Sometime back in the early 90’s, my mother decided to take my brother and I on a trip to Colorado to see my great-grandmother, who at the time lived in Loveland.  We loaded up in her 80’s model mustang and headed east. By that time, I had seen a lot of landscape, but I was completely unprepared for what lied ahead as we began our trek through Wyoming.  As I consider this, I think about the political landscape that we, as Americans, have witnessed over the last several years and most recently, the last 7-months. 

Heading into Wyoming, there didn’t seem to be much to talk about as far as the scenery was concerned. However, off in the distance was a massive blockade of mountains that appeared to cast its shade over the length of the whole state. Even still, my brother and I were somewhat uninterested. In fact, we played bloody knuckles for at least a solid two hours. That was, until I surrendered due to the broken blood vessels and a large amount of swelling.  It wasn’t until we reached the base of those mountains that the full picture could be seen. The large cliff faces and rocky outcroppings, the valleys and canyons, the wildlife that seemed to come out of nowhere. This, was without question, some of the most beautiful and dangerous landscape I had ever witnessed. What I had previously been uninterested in had all of the sudden captivated me and placed me under its spell for the duration of our travels through it and over it.

What I fear, is that much of our country has had the same haphazard approach to the politics of our nation.  For some time now, folks have gone on about their daily lives completely and totally uninterested in the political landscape that lied somewhere off in the distance. We had grown accustomed to the way things were, the constant back and forth, one party this cycle and the other on the next. Nobody, and I mean nobody foreseen a day when Donald Trump would be president. Furthermore, when he did become president, nobody thought he would be a good one. Half of this country was enjoying the new scenery, while the other half could only see the dangers. As it turns out, he really wasn’t that bad after all. Of course, we can all say that after having had the benefit of looking into the rearview mirror.

The Landscape has changed again, and unfortunately the current president is actually guilty of doing the very things that we were warned the previous president would do – but didn’t.  Incidentally, we are now once again taking sides…myself included.  To be fair, I was never a big Donald Trump fan.  Not, because he was making poor policy decisions, or at times taking a much much different approach than his predecessors and more distinguished colleagues would have taken.  My reasons for not having a greater affection for Trump than others had were petty, as compared to the reasons I do not like our current president. To put it simply, Trump was just not polished enough, too sharp with his tongue and often times, far too reactionary.  These are the same reasons I am at times disgusted with myself.  But, I am also not the president of the United States of America.

Now that the landscape has changed, we have come off and out of the peaks of that mountain and are standing at the edge of much greater and far more dangerous territory.  What looked so promising from a distance has now presented us with a challenge that we shall likely not overcome.  The very things that this nation has held in highest regard have now been made obsolete – our rights. That is, the bill of rights, enshrined within our founding documents and engraved into the heart of every red blooded American that has ever been born to this Nation.  This new administration, rather than trust people to make decisions regarding themselves and their families, has now gone to mandating those things for us. Why?  Because in their minds, we are not capable of making those decisions ourselves. What does it matter if I choose not to take a vaccine, or wear a mask? Am I somehow infringing on the rights of others, others who have had the same freedom to make those same choices? If the vaccine reduces the severity of sickness, but does not prevent a  person from getting sick, than what does it matter if I choose not to get it? It will be me who suffers the greater consequence, not the one who has been vaccinated.  I am much more willing to take that risk, than I am willing to see our country destroy the fundamental rights of all Americans.

The problem, both in this case and likewise with the botched mission in Afghanistan, is a failure to communicate, and failing to communicate is communicating failure.  This president, as well as a long list of those that have gone before him, has failed to communicate to the American people on a level that we can all understand and appreciate.  With covid-19, give us the information we need and allow us to work in partnership with our family doctors to determine the best course of action for ourselves.  Be honest, be honest about the origins, be honest about the vaccines, and be honest about the death rates. Unfortunately, it seems honesty works against their agenda. What is that agenda? It’s the same thing it has always been, re-election and power.  

Communication and honesty would have saved our politicians a lot of trouble over the years when it comes to Afghanistan as well.  Did our politicians provide a clearly defined mission? Did the mission change, and if so, was that clearly communicated to the American people? Perhaps it was always the plan that the Taliban would continue to run their country, were Americans aware of that? More importantly were our service men and women aware of that? You see, this is the problem. Most Americans know little about Afghanistan, let alone the complexities involved in fighting a war there. Having said that, had we known from the beginning that the way it ended was always going to be the way it ended, perhaps the American people would not have been so pissed off.  Instead, we believed that we were there to defeat the Taliban and likewise any other organization that modeled itself after it or worse.  Sadly, what has happened is that Americans have been made to feel as if we have failed in our mission. Why does that hurt so badly for some? It hurts because of the investment that was made. Not the money, not the time, and not the resources, but the investment that was made with the lives of American service member who believed they were fighting a righteous war, only to have their government give up on them.