My parents, Charles and Dorothy Kremer, immigrated to this country in 1922 from Romania, anxious to enjoy the American dream. They worked hard, raised a family, and every day of their life they metaphorically kissed the ground they walked on, celebrating the freedom they were enjoying. Our national holidays were meaningful events, and of all the benefits bestowed on them, the biggest one was the right to vote.
If they were alive today, they would be distraught at the attacks being waged on the voting system by President Trump. Many weeks after the Nov. 3 election, Trump continues his daily harangues challenging the voting tallies in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona, all states won by President-elect Joe Biden. Trump has singled out the results in cities that are inhabited mostly by Black citizens.
He attacks Republican governors and election officials with venom, even though they are loyal members of his party who acknowledge voting for him. Republicans have called on him to give up his denials. The National Review, the voice of many conservatives, called Trump’s attacks on voting “a petulant refusal of one man to accept the verdict of the American people.”
The weeks between now and Jan. 20 will go by swiftly, and the holidays hopefully will blur the memory of a man who was fired by an overwhelming number of the voters. As eager as many in this country are to see him go back to Mar-a-Lago, there are many others whose exit from Washington should be loudly applauded by a nation in need of healing. At the risk of forgetting a few, the ones who immediately come to my mind are Betsy DeVos, William Barr, Steven Miller, Wilbur Ross and Ben Carson.
No one has done more damage to public schools than DeVos, the secretary of education. She has redistributed Covid-19 funding from them to her pet private schools. She came into the job four years ago after having been a huge donor to Republican politicians who supported redirecting money from public to for-profit private schools. And worst of all, she has hurt students who have defaulted on their student loans by blocking their appeals processes.
There are not enough unkind words to fill the pages when you write about Steven Miller, President Trump’s immigration guru. He has worked to separate children from their parents at the Mexican border — even to deport non-native medical professionals from this country (whose services were desperately needed) — and has battled any relief for those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. He is the one of the few people I’ve ever heard of in public office whose relatives have publicly denounced him.
Wilbur Ross, a long-time New Yorker, has done little for the reputation of the Department of Commerce. The census is an important vehicle to deliver more dollars to state and local governments. Census figures determine how many members of Congress that a state is apportioned. Ross has gone out of his way to prematurely close down the census so that states like New York are financially hamstrung. Ross knows Long Island well, but his actions have only harmed our vibrant community.
Ben Carson has been one of the least effective heads of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He has failed to implement any serious programs to upgrade public housing, which desperately needs help across the country. He took over the HUD secretary’s job almost four years ago and all but disappeared from public view. He had a great opportunity, but wasted it.
Last but by far not least is Attorney General William Barr. The person who holds that position is supposed to be the “people’s lawyer,” but Barr has devoted himself to being the president’s lawyer. He has verbally attacked Trump’s enemies and has injected politics into the Justice Department, to the dismay of its professionals. Many qualified government lawyers have left the agency in protest of Barr’s policies.
It will be especially gratifying to see this gang head out the door, no longer denigrating our democratic government.
Jerry Kremer was a state assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm. Comments about this column? JKremer@liherald.com.