the State Auditor of Alabama.

Will Sellers: The terrors of justice

Eighty years ago this month, with the stroke of a pen, President Franklin Roosevelt in Executive Order 9066 effectively relegated 120,000 Japanese Americans to internment camps. Many of these American citizens were afforded no rights to object to their removal, and there was no procedure to prove loyalty to the United States. These citizens were interned solely because of their ancestry, nothing else. In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, there was widespread fear that the Empire of Japan might invade the West Coast. No doubt people were scared and on high alert, and, certainly, there was anxiety that turned rational people into frenzied xenophobes. But rather than deal with the reality of the situation, political leaders galvanized the country into transferring all these concerns into a government campaign to round up almost the entire population of Japanese Americans and relocate them. Granted, they were not sent to concentration camps organized along the German or Soviet models. There was no plan to cleanse America of Japanese influence by premeditated death through forced labor. Nevertheless, these citizens were forced to leave their homes, abandon their businesses, and take their entire families to detention centers surrounded by barbed wire, guards, and dogs. And all of this was accomplished through legal and judicial means. Congress had passed an act giving the President broad and sweeping emergency powers to organize the country for total war. These wartime powers had precedent as Abraham Lincoln also used similar powers to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and incarcerate pro-secessionists. Ironically enough, Chief Justice Roger Taney, who authored the Dred Scott decision, warned Lincoln that such actions potentially violated his oath of office and could mean that citizens were no longer living under a government respecting the rule of law. War, like other national emergencies, set in motion a series of restrictions subjugating the rights of individuals to the needs of the state. Fighting a war and making the decisions necessary to win cannot be done by consensus but must be determined by leaders who have both national support and critical judgment to implement a plan for victory. Roosevelt’s almost dictatorial power was derived from legislative mandate, not usurpation. The hindsight of history clearly shows that he, like Winston Churchill, was the man for the times. But the internment of loyal Americans was perhaps an excessive use of presidential authority and a blot on American values. The need to systematically detain these citizens was no doubt a knee-jerk reaction to Pearl Harbor. But leadership is more than succumbing to situational whims and should be based on evidence or some proof that a threat existed. In fact, the exact opposite was true. Military intelligence and the FBI found no disloyalty among the Japanese Americans. They uncovered no organized network of spies or saboteurs ready to support an invasion. The only reason for the detention was a suspicion based upon fear and a complete misunderstanding of Japanese American culture. With no basis in fact, an assumption was made that anyone of Japanese ancestry would remain loyal to the Emperor. Like all foundations of racism, there is an assumption that people of similar backgrounds and appearance must share other, monolithic traits attributed to them by imaginary, irrational views. Political and military leaders simply agreed that these citizens would be disloyal, were probably spies, and posed a threat even though no evidence existed to support these assumptions. Thus, the President who told his country that “all we had to fear is fear itself” incorporated a racist fear into his policies that detained 120,000 Americans. Despite the fact that this incident was humiliating and demeaning, almost 35,000 Japanese American men and women demonstrated their loyalty as United States citizens by serving in the military during World War II. In some cases, sons and daughters fighting for Roosevelt’s four freedoms had relatives detained by the same Uncle Sam. Units comprising these Japanese American troops were sent to the European Theater and distinguished themselves in battle. If there can be any humor to both the internment and the war, there was a story that Germans fighting in Italy were captured by one of these units and thought that the Japanese had changed sides and joined with the Americans to defeat the Third Reich.  Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of deporting people based on race was the number of prominent liberals who blindly went along with the procedure. It is easy to see that military commanders on the West Coast truly believing that an invasion was imminent would want to evacuate civilians from a potential war zone. But it is difficult to understand how leaders normally inclined to support the rights of minorities, expand civil liberties and limit the powers of government would so easily embrace wholesale deportation without a hint of due process. Despite the fact that this incident was humiliating and demeaning, almost 35,000 Japanese American men and women demonstrated their loyalty as United States citizens by serving in the military during World War II. In some cases, sons and daughters fighting for Roosevelt’s four freedoms had relatives detained by the same Uncle Sam. Units comprising these Japanese American troops were sent to the European Theater and distinguished themselves in battle. If there can be any humor to both the internment and the war, there was a story that Germans fighting in Italy were captured by one of these units and thought that the Japanese had changed sides and joined with the Americans to defeat the Third Reich. Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of deporting people based on race was the number of prominent liberals who blindly went along with the procedure. It is easy to see that military commanders on the West Coast truly believing that an invasion was imminent would want to evacuate civilians from a potential war zone. But it is difficult to understand how leaders normally inclined to support the rights of minorities, expand civil liberties and limit the powers of government would so easily

