Sheila Markin Nielsen is a former Assistant US Attorney. She helps people to understand in plain English what is going on in US politics today.
November 9th, the day after the 2016 election we all woke up to a different world. It was a rude awakening. Donald Trump had surprised everyone, even himself, by winning the election. The ugliest ugly American would be our next president. And the Republican led Congress would turn out to act as enablers instead of standing up as a separate branch of government against violations of the Constitution, corruption, and growing evidence of a conspiracy with a foreign government to gain the presidency in exchange for favors. As a former Assistant US Attorney, I am keenly aware of the way this administration is violating the law and ignoring ethical norms.
Sometimes a wake up call is what it takes to realize what is at risk. Getting hit upside the head is no fun. But it gets your attention.
In response to Trump and this administration there is a rising tide of energy to reclaim our country. It began with the Women’s Marches after the inauguration. The energy of people who realized what had just happened to us was channeled in many ways and directions. We see women and men in the suburbs who were life-long Republicans turning away from the Republican party which has become locked in a death grip with Trump and Trumpism. Movements have sprung up to push back: Indivisible, Swing Left, Move On, Feminist Majority Foundation, 314 Action, and countless other groups are being led by engaged, concerned energetic people who see the need for restorative efforts to push against the current administration and the forces that are pulling our country backwards and in the wrong direction. #MeToo sprang up in direct response to this president. #neveragain sprang up in response to the hypocrisy of the NRA. Progressives are rising up even in the so-called red districts and red states. Turns out there are “blue people” even in red states and there are more and more people turning red states purple. Remarkable, admirable, smart, ethical women and men decided to drop what they had been doing to run for office. Scientists are running for office and they are getting supported with training and funding. Candidates are going door to door engaging in a version of voter therapy by connecting, listening, learning and vowing to do better by the American people.
People talk about the blue wave coming. This is really an awakening. We need an answer to this moral and ethical morass Trump and the Republicans have spawned. Much as this president is epitome of the swamp, this president is also the reason for that awakening. If Trump had not been elected we would not have realized how fragile our democracy is, how valuable our ethical norms are and how much we need a free press to preserve the truth. If Hillary had been elected we would have continued to be complacent about our democracy. By now, this Republican Congress would have been trying to impeach her.
We can now plainly see the depths of the hypocrisy of congressional Republicans who are fully in control of the agenda and who voted to kill the Affordable Care Act while pretending to care about Americans and their health care. We can see the hypocrisy of voting for a tax cut bill for the 1% while pretending it would solve the problems of the 99%. We know that all those years of Republican claims that we should not increase the debt were just the way to prevent programs to help Americans live better lives and have a shot at the American dream, because they totally blew up the debt by trillions of dollars to satisfy their donors and the already rich. We can see how corrupt this administration is despite Trump’s lip service about draining the swamp. We can see the head of the Environmental Protection Agency blowing up all the protections and getting cozy with and being rewarded by donors and lobbyists because of that. We can see for ourselves the mean spirited tweeting and white supremacist, anti-immigrant dog whistles. The curtain has been pulled back. And it is going to be pulled back even more as we get closer to the truth coming out with the Mueller investigation, the Cohen investigation, Michael Avenatti out there trolling Trump world, and the many whistle-blowers who are getting the truth to reporters.
I was a criminal prosecutor in both state and federal court: an Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia, and an Assistant State’s Attorney in Chicago before becoming an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Illinois.
My background is not grounded solely in the legal world. I am also a counselor and executive coach with an understanding of mental health and psychology. I have a masters in social work from Bryn Mawr College and have worked as a counselor and coach for over 30 years. As a career coach, I work with people who are trying to develop insight and performance skills as well as those searching for jobs and improving their interview skills. I help people with their personal messaging and navigating through the complex and convoluted world of workplace politics.
All my life, whenever I am deeply affected by something, I write about it. The day after Trump was elected, I began to write commentaries and post them on a variety of Facebook sites. Many people responded positively. Some told me that what I write helps them make sense of what was going on. Because of my background as a prosecutor, I am able to clarify and unpack the legal implications of ongoing investigations and possible consequences. Others say I help them to keep their spirits up in a world turned upside down.
I hope this blog helps you get through this tough time. It helps me to write it. Trump is a gift that he never intended to give us. But he did. By being the worst president in the history of our country, a would-be dictator, he ignited the grassroots.
On November 9th we woke up to a new world but it cannot become the new normal. We have to come together to create that new normal. Trump has an abysmal approval rating that tells us that around 60% of our country is not aligned with him and his agenda. More and more people strongly disapprove of him and his actions as his presidency continues.
We can make a difference. We need to stay vigilant and push back against this anti-democratic president. There are many acts we can take that will help. We can register voters, fund the campaigns of new candidates who will shape the local, state and national agenda. We can knock on doors for good candidates to get their messages out. We can support people who have been targeted by this administration and need our help. We can call our lawmakers and get into the streets if Republicans try to shut down or limit the Mueller probe- all of this is our call to action. Pick something and jump in. No one person can do it all.
This is a fight for the soul of our country and the country we leave for our children and grandchildren. I believe we can create a new and better government that responds to the needs of the people. We can reclaim our country. And we will.
Welcome to the Markin Report.