Thankful but ...

Despite the chaos of the present administration, GOP attacks on voting rights, political interference by powerful and clever foreign adversaries, and constant lapses in conducting the serious business of governing, there is pride in the efforts by Democrat candidates to win back one of the essential pillars of our democracy. Even more encouraging was the emergence of younger men and women from multiple races and ethnicities to positions of power. Woman power was remarkable.

Then came Dec. 20, a most distressing day. Events of the day were a culmination of ill-considered actions over the past two years as aimless destruction of Obama’s good works along with withdrawing our leadership role from essential global alliances. These actions leave the world in an uncertain, unstable state.

Additionally, an unnecessary government shutdown loomed over a stupid wall promise, the stock market continued its sharp decline, multiple ongoing investigations into the Trump family’s financial shenanigans including the forced shutdown of the phony Trump foundation, the Mueller probe closing in, sentencing of former Trump associates, cruel treatment at the border for legitimate asylum seekers, none of which posed a threat. But the worst moment was the aftermath of Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria abandoning our fighting friends, the Kurds, in the fight against ISIS. He took this action neglecting/rejecting the advice of top government advisors, most notably the Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who resigned in disgust just hours after learning of Trump’s decision. But Trump listened to Russia’s Putin and Turkey’s Erdogan.

Our allies were shocked. Putin was delighted. Who is our president now, Komrad?

Mattis was the last defense against reckless military action, up to and including use of nuclear weapons over which the president has unilateral authority to initiate — he has the RED button. This is extremely troubling since Trump is willfully ignorant of global geography, military strategies, political divisions, enemy capabilities and seems to care less about the aftermath and reconstruction of nuclear target areas.

Millions of lives and thousands of infrastructure elements are predicted to be lost in countries so engaged. There are no winners in nuclear conflicts, but an unstable person who lashes out at any provocation, may see a nuclear attack as a way to “strike back” by demonstrating the superior power he alone has access to and controls. His followers would love it until retaliatory attacks demolished large population areas within our borders.

Democrats, Republicans and most of all, the general voting public, have work to do to restore the trust and respect our country has built as world leader in democratic governance. It isn’t even that hard. All essential elements are already in place but are being neglected or abused in the struggle for power and money.

Money may buy elections but not competence. Public financing of the electoral process with built in oversight will result in more qualified candidates not beholden to special interests and big donors. Congressmen/women could once again dedicate their time and efforts to issues affecting their constituents rather than spending time groveling for campaign money.

Besides getting private money out of politics, members of Congress and all other elements of government must return to “regular order” in moving legislation.  The rules and procedures are all there, matured over 250 years, tried and true. They must be followed rigorously to ensure the integrity of deliberative and procurement processes. Bypassing them has become a major tactic in Congress, further aggravating polarization among parties.

Now that Democrats have regained the majority in the House, there is hope for bipartisan action on critical issues — more likely if “money” shackles are reduced/removed from those we put in office to represent our interests. Many Republicans are also on board. There’s hope.

If we can spend $800 billion a year for military defense, we should be able to spend a few billion every two years to strengthen the integrity of the democracy. The next two years will determine our nation’s course for the 21st century. Get interested and get ready to vote intelligently.

Lee Purrier

Park Rapids

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