Jim Zeigler: Pearl Harbor and Alabama 80 years later

Eighty years ago, in the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese forces surprised and killed 2,403 Americans and wounded more than 1,100. In a speech to Congress the next day, President Franklin Roosevelt referred to December 7, 1941, as “a date which will live in infamy.” That prediction remains true on this 80th observance of Pearl Harbor Day, 2021. In December 1941, the people of Alabama, and indeed of most of the then-48 states, did not know where Pearl Harbor was. They learned very quickly and have never forgotten. The Pearl Harbor attack ignited American determination to disable the Japanese war machine. Americans were filled with patriotism, and individuals sought to aid in victory. Many enlisted in the military and fought for our country. My own father, Bloise Zeigler, was already working in a defense-support job at Huntsville Arsenal (now Redstone Arsenal). Two days after Pearl Harbor, Dad went down and enlisted. The next day, management pulled him into the Huntsville office and told him they had gotten his enlistment canceled because he was needed in the defense effort right where he was, in a vital defense job. He served his country right here in Alabama. For other Americans, their role in the war effort consisted of rationing their use of items such as gasoline, sugar, butter, and canned goods. A war was to be won, and Americans were willing to do their parts to win it. As we remember those who lost their lives in the Pearl Harbor attack, let us be mindful of the privilege of living in America. After World War II, America became a world superpower. Today America is blessed with abundant wealth and resources, as well as global influence. Most of all, America is blessed with citizens who face adversity with resilience and determination. Jim Zeigler is the State Auditor of Alabama.

