Troubles in the Oval Office?
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words, but the New POTUS is on the Record with Insults
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 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 is an activist, teacher and political theorist, an octogenarian who skis 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.”
Tree expert and former Spokane City arborist Jim Flott 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.”
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.”
One EWU professor, James Headley, 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 then 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 TLC is dedicated to, but her emphasis is on being a mother and woman. She has 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, 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 spark resistance as we see throughout the USA: “I tell students, whatever their beliefs, that change is possible,” James Headley says. “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.”
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