One Domestic, One International “Legacy” That We Will Cost Us for Many Years
In case you missed it yesterday, Happy Constitution Day. September 17 is the day we celebrate the ratification of our constitution by the delegates assembled in Philadelphia in 1782. A timely reminder, given what follows in this blog today. Would that more of us read the thing.
If We Were Making a List…
Were we to write out a list of everything Trump has done that has harmed this country, we would be here for a very long time. Over the coming weeks, no doubt we will have cause to point out many of them.
But for today, let us stick with just two. A case could be made that these are the two worst of that long list. They have both immediate and long lasting, major effect.
We now know that much we took for granted as embedded were just custom, honored by generations. Turns out, that can be a perishable commodity.
Much of governmental function and citizenship depends on minimum trust in institutions. Those organization referred to by trumpsters as those “3 letter agencies.” People may dislike an administration or a Congress, that is normal.
But we generally assumed the intelligence agencies, all 19 of them, were pretty good at their work. We expected the CDC, the FDA, the Post Office, NOAA, and others to do their work. They are staffed by career professionals who do their job no matter who occupied the White House.
Now Trump has caused millions of people to seriously distrust such agencies. Millions more of us to worry about their structural integrity. People with ZERO qualifications now run many such agencies. Many do so with the expressed intent of running them in the ground.
One recent fascinating example of the impact is illustrative. A recent poll asked how many people would take a vaccine made available before the end of this year.
Only about 16% said they would, even if they were told it was approved. We no longer trust the integrity of fundamental processes.
This will take years and a ton of new legislation and agencies guidelines to recover from this. The cost will be high.
Let us put this simply: America has not been weaker or more vulnerable since early in the 20th century. Our allies do not trust us (who can blame them). We don’t lead NATO any longer.
We are a second-tier player in Asia, an irritant in Latin America. The Middle East shows some movement in recent agreements recognizing Israel. But even here progress is skin deep and not well built.
America once led the world in championing the values we hold dear. No longer. Those who would oppress others know they have a blank check from Trump. Heck, he often agrees with them.
It is possible that China would have crushed Hong Kong now. It is equally possible that Putin would again poison an opposition figure. But these were almost foregone conclusions given the Trump presidency.
We are unlikely to have seen the last of Russian or Chinese adventurism. They are betting Trump would flinch rather than stand up to them, especially with our lack of allies. I expect they are right. If I lived in Eastern Europe or in Taiwan, I would sleep lightly these days.
Can Any of This Be Fixed?
All of it can be, but it will not be fast or easy, nor are they a sure thing, these fixes. We may well find our role in international leadership can be improved. But what we knew is likely gone forever, and that we will all come to regret.
Our allies will always worry that we could pull a Trump again. The Chinese have entered a new stage wherein they are ready to challenge us on multiple fronts for a long time. We start that engagement from a less than enviable position.
If we are to do as well as possible, we need a president who understands both of these failures. We need someone with deep and wide vision to see how all the pieces connect. Someone who is ready to start working on the second half of the 21st Century.
Donald Trump, in more ways than I can count, is so not that president. He never was and never can be. A vote for him is a vote against America’s future on every front.
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