There’s so much in our society and world right now that angers or frightens me, but also so much that is providing optimism, maybe, or at least, reassurance, that what we need or wish for is possible. I’m often tempted lately to write a good news newsletter to cheer up and energize myself and others.
First, there is the news that our legal system is greatly damaged but not broken. In 2021 and 2022, the murderers of Ahmaud Arbery were found guilty of murder and hate crimes. The DOJ has also increased its efforts to prosecute hate crimes.
Secondly, it has been so jarring and has created such anxiety in so many of us to see DJT’s obvious criminal, unjust, even traitorous actions escape any legal consequences, until, maybe, now. The Jan. 6 Hearings have and will continue to present for all to see (if they’d look) new and old evidence of DJT working to violently overthrow our constitutional democracy. Then there’s the evidence collected at Mar-A-Lago that DJT illegally took government documents, including classified files, with him as he left office. He obstructed investigations into that theft. And the DOJ has opened investigations into his election interference, and issued over 40 subpoenas to people in DJT’s orbit. He faces a very good chance of a criminal indictment.
The GOP cry they must enact controls on voting (i. e. suppress the vote) due to voting fraud, but the evidence shows their claims are disinformation. Such fraud is a GOP created myth.
The biggest voting fraud is by DJT followers, some of whom are now being held accountable. For example, GOP officials and lawyers, such as Sidney Powell, have been exposed for breaching and illegally sharing voting information. In Michigan, DJT’s pick for attorney general is being investigated for a conspiracy to get access to voting machines. There is Representative Scott Perry in Pennsylvania and a GOP election official in Troy, New York, named Jason Schofield. According to the DOJ, Schofield “was arraigned on an indictment charging him with unlawfully using the names and dates of birth of voters to fraudulently apply for absentee ballots for elections held in Rensselaer County in 2021.”
Then we have criminal investigations against DJT in Georgia, fraud investigations in New York. And the investigation into DJT fraudulently raising money to fight a fraud that never happened, but he spent the money for his own personal uses. Some of these charges could result in jail time and/or disqualification from running for office.
Thirdly, with abortion, the GOP have exposed their heartlessness. Having an abortion is an awful choice to make, but it’s a mother’s choice. The GOP are not only trying to rip from women the right to make decisions regarding their own bodies; they’re demonizing mothers who want the right to decide when, how many, or if they have children. They’re trying to ensure women are legally considered second to men.
This has frightened and angered so many people. And GOP Senator Lindsey Graham’s call for making abortion illegal nationally just increased that anger. The number of those registering to vote to protect the right to abortion even in red states like Kansas has increased dramatically, and with young people as well as women. The whole election calculus is changing. In many states, the number one concern motivating women and young people to come out and vote is abortion, second only to protecting democracy. This is happening in many other states as well.
People are saying, “enough.” Enough of the GOP acting to undermine the rights, healthcare and government supports for most Americans⎼ threatening Medicaid, Medicare, and healthcare guarantees in the ACA, all so the rich GOP can increase their control and profits. They tried to privatize or end social security during DJT’s reign, and continue this effort even today. They tried the same with the Postal Service. They’ve worked for years to end voting rights, of people of color especially, and to give State Legislators the power to overthrow an election.
Fourth, what heartens me is that, despite having to govern alongside hundreds of GOP who actively worked to undermine the 2020 election, President Biden and Democrats managed to pass legislation to protect our health, economic well-being, the environment and worker’s rights. The GOP Supreme Court acted to limit the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from power plants. But the Inflation Reduction Act not only establishes means to reduce inflation, but to counter GOP attacks on regulations meant to save our environment. This is one of the most consequential pieces of environmental legislation in decades.
There is more good news about the environment, despite a summer many would like to forget. California has passed aggressive measures to limit climate change. And even though the right-wing continue to assault science and truth, our understanding of our world is increasing. Two examples: as climate change threatens our ability to supply enough food for an increasing population, scientists have been able to boost crop production by improving the process of photosynthesis in the leaves of soy plants. And they’ve found a cheap and effective technique to break down PHAS or forever chemicals used in several products and thus eliminate the threat they pose to the health of humans and other species.
It is also extremely reassuring to see the increase in union membership and successful organizing. According to a Gallup survey, labor unions have reached their highest level of approval since 1965. Workers, such as google cafeteria workers, have successfully acted to improve wages and working conditions.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, President Biden has been a pro-worker (meaning, pro-most of us) President who has succeeded in largely reversing the anti-worker, pro-corporate agenda of DJT. Just recently, he and his team worked through the night to reach an agreement to end the recent threat of a rail strike with a contract favorable to union members. The threatened strike would’ve brought tremendous hardship to so many of us. As historian Heather Cox Richardson said, “this effort highlights ‘that Biden is using the power of the presidency to protect the American people while trying to be fair to labor and management.’”
As ABC News senior national correspondent Terry Moran pointed out, Biden also “has ‘masterfully’ handled ‘the greatest international security crisis since 9/11,’ Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They united NATO against Moscow and held the alliance together, wrecked the Russian economy, helped Europeans find energy from new sources, kept the U.S. and NATO out of the war, helped Ukraine with intelligence and weapons, all despite those at home working against him.” Meanwhile, Ukraine is pushing back Russian forces.
Inflation, and a possible recession, continues as a threat. But as Robert Reich and others point out, despite GOP lies, it’s not Biden causing the problem. He did not cause supply chain issues, COVID, or cause Russia to invade Ukraine. The long term cause of inflation is the staggering and increasing wealth gap, that DJT, the GOP (and 2 Democrats) worked to increase, as with their 2017 legislation to profit themselves and decrease taxes on the rich and large corporations. And which all the rest of us are now funding. So, if the GOP regain control of the government, things would be incredibly worse.
The US economy depends on consumer spending. As Reich points out, when wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few, the resources the great majority of us have available to spend is limited. And when taxes on the wealthy go down, as it has been doing from Reagan to Trump, the rest of us have to make up the deficit.
Yet, wages and employment have risen and gas prices have decreased ⎼ and some theorize they might reach under $3 a gallon by October.
The anthropologist Ashley Montagu said, “The only sane position for a pessimist is optimism.” Right now, we have a situation that is both precipitous and hopeful, depending on where we look. We are biased in many ways to emphasize the negative, so we’ll be able to avoid it. Yet, if we look closely, more and more women, young people, and others are registering and working to get out the vote and protect abortion, healthcare, education, voting rights⎼ and to live in a nation where the laws are enforced to benefit all of us, not just a few rich and powerful people.
When the hideous blindness of greed, hate, and ignorance of the effect of one’s actions on the world takes hold of too many in positions of power, the rest of us must, even if it seems impossible, find enough compassion, love, and understanding to counter their actions.
This Post is republished on Medium.
Photo credit: Adriaen Pietersz. van de Venne – Fray en Leelijck (Beautiful and Ugly) Public Domain