Troubles in the Oval Office?

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words, but the New POTUS is on the Record with Insults

Any jackass can knock down a barn, but it takes a carpenter to build one. LBJ

There will be a million takes on the election results, on the first 100 days in office, and on what four years will play out for the US of A. Towns where I live and work in — Portland, OR, Vancouver and Spokane, WA — sometimes profess that the head of the “free” (sic) world makes no difference to their respective metropolitan and county politics and doings.

We know it’s not true, and many times in this column space with DV, I take the microcosmic point of view and look at the US of A through the lens of say, Spokane, WA, or Portland . . . . I did it with Seattle and with El Paso, and, well, the entire process begets a strong sense of rubber meeting the road kind of thinking.

It would be so much better if our national conversations and international thinking emanating from this country could be funneled through a local and small community and communities of color-disenfranchisement-poverty lens, perspective and engagement. Small people doing the work of democracy, as opposed to the vanguard, the elite, the Ivy Leaguers, the generals, the CEOs, the billionaires. We know they are flawed on many levels, these elites, but in the most important way, they are many times criminally motivated and fascist in their leanings. They care nothing about small town USA, really, except for their bottom line, profits, vis-a-vis the extraction of natural resources, the plunder of money from the masses, the capitalization of all the junk that we are forced to consume that supposedly runs this country, small town or megatropolis!

This piece I wrote quickly to get a pulse on some of the people I know in Spokane, and I was not so surprised to see that many people are afraid to outright blast Trump because doing so might trump their non-profit’s ability to make hay or policy, or attacking Trump might be bad for business. I am finding that there are no real critics or gutsy folk who identify themselves as capitalists, and Democrats. Accepting Trump as a leader, and accepting his nominees and his brand of racism-sexism-ageism-xenophobia-ignorance seems to be the middle of the middle way in America.

So, what I have here is a story out now, in Spokane Living Magazine, page 70.

*****

What the Twenty-five Percent Vote for Trump Means for Middle America

Here is run down on some of the reverberations of Donald Trump’s bombast during the run-up to his election and then afterward. For many in the Spokane community working on environmental issues, working through political and the urban-rural divisions, including lawyers and business people, it’s too early to tell just what sort of an impact a Trump presidency will have on the Inland Northwest.

First, let’s match the speaker with the quote:

  • Trump commenting on Hillary Clinton as candidate

  • Trump commenting on his Republican opponent, Carly Fiorina

  • John McCain commenting on Trump

  • WSU student commenting on the election of Trump

  • Former marine who organized a Spokane downtown protest

  • Republican Kathy McMorris Rodgers, US congress 5th District, WA

  • US Rep. Martha Roby of Alabama

A. “He was not my choice, but as a past nominee, I thought it important I respect the fact that Donald Trump won a majority of the delegates by the rules our party set. But given his behavior this week, it is impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy.”

B. “I thought supporting the nominee was the best thing for our country and our party. Now, it is abundantly clear that the best thing for our country and our party is for Trump to step aside and allow a responsible, respectable Republican to lead the ticket.”

C. “I think his comments regarding women and other comments, I find them inappropriate. I find them hurtful and I think they are hurtful to the party, a party that has been founded on equal opportunity for all.”

D. “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president? I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case.”

E. Sign: You Can’t Unify w/ Hate. “It’s been a rough morning. We’re here just out here expressing our opinion and a lot of people are being vocal about it.”

F. “She doesn’t have the look. She doesn’t have the stamina.”

G. “I don’t like the separation he’s caused between Americans. I feel like we’re going back 50 years.”

KEY:

a. McCain;

b. Roby;

c. McMorris Rodgers;

d. Trump on Carly Fiorina;

e. WSU education senior Elle Harris on President Trump;

f. Trump on Hillary;

g. Spokane peaceful protester, John Nickerson, ex-US Marine

The precision parsing of what really will be the Inland northwest’s destiny under a Republican-controlled-House, Senate and Judiciary demands layers of critical analyses, but for this magazine’s readers, we’ll look at a few key people in River City who have something to say about the changing of the Barak Obama guard.

Bart Haggin, Spokane, is an activist, teacher and political theorist, an octogenarian who skies and has a passion for rivers, the environment. His perspective falls into the heart of what he considers a very conservative Spokane and environs: “Most of Spokane County will be comfortable with almost anything Trump proposes.”

However, he believes Spokane “will not be bothered” by a pro-abortion supreme court. His big concern is what Trump’s administration bodes for environmental issues. “Will he trash the environment by deregulating all rules and regulations? He will have to have a pliant congress to get what he says he wants.”