The Atlantic Charter: Optimistic leadership in an uncertain world

Imagine your football team is in the first quarter of a game, a couple of star players are sidelined, and the opponent’s offense seems unstoppable. The score is already 28 – 0 when your head coach takes a time-out.  He lets his assistants coach up the team while he meets with an architect to design a new stadium to display championship trophies and meets with another head coach to discuss developing a new conference with  more efficient rules to increase attendance and enthusiasm for the game. Sound farfetched? Eighty years ago, something like this actually happened – but not on the gridiron. In August 1941, World War II was almost two years old. While Britain was still in the game, her prospects for success were far from certain, with no feeling of inevitable victory. Good news on the battlefront was hard to come by, but inspired by Winston Churchill, the English people continued to maintain the stiff upper lip of optimism. President Franklin Roosevelt couldn’t know that Pearl Harbor was four months away, and American ambivalence about the war in Europe was high. Nevertheless, Roosevelt understood the dangerous world situation and the probable and unavoidable entry of the United States into the conflict. For the first time since Winston Churchill had become prime minister and Roosevelt had become president, these two leaders meet at Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, to discuss the future not only for their respective countries but also for the world.After a series of agenda-less meeting, not only between the two leaders but also among their staffs, they issued a remarkable statement that was later dubbed “The Atlantic Charter.” Perhaps one of the most interesting things about this communique is that it was never really reduced to writing and signed by each country. In fact, it was never ratified by Congress or approved by Parliament. Rather, it was an eight-point idealistic explanation of a post-war agenda to outline to the world at large what the fighting was all about and to anticipate an Allied victory. In 1941 with so many unknowns, the Atlantic Charter expressed an optimism that victory was in sight and gave hope to the nations involved in the conflict. Neither breath-taking hubris nor propaganda ploy, the Atlantic Charter expressed a manifest destiny that the English-speaking people would achieve victory and build a new world based on a unique English worldview. In a nutshell, the Atlantic Charter made it clear that the British and Americans were united against the aggression of the Axis powers. While the United States had not entered the war, the Charter affirmed a solidarity between the two countries and set the stage for American dominance as a world power. The Charter further presented a view that relationships between nation-states would be founded on reciprocal trade agreements emphasizing open markets on equal terms for both the victor and vanquished. This stood in stark contrast to the unfavorable trade arrangements that punished Germany after World War I and precipitated Adolph Hitler’s rise to power. One new principle – perhaps the most controversial – was the right of all peoples to self-determination. This concept was the logical conclusion that since Britain and the United States did not have territorial ambitions and would not support nations using armed conflict to expand their borders, something must happen to nations overrun by the Axis blitz. The clear implication, probably unintended, was that after the war, people within a defined boundary could choose their government, effectively ending colonialism and establishing new countries based on the consent of the governed. The basic tenants of the Atlantic Charter were presented to other Allied nations and generally adopted in principle. The contents were printed on leaflets and dropped over Germany to repudiate the propaganda of any punitive post-war settlement. In Japan, the Charter bolstered anti-American sentiment and was used to show a conspiracy against the insecure nation. Natives under the thumb of colonial powers believed the Charter promoted their rights to independence, thus emboldening a commitment to the Allied cause. One of the most striking features of the Charter was its impact despite having no authority or force of law from ratification by any government. Rather, the Charter was an agreement between two leaders of substantial stature in the world. Its binding impact was a reflection of personal leadership and integrity, indicating that if these two giants made a statement about their goals for a future world order, their credibility gave other countries confidence that the Charter would be implemented. Only great leaders can do things like this. Powerful personalities and bold initiatives characterized both men. In fact, the year before the Atlantic Charter, Roosevelt and Canada’s Prime Minister, Mackenzie King, would complete the Ogdensburg Agreement, which established a mutual defense agreement between the neighboring countries. Like the Atlantic Charter, this agreement was never ratified by any political body but expressed a mutual agreement between strong leaders protecting their countries. To this day, the Ogdensburg Agreement serves as an expression of the mutual defense of Canada and the United States. The Atlantic Charter galvanized the Allies by outlining post-war aims. Its expressed objectives for creating a stable world order were reflected in the creation of the United Nations, but the collective security of that body was thwarted by Soviet ideology, which eschewed any sense of international cooperation and fairness. The Atlantic Charter achieved its near-term objectives by precisely outlining why the allies were committed to the fight. In the long term, it failed to create a structure for nation-states to live in harmony without the threat of territorial ambitions of a neighbor. International organizations work best by providing a loose framework that exalts private property rights and promotes the rule of law. The Atlantic Charter assumed this, but the United Nations became a pawn for the Russians who used principles like self-determination to obtain control over misguided revolutionaries by convincing them communism and not democracy was a counterweight to colonialism. Will Sellers is a 1985 graduate of Hillsdale College and an Associate

