When I was a kid I remember watching the sky during the 4th Of July fireworks displays. Just as one bright light rocketed into the sky another fought for my attention as it started its fiery ascent. Then a third one separated into a sparkling array of colored stars. It was hard to figure out what to pay attention to. If I focused on one thing I would miss something else. It seems that the Trump Administration is firing rocket after rocket into the sky each day preventing us from paying too much attention to any single one. Whether this is by design or happenstance the net impact is the same. Our focus is in danger of being fragmented and we may give too much attention to the object that is shiniest at a given moment.
During the first several weeks of the Trump Presidency we have been bombarded by Executive Orders that have turned immigration upside down, created renewed stress within the undocumented community, reversed climate change regulations and diminished the potential impact of the Department of State, the Department of Energy and the EPA. We have been presented with a budget that reduces or eliminates funds in areas of health, the arts and education while increasing funding for the military. We have seen a healthcare bill that would have eliminated access to some 24 million people die a quiet death in the house. We have been accosted by a storm of presidential tweets that are accusatory, factually baseless and damaging. We have watched a president perform with clumsiness and ineptitude in the international arena. But in all of this he has not been able to deflect questions regarding his administration’s connection to and collusion with the Russians or the obviously blatant conflicts of interest that exist between his ability to perform his duties as president and his many business interests.
While his behavior has been erratic and inconsistent his responses to either of these issues have been unconvincing and inadequate. Even his staunchest supporters are beginning to raise questions. However, will he just be able to wait out the storm in the hope that we lose interest and become more focused on one of the other shiny objects? I wrote several weeks ago that Trump is playing a game of chicken with us. Whether or not he wins is up to us. The energy of the Women’s March cannot be allowed to dissipate. We have to find a way of maintaining and channeling that energy.
There are three areas that require that energy and our focus during the coming months. First, we must keep pressure on our representatives and senators to demand answers to the questions regarding collusion with Putin and his band of oligarchs and his conflicts of interest. Second, we must challenge the ideology and priorities of this administration. They are contrary to who we are as Americans and as a nation. Finally, and perhaps most important, we must do everything in our power to take back control. This starts at the local level and moves to Washington . Until we have retaken the mayors offices, the county commissions, the school boards, the state legislatures, the state houses, the senate and the house we will be on the losing end. So much of what impacts on our daily lives happens at the local level. If we don’t pay attention we will lose opportunities for some very important victories. Certainly what is happening in Washington is of great importance and can’t be ignored either. There is a great deal to do in the months and years ahead. There are many shiny objects flying around us. But we can’t afford to be distracted. We must focus on what is important. The future depends on it.