For tree expert and former Spokane City arborist, Jim Flott, he too supposes a conservative take on Trump:

At this point anything I think would be pure speculation based on Trump rhetoric and GOP policies. Obviously eliminating AHCA will impact people in my industry– many are small businesses with few options for health care. Our industry knows climate disruption is real as we see it in plant migration patterns, disease and insect pest impacts, etc. Potential cutting of federal forest and park service funding will impact urban forestry too.

Spokane lawyer and community legal advocate Breean Beggs is pragmatic about the incoming POTUS:

My work is to make Spokane safer for all people, regardless of how marginalized they are by the status quo. The results of the election make it even more urgent for all of us to cast out the darkness with an even brighter light of love, acceptance and freedom, and to aggressively push back against the voices of ignorance and exclusion by enforcing the legal norms of freedom and equal protection.

For one Eastern Washington University professor, James Headley, he sees divisions created by Trump and his incoming team, and even a secession movement is possible.

The United Western States of America has a ring to it! Nothing in the Constitution prohibits secession. I for one want to live in a progressive society that values human dignity, truth, justice, facts, reason, civility, education, a living wage, and universal healthcare among other things.

Academics in the State have been especially hard pressed to figure out what the future bodes. “Democrats build things when they have power,” Headley says, and the when “the pendulum swings and republicans have power, they raze those things to the ground?”

We’ve done a few Metro Talks tied to the work of many Spokane environmental groups, including The Lands Council’s collaboration building. Executive director, Mike Petersen, weighs in:

The day after the election I went to a forest collaboration meeting in Idaho. As I sat down, it occurred to me that probably three-quarters of the people in the room had voted for Donald Trump. Would election results cause us to break apart? For five years we have been building relationships and finding common ground on very challenging forestry issues.

Mike believes now is the time to build collaborative relationships at the local level, with both rural and urban stakeholders looking for solutions around “difficult natural resource issues.”

Laura Akerman is an environmental steward working on several issues in Spokane County with the Lands Council is dedicated to, but her emphasis is on being a mother and woman. She’s got concerns. “John Whitehead says that ‘children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.’ I don’t want Trump’s message to be sent to the future with my children or with any children.”

She’s looking for her children to go to college, graduate and land good jobs. “But I also want them to understand and practice that the world is multicultural, diverse and that that is a good thing. We can’t escape living in a diverse world any more than we can deny that global warming is anthropogenic, and it’s very damaging.”

For her, Flott, Beggs and Headley, they see this as a teachable moment and one where they will work through Trump and his administration “in spite of him.”

The former business executive with The Spokesman-Review and other Cowles Company subsidiaries (Inland Northwest, Spokane), Shaun Higgins, professed a certain deep analysis necessary to respond to questions about a Trump presidency and its effects on Spokane.

I don’t usually comment on the socio-political aspects of things, but the election has shown clearly—and certainly in our region—that the country needs to do a better job of talking to itself, and not just about Trump vs. Clinton, Right vs. Left, and Pro-Government vs. Anti-Government.

Higgins pointed out that the Obama Administration “has notably and commendably progressed in the frequency and depth of discussions on race, economic disparity, health care, sexual identity, climate change and emigration.” Shaun’s big fear for the country includes increased polarization, class tensions, and the economic decay based on “that damning trait Germans call schadenfreude (a malicious delight in the misfortune of others).”

These Spokane thinkers all believe that large numbers of American small towns have been in economic crisis for years because of the flight of both retailers and people from these fragile towns.

Shaun believes this winner-takes-all-philosophy — regardless of who the winners and losers are – is most destructive to political discourse and civility in general.

The youth under a Trump regime might sparked resistance as we see throughout the USA: “I tell students, whatever their beliefs, that change is possible,” James Headley states. “The basic constitutional forms are still there and can be used to effect change- students could work with an established party or a new one to change Congress, things don’t have to be as they are.”

Paul Kirk Haeder has been a journalist since 1977. He's covered police, environment, planning and zoning, county and city politics, as well as working in true small town/community journalism situations in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico and beyond. He's been a part-time faculty since 1983, and as such has worked in prisons, gang-influenced programs, universities, colleges, alternative high schools, language schools, as a private contractor-writing instructor for US military in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Washington. A forthcoming book (Dec. 15, 2016), Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber, looks at 10 years of his writing at Dissident Voice, and before, to bring defiance to the world that is now lobotomizing at a rate never before seen in history. Read his autobiography, weekly chapter installments, at LA Progressive. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.