It is a new year and Washington DC will be a different place. There will be a Democratic majority in the House demanding accountability from an executive mired in scandal and incompetence. How appalling is the situation? A quick tally shows thirty-nine top administration officials have either resigned or been fired. Ten of 26 cabinet level positions are currently filled with temporary replacements. After two years, only 380 of 707 key positions requiring Senate confirmation have been filled. Some may be in over their heads. For example, Patrick Shanahan, the new Secretary of Defense, has no foreign policy or military experience.
The current occupant of the White House spent the holidays alone with his phone, claiming to be working and signing bills. Of course, there were no bills. The government was partially shut down and members of Congress and the executive branch were home for the break. Work may be an unfamiliar concept. After all, he has spent more than one-third of his days in office vacationing at his properties or playing golf. Here is a possible happy ending. Why not pack up those golf clubs and the family, leave the office of the presidency, and give us all a vacation?
Seriously, though, we must take every opportunity to encourage our representatives to keep digging into the malfeasance and corruption of this administration. A lot of nonsense can be stopped by simply not funding it. Some changes will require legislation be written and passed. A number of the newly elected progressives in Congress are on the right track. Problems like climate change require solutions on the same scale. There is no time for half-measures. We need a green energy economy and the investment should not be controversial. Health care is a simple human need. The current system squanders huge amounts of money and fails to deliver care to many. That is not right and should change. Officials should be held to the highest ethical standards. Dark money and other bribery schemes should be banned. Every citizen has a right to vote and to have that vote count. Every one of these positions are supported by a overwhelming majority of Americans. Read through this collection of polls.
The House holds the purse strings and can set priorities here and abroad. Perhaps we don’t need to spend 53 cents of every discretionary dollar on the military. We are now spending more than the next ten countries on Earth combined. Much of the unrest we see around the world is the result of environmental destruction, inequality, authoritarianism and corruption. It makes sense to help solve those problems before we have to deal with their military consequences. All of this will not happen in the 116th Congress, but we can lay the foundations and steady our democracy.
At the state level we have a remarkable opportunity to, as the new governor said yesterday “aim high” and turn policy into reality. After eight years of hearing from a Republican governor what we could not do, the mission is clear – improve public education, protect the environment, give opportunity to the impoverished and hope to all of us that we can come together and create a better future. It is not a time to be on the sidelines. We need to be out in our communities making change happen. We need to be in Santa Fe or on the phone pushing our legislators and state officials to find solutions. Whether it is a New Green Deal or Health Security, New Mexico can lead the way.
The seeds of hope we planted in the dark winter two years ago have sprouted. Now we tend the young field in this new season and hope with diligence and care to bring all we worked for to fruition. This is our time. Seize the moment.