In times of bitter political division, it is time to take a step back and reflect on what truly matters and where we all can find common ground.
We all want to breathe clean air, have access to fresh and clean water, supply our bodies with good, nutritious food, have a safe shelter from the elements and raise our children in joy and harmony with a future to equal opportunity through education. I wager that most of us would like to live in peace and have as little drama in life as possible.
Despite of eight years of an administration in the White House that tried to mend relations with tribes and with minorities, to equalize the playing field by making health care more accessible and committing to measures to combat and adapt to climate change, President Barack Obama’s efforts were apparently not enough. Now we have a billionaire president-elect, who riled up the masses with false promises. Donald J. Trump puts the wolves in charge of the sheep pen, with nearly every cabinet appointment he makes. Instead of “draining the swamp”, Trump’s cabinet so far is stacked with generals, billionaires and special interest that constitute the very swamp he wanted to eradicate.
Let’s see: Nominated to be Secretary of State, the nation’s top diplomat, is ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerman. Reportedly, the Texan oilman has no government or public service experience at all, but he’s got tight business relationships with Russia and Vladimir Putin. The nominee to be Secretary of Education is Betsy DeVos, an ultra-rich woman with a dismal track record of funneling public money into charter schools through private school vouchers. Named to be head of the Environmental Protection Agency is Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt, who reportedly spent much of his time as AG waging war on the EPA. Then there is Ben Carson to head the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, who is a retired neurosurgeon with zero experience in housing issues, except for being against social safety programs and fair housing initiatives. And finally, there is Andrew Puzder, CEO of CKE, owning fast food chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. Puzder is an outspoken critic of the Obama labor department, of raising the minimum wage or changes in overtime rules.
There is very little information seeping out of Trump Tower to suggest that all of a sudden, these appointees – provided that they will be confirmed by the Senate — will work for the common good of all. When wealth and power is concentrated in such a manner, a population literate in the basics of civics should see writing on the wall, pay very close attention and examine the issues carefully. The democratic features that provide checks and balances in government need to start working vigorously and overtime. This may seem overwhelming and leave a person sighing, “Ah, what can I do”?
We can walk our talk in our everyday lives. We must educate ourselves and distinguish between real and fake news. We can petition the government, remember, it’s in the Bill of Rights. See what Kawerak, the Association of Village Council Presidents and the Bering Sea Elders Group achieved when they petitioned President Obama for the protection of the Northern Bering Sea. We can write letters to the editor. We can participate rather than complain. We all need to define common ground and find a common goal to secure a future of peace and equal opportunity for ourselves, our kids and the generations yet to come. — D.H.—