Hazy as they may be, we are all looking into our crystal balls, trying to envision what a Donald Trump presidency will mean for the world around us. The first glimpses we have of the future – Steve Bannon at Trump’s right hand, Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor – project something much darker and more insular than befits a nation whose arc of history is as progressive as ours. Of course, that arc is long and there have been many setbacks and struggles along the way. A Trump presidency will test us. Since November 8, I’ve witnessed family and friends, allies and colleagues vacillate between moments of despair and moments of inspired energy.
At CPR, we have set out to channel that tension and turn it into something useful. Beginning tomorrow with a post from Tom McGarity, CPR Member Scholars and staff will be blogging about what to expect from the Trump administration – where we believe Trump’s team will try to roll back vital public protections, create loopholes for favored industries, and undermine the slow but steady progress that marked the last eight years. Our goal is to help train a spotlight on what’s at stake in their fight against public safeguards and to show in concrete terms how these attacks will impact public health, safety, and environmental integrity if they succeed.
Tragically, our effort to preview the Trump administration’s attacks on our safeguards will be marked by a dark morbidity. Make no mistake, the best we can hope for are delayed public protections. But every day, every month of delay, can mean thousands of asthma attacks in the polluted urban areas candidate Trump promised to turn around. Slashing agency enforcement budgets will eliminate the deterrent effect of our laws and sow the seeds for industrial disasters that could kill workers and poison local environments. Political leaders who deny or fail to appreciate the gravity of global climate disruption will never find sustainable solutions to the droughts threatening our food supply or the massive storms pushing our infrastructure past its limits.
“Elections have consequences” was a refrain we heard many times over the last few months. In the weeks to come, we’ll do our best to preview some of them. Rather than discouraging our readers, we hope these posts provide both a crucial reminder of the value of an energetic government that works on behalf of the public interest and inspiration for doing the necessary work for ensuring that past progress on regulatory safeguards will be preserved for us and for future generations.