Joe Biden takes the helm, appeals for unity to take on crises

Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, declaring that “democracy has prevailed” and summoning American resilience and unity to confront the deeply divided nation’s historic confluence of crises. Denouncing a national “uncivil war,” Biden took the oath Wednesday at a U.S. Capitol that had been battered by an insurrectionist siege just two weeks earlier. Then, taking his place in the White House Oval Office, he plunged into a stack of executive actions that began to undo the heart of his polarizing predecessor ’s agenda on matters from the deadly pandemic to climate change. At the Capitol, with America’s tradition of peaceful transfers of power never appearing more fragile, the ceremony unfolded within a circle of security forces evocative of a war zone and devoid of crowds because of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, Biden gazed out on a cold Washington morning dotted with snow flurries to see over 200,000 American flags planted on the National Mall to symbolize those who could not attend in person. “The will of the people has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded. We’ve learned again that democracy is precious and democracy is fragile. At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed,” Biden declared in his speech. “This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day. A day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve.”       History was made at his side, as Kamala Harris became the first woman to be vice president. The former U.S. senator from California is also the first Black person and the first person of South Asian descent elected to the vice presidency and the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in the U.S. government. Biden never mentioned his predecessor, who defied tradition and left town ahead of the ceremony, but his speech was an implicit rebuke of Donald Trump. The new president denounced “lies told for power and for profit” and was blunt about the challenges ahead. Central among them: the surging virus that has claimed more than 400,000 lives in the United States, as well as economic strains and a national reckoning over race. “We have much to do in this winter of peril, and significant possibilities. Much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build and much to gain,” Biden said. “Few people in our nation’s history have been more challenged, or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we’re in now.” Biden was eager to go big early, with an ambitious first 100 days including a push to speed up the distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations to anxious Americans and pass a $1.9 trillion economic relief package. It included a blitz of executive orders on matters that don’t require congressional approval — a mix of substantive and symbolic steps to unwind the Trump years. His actions included re-entry into the Paris Climate Accords and a mandate for wearing masks on federal property. “There’s no time to start like today,” a masked Biden said. in the Oval Office. Then he swore in hundreds of aides — virtually — telling them, “You’re my possibilities.” The absence of Biden’s predecessor from the inaugural ceremony underscored the national rift to be healed. But a bipartisan trio of former presidents — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama — were there to witness the transfer of power. Trump, awaiting his second impeachment trial, was at his Florida resort by the time the swearing-in took place. Biden, in his third run for the presidency, staked his candidacy less on any distinctive political ideology than on galvanizing a broad coalition of voters around the notion that Trump posed an existential threat to American democracy. Four years after Trump’s “American Carnage” speech painted a dark portrait of national decay, Biden warned that the fabric of the nation’s democracy was tearing but could be repaired. “I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real. But I also know they are not new. Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, demonization have long torn us apart,” Biden said. “This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward and we must meet this moment as the United States of America.” Swearing the oath with his hand on a five-inch-thick Bible that has been in his family for 128 years, Biden came to office with a well of empathy and resolve born by personal tragedy as well as a depth of experience forged from more than four decades in Washington. At age 78, he is the oldest president inaugurated. Both he, Harris, and their spouses walked the last short part of the route to the White House after an abridged parade. Biden then strode into the Oval Office, a room he knew well as vice president, for the first time as commander in chief. At the Capitol earlier, Biden, like all those in attendance, wore a face mask except when speaking. Tens of thousands of National Guard troops were on the streets to provide security precisely two weeks after a violent mob of Trump supporters, incited by the Republican president, stormed the building in an attempt to prevent the certification of Biden’s victory. “Here we stand, just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people,” Biden said. “To stop the work of our democracy. To drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen. Not today, not tomorrow. Not ever. Not ever.” The tense atmosphere evoked the 1861 inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, who was secretly transported to Washington to avoid assassins on the eve of the Civil War, or Franklin Roosevelt’s inaugural in 1945, when he opted for a small, secure ceremony at the White House in the waning months of World War II. But Washington all but deserted downtown and in its federal

Ann Eubank: Joe Biden and Doug Jones immigration policies cost Alabamians jobs

Imagine this nightmare scenario: It’s 2021 and President Joe Biden, with the support of a Democratic Congress, signs a “comprehensive immigration reform” bill granting amnesty to the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States. Republicans, having lost the White House and the Senate, would be powerless to stop it. That’s just the beginning. In his first 100 days as president, Biden has vowed to undo the Donald Trump administration’s immigration policies — from halting construction of the border wall to reinstating the Obama-era policy of “catch-and-release,” where immigrants apprehended at the border are allowed to walk free until their trial date. As you might guess, many never bother to attend the trial and slink back into the shadows. Not living in a border state, Alabamians might wonder how this agenda would affect their daily lives. First, we need to dispel the usual canards leftwing activists spout when pushing their radical proposals. They claim illegal and low-skilled immigrants take the jobs “Americans won’t do.” With unemployment near historic levels due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this claim isn’t just insulting; it’s flat-out wrong. In Alabama alone, a 14 percent plurality of the unemployed come from the service and food preparation industry. These are jobs frequently filled by illegal immigrants. Not only do immigrants take jobs Americans would gladly do, they also depress wages for Americans, especially minorities. A 2016 study from the National Academy of Sciences found that immigrants have a negative effect on the wages of high-school dropouts, with a disproportionate impact on “disadvantaged minorities and Hispanic high school dropouts with poor English skills.” This also exposes the lie that stricter immigration policies are somehow racist. The pandemic has caused an economic disruption unlike anything we’ve seen since the Great Depression. Did President Franklin Roosevelt, in his promise to get America back on track, ask Congress to provide amnesty to millions? Did he patronize Americans with specious arguments about jobs they wouldn’t do? Of course not. But that’s exactly what Joe Biden has promised. Aside from the devastating economic impact, unchecked immigration would have a deleterious effect on Alabamians’ quality of life. The national unemployment rate for immigrants is always higher than for native workers — 12.4 percent in July, compared to 10.1 percent, respectively. Legal immigrants who are unemployed further stress the state’s social services, while illegal immigrants only add to Alabama’s already high poverty rate of 16.5 percent. Without enough work to go around, unemployed immigrants would flood urban areas, driving up rents and accelerating traffic congestion and sprawl. Legal or not, immigrants cost taxpayers. They send their children to school, they have healthcare needs, and they are just as much in danger of contracting Covid-19 as everyone else. The money to pay for these costs comes from American workers. As the nation tries to pull out from the pandemic-induced tailspin, inviting millions more immigrants here is a recipe for disaster. Alabama voters have a chance to ensure that a potential Biden administration doesn’t have a blank check to pass its radical policies. A Republican-controlled Senate would be a crucial impediment to stopping the far left’s agenda. But only if Republicans can keep the upper chamber. Here in Alabama, that fight comes down to Democratic Sen. Doug Jones and Republican challenger Tommy Tuberville. Once thought to be moderate — at least in relation to his peers — Jones has proved to be anything but when it comes to immigration. Jones has voted to protect “sanctuary cities” and hasn’t sponsored or voted for any immigration-reduction bills. His record leaves no doubt as to how he’d vote under a Biden administration. Alabama voters should rightly be concerned that a Biden administration, unchecked by any Republican opposition in Congress, would turn the United States into one large “sanctuary city.” To avoid this nightmare, Alabama voters must help keep the Senate in Republican hands. Ann Eubank of Hoover is a citizen activist who serves as the chair of Alabama Legislative Watchdogs.

