Our headlines read like the end of the first act of a superhero movie. Our villain has won his first victory and seized the reins of power. It seems all is lost. While our heroes (us) must regroup and plan (form the Justice League, Avengers, Voltron, Captain Planet...) our nemesis is assembling his own wretched hive of scum and villainy.
What makes this so notable is the common ideology across so many of Trump's nominees is concentrating on annihilating the agencies they are being put in charge of. Of course, this stems from the fictional writings of Ayn Rand that some seem to confuse for reflections of real life, and also chronicled in the unfortunately all-too-real The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein.
But perhaps its best summation comes from the 1989 live-action/animated noir Who Framed Roger Rabbit, in which a felonious toon judge conspires to destroy Toon Town and replace it with a "freeway" teeming with billboards and the suburban sprawl hellscape most of us know all too well.
But who would take this freeway when you can ride the Red Car trolley for a nickel? our hero Eddie Valiant asks.
And then we learn Judge Doom's masterstroke-- he purchased the Red Car so he can eliminate it. And with public transportation no longer available, people will be forced to use his freeway.
And so, too, has Trump surrounded himself by people who want to eliminate the portions of the federal government they are being appointed to administer, largely so others can profit.
Betsy DeVos has no experience in public education. Indeed, her experience is in dismantling Michigan's public education to divert state resources to private, often for-profit, schools. And, to wit, Congress has introduced a bill to eliminate the Department of Education.
Scott Priutt spent most of the last several years suing the EPA on behalf of the oil, gas, and coal industries of Oklahoma, and his own bio describes him as "a leading critic of the EPA." Of the 14 times he sued the EPA, he has won ONCE, meaning these complaints have nearly all been groundless. As Attorney General of Oklahoma, he eliminated his office's environmental enforcement division-- a plan which leaked memos from the Trump Administration suggest he will try at EPA. And, of course, Congress has filed a bill to "terminate" the EPA. Less regulation from the EPA means more smog, more pollution in our water, and a runaway climate. But it means a payday for polluters who don't have to pay to clean up their mess.
Jeff Sessions' time as both a senator and US attorney showed his extreme antipathy towards civil rights lawsuits, complaining to colleagues that he wished they didn't have to handle them. It's incredibly likely, given his past, that he will eliminate the Civil Rights and Voting Rights divisions and turn his office to a rubber stamp for all forms of voter suppression, ushering in an age of Jim Crow 2.0.
Rick Perry famously wanted to eliminate the Department of Energy, if only he could remember its name in a debate. Most ironic in all of this, it seems he had no idea what the Department of Energy actually did. Ignorance AND nihilism. Awesome combo.
Perry thought he'd be in charge of regulating oil and gas drilling, but that is actually the purview of the Bureau of Land Management, part of the Department of Interior. Of course, Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke, Trump's nominee for this position, has a spotty record on protecting public lands. Pushes through Congress and the Trump admin to sell off vast swaths of public lands and national parks are absolutely on the table.
These, and others sprinkled throughout Trump's executive nominees and Congress are more with this same mindset. To be clear, this is not a question of simple partisanship or even ideology. I respect those who feel the role of government ought to be smaller or more-business-friendly. This is not that. This is eliminating basic functions of government that help balance the needs of the many and the needs of the few.
We are better than this, and every act of resistance helps push against this radical notion to dismantle pieces of the public trust in order to advantage the powerful few. The answer to all of this is to get involved. Run for your local school board, where most of the real decisions about your local schools get made. Every time the EPA or BLM tries to eliminate a common sense regulation protecting clean air or water, send in a public comment or show up to a public meeting. Go to a townhall with your local representatives or senators.
Because we may act idiotic, but we're not stupid. We demand justice. Why, the real meaning of the word probably hits them like a ton of bricks!
Votes are likely to take place this week on Scott Pruitt, Ryan Zinke, Rick Perry, and others. Call your senators and stop them.
Stop Trump's Roger Rabbit Cabinet.