Can Godzilla Save The Planet?
Watching President Obama, today, handle the small hand of President Elect Trump with such grace, reinforced all the goodness and respect I feel towards the man. Election night must have been a gut punch like no other. After working so diligently for 8 years to restore America after the wreckage of the last Republican administration it was a shockingly unfair blow. Yet there he was continuing the tradition of taking the high road while all around continue to go low. Ask yourself whether you could have sat down next to the person who fed the racist undertones of your presidency and questioned your birth?
The discourse in our country has become puerile. Social media amplifies the noise, drowns out reason and cheapens debate. It has become far too easy to have your voice heard when you only spout hatred. In recent times, our common respect would have kept such feelings in the background, but not now, not in the new media age of 2016. He who shouts loudest gets promoted. Some of what has been said will stain this country for years to come. It will not be easily overcome. Nor, frankly, should it.
My teenage children are not old enough to vote, but they are old enough to have participated in the debate, and be exposed to the jabs, jibes and jingoism of the last year. Their tears on Wednesday morning were real. It is hard for them, and millions of girls like them, to understand how good people could stand up and applaud such misogyny. Yet understand it we must if we want to heal our divide.
While there is little doubt our newly elected President has spent his lifetime judging women by their looks, not competence, I refuse to believe the vast majority of his supporters feel the same. They likely voted based on some combination of economic fear; despair at the way the country has become a paradise for the privileged; or a distaste of the growing web of government regulations. Or, maybe, just maybe, some percentage would have voted for a Democrat not named Clinton. In time, we will no doubt come to an answer, but I believe, I have to believe, for the bulk of the Trump support it was not some affinity to white nationalism or a backlash against women that drove his affirmation.
So after the Presidential handshake what comes next? To be sure we are in for some dramatic changes. It is jarring to see Republican leaders, who demonstrated such cowardice during the campaign, react with such glee to this election surprise. To see Mitch McConnell, after all he has done to keep this country held-back, taking a victory lap is truly nauseating. I hope that President-elect Trump takes a hard-nosed view of these craven politicians and banishes them to the outer reaches of his orbit. But I fear the worst.
We are going to be treated to a period of unfettered capitalism. Indeed, the triumph of neo-liberalism. There will be no checks and balances. No safety net. No service for pre-existing conditions. We can surely expect no less as Republicans celebrate their unexpected fortune. In short, we are going to witness a social experiment like no other.
If we get the deficit under control then perhaps some good will come of having all branches of government working towards the same ends. Yet, we all understand that cutting taxes alone is no panacea. And that surely is plan A, Plan B and Plan C.That path leads to more excess, bigger bubbles and much larger recessions. While the newly trumped up Congress will try the tax experiment once again, the Trump supporters will be the ones likely suffering the consequences.
The country will survive all of these tests, however. Balance will eventually be restored. Politicians suffer from bouts of hubris whenever they feel most invincible. There is going to be an angry reaction to events this week. Not with pitchforks in the streets advocated by some of the more unseemly Republican lawmakers, but by a fierce engagement of the young, the disillusioned and disenfranchised. It will start at the grass roots level, but will spread like wildfire in the months ahead as people get organized and funded. It will be a long struggle, but Godzilla is now awake.
No, what truly is at stake is the planet. And I don’t mean Twitter fingers on the nuclear button.President Obama’s bold efforts and painstaking work at consensus building aimed at slowing climate change are going to be swiftly unraveled. An appointment here, a regulation cut there and before you know it, the fossil fuel industry will once again be belching an increasing amount of CO2 into the atmosphere.
Truly, we are at a tipping point and speeding towards two degrees of warming. A climate change denying president, and party, is not going to hit the brakes. It will be too late in 4 years when the next election occurs to arrest the warming. The planet is already heating up at an alarming rate. Only a full blown mobilization will work, but the new administration is instead likely to hit the gas pedal.
This is our fight. We can bemoan the loss of the Supreme Court and all that entails. We can shudder at the tax policies to come. We can worry about the end of a health care option. We can fear the loss of LBGT rights. We can feel apprehensive over the free-reign of the free market. Indeed we can cry about these and myriad other set-backs to come, but we cannot afford to weep over the planet. We simply do not have the time. That is what I am telling my daughters. That is where I am focusing my energy. That is the battlefield where we must make a decisive stand. It is where we must first direct our outrage over the results of Tuesday. Everything else pales into comparison.