Jim Zeigler: Presidential race is turning around

Jim Zeigler

The campaign for President has turned around in the last few weeks, particularly this past week.  Not only can I FEEL it turning, but I can also see and explain the indicators. Even some strong Donald Trump supporters and workers had become worried, fearing he was losing.  Much of the national media fed this narrative, pronouncing Trump politically dead. Not so fast.  Am I the only political observer who has noticed similarities with the 1948 re-election campaign of President Harry Truman?  The national media and polls had pronounced President Truman defeated, including that infamous election night headline of the Chicago Daily Tribune, ‘DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN.”  It was not to be. It turned around at the end. Truman organized a whistle stop tour, rallying thousands at train stations across the heartland.  Trump organized rallies in stadiums and other large venues, drawing tens of thousands to each.  And he reaches millions with Twitter. But more important than the process were the issues. Does the Trump strong rhetoric remind you of “Give ‘em hell, Harry”? The Democrats’ mishandling of the confirmation process of Judge Amy Coney Barrett turned off many undecided voters.  Joe Biden’s refusal to say he would not push to increase the size of the U.S. Supreme Court frightened many.  It remains a serious risk that Biden would attempt court packing, which failed miserably for popular President Franklin Roosevelt. The final debate was a turnaround – positive for Trump, negative for Biden. The discovery of incriminating evidence in the Hunter Biden laptop demonstrated a serious risk that Joe Biden is compromised. Joe Biden’s multiple statements against the oil industry paint an unacceptable picture of the near future under a Biden Green New Deal.  Gas prices in the $5-$10 range a gallon.  No gas vehicles sold.  Limited and expensive air flight.  Doubled bills for electricity.  We would be “transitioning” away from oil.  Is that a word? Joe Biden has, at last, had to make longer speeches.  The more he talks, the more incompetent and unacceptable he sounds.  Let him talk.  Biden is Trump’s best campaigner. In 2016 at this point, most national media and polls had declared Trump the loser, and by a healthy margin.  They were wrong. Political pundits are just beginning to figure out that a certain number of Trump supporters do not trust the national media and polls.  Some refuse to answer polls.  Others mess with the pollsters and give incorrect answers.  Still others do not want anyone to know who they support.  Thus, the polls can be off, under-polling Trump by 3% to 10%.  That is enough of a differential to sway any state that is in play. The national media that is against President Trump has overdone it.  They have been so obviously biased and unfair that it has turned off a growing number of independent and undecided voters.   If Biden is the best campaigner for Trump, the biased national media are close behind.  Ever wonder why Trump openly insults and goads his critics in the national media?  He is baiting a trap.  The anti-Trump media take the bait and hit him hard – too hard.  False “facts” and unfair coverage can be overdone and backfire.  What hurt Trump earlier has started turning around. Jim Zeigler is the state Auditor of Alabama.         ReplyForward