National Monument Fail

Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante were designated national monuments because the landscapes and cultural significance of those regions are unique in America. A monument is defined as “an outstanding, enduring, and memorable example of something.” That’s exactly what those regions are. They are outstanding, enduring, and memorable examples of the unique American Southwest landscape that Native Americans called home long before Europeans arrived.

Donald Trump, who has ostensibly never set foot on a non-urban landscape in his life, and the corrupt Republican Utah politicians who listen to oil and gas companies more than their constituents (or, apparently, Utah’s healthy tourism industry, which would benefit greatly from these areas remaining national monuments) are forcing their myopic, foolhardy ambitions upon us by announcing and supporting, respectively, the intention to reduce the sizes of those national monuments.

Trump’s intention to shrink those national monuments is misguided and emblematic of his steadfast determination to undermine the carefully considered decisions of prior administrations, seemingly more out of spite than any carefully considered reasoning on his part. His remarks1 made it clear that he either didn’t know that hunting and cattle grazing are, in fact, allowed in Bears Ears2, or he did know and he lied to make it appear that he fixed something (that didn’t need fixing) to obscure the fact that this gesture is actually about opening these areas for commercial mineral exploration.

Hopefully, legal action will successfully prevent this latest travesty perpetrated by the Trump administration from becoming reality.

Footnotes

  1. “Families will hike and hunt on land they have known for generations … .  Cattle will graze along the open range.” Source: “Remarks by President Trump on Antiquities Act Designations,” Whitehouse.gov, published December 4, 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/12/04/remarks-president-trump-antiquities-act-designations.
  2. “Bears Ears National Monument: Questions & Answers,” U.S. Forest Service, accessed December 4, 2017, https://www.fs.fed.us/sites/default/files/bear-ears-fact-sheet.pdf. In case the previously referenced Bears Ears document is deleted from the U.S. Forest Service’s website, you can access a copy of the document here: https://theanalitica.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/bear-ears-fact-sheet.pdf.

Sexual Misconduct Slippery Slope

Not to diminish true claims at all, but we’re on the slippery slope where someone can claim they were sexually harassed/assaulted by another to ruin the accused’s career and reputation. No proof is necessary—the claim is usually enough. 

As noted in Jon Krakauer’s book, Missoula, false sexual assault claims are rare, so it’s probably worth being on that slippery slope so that deviants can be exposed; however, it’s still a dangerous precedent when the accused has no recourse whatsoever.

The Fallacy of Political Identity

Liberalism is rooted in the ideas of individual liberty and equality for all people. If you’re an American who believes in the values that founded this country, you are, by definition, a liberal.

Use of the word “liberal” as a pejorative by some “conservatives”, however, reveals the hypocrisy inherent in political identification. Those who use “liberal” disparagingly often champion aspects of liberalism associated with individual liberty, but reject aspects of it that call for equal rights—for example, people that adamantly protect their right to bear arms, but oppose legal marriage rights for homosexuals, or oppose women’s right to choose abortion. (One might try to reject this example as a hasty generalization, but the prevalence of this ideology is self-evident.)

Bifurcating the population into “liberals” and “conservatives” is nonsensical. It’s a form of stereotype no more valid than racial stereotyping, yet it is somehow accepted in political discourse.

Similarly, political parties are just a form of tribalism in civilized society. Political parties aren’t even beholden to their respective ideologies. They can, and have shifted their ideologies drastically through time to adopt to the will of their constituents.

The right to bear arms, for example, is one of the most liberal ideologies a civilization has ever granted to common citizens.* Yet, Republicans and “conservatives” now seem to “own” the Second Amendment as their cause.

It’s time we embrace the messy truth that our ideologies are composites that only superficially align with defined political identities. The more we can move away from political tribalism and toward a unified discourse that produces the best ideas for the greatest good, the better off we’ll be as people, and as a nation.

 

*I think it’s easy to forget how extreme the idea of a ruling class allowing commoners to own weapons to defend itself against the ruling class was and, arguably, still is. The right to bear arms has been around over 240 years now (via the Second Amendment), and we’ve been living with its existence our entire lives, but it was, then, an extreme example of liberalism in the founding of the United States.

Look At Me

If your Instagram (or Twitter or Facebook) feed is full of photos of yourself, whose feed is it really? Aside from the now-ubiquitous “selfies” that litter social media, who is taking these photos of you? If you’re the (purported) author of your feed, the content should be through your eyes, not through someone else’s looking back at you.

Social media platforms are little more than tools for self-aggrandization in one form or another, but the “look at me” culture is one form that is more unfortunate than others. It’s much more interesting if people with unique perspectives would use their social media platforms to say, “look at this”, “look at that”, and “look at them” rather than always “look at me”.

A New Strategy For “Resisting” Trump

Theodore Roosevelt, in his famous “Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick” speech at the Minnesota State Fair in 1901, said, “If a man continually blusters, if he lacks civility, a big stick will not save him from trouble.”

Donald Trump continually blusters, lacks civility, and his “big stick” (his Twitter feed, and his ongoing campaign rallies, sans a campaign) will not save him from the trouble he causes for himself over the course of his presidency.

Donald Trump’s self-destruction is the only cure for the scourge of his presidency. Impeachment, censure, combative rhetoric, and other stronghanded political maneuvering from his opposition will only embolden him and his base. We need to let Trump, himself, make the rhetorical missteps to fracture his support.

Trump has been careful not to significantly harm himself politically amongst his base, but shareholders of Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts (NYSE: DJT) and creditors of other businesses he has taken through Chapter 11 bankruptcy know that failure, betrayal, and profiteering are in his DNA.

The rhetoric from Trump’s opposition in both parties is often centered around a desire to shut him up. Instead, we need Trump not to shut up. We should encourage Trump to give in to his basest, most despicable, most narcissistic instincts to further expose the hypocrisy and self-serving fraudulence at the root of his presidency.

We do, however, need to strategically direct Trump’s reckless bellicosity against his base’s interests. With great care, his opponents may be able to guide the boorish septuagenarian into a box where his only option is to punch his way out in ways that harm his political interests.

Surely, Trump has been steadfastly beholden to the will of his base, but he has lived a life of privilege that is antithetical to the ideals he represents to that base. His natural instincts are to belittle the very people who most support him. Let’s encourage his natural instincts to emerge.

So, I say, rant on, tweeter-in-chief. Your base is watching.

Hypocrisy at the E.P.A.

Scott Pruitt’s plan to rollback the Clean Power Plan regulations is deplorable. It’s the latest example of his duplicitous ideology contradicting the E.P.A.’s mission. The politics related to climate change are confounding, but regulations borne out of concerns for climate change still produce worthwhile ancillary results: clean air and water. I think we can all agree, regardless of political affiliation or beliefs on the validity of scientists’ conclusions regarding climate change, that reducing pollution is an important goal—one that the E.P.A. should steadfastly support.

%d bloggers like this: