The Long Game

I have been bargaining against reality ever since November 8th at about 8:30pm Central Time.  Surely, Michigan and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin would right themselves in the final moments? No? Okay, well surely there will be recounts that will prove election rigging and avert disaster? No? Okay, well the “faithless electors” will come through in December to align the electoral college numbers with the popular vote? No?? Well then, Russian hacking? Come on! Really, he’s going to be the President? Really, he’s going to be the President.

But I continued to bargain.  Yes, he’s President, but he hasn’t accomplished anything that can’t be undone, right? Watch what he does, not what he says.  The Courts are blocking all the long term stuff while Congress and the FBI work to get rid of him.  I even made a foolish foolish bet with a student that he wouldn’t last the full first 100 days.  Needless to say, she’s looking forward to a nice expensive lunch on me.

Gorsuch has been seated on the Court.  ICE agents feel a new “freedom to deport.” Trump has bombed Syria and Afghanistan, and has moved warships to the Korean Peninsula.  The lasting effects of any one of these actions is devastating.  And that’s just off the top of my head this morning.  Here are some of the other things Trump’s presidency has “accomplished”:

  • a level of nepotism never before seen in any branch of our Government.  I’m referring of course to Trump’s two closest and most powerful advisers, Ivanka Trump [Kushner] and Jared Kushner.
  • a new freedom to lie to the Senate, the FBI, the media with no real consequences.  I’m referring not only to the usual suspects here — Attorney General Jeff Sessions, fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Senior Adviser Kellyanne Conway — but also to our current EPA chief, Scott Pruitt, who stated in sworn written testimony that he had never used a private email server to perform government business.  That has since been proven to be false.  And also to our current Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos who swore in her confirmation hearings that she had never been involved in her family foundation, which fights against LGBTQ rights.  In fact, she had been listed as Vice President of the foundation’s board for 17 years.  And also Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, both of whom made sworn statements in their confirmation hearings that have since been shown to be false.
  • the abandonment of governance free from major conflicts of interest. Here, I’m referring not only to Trump’s own refusal to disclose — let alone divest himself of — his family’s financial holdings; and not only to his refusal to release his tax returns; and not only to his senior advisers’ ongoing involvement with the Trump family business while advising the President; but also to the conflicts of interest embedded in the relationship Trump has with the likes of Carl Icahn, whose position in the administration raises “‘alarming’ questions about potential conflicts of interest with his stakes in the biofuels and pharmaceutical industries.”
  • An unprecedented lack of transparency in the Executive Branch.  I’m referring here to a wide range of actions taken by the new administration — from the President’s “war on the media” and the Press Secretary’s barring of select media outlets from the White House Press Room; to the failure to fill hundreds of Executive Branch positions that require Senate confirmation; to the announcement last week that the White House would no longer release its visitor logs.  The effect, if not aim, of all of these actions is to insulate the Oval Office and the Executive Branch from public scrutiny and critique; while allowing members of Trump’s increasingly small inner circle essentially free reign over policy and practice. 

    The time for bargaining is over.  I have to accept that this man is president and that his administration has already done and will continue to do lasting, if not permanent damage not only to individual Americans and those who love them; but also to our very system of government and collective understanding of what it means to be an American.

For me, government transparency and accountability are the two hallmarks of our Democracy.  Without three equally strong and trustworthy branches of government working together in good faith, openly and with public scrutiny, I believe that our Democracy will wither and eventually die.  And who knows what will replace it.

I no longer believe that any person or institution can keep this train from leaving the station; but I am still bargaining on the train’s eventual derailment.   The Resistance has the passion and determination to hold our leaders — Democrats and Republican, Federal, State and Local — accountable for their collusion in or resistance to the destruction the Trump train is doing to our country.

We have to keep paying attention. Even when we lose on the big things, we have to keep yelling about them.  And we have to keep pointing out what seem to be small things, even as the rest of the world moves on to scream about warships and MOABs.  We cannot lose our appetite for truth and accountability; we cannot stop demanding both; and we cannot stop believing that our resistance matters.  We all know what Margaret Mead has to say on the matter.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

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