As we reach the end of the most determined anti-environmental politician seen since the 1890s, his fury, like the remains of a Louisiana coastal town after the passing of hurricane, is only seen in retrospective. During the storm of his insane reign, doing the bidding of only his own warped mind, and cheered on by racists, industrialists and fools the likes of which we have not seen since the millions who fawned over Adolph Hitler before he brought them all to ruin, Trump attempted, on his own but with the help of toadies and tools of the oil and gas industry, to undo regulations that were instituted by a Republican President with bi-partisan support in the 1970s and many since. Tagging along were a who’s who of other businesses, including some right in our backyard that went to Washington and spent tens of thousands lobbying to try and court favor to eliminate local control of regulations that help to stop or slow their conversion of public beaches to monoculture aqua-industry. Given this flood of money and influence for the shareholders, all we could do was hunker down, hope it wouldn’t wash us all out to sea, comforting each other with music, food and hope as we sat around the night fire.
Now, the students and environmentalists around the country (and world) are coming out from hiding and tallying the President’s path through our most vulnerable people and places. It’s not pretty. But all was not lost. As we know, he lost an election that would have looked right at home in the most corrupt right wing banana republic, complete with lunatic fringe conspiracy theories and inept lawyers making claims for which their law school teachers would have not only flunked them, but thrown them out of school for advocating a coup d’etat in our ever fragile democracy. Their thinly veiled racist arguments (in only targeting votes from mainly African American dominated cities) was angrily thrown out by judges, some put in power by Trump. His path of legislative destruction of our environmental laws was only slowed by a small cadre of environmental lawyers and organizations who fought tooth and nail with support from their donors. Some they won, some they lost and some are still in litigation.
First and foremost, there is the ongoing tally of his rollback of hard fought environmental regulations in this country. To be clear, these regulations helped Republicans and Democrats alike to have cleaner water, more ducks to hunt and more control over the destruction that industry was doing to our land, air and waters. They allowed any citizen to attempt to slow the process that greed and the never ending quarterly profits demanded from our ever shrinking places that we try and protect from the corporate unending need to consume on behalf of shareholders, or really, just the skewed salaries of upper management. That Republicans laughed and clapped for photo ops as they watched them be removed is testament to their insanity. Who was he representing? It was perfectly clear.
The Harvard’s School of Environmental Law, has had an Environmental and Energy Law program that has been tracking the regulatory rollback of the mad man in the White House. They have a web site where you can go and see for yourself how bad it’s been.
But we did stop him in places. Lawsuits are still working their ways through the courts, and it will take support from a new Justice Department to continue to fight them. Don’t count on it. Projects like Pebble Mine are likely dead for now.
Stooges that Trump put in place in all levels of government will need to be washed out, which is not easy. But seeing them will be. They will be the ones doing their best to do nothing in their roles.
Science will return, as it always does after a bout of religious and political insanity. Even 1200 years of the Catholic Church running and ruining Europe couldn’t stop science from coming back and shining the light going forward.
Canada recovered a great deal from the destructive environmental fury of the bumbling and inept Steven Harper. And when your Canadian friends and family try and lord it over you at the next gathering, remind them that Trump only lasted one 4 year term. Ask them if they remember how long Harper and his goon-squad ran their science. (It was nine long years). Ask them what they were doing while scientists in Harper’s government threw a hundred years of science into trash bins at major government research centers (or carried them home to hide until he was gone) because of deep cuts that essentially ended historical record management. Yes, that really happened.
So it’s time to roll up the sleeves and dive back into the work. This blog will attempt to chronicle the next wave of changes for us here on the Peninsula, so far from the centers of power. The good news, if there is some, is that we have solid Democrat representatives, proven to work for positive changes in our county, state and White House. President Biden and his crew has the opportunity to rewrite rules better than before. But he only has three years before the next election unfolds, when the next wave of fanatical right wing morally bankrupt politicians come oozing out of Fox News and Parlor to attempt to overthrow what’s left of our democracy. He’ll have lots of people in Washington and elsewhere trying to stop him. His honeymoon will last one night and that will be it. Good news? He’s spent a lifetime working that system. Sometimes experience and old age counts. In fact, it always does. There’s a reason native peoples honor their elders. They carry hard earned knowledge. Right now, local knowledge of the swamps of Washington D.C. counts a lot.
Rome wasn’t built in a day it’s been said, but Greece’s democracy, that ours was modeled after, fell after a pandemic and a war. The master of history, the first war correspondent and the best, Thucydides, witnessed its fall. He wrote words 2400 years ago that could have been written yesterday.
“To fit in with the change of events, words, too, had to change their usual meanings. What used to be described as a thoughtless act of aggression was now regarded as the courage one would expect to find in a party member. …any idea of moderation was just a an attempt to disguise one’s unmanly character…fanatical enthusiasm was the mark of a real man, and to plot against an enemy behind his back was perfectly legitimate self defense…If an opponent made a reasonable speech, the party in power, far from giving it a generous reception, took every precaution to see it had no practical effect.”
Alright. Take some time to celebrate the election, get through December hunkered down and healthy, wear the damn mask, and then in January, it’s time to clean up after the hurricane. There’s work to do.
Al Bergstein – Editor and Publisher
Translation of Thucydides from the Penguin Classics “History of the Peloponnesian War” Translated by Rex Warner.