So, the 2016 presidential election is over. Both the U.S. House and Senate have Republican majorities that have pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act, reverse actions intended to combat climate change, and move backwards on civil rights protections for multiple groups in society. And enough fervent supporters got out to the polls yesterday to elect a demagogue for president.
Donald Trump has shown contempt for women and been accused of raping a child. He has been accused of fraud, refused to disclose financial information from his tax returns, and apparently reneged on contracts and other promises. He has insulted Hispanics, Muslims and other religious and ethnic groups. He has shown a willingness to use the court system and other vindictive measures against anyone who dares to challenge him. To add insult to injury, his judgment and self-control are such that his campaign managers allegedly took over managing his Twitter account in the days before the election.
The damage can be very widespread. Thousands of bankruptcies would result if families lose their insurance or the protection of no more denials for preexisting conditions or lifetime limits on healthcare expenditures for serious illnesses. The country and world could see a serious economic depression as a result of trade wars. Civil rights could suffer, and people who have fought hard for basic rights and liberties could see them wiped out. The country could find itself in a worse situation than before the days of Brown vs. Board of Education. And the world could find itself at war if its leader fails to show good judgment.
But, as Trump’s campaign manager said after her boss repeated accusations that were shown to be false: “The damage is done.”
Some damage is done, but we can try to stop further harm.
I just wrote to my congressmen, asking them not to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Without it, lifetime limits on expenditures could return, which would further complicate the nightmare for families like mine and those of friends where a loved one has been struck by cancer or another life-threatening illness.
We do not have to–nor should we–sit idly by on this issue or on any other policy issue that affects us and those whom we love.
Start speaking out now, and let elected officials know what we need and what we expect them to do about it. After all, the next congressional elections are in just two years.
In the meantime, I expect Congress and Trump to ram through policies that a packed Court would ultimately uphold. Before the Supreme Court would uphold those laws, however, they can be challenged in the lower courts, and those cases will take time to work themselves through. By then–or shortly after–a different majority in Congress might be able to take other action.
Outside of official channels, speak up when you see something that’s wrong. Don’t let loudmouths badmouth and bully people of other colors, ethnic groups, religions, or sexes or gender preferences. Don’t accept violence and intimidation.
Good people can’t stop all the bad consequences that could follow as a result of this year’s election. But that doesn’t mean we have to give up trying to do what’s right.
Whatever happens, we can’t sit idly by.