Lately, it seems like every time I write this column, things in this country have gotten worse and worse.
Guns, guns, guns: Our country is awash in them—one estimate says there are more than 310 million—more than enough for one for every man, woman and child. The 4th Circuit Court has noted, “in 2012, the number of AR- and AK-style weapons manufactured and imported into the United States was more than double the number of Ford F-150 trucks sold, the most commonly sold vehicle in the United States.” My apologies to those who hunt deer, but did you know that the 5.56 mm NATO round bullets, used by the Las Vegas murderer in the largest mass shooting in our history—the 273rd such of this year alone—were specifically designed to kill people? When they strike flesh, they tumble instead of going straight through the body like the single shot of a hunting bullet would, thereby creating massive traumatic wounds that, if they don’t kill, will certainly maim. That’s what you want in war. It’s not what you want in your venison, or in the streets of an American city like Las Vegas where people were sticking fingers and hands into the wounds of victims trying to keep them from bleeding out.
In this country, if you stay healthy and active, are careful, avoid hard drug and alcohol abuse and drive defensively, then you are most likely to die from assault by firearms. (http://www.medhelp.org/general-health/articles/The-25-Most-Common-Causes-of-Death/193?page=1).
Russia, Russia, Russia: Facebook has turned over to Congress 3,000 Russia-linked ads that were intended to set factions against each other in key states because Vladimir Putin preferred Donald Trump. Google and Twitter are contemplating similar actions. The Congressional intelligence committees have concluded that Russia certainly meddled in our elections, but that the jury is still out on collusion with Trump campaign officials. Speaking of investigations, Robert Mueller is quietly and doggedly continuing his work.
Meanwhile, chaos continues to reign at the top levels of the American government, the largest economy in the world, the country that used to call itself the center of the Free World, the place that Ronald Reagan called “the shining city on the hill. The current occupant of the Oval Office has chided his Secretary of State regarding North Korea policy, not with a well-argued paper from the National Security Council, but with a juvenile tweet. Last Wednesday, the State Department actually had to deny that Secretary Rex Tillerson called the Trump a moron. Trump chided Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Moscow investigations. The head of the FBI was fired earlier this year, not for a breach of duty, but because Trump wanted loyalty, not professionalism. Finally, he fired Secretary of Health and Human Services for ethics violations after the press dogged his use of public funds for private plane flights. Trump is doing a fine job, attacking sport players for protesting the killing of unarmed African-Americans, picking on the mayor of San Juan, sending “warm condolences” to the victims in Las Vegas, bragging from his golf club in Bedminster that he will rain fire and fury on North Korea, and throwing paper towels to hurricane victims.
Trump’s asinine rantings, plus those of his counterpart, Kim Jung Un, both of whom have their fingers on the triggers of their nations’ nuclear arsenals, as well as threats of undoing the international agreement that stopped Iran’s nuclear program in its tracks, have led the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to move the minute hand on their famous Doomsday Clock to two and a half minutes to “midnight,” the closest it’s been to nuclear holocaust since the United States and the Soviet Union developed the hydrogen bomb in the early ‘50s.
There’s not enough space to talk about our government’s unimpressive response to three hurricanes in a row, the healthcare debacle or the looming “tax reform” battle to benefit the rich. The last few months have proven that old adage, “elections have consequences.”
If you believe in democracy, then you need to participate in its practice. This means becoming and staying informed on the issues. It means supporting the candidates you believe in, not only with money, since we don’t have short, publicly-financed campaigns like they do in the United Kingdom, but also with your time and effort, through canvassing and phone-banking, as well as organizing and participating in fundraisers.
If you want to see America return to the values embodied in our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, you only have eight more days to register to vote, and then you had better energize, vote and send packing the bought-and-paid-for politicians who serve only their rich corporate masters. Take care who you vote for at every level in our society, beginning with Culpeper’s local elections right up through the state and federal levels and into the Oval Office. It’s time for the people to demand that their elected representatives serve them for a change. If you don’t vote, don’t complain.
Editors Note: This article has been reposted with the author’s permission, and originally appeared here.