OpEd Printed in The Capital newspaper 12-15-16
George Orwell (1903 to 1950), where are you when we need you? If you have not read "1984" then you may want to do so. If you have, it may be time to read it again. Orwell was a man who lived through some of the most traumatic political events of the 20th century. His statue in front of the BBC reads: "If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear." He is considered to be one of the greatest British writers of the 20th century. He coined the terms "Big Brother" and "Doublethink". In the age of "The Donald", the current belief that "facts no longer matter" and the rise of "Fake News" it is worth renewing our acquaintance with his writings.
Orwell was a British citizen with an Eton education who served in the Indian Imperial Police in Burma in the early 1920's. In 1936, like Hemmingway, he went to Spain to fight in the Civil War against Fascism and was seriously wounded. He worked for the BBC during the second World War. It was after these wars that he wrote his two famous books, "Animal Farm" and "1984". These books were strongly influenced by his personal life experience with Fascism in Spain, Germany, Italy and Russian dictators.
Donald Trump's "facts" have been widely disputed by reputable "Fact Checkers" throughout the 2016 campaign. Some have attributed this to an "anything goes in campaigns" but he will rule in a more serious manor. His statements that "… only I can solve your problems" have been taken by many as election talk hyperbole but not indicative of a Fascist leader. His argument that he knows the "pain of the common man" was bought by a sizable number of voters in economically distressed states the are being left behind by an increasingly high-technology global economy. His cabinet choices do not reflect this concern.
The extent to which the Russian KGB influenced the election of Donald Trump is a very serious issue. The open discussion by our most sophisticated foreign intelligence agencies and the congressional debate as to how much to investigate this election interference will tell us much about whether we are still a government of "checks-and-balances" or a Fascist Plutocracy.
Will the Republican congress provide the administration oversight that the American people deserve? Will they be as critical of President Trump as they were of President Obama or Secretary Clinton? Have we unintentionally elected a Russian Manchurian Candidate under the strong influence of a Russian Oligarch? These are serious questions that must be addressed over the next four years. It is the obligation of the free press to investigate and expose the truth.
President-elect Trump's efforts at "Doublethink" and "Fake News" regarding the popular election outcome are of concern. His constant refusal to receive the morning intelligence briefings and denial of our intelligence agencies reporting on Russian hacking creates a riff in the trusted relationship that must exist between our national leaders and our intelligence professionals. What are, and will be, the conflicts of interest between the Trump and the ExxonMobil corporations and our national interests? Will the leaders in the Oval Office and the State Department betray the trust needed with our national intelligence agencies for an effective working relationship?
Some have expressed concern that this could be the most corrupt administration since Harding and Grant. We will not know that for several years as things develop. I certainly hope not. We do know what has happened in Europe in the 20th century. We never thought that it could happen in the USA. Even if controlled by Republicans, it is up to the legislative and judicial branches of government to make sure that these mistakes do not happen here. First and foremost they must act as loyal American citizens and not as party hacks.
George Donohue is a resident of Churchton and a Prof. Emeritus at George Mason University.
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