Institutions in decline
This is a time where our democracy needs all hands on deck. If we cherish our freedom, the chance for public participation and a general sense of safety, we need to be ever so vigilant to make sure that those in power do not lose sight of who their boss is: us, the public.
On a national level, the Trump administration is deconstructing institutions and agencies at an alarming rate. The sanctity of the Presidency is under daily attack as we already got used to being lied to on a regular basis.
A prime example for dismantling of institutions is the EPA, an agency that is supposed to protect the environment, hence us, from pollution. The administration set the EPA on the course to review and get rid of regulations that were put in place to safeguard public resources such as clean air and clean water, basically our health. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt spent his professional life fighting the EPA. Now his dream has come true and he’s in charge of destroying the EPA. He started by taking down references to climate change from the EPAs website. If it’s not there, it doesn’t exist, I guess. This week we receive the news that the EPA has dismissed scientists from the Board of Scientific Counselors, an 18-member panel that reviews research conducted by the EPA and those reviews are then used to draft rules and restrictions. Scientists out, industry interests in.
On a state level, we witness the degradation of statesman-like behavior that should be expected of every public representative, but how can we, now that the President himself proves that manners and democratic values don’t matter?
Alaska jumped into the national lime light thanks to Representative David Eastman of Wasilla, who was not afraid to spread outlandish rumors, that rural Alaskan women get pregnant so they get a free trip to Anchorage or Seattle for an abortion. This left rural residents and those with a sane mind slack jawed and at a loss for words. This individual is in my opinion not fit to lead, in any capacity, and should be removed from office. We don’t need extremists in positions of power.
While Eastman’s remarks occupied our outrage, another Alaska legislator, Senator David Wilson (R- Wasilla) got away with slapping a reporter in the face inside the Alaska Capitol. Alaska Dispatch reporter Nathaniel Herz had written a story uncovering that a nonprofit organization that Wilson had worked for in the past would be exempt from budget cuts that affect other nonprofits, through a bill proposed by the freshman senator. The reporter got assaulted for doing his job and there were no consequences. The event was reported to the Juneau police, but Legislators are immune when the Legislature is in session.
All these events, from the national stage all the way to state level are in a way connected as they reflect the elevation of primal instincts and selfish greed over manners and the necessity to act for the common good. And for some reason, they get away with it. —D.H.—