Having Donald Trump militarize America’s Independence Day, subject children and adults to, yes, concentration camps, and defy the courts are not events that can be easily ignored or overlooked.
However, firing climate-change scientists or banning them to a Midwest gulag is a lot easier. So are rescinding food and drug safety regulations, rolling back health care protections for LGBTQ patients, foreclosing on working homeowners, destroying public education, and compromising the country’s air, water and wildlife.
There’s more, and it signals the Trump administration’s dangerous, pro-profit, white supremacist politics, disrespect for the rule of law and the Constitution, and contempt for human rights. Every day we draw closer to full-fledged fascism while the Democrats diddle, and most mainstream and cable media regurgitate premature political polling while allowing Trump to suck the oxygen out of the airwaves.
Collective fatigue and self-preserving denial are understandable, but it’s time every one of us took serious notice of what is happening because a dangerously demented authoritarian, voted into office — just as Adolf Hitler was — is getting away with murder (literally, if you count the dead immigrants at our border) and no one seems able to stop him — not Congress, not the courts and not the Constitution.
When I first considered writing this, I thought about all the departmental travesties taking place, most without much notice. I began doing research, department by governmental department, and that’s how I came upon troubling information at numerous government agencies. Here are just a few examples.
Thanks to an expose by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, I learned that a number of specialists working within a scientific group advising government for nearly 60 years on various issues, including defense and most recently climate change, are being fired. Scientists working on Department of Agriculture issues were given a month’s notice to decide if they would move their families to Kansas — where no facility for them to continue their work exists — or be fired. A short reprieve was issued for scientists working at the Department of Energy so studies underway can conclude, but the future of the group’s 65 impressive scientists is unclear, even as it diversifies its client base. As The Washington Post pointed out: “Research is being decimated by the Trump team, especially when it comes to climate science and other research that doesn’t comport with the Trump agenda.”
Thanks also go to Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., who called out Ben Carson for failing America’s working families at HUD. Interviewed by NBC after her tough grilling of Carson in a Congressional committee hearing, Porter said, “I wanted to engage Carson on the critical issue [of foreclosures], but what I got was evasion. Carson’s two-plus years as the leader of HUD have been marked by failure after failure to do right by this country’s working families.” Porter continued, exposing Carson’s total lack of awareness of his agency’s jurisdiction, his claim that “poverty to a large extent is a state of mind,” and his proposal to slash HUD’s budget.
The National Education Association exposed the horrific record of Betsy DeVos at the Department of Education, where promoting education privatization is a top priority while serving special needs and protection for trans children is being rolled back. DeVos also wants to repeal federal protections that hold predatory for-profit colleges accountable, to rescind sexual assault guidelines, and to put guns in schools.
National Geographic posted “15 Ways the Trump administration has changed environmental policies.”
The Guardian wrote about the “nosedive” the FDA is taking in warning people about food and drug regulations not being enforced.
And Politico revealed how the Trump administration is rolling back health care protections for LGBTQ patients.
The more I learned, the more I realized how much is happening “under the radar” — an expression that sounded familiar. Looking back on my commentary topics over the last 18 months, I realized that I had twice written pieces with that phrase in the title. That made me question not what was happening, but why it was happening.
Here are a few possibilities. One is that many in the Fourth Estate are failing to demand and drive accountability. Given that the federal courts, circuit and supreme, are being stacked against democracy and sound Constitutional interpretation, it is urgent that media editors and producers “call a thing [like racism] a thing.” That means not normalizing a dangerously delusional president or treating him like an ordinary candidate in next year’s election. It means asking tough questions and demanding answers. It means putting priority issues over advertisers.
Further, the Democratic Party must realize this is no time to pussyfoot. Its strong suit is plurality, which must not become its pitfall. Democrats need to unify, fight, respect boundaries, message wisely and start saving America.
Equally, entities and individuals inside and out of government must vociferously say “No!” when Trump breaks rules, bullies and acts crazy.
Americans, no matter how tired or disillusioned, must demand leadership that recognizes the slippery slope of looming dark days — because it’s not only about the economy, jobs and health care. It’s about our future and our survival as a democratic beacon to the world.
Perhaps yesterday may have been too early to act, but surely tomorrow will be too late.