Issue 53

As the Dust Settles


OK, it’s been just a few days since the earthquake hit. The dust hasn’t even settled and people all over the world are trying to pick up the pieces.  Many are walking around shell-shocked in a zombie-like state trying to comprehend what happened, the ultimate consequences, and where we go from here.  Others, though outraged are opting to try and find a hole in the sand deep enough to crawl into and hibernate.

In this nation, we’ll have to figure out how we can collectively weather four years of after-shocks that threaten to bring real devastation to millions of immigrants, people of color, the LGBT community, and women for starters. In addition to these aftershocks, the quake which registered off the scales of cataclysmic historical events, will surely spawn waves of tsunamis that will wreak even more havoc.

The real irony is that beyond the rhetoric, the Donald couldn’t care less about the millions of uninformed, white working class people who voted for him.  He made his fortunes at the expense of workers (just ask the workers in his hotels).  Even if his shift toward nationalist trade policies is successful in bringing some new industrial jobs back to the U.S. (not at all clear that this will happen), will that offset the loss of minimum wage improvements, guaranteed access to health care, Medicare, and Social Security?  These losses are a lot more certain than the nebulous promise of new industrial jobs in the Rust Belt and I suspect that the majority of Trump voters didn’t sign on for those consequences.

Internationally, the huge waves threaten to drown the stability of world peace. A xenophobic egomaniac with absolutely no knowledge or experience in diplomacy in control of the world’s foremost military power is some seriously scary shit.  There are multiple complex interwoven political challenges at stake: a powder keg of instability in the Mideast that has escalated to a worldwide terrorist threat, a like-minded self-involved autocrat at the helm in Russia, an ever-growing economic and political rival in China, and a bunch of rogue states that either have or have expressed interest in deploying nuclear weapons.  And the Donald thinks he can bluster his way through it all.  When he throws a hissy fit or his strong arm tactics blow up in his face over a business deal, he declares bankruptcy or takes a billion dollar tax deduction for losses on money he borrowed from others.  If he gambles with world security and loses we don’t get to write that off.

Short of a potential nuclear calamity, one of the biggest and potentially most dire tsunamis that will begin to swell on Jan. 20 is the 180 degree turn around in U.S. policy on climate change. The historic progress achieved under Obama will be undone with lightning speed.  The Paris Climate Change Accord will be trashed.  The EPA will have its regulatory authority severely severed.  Support will go to try and bolster the dinosaur coal, oil and gas industries rather than to ensure a rapid and efficient transition to clean renewable energy.  As an environmental research engineer these moves will hit close to home but the ultimate consequences are global.  Ninety nine percent of the scientific community is convinced human-caused climate change is real and is accelerating at breakneck speed.  The head of Trump’s EPA transition team is Myron Ebell, a well-known climate denier.

As bad as all this sounds I fear it’s just a drop in the bucket.  At his rallies the Donald encouraged his supporters and goons to physically attack protestors or have them arrested.  How will he react to the millions of people who are already beginning to assemble and raise their voices in protest?  Can his fragile ego handle inevitable, ubiquitous mass demonstrations and public questioning of his abilities and policies?   There’s talk that he plans to continue his mass rallies of supporters which will only stoke the divisive hatred.  In the few days since the election, it’s been open season for hate crimes all across the country and the silence from the President Elect is deafening.  The parallels to unquestioning brownshirts shouting allegiance to their egomaniacal leader and full-out fascism are uncomfortably closer with each passing day.

Hillary is blaming Comey for her loss.  While that low blow didn’t help, it’s clear that the real mistake was taking for granted millions of working Americans who are struggling and looking for real change toward economic security and income equality.   Some of these folks may have voted for the Donald but many (based on very poor voter turnout on the Democratic side in the key battle ground states) just stayed home.

So what do the majority of Americans who did not vote for this dangerous and unstable “leader” do now? Though the picture is unimaginably bleak, the answer is not to withdraw or pretend this is not really happening.  The only way to preserve American democracy and put our country back on a progressive path, the only way to weather the earthquakes and resultant tsunamis that threaten the safety, well-being, and civil rights of the American people, the only way to ensure world peace and stability in the short- and long-term is to organize and resist.

We may not have the stomach for it and for sure, it won’t be easy.  But we have no choice. No choice but to speak up and make our voices heard.  We need to pressure Democratic Senators and Representatives and hopefully a few Republicans who may be willing to stand up to the alt right movement to resist at every opportunity, establish some defensive beach heads to fight back (not bury our heads in the sand), and temper some of the worst of what’s to come.  In doing so we not only improve our chances at damage control but begin to form the alliances and confidence needed to weather the rough times ahead and (for starters) take back Congress in 2018.


Leonard Cohen (1934 – 2016)




Published on November 13, 2016 at 11:06 am  Leave a Comment  

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