In Roseau, the capital of Dominica (a small, under-developed island in the Caribbean), there is a cruise-ship dock.
Some time ago, a certain Prime Minister had a personal project. He had a vision. A beautiful tree-lined boulevard would run the length of the sea front from Roseau’s grandest hotel, craft market and the national museum, to the bustling food market at the other end. It would be lined with cafés and restaurants and bars and stalls selling arts and crafts and local produce. Tourists would come from the boat, or from out of town to wander the beautiful boulevard. They would sit and drink and put money in to the hands of his citizens. For a brief time, this existed and it was alright.
Now, it is an ugly thing. A parking lot. A mass of bare asphalt and concrete. When a cruise ship arrives the tourists find a horde of mini-busses and their drivers, eager to whisk them away from dirty, ugly Roseau, to pretty much anywhere else on the island. It serves no good purpose, provides no income, and is a poor advertisement for one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean.
And the reason for this? This Prime Minister’s successor thought that his ego was more important than beauty or the environment or the wealth of his citizens. He couldn’t handle the idea that his predecessor might have done something good, something that he would have to live up to, so he simply erased it. He tore it down and replaced it with a parking lot.
This is what I see in Trump. He wants to tear down what others have built. He wants to tear down the FBI, the EPA, Medicaid, and the government itself. He says it’s because he wants to “clear the swamp”, to return to a time before when the state was small and the people were free, when there were fewer laws, fewer restrictions, and no one telling you how to live your life or run your business.
But this stuff is important. You can’t just throw it away. It’s there for a reason. We have been fighting for these rights, these laws, these societies and agencies, for hundreds of years. They are there to protect the people, to stand up for the people in the face of fascism, capitalism and socialism.
They don’t make us less free; they create freedom. Freedom from oppression, freedom from exploitation, freedom to lead a life safe in the knowledge that you are safe (or at least, safer) from mega-corporations creating wage-slavery, from mining & oil companies destroying the natural beauty of the country, or the simple freedom from worrying about being poisoned by a street-vendor selling contaminated meat. They are the creation of the people, for the people.
It isn’t just you that they are protect. They are protecting your brother, your sister, your mother, your daughter. They protect the religious and the secular, locals and foreigners, women and men, young and old. They protect your home, your land, your town. You may not think that you need their protection, but you benefit from it every day.
Who would you be today without these protections? Would you have the same education, the same job, the same house? Would you even be alive?
A seat-belt you were forced to wear, that a manufacturer was forced to install, that was tested and approved by a government body. A crumple-zone. An air-bag. The air in your city that is clean enough to breathe thanks to anti-pollution controls. The water in your taps that is clean enough to drink. The beach that is clean enough to swim at. The rules that say your bank can’t steal the money that your employer has to pay you which buys the home that no one can take from you. Or even something as simple as a sign warning you of a sharp curve.
Behind them all: a law, an agency, an organisation. The much derided, bloated nanny state.
This is the government. This is your country. This is what your compatriots fought for.
Trump wants to tear it down, this thing that has been built to protect you from people like him, and companies like his. He wants himself, his children and his friends to be rich. He wants to validate his ego. He doesn’t care about you or your children or society or the environment or the country. It’s all about showing the world who’s boss.