These are Strange Days

What is happening to America? The Trump-Pence jolt throws a weird uncertainty over the future.

Incoming President Donald Trump vowed to appoint Supreme Court justices who will revoke women’s right to choose, making it a crime again for desperate teen girls and women to end pregnancies. Few modern democracies have such a prohibition.

Can he return America to the ugly era of illegal back-alley butchers? Or is he so erratic and unpredictable that he will forget this threat?

Trump vows to halt the Affordable Care Act that gives health insurance to 20 million Americans. He says he will replace it with something “terrific,” but nobody can guess what it might be.

Trump vowed to block Muslims from entering America, making this the only democracy with a religious test for entry. Can he undo freedom of religion?

Despite evidence from thousands of top scientists, he says global warming is a hoax (perpetrated by Chinese). He wants to break U.N. treaties and halt U.S. support for international programs to prevent climate disaster.

Trump vowed to capture and deport 11 million undocumented Hispanics, and build a giant wall across the southern border at Mexico’s expense. Can he make America a stockade?

Trump promises a colossal tax giveaway to the wealthy. Can he do it without wiping out billions in revenue that provide the public safety net sustaining millions of U.S. families?

In a couple of months, when Republicans take complete control of Washington, will they inflict all these drastic changes on Americans? Or will public resistance derail part of the conservative agenda?

What’s coming in 2017? Suddenly, the future seems bewildering.

Great numbers of Americans never dreamed that a Trump-Pence victory was possible. We failed to grasp the depth of frustration and ethnic resentment among so many less-educated white male voters. Was tacit racism a significant factor? Now reality looms.

As The Washington Post said, progressive Americans “awoke Wednesday morning to wonder if they were welcome in their own land.” Most of us haven’t quite absorbed the complete trauma.

Trump’s campaign lacked a well-thought-out agenda of political goals. Instead, he seemed to blurt ideas impulsively, shot from the hip. Everything revolved around his riveting, bombastic, dominating personality.

And his personality is the most vulgar and nasty I’ve ever seen in American politics. He has a petty quality. It’s almost possible to envision him trying to start a war over an insult.

The New York Times observed: “It’s a strange, distressing situation for citizens to be in — to acknowledge the danger of having a reckless, unqualified leader, while maintaining respect for the office he holds.”

Democrat Hillary Clinton narrowly won the popular vote. But the state-by-state electoral tally can’t be undone. Americans must live with the new reality abruptly imposed on us. These are strange days.

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James Haught, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is editor emeritus of West Virginia’s largest newspaper, The Charleston Gazette-Mail.

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