The all pervasive marine layer covering the beach matches my mood while I ponder the cascade of troublesome and dangerous issues facing our world as the President flirts from one poor decision to the other. He is truly in “I am the only one who can fix it” mode as he confronts issues of monumental importance to billions of citizens of the planet without the benefit of either intelligence borne by experience or counsel sufficiently well-equipped to offer sound advice.
I am an eternal optimist and have always placed faith in the acknowledgement that I know what I know and I know what I don’t know. But the song stuck in my head right now is “It's the End of the World As We Know It.” Through nearly four decades in public service I have had the unique perspective and good fortune of being surrounded by policy professionals who offer up serious, intellectually based arguments to guide policy-makers on the pros and cons of far-reaching options. Additionally, I have always served with individuals who value the fact that their decisions have consequences. Often they are faced with unintended consequences and driven to modify previous decisions. The ability to admit mistakes and correct them is the mark of the dedicated public servant. But my faith is now being challenged in a way that I have not known since the days when we protested the Vietnam War.
Under the current leadership we as a nation have lost our ability to lead, our moral compass is damaged or maybe just simply missing, and our destructive capacity is unquestioned while our proclivity under this administration to use it should scare the hell out of any rational human being.
As a parent I am constantly weighing the costs and benefits of decisions to future generations. I am more concerned now than at any time in my sixty-five years on this planet. Under the current leadership we as a nation have lost our ability to lead, our moral compass is damaged or maybe just simply missing, and our destructive capacity is unquestioned while our proclivity under this administration to use it should scare the hell out of any rational human being. Note to the President, bullying is not the same as leadership for it invites the prospect for miscalculation which has been a steady feature in most human conflict.
While each day, indeed sometimes every several hours, brings a seemingly endless string of confused but determined pronouncements emanating from the White House, the only connecting thread is the certainty that they are bound to upset either the existing status quo, internationally or domestically. As I sit here feeling my heart racing, I am alarmed over the prospects that each threat poses, not for me or my generation, but rather for those who will inherit our foolishness.
Let us just take a preliminary inventory of the current state of affairs:
- The Alabama State legislature has just passed and the Governor has signed into law an unconstitutional measure that would virtually outlaw abortions within the state. What makes it so disconcerting for the rest of the Union is that it offers an opportunity for the current Supreme Court to effectively vitiate Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case allowing abortion. This is a potentially seismic shift in the fight for women’s rights.
- It seems like we are currently preparing for war with Iran. The potential here for miscalculation is enormous and the plans are being set in motion by a National Security Advisor who was the architect of the false premise that Iraq was developing and had weapons of mass destruction, leading to the US invasion in 2003 that resulted in over a half million deaths, cost the US over $1 trillion, and saw over 36,000 American troops killed and wounded.
- The Mauna Loa Observatory has reported that levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a primary accelerant to climate change are now higher than they have been in 3 million years, long before humans existed. Yet the US stands alone in the world in withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. We do not need to be scientists or researchers, just look at the world around us and chart the changes that have happened in our short lives.
- The Trump Administration has not abandoned its plans to gut the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare, can’t we just change the name and leave it at that?) putting 20 million Americans at risk of losing health care.
- The Trump Administration’s announced tariffs on China portend an all out trade war. The only consensus by global trade experts is that no one wins in a trade war and these are the two economic giants we are talking about here.
- While the Mueller Report did not exonerate the President on obstruction of justice charges the President continues to pretend that it did. More importantly, the report highlights what the US Intelligence community has acknowledged for several years now, and that is that Russia played a large role intervening in the 2016 Presidential election and did so in hopes of ensuring Hillary Clinton was not elected. Well, to the surprise of everyone, she wasn’t. Yet there is no apparent strategy in place for preventing intervention by Russia or other nations in the upcoming 2020 election.
- Trump’s “love affair” with autocrats continues, despite the fact that his bromance with Kim Jong Un has produced no efforts to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula and recently North Korea resumed short-range missile tests. Meanwhile, the US has secretly agreed to 6 authorizations to sell nuclear technology and assistance to Saudi Arabia, another favorite authoritarian regime of the White House.
- Finally, just for good measure, we are currently in the throes of a “Constitutional crisis” here at home given the Administration’s steadfast refusal to provide Congress with requested documents and to honor Congressional subpoenas on any number of issues involving oversight. We are approaching a point where the very basic structural components of our government, namely separation of powers and checks and balances, and the notion of co-equal branches of government (Executive, Legislative, Judicial) are being thwarted by a President who neither understands nor cares about these unique pillars of American democracy.
I only mention these off the top of my head and I am sure others will complain that I have not provided an exhaustive list of issues of concern. But, seriously, it is difficult enough to wrap your head around the obstruction and deconstruction that is taking place right in front of our very eyes. What costs will the Republican leadership continue to inflict upon the nation simply in order to enable the President and the Party to remain in control?
The millennial generation has every right to question why we brought them into this world. Was it out of pure selfishness on our part? It certainly was not to clean up the mess we are leaving them. I would think the natural answer would be that we wanted them to have a better life than we had. Well, it is not working out that way for far too many. But it is up to our youth to grab hold of the reins of power and fix what we collectively have broken. I wish it were not so, and I am sorry it is what it is, but it really is up to our youths.