We Must Create Our Own “New Normal”

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Time is a funny thing. We can’t seem to make it do what we want.  When we are doing something special with our very favorite people and we want to relish every second and want it to last forever, time seems to pass at the blink of an eye.  But when we are doing something distasteful with people we could do without, time seems to slow to a snail’s pace.  Weekends and vacations seem too short, while the time it takes to get to them seems too long.  We are about to complete the Trump Administration’s fourth week, yet to many of us it seems as if it has been four years.  There are those who say get used to it, it’s the “new normal”.  Really?  To my mind, the most dangerous thing we can do is accept the behavior, rhetoric and agenda of the Trump Administration as the “new normal”.

The events of the past few days should give us all pause.  Never has a presidency started its tenure in such turmoil.  Trump seems to be living in a parallel universe in which only he can determine the facts while all that dare to question those facts are peddling “fake news”.  However, as his facts come face to face with reality the facade is beginning to crumble.  The departure of Flynn is only the beginning.  There is much to be learned yet about the true relationship between Trump and Putin.  It is a story that will grab the headlines and our attention for many weeks to come.  At the very least it has placed a shadow on this administration’s credibility  and its ability to function effectively in the real world.

However, our concern should not be focused only on the obviously inappropriate and blatantly offensive behaviors displayed by Trump and his administration.  They are the shiny objects that naturally attract our attention.  We must also carefully monitor the insidious,  quieter, and less apparent erosion of our civil liberties as well.  There is a concerted effort by this administration to move the clock back by decades  through Trump’s Justice Department under the leadership of Jeff Sessions.  This isn’t going to bring “Breaking News” banners to your TV screen, but it will impact on millions of lives.  The power in the hands of the Executive Branch through its varying departments is enormous.  The potential for significant changes in our lives related to health care, voting rights, consumer protection, the environment , privacy, abortion, marriage equality, gun control, civil rights, product safety, education, equal pay for women, and immigration just to name a few is breathtaking.  Much of what may change in these areas will be the result of benign neglect, rather than overt action. For example the march towards massive deregulation is a decision to not act to protect consumers, workers, the environment and voters.  The regulations that had been in place created the basis for litigation if business or government did not adhere to the law. The basis for those actions is now being eliminated. While much of this can be accomplished without legislative action, the Republican majorities in both the House and The Senate will present few barriers to these changes. Combined with the vast majority of Republican state houses and legislatures around the country to reinforce these federal actions, much can change in the blink of an eye.

The events of  the past few days brings a new urgency to the need for all of us to be alert and ready to respond.  I have been encouraged over the past few weeks at the willingness of many Americans throughout the country to demonstrate their disagreement by rallying in the streets and communicating with their governmental officials.  The disruptions that have occurred at normally boring town-hall meetings held by senators and congressman have been impactful.  This kind of political activism must become our “new normal”  These actions must focus not only on the headlines, but on the slow erosion of our civil liberties and quality of life.  There is great danger that some will become weary of the fight and leave it to others.  What is at stake here is protecting our national values from the corrupting efforts of those who are more committed to the wealth and welfare of the few than of the many.  Time will go slowly, but the fight most go on.

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