In 1933, in an effort to raise the spirits of an America that was in the seeming death spiral of the Great Depression, then President Franklin Roosevelt stated, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. Having read “Fear”, Bob Woodward’s epic account of the chaos in the Trump White House it is now appropriate to say that we actually have to fear is fear.
There is no doubt that Donald Trump is an agent of chaos. It may also be true that Trump is a punishment visited upon America for all of its collective sins. What is undeniable is that his disruption and attempts at destruction of American institutions is more dangerous than all of his foul rhetoric and dismaying disregard for anything resembling the truth. To be clear – the man lies….all the time, every day, every time that he opens his mouth or tweets his latest institutional obscenity. But that aspect of the Trump terror is not what we should fear the most.
There is this prevailing notion that the possibly mythical “Blue Wave” will cleanse this nation of the Stain of Trump in the November 2018 midterm elections. And in any event, so the thinking goes, there is no way that Trump will be reelected in 2020 and his successor will right all of his wrongs and wash away the trash and garbage that characterizes his presidency.
That kind of thinking is reflective of the kind of distraction that has allowed Trump to wreak such horrific damage to the environment, social justice, immigration equity, foreign relations, criminal justice and healthcare in the first place. The notion that a new Congress or a new president will be able to right the Trump wrongs is a dangerous misperception and diminishes the understanding that the time to resist Trump and all that he stands for his today, every day – and at the rate Trump is going, that will not be enough.
Take the Environmental Protection Agency as an example. The EPA has, over the last 18 months embarked on a campaign to roll back, diminish or eliminate literally hundreds of rules and regulations that protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, the national park lands that we treasure and the health of millions of Americans. The sludge that is flowing into rivers, the mining that is taking place in former national park lands, the lead that is being consumed by children as you read these words, cannot be reversed by a new EPA director in another 18 months. The damage is real. The harm is in many ways irreversible for today’s victims. And all the while we watch in horror as Trump lurches from obscenity to tragedy to horror show.
Take the Department of Justice as another example. The successful efforts by the Session DOJ to increase incarceration penalties for various offenders means that as you are reading these words there are thousands upon thousands of Americans (and their families) whose lives are being ruined by such draconian measures. And a new President, a new Attorney General, a new Congress, will have an uphill battle to reverse these tragic consequences.
It is important to vote in November. It is important for Democrats, Progressives and any Americans who truly care about something more than tax cuts and bully talk to find a way to reclaim the federal government apparatus that has been hijacked by Trump and his feckless enablers.
But is it truly important to realize that whatever happens in November 2018 or November 2020 the damage has already been done. The damage is real. And while that damage is reversible there will be no miracles as the planet is fresh out of magic wands.
Any commitment to change needs to be a commitment to a lifetime of change. That is only answer to the Fear that is Trump.