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. 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.
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.
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.
Hundreds of organizations have sprung up to actively push back: Indivisible, Swing Left, Move On, Feminist Majority Foundation, 314 Action, and many 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.
People talked about the blue wave coming before the midterm election, but they were not sure it would really happen. It took work- phone banking, knocking on doors, showing up for rallies, and supporting good candidates. When the blue wave came it was a tsunami. The People’s House is now solidly Democrat with 40 more seats. Nancy Pelosi is doing a masterful job as Speaker of the House teaching Trump what it means to deal with a separate branch of government that says “no” to him, for a change, and that will investigate corruption and criminality. We have a lot of work to do to clean up this moral and ethical morass Trump and the Republicans have spawned. We could get a lot more done if we had unitary government: a Democrat led House and Senate and a Democrat in the White House. That is the goal for 2020.
With Trump in office, that goal is reachable. He is the gift that keeps on giving.
Much as this president is the epitome of the swamp, this president is also the reason for the anti-Trump 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.
We can now plainly see the depths of the hypocrisy of congressional Republicans who voted to kill the Affordable Care Act while pretending to care about Americans and their health care. We saw 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 see how corrupt this administration is despite Trump’s lip service about draining the swamp. We see Trump’s 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 about Trump’s relationship to Russia and Putin’s hold over him.
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.
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. There is hope. 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 Republicans are leaving the GOP to become Independents. Their party has left them. More people strongly disapprove of Trump 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. Pick something and jump in. No one person can do it all.
We are in 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.