$(document).ready(function() { $(window).scroll(function() { if ($('body').height() <= ($(window).height() + $(window).scrollTop()+500)) { $('#upnext').css('display','block'); }else { $('#upnext').css('display','none'); } }); });
Not-for-Profit, Award-Winning Community News and Views for Windham County, Vermont • Since 2006
Voices / Column

We’re getting closer and closer to full-blown fascism

Fatigue and denial are understandable, but it’s time every one of us took serious notice of what is happening — and to wonder why

Elayne Clift has written about women, politics, and social-justice issues from the earliest days of this newspaper. For more of her work, visit elayne-clift.com/blog/.

Saxtons River

Donald Trump’s militarizing Independence Day, subjecting children and adults to, yes, concentration camps, and defying the courts are not events that can be easily ignored.

However, his firing climate-change scientists or banishing them to a Midwest gulag is a lot easier to overlook.

So is his rescinding food and drug safety regulations, rolling back health-care protections for LGBTQ patients, foreclosing on working homeowners, destroying public education, and compromising the country’s air, water, and wildlife.

There’s more, and it signals the Trump administration’s dangerous, pro-profit, white supremacist politics, disrespect for the rule of law and the Constitution, and contempt for human rights.

Every day, we draw closer to full-fledged fascism while the Democrats diddle and while most mainstream and cable media regurgitate premature political polling while allowing Trump to suck the oxygen out of the airwaves.

Collective fatigue and self-preserving denial are understandable, but it’s time every one of us took serious notice of what is happening, because a dangerously demented authoritarian, voted into office — just as Adolf Hitler was — is getting away with murder (literally, if you count the dead immigrants at the border).

And no one seems able to stop him — not Congress, not the courts, and not the Constitution.

* * *

When I first considered writing this commentary, I thought about all the departmental travesties taking place, most without much notice. I began doing research, department by department, and that’s how I came upon troubling information at numerous government agencies.

Here are just a few examples.

Thanks to an expose by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, I learned that a number of specialists working within a scientific group advising government for nearly 60 years on various issues, including defense and most recently climate change, were being fired.

Scientists working on Department of Agriculture issues were given a month’s notice to decide if they would move their families to Kansas — where no facility for them to continue their work exists — or lose their jobs.

A short reprieve was issued for scientists working at the Department of Energy so that studies underway could conclude, but the future of the group’s 65 impressive scientists is unclear, even as it diversifies its client base.

Research is being decimated by the Trump team, especially when it comes to efforts to suppress “climate science and other research that does not comport with the Trump agenda,” as Maddow’s show has described it.

Thanks also go to Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), who called out Ben Carson for failing America’s working families at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Interviewed by NBC after her tough grilling of Carson in a congressional committee hearing about foreclosures, Porter said, “I wanted engagement from Carson on these critical issues, [but] what I got was evasion.”

“In fact, Carson’s two-plus years as the leader of HUD have been marked by failure after failure to do right by this country’s working families,” Porter continued, exposing the secretary’s total lack of awareness of his agency’s jurisdiction, his claim that “poverty to a large extent is also a state of mind,” and his proposal to to slash HUD’s budget.

* * *

Also exposed, thanks to the National Education Association: the horrific record of Betsy DeVos at the Department of Education, where promoting education privatization is a top priority while initiatives to serve special needs and transgender children are being rolled back.

DeVos also wants to repeal federal protections that hold predatory for-profit colleges accountable, to rescind sexual assault guidelines, and to put guns in schools.

National Geographic posted “15 Ways the Trump administration has changed environmental policies,” while The Guardian wrote about the “nosedives” the FDA is taking in warning people about food and drug regulations not being enforced.

Meanwhile, Politico revealed how the Trump administration is rolling back health-care protections for LGBTQ patients.

The more I learned, the more I realized how much is happening “under the radar” — an expression that sounded familiar.

Looking back on my commentary topics over the last 18 months, I realized that I had twice written pieces with that phrase in the title.

That made me question not what was happening, but why it was happening.

* * *

Here are a few possibilities.

One is that many in the Fourth Estate are largely failing to demand and drive accountability. Given that the courts, federal and supreme, are being stacked against democracy and sound Constitutional interpretation, it is urgent that media editors and producers “call a thing a thing,” as the saying goes — especially when the thing is something like racism.

That means not normalizing a dangerously delusional president or treating him like an ordinary candidate in next year’s election.

It means asking tough questions and demanding answers.

It means putting priority issues over advertisers.

Further, the Democratic Party must realize this is no time to pussyfoot. Its strong suit is plurality, which must not become its pitfall.

Democrats need to unify, fight, respect boundaries, message wisely, and start saving the United States of America. Equally, entities and individuals inside and out of government must vociferously say “No!” when Trump breaks rules, bullies, and acts crazy.

Americans, no matter how tired or disillusioned, must demand leadership that recognizes the slippery slope of looming dark days — because it’s not only about the economy, jobs, and health care. It’s also about our future and our survival as a democratic beacon to the world.

Perhaps yesterday might have been too early to act, but surely tomorrow will be too late.

Like what we do? Help us keep doing it!

We rely on the donations and financial support of our readers to help make The Commons available to all. Please join us today.

What do you think? Leave us a comment

Editor’s note: Our terms of service require you to use your real names. We will remove anonymous or pseudonymous comments that come to our attention. We rely on our readers’ personal integrity to stand behind what they say; please do not write anything to someone that you wouldn’t say to his or her face without your needing to wear a ski mask while saying it. Thanks for doing your part to make your responses forceful, thoughtful, provocative, and civil. We also consider your comments for the letters column in the print newspaper.

Comments

We are currently reconfiguring our comments software. Please check back if you’d like to read or leave comments on this story. —The editors

Originally published in The Commons issue #524 (Wednesday, August 21, 2019). This story appeared on page D2.

Share this story

Links

Related stories

More by Elayne Clift