Jim Beam column: Country needs a reawakening

Published 6:36 am Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Did you ever think you would be living in a country where a former president has been charged in four criminal cases? How about where the son of a current president is the subject of a special prosecutor’s investigation?

An updated Politico news report on Aug. 14 said for the first 234 years of the nation’s history, no American president or former president had ever been indicted. That changed this year when former President Donald Trump was charged in those four criminal cases.

The Associated Press reported last Friday that President Joe Biden faced a fresh setback when Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to investigate his son, Hunter. And polling has consistently shown that Democratic voters weren’t excited about Biden’s re-election even before Garland appointed the special counsel.

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The AP said the investigation of Hunter Biden and Trump’s troubles  underscore the unprecedented nature of the next election.

“Rather than a battle of ideas waged on the traditional campaign trail, the next push for the presidency may be shaped by sudden legal twists in courtrooms from Washington to Delaware and Miami,” The AP said.

The fact that we might face another Biden vs. Trump election in 2024 is more disturbing news. Does that mean we might have to once again endure the turmoil we have experienced since the 2020 presidential election that continues today?

And many of us thought the resignation of Richard Nixon on Aug. 8, 1974, after the Watergate incident was the worst scandal involving a president.

Because of so much heated political rhetoric in this country, here is what The AP said we have faced in recent times:

FBI agents fatally shot a 74-year-old Utah man who threatened to assassinate President Biden.

Six days earlier, a 52-year-old Texas man was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for threatening to kill Arizona election workers.

Four days before that, prosecutors charged a 56-year-old Michigan woman for lying to buy guns for her mentally ill adult son, who threatened to use them against Biden and that state’s Democratic governor.

Threats against public officials have been steadily climbing in recent years, creating new challenges for law enforcement, civil rights, and the health of American democracy, The AP  said.

The Capitol Police last year reported that they investigated more than double the number of threats against members of Congress as they did four years earlier.

We experienced the severe wounding of House Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana in 2017. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband was assaulted by a hammer-wielding man who had posted right-wing conspiracy theories online.

A man was arrested last year with knives, a pistol and zip ties outside the home of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh because of the court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

If all of that isn’t bad enough, how about the fact there have been more than 420 mass shootings so far this year? Those shootings have led to 465 deaths and 1,781 injuries.

ABC News also reported that as of Aug. 1 at least 25,198 people have been killed in gun violence so far in 2023. That is an average of roughly 118 deaths each day. Of those who died, 879 were teens and 170 were children.

More than 14,000 of the 25,198 deaths, about 66 per day, were gun violence suicides.

ABC said the majority of these deaths have occurred in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Texas.

The coronavirus pandemic has been blamed for some of our unusual problems, but fiery political rhetoric and social media have to share most of the blame.

As Michael German, a former FBI agent, said, “Things that may have been screamed at the television before now appear widely in public.”

Why this country can’t do better than another Trump vs. Biden presidential race has been extremely puzzling to me. Biden is 80 and Trump is 77. Controversy swirls around both men and they have been the subjects of almost daily news reports that haven’t stopped since 2020.

This country needs some younger and bold leadership. Unfortunately, the political turmoil it has experienced in recent years has perhaps discouraged well-qualified citizens from considering public service. It is time to turn the page.