When I consider the political situation in this country, I am astonished, angered, and frustrated, like many others. In spite of the reported approval ratings of Donald Trump, I find it hard to believe that many people really admire him or approve of his irresponsible, narcissistic, erratic behavior. But then I never thought he could get elected. Those who care about the philosophical and functional integrity of America are appalled at his attacks on average Americans, minorities, immigrants, education, the environment, health care, unions, and voting rights while scoffing at the legal and judicial system. If you hold it dear, he has probably attacked it.
In spite of the evidence of the reigning of ignorance, greed and just plain insanity at the highest levels of our government, I am heartened by the voices that I hear around me. I was particularly impressed by the collection of voices in the letters to the editor and the editorials in the Aug. 23 issue of the Timberjay. Sometimes I question whether my own letters and articles accomplish anything beyond an outlet for my voice, like Lucy, shouting into the wind. Am I just preaching to the choir? Will those with a different viewpoint even bother to read it? These writers who took the time to compose their thoughts and send them in definitely make the case for it being worth the bother. Collectively, they provide a very articulate commentary about key issues that they value as citizens, areas where they believe we’re going seriously astray, and the need to stand up and be counted.
Tim Duff urged us to pay attention, get angry about what’s happening in our country, and take action to effect change. Tim Munkeby wrote about the appalling and ill-advised federal cuts to education with many states, including Minnesota, following suit. He points out that funding education is an investment that pays off 16:1 in multiple ways to strengthen our country. He exhorted us not to feel helpless but to be aware, speak up, and educate our politicians.
Harold Honkola pointed out that the middle class was built by the unions’ right to collectively bargain. With union membership and strength declining, corporate practices have created ever-widening income inequality with escalating levels of wealth for the very few. He urged us to recognize the importance of working together in cooperative social action to bring about change.
Steve Wilson wrote about just such an action, when 28 DNR wildlife managers joined forces in an unprecedented action to object to a new DNR policy that would enable and prioritize timber harvesting over wildlife in Wildlife Management Areas. They were given a gag order, but that didn’t apply to Steve nor to us.
Marshall Helmberger went after the many-layered Trump fabrications about how well the economy is doing. In fact, punitive tariffs have made U.S. goods more expensive, increased the trade gap substantially, and slowed growth globally, possibly leading to recession. Huge corporate tax cuts and excessive increased military spending have pushed the deficit to a trillion dollars, double that of the Obama administration.
So why am I reiterating what was already published? It’s very easy for us to read or hear information that is upsetting, grumble about it, and move on to our daily activities, for we all have to keep our lives on track. So, I’m repeating these salient points about a few of the issues to urge us to grab hold and do something. We can’t individually address everything, but we can choose what speaks to our minds and hearts (and our outrage) and do something about it. Cooperatively, we can have a broader and deeper impact.
I have often wondered how any Republicans can feel anything but mortification about the catastrophe in the White House. Their willingness to stick to a party line has definitely won victories for them, big business, and the wealthy over the years, but the current situation is beyond understanding. Finally, some Republicans are speaking out. Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, who has declared his candidacy for the presidency as a Republican, characterized Trump as unfit and “too unstable to carry out the duties of the highest executive office.”
Former Congressman Joe Walsh, now a conservative talk show host, just announced he is running. He said that Trump is unfit, and that Republicans should have stepped up. “The country is sick of this guy’s tantrum. He’s a child.” Walsh has been compared to Trump with similar rantings. He says he now recognizes how wrong he was and apologizes. Not the most sterling character, but at least there is some breaking of ranks.
Rick Wilson may be the loudest and most visible opponent of all things Trump. He is well-known as the conservative political strategist and negative ad-maker who has successfully counseled political candidates, state parties, SuperPACS, and national campaign committees as well as corporate and government clients across the nation and the world. He has a regular column in The Daily Beast, has been published broadly and is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and the national networks. A friend handed me his book, Everything Trump Touches Dies, and I reveled in his castigation of Trump, the damage he has done to the country, and the Republican Party for supporting him. His broad command of vituperative adjectives which he strings together with ease is truly impressive and warmed the cockles of my progressive soul even though I overdosed on his venting before I’d read half the book. However, I thought that this guy would get people’s attention on the right when he claimed that the conservative movement had abandoned its principles for the worst president in American history. He has very different political views than I do, but he’s doing something to clean up the mess, lobbying for a return to sanity in American politics.
So, what can we do, those of us who don’t have the ear of a vast listening or reading audience? Well, what do you care about? What are you angry about? Do that…write letters, call politicians and candidates, support organizations with your money and your time.
What if a small group of rural citizens decided to get together and figure out how to get people talking about the significance of the bedrock democratic values in their lives? What if they decided to listen to what people are concerned about? Wait, that actually has happened. The Northern Progressives meet monthly for presentations and discussions of critical issues at the Crescent Bar in Cook. North of the Divide is a group committed to breathing awareness into Democratic values and Democratic solutions, door knocking on all the doors they can reach, and presenting a forum on Oct. 12 in Ely.
Knowledgeable presenters will speak on key issues of income inequality, health care, climate change, and jobs and economic development, with time to listen to your concerns. Stay tuned for more details. What can you do? Join in. Help out. Meet some terrific people at Sulu’s in Tower on Sept. 4 at 6 p.m.