Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Dark Star of the Trump Administration in 2018

The year that was will go down in history as one of the darkest in the life of the Republic. While 2017 was an awful year 2018 was worse. The corruption of Trump and his administration became painfully clear last year. Nativism and hatred are defining features of this administration. Trump's tirades against the media and his aversion to science are now inextricably linked to this president and his demonstrably amoral administration. Their unilateralism and transactional approach to the world is now infamous.

The deaths of John McCain and George H.W. Bush shone a light on the strategic and moral bankruptcy of the Trump administration and the GOP. 

In 2018 a UN study and another from the Trump administration's own scientists forced us to acknowledge the fact that we are not doing what we must to combat climate change. Trump and the GOP ignore climate science just as they ignore costs of climate change. Trump's climate denial and rejection of science have led to policies that have exacerbated climate change and environmental degradation.

The current trajectory is auguring a series of civilization altering events including mass extinctions, sea level rise, and extreme weather. Left unchecked we will unleash an apocalypse that will include unprecedented mass migrations and food shortages.

In 2018 greenhouse gases reached their highest levels in recorded history. As the world got warmer the Trump administration with the support of the GOP opened public lands to oil exploitation and waived protections for endangered species. All this took place against the backdrop of hurricanes along the East Coast and record breaking wildfires in California.

The American love affair with technology cooled somewhat in 2018. The president of the United States along with his Russian supporters continued to weaponize digital technologies and social media platforms in 2018.

While the GOP's tax cuts are benefiting the wealthiest Americans and corporations, workers rights are being eroded and their incomes diminished.

Trump has eschewed the consensus of parliamentary democracy and focused on his base. Under this president the US has abdicated its global leadership. Trump has assailed multilateralism and the institutions that have kept the peace since World War ll. He has engaged in  protectionism and isolationism levying tariffs and launching trade wars.

Trump has fanned the flames of populist rage that have helped to undermine centrist governments in France, the UK and Germany. He has contributed to the rise of populist authoritarian leaders around the world (Mexico, Italy, and Brazil) and emboldened Hungary and Poland in their move towards fascism. 

While lashing out at US allies Trump has helped dictators to consolidate their power.  He heaps praise on dictators and ignores their misdeeds. All the while he is being played by Russian strong man Vladimir Putin and North Korean despot Kim Jong Un. He gave Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman a pass for killing a Washington Post journalist and America's withdrawal from Syria gave Turkey's leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan the green light to crush the Kurds (an important American ally in the war on terror in Syria).

Despite Trump's Make America Great Again promise, the nation is in decline, its exceptionalism, if it ever existed is no more. People no longer look to the US as a beacon of enlightenment.

This is a president at war with reality. Facts were replaced by "alternative" truths which are more accurately called lies. The president launched seemingly unceasing assaults on the free press and the venerable institutions that have made America great. The rule of law was under siege.

This administration has emboldened racists. American hate crimes are on the increase. People of color, women and Jews are all targets in Trump's America. We witnessed mass shootings in schools and the most lethal act of anti-semitism in American history.

Trump cruelty was a defining feature of 2018. An immigration policy that separates children at the border and detains people fleeing unimaginable suffering in prison camps. At least two children have died from preventable causes while in US custody.

In 2018 many have been forced to realize that it is naive to think that the ugly wave a fascism that swept through Europe in the 30s could not happen in the US.  Thanks to Trump the cancer of nationalism is alive and well in the US.

Last year the state of the union was terrible, this year it is far worse. In the context of a government shutdown, stock market volatility, a recession and the Mueller probe looming ominously on the horizon the state of the union has never seemed more perilous.

The US was once the leader of the free world, under Trump it has become a rogue regime.

Reasons to Hope that 2019 is a Turning Point for Climate Action in the US

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