The Moral Arc Bends Backward

I wanted to believe what Martin Luther King said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” but yesterday, that moral arc bent backward.

Every society has its conspiracy theorists, its tribes, its haters, its know-nothings. Half of our countrymen, wittingly or not, just put them in charge.

For white, straight, middle class Americans of a certain age, not a lot about our lives is likely to change significantly. But it you’re a person of color, or a young woman, LGBT, or one of those non-college educated white men who saw Trump as a giant middle finger to everyone you dislike, your life is about to get a whole lot worse unless our institutions of checks and balances are in a lot better shape than they appear to be.

Trump has given voice to hatred and condoned violence toward the different. He gets his political views from alt-right conspiracy websites; their leaders guided his campaign. Why should they not now feel they have free rein to vent their anger and hatred on African-Americans, Hispanics, Muslim-Americans? Why should employers fear returning to blatant discrimination? Why not mock the disabled, bully the different?

Trump has given voice to the basest misogyny, to sexual assault, to the idea that women’s only place is servicing men. Why should men restrain their worst impulses toward women? Why not return to the days when help wanted ads were segregated by gender and sexual contact was the price of a woman’s employment?

Trump knows little and cares less. His advisors are men steeped in the ideology of things that are not so. Why should his policies be data-based? Why should he consult experts? He wants to cut taxes on the very wealthy and boost spending on the military. What does it matter that economists warn that will add three trillion dollars to the deficit?

Trump, like the rest of his party, doesn’t believe in global warming. What will happen to the Paris Agreement, negotiated to slow global warming, to prevent our planet from tipping into a climate death spiral? What will happen to our coastal cities, if the oceans continue to rise?

Trump has promised to repeal Obamacare. What happens to the 20+ million people who now have medical care that they didn’t have before it? And the others, like those who voted for him, who now benefit from the prohibition against lifetime caps, pre-existing illness exclusions, and being able to keep students insured to age 26? Too bad.

Trump wants to eliminate regulations. What will happen to the air we breathe and the water we drink if we turn away from pursuing solar and wind energy and resume burning oil and coal without limits? How safe will our food and water be? Our vehicles? Our airplanes? The products we use every day? Will all our cities become like Flint? Shall we look forward to setting our rivers on fire once again?

Trump has no real plans to create jobs, which he could do with massive spending to restore our infrastructure. What happens to our deteriorating roads and bridges, our aging airports and train systems, our interstate highways, to everything that falls under the heading of infrastructure if his government is unwilling to make those investments? And where will the money come from anyway if it’s all going to tax cuts and the military? Sorry, you working class white men looking for good jobs that don’t require a college education; try McDonald’s or join the military.

Trump has no understanding of history and no concept of consequences. What will happen in the Middle East, what will happen to the world, when U.S. foreign policy is governed by his irrational whims? What if he does abrogate the Iran agreement, which has delayed Iran’s nuclear ambitions in the hope of absorbing Iran into the international community? Sanctions succeeded in bringing Iran to the table because the whole world was in on them; now it isn’t — and renewed U.S. sanctions are not enough.

Sorry, you working class or middle class folks who hoped your children would be able to go to college without incurring crushing debt; there’s no help coming from Trump. And he and his party will continue gutting public education until the only people who have access to education are those who can afford private schools. So long, hope of upward mobility.

Sorry, woman whose pregnancy endangers her life or who has conceived as a result of incest or rape; only the life of the fetus matters. Sorry, woman with an unwanted pregnancy; no abortions for you and no sex education or birth control to help you avoid becoming pregnant. Pregnancy is the consequence having sex, at least for women. You must have that child, but after it’s born, its life, its health, its safety, its education, its future are all your problem.

And the safety net? The children and the disabled on Medicaid? Well, the money for those tax cuts has to come from somewhere. Too bad for you.

Supplemental income assistance? Forget it. If you enjoy beggars at the intersections and panhandlers on the sidewalk, you’ve got something to look forward to.

So much at risk, so much at stake. Such loss.

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