Is There A Silver Lining?

The 2016 presidential election was an excruciating experience for millions of Americans. Many are in a state of despair and disbelief. Like me, they wonder how we could possibly have elected Donald Trump as our president.

            This election pitted the Establishment against the Anti-Establishment. A great number of Americans, including many who worked for Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries, were fed up with a self-serving Establishment. After decades of being left on the sidelines, millions of voters enthusiastically backed Donald Trump, the political outsider who shrewdly crafted a message that addressed their frustrations. Finally, someone understood their anger and resentment.

            On the other hand, Hillary Clinton represented the epitome of the Washington insider. Most Democratic, and even some Republican, officials supported her. She had been around D.C. for almost 25 years. She knew how to play the game well and accomplished a good deal for our country over the years. But, in the end, Clinton had too much baggage to carry the day and win the big prize.

            Nevertheless, despite the looming darkness of a Trump presidency, there just may be a silver lining to this election. I have long thought that things may have to get worse before they could get better. Many of us have been willing to go along with the status quo because our own lives have not seemed to been affected very much by the corruption and gross inequality in our country. While we might donate to various social causes and/or write a letter to our state or federal representatives, the vast majority of good Americans have had little time for organizing and volunteering to build a fairer, more just political system.

            The election of Donald Trump very possibly changes all that. We have received a wake up call signaling that we are losing our democracy and becoming an oligarchy. With the implementation of Trump’s programs, I believe many more Americans will grasp how much politics and government policy can personally impact us in a negative way. Consequently, Trump’s election can be a great organizing tool for Democrats and progressives.

            Moreover, if Hillary had squeaked out a victory, Trump and the Republicans would have constantly been attacking her. It would have been as bad, if not worse than how they obstructed Obama. She would have had a hostile Republican House and Senate on her back all the time. We would have had more Washington gridlock, another government nightmare with little chance of Clinton successfully pursuing much of her agenda. And, what she was able to achieve would, most likely, have been watered down to meet Republican and, quite possibly, her own donors’ objections. While progressives would have been lobbying for stronger social programs and climate change legislation, it’s really hard to imagine how they could have achieved very much under such conditions.

            Now, instead, Trump and the Republicans control the whole government, ready to advance a right-wing agenda that favors big business, non-regulation and large tax breaks for the wealthy. Additionally, many of the hard-won, social justice advances of the last fifty years are in serious jeopardy. The lines between Trump’s course and one that would truly serve most Americans and our planet are now clearly drawn. That should make the need for building a broad-based, non-partisan national movement to revive our democracy even more urgent and, hopefully, our goal of a just society more obtainable. So let’s come together and get to work!

            Go to www.breakingbigmoneysgrip.com to learn how to get started. And, if you are in Santa Fe, come to the next meeting of the Democracy Organizing Committee on Monday, November 14, at 6:15 in the LaFarge Library Community Room.

 

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We Are the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For

It’s been way too long since I’ve written here. Now, however, I’m setting the intention to blog twice a week, if not more. So, here goes….

While the 2016 election cycle is about to end, our work as engaged citizens is just beginning. I believe this election, regardless of who wins, has finally awakened the American people to the fact that we are responsible for the state of our union.

Whether our government functions in the best interests of the people is up to us. Too often we have allowed the politicians and special interests to determine policy without regard for the public interest. For example, when President Bill Clinton negotiated NAFTA, the North American Trade Agreement, was he looking out for American workers or big business? And, whose concerns guided our government’s decision to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act that separated commercial banking from investment banks? Wall Street or Main Street?

In 2003 when the Bush Administration promoted and initiated a war against Iraq, was that in the best interests of the American people? With then Vice President Cheney leading the way, Halliburton, Cheney’s former company, and other Big Oil corporations sought to profit from the needless killing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and the wasteful expenditure of trillions of U.S. taxpayers’ dollars.

More recently, when the 2008 Great Recession crippled the country, President Obama used our money to bail out Wall Street while doing little to help millions of his fellow citizens save their homes from foreclosure. In all these and other similar situations, the vast majority of Americans felt helpless, watched their government act against their best interests and did nothing.

But, the times they are a changing. A great number of Americans from all political persuasions are fed up with government as usual. They are giving notice that they will no longer stand by and allow Big Money and special interests to run the show. Whether they support Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, voters are angry and ready to fight for what they believe in.

When President Obama was elected, people thought he would deliver the”change you can believe in” that he had promised. They did not hold his feet to the fire to assure he would make good on his promises. While one can argue that Obama faced much opposition which obstructed his performance, we, the people, were not organizing the mass movement that would have provided the necessary support and force to overcome some of the obstacles he faced.

This time is different. We are under no illusions that either Clinton or Trump will produce the change most Americans desire. This time we know that it is up to us to battle for the kind of country we want. We must make our voices heard and demand real change for the public good, not the special interests. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.