Yesterday's approval by the House of the dreadful TrumpCare replacement for the Affordable Care Act made me think: we've got to fight this sort of political craziness not only nationally, but also locally.
Understand, I'm not at all denying the need for us here in Salem to support the resistance to Trump -- who threatens to destroy the foundations of what makes American great, despite his lies about doing the opposite.
I happily donated $50 to Act Blue yesterday after hearing about a campaign to fund 2018 candidates who will be taking on congressional Republicans who voted for TrumpCare in districts that Clinton won. We need to stand up for the 24 million Americans who will lose their health insurance if the House plan somehow were to become law.
But I realized that the energy of my anger at what the House of Representatives had done also needed to be channeled into positive efforts right here in Salem. After all, many of our local politicians are conservatives who subscribe to the same basic philosophy as Congressional Republicans.
They just aren't so open about their Trumpism, largely because Salem is a liberal-leaning city that voted for Clinton over Trump 49-38, an 11-point difference. So our local Trumpies, on the City Council and elsewhere, have to keep their political schemes much more undercover.
ln Washington D.C., passage of the inhumane American Health Care Act was openly celebrated by smiling right-wing white guys. In Salem, though, we need to be alert to more subtle attempts by local politicians to inflict the same sort of suffering upon the citizenry that was on display in yesterday's passage of TrumpCare by the House.
(May it die a much-needed death in the Senate.)
Here's some of what we have to watch out for -- all of which already has been clearly evident in past actions by City officials and the Salem City Council. Just because the Council now has a 5-4 progressive majority, overturning the previous domination by conservatives, doesn't mean we can grow complacent.
(1) Lack of public input. Every effort was made to rush TrumpCare to a vote without even letting House members know what the bill would do, much less involve the general public. We've seen the same thing go on here in Salem, and it has to stop.
For example, last year a $750,000 Urban Renewal giveaway to a private developer and approval of an Urban Growth Boundary expansion needed for the Third Bridge boondoggle were both rushed through in December before new members of the City Council were seated in January.
It's shameful when Washington D.C. Trumpists act like they can ignore citizens just because they can. It's equally shameful when our local politicians do the same thing.
(2) Transferring wealth to the already rich and powerful. In addition to the aforementioned $750,000 urban renewal grant to former city councilor T.J. Sullivan, the Salem City Council has been in the habit of giving tax breaks to rich developers (such as Mountain West Investment) even though there's little or no evidence that these public funds are necessary to bring about private development.
Another example is the Third Bridge, or Salem River Crossing.
Chamber of Commerce-funded politicians have voted to keep this $430 million disaster afloat (roughly a billion when financing costs are included) even though the benefits to ordinary people would be much less than what they'd be asked to pay in taxes, tolls, registration fees, and such.
The real purpose of the Third Bridge is to reward the Sprawl Lobby (realtors, developers, contractors) by making it easier to build unneeded homes in West Salem that would be occupied in part by people who work in the southern reaches of Portland. In accord with Trumpism, the Third Bridge would be a massive transfer of wealth from those who don't have much of it to those who already do.
(3) Misdirecting attention in political sleight of hand. Truthful words don't mean much to Trumpists, so long as the verbiage serves their ends. For example, our Liar-in-Chief is claiming that TrumpCare will be better than the Affordable Care Act, when it clearly would be much worse.
For the general public. If you're rich, then TrumpCare likely will be lovely for you, since some taxes on high-income people would be eliminated.
The general rule here is to beware of simplistic slogans. My favorite local example of this was last year's "Keep Salem Safe" campaign by the folks pushing the poorly thought-out $82 million police facility bond measure that was rightfully rejected by voters in the November 2016 election.
I and others pointed out that keeping Salem safe means a lot more than moving Police Department staff into a vastly over-priced and oversized building that won't collapse in the coming Big One Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake that is a matter of when, not if.
Failing to make City Hall and the Library also earthquake-safe (while moving other City employees into the same space in City Hall currently occupied by the Police Department so they will be the ones crushed to death in the next Big One quake) belies the words "Keep Salem Safe: Vote for the Bond Measure."
The same reasoning, by the way, applies to the second-try police facility bond measure, which is why Salem Can Do Better is opposing it.
Look... I'm pleased and proud that Salem, along with Oregon as a whole, is much less infected with the disaster of Trumpism than is the national political scene. But we still have quite a few local right-wing politicians who favor a stealth brand that could be called Trump-lite.
This needs to be resisted, just as we resist Trump-max on the national level.