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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Why is there so much Trump stuff in Progressive Charlestown?

A fair and reasonable question
By Will Collette

Image result for Heather Heyer
Heather Heyer, killed in Charlottesville
Tom Ferrio and I launched Progressive Charlestown on January 28, 2011 primarily to offer a distinctive counterpoint to the propaganda of the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA). Along with that, we set out to cover Charlestown area culture, arts, food plus present a broad array of items that were of interest to the writers and readers of Progressive Charlestown.

We still do all of that but, with the rise to power of Donald Trump and the radical right, we have changed emphasis toward more coverage of national and international affairs.

While no one has complained, you should know the reason for this change in emphasis. 

In my view, Trump and the hard right are far greater threats to our daily lives here in Charlestown than any silly thing the CCA-dominated Charlestown town government might do.

While the CCA might raise our taxes, spend our money to fund their cronies’ projects, turn the town into a “pay to play” paradise for out-of-state retirees and make bad or half-baked decisions, their ability to cause us lasting harm is limited. They will get the attention they deserve but frankly, it is Donald Trump who poses the existential threat to all of us.


Let’s start with end-of-the-world scenarios. In the short term, it’s not at all far-fetched to picture Donald Trump pushing the nuclear button on North Korea out of madness, macho and pure malice. Would nuclear-armed China intervene, as it did in 1950? And what does that mean to us, sitting 20 miles downwind from the major US submarine base in Groton?

In the long-term, Trump’s insane environmental policies could push climate change over the tipping point, setting off all manner of extreme weather and sea level rise that could devastate much of our town.

Maybe the reason why Ruth Platner and the Planning Commission are so overdue in producing a new town Comprehensive Plan is that they’ve decided that, “hey, why bother? We’re all gonna die.”

Since Trump’s ascension and GOP control of Congress, the health care, food security and incomes of every Charlestown citizen is at risk. Their attacks on Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, SNAP (Food Stamps), even Meals on Wheels, threaten Charlestown residents of every age and almost every income.

Their attacks on science, education, environment and conservation threaten vital research programs all across our area, including our National Wildlife Refuges and funding for town programs.

Trump’s electoral college win has given rise to far more rampant displays of hate, fascism, racism, sexism and contempt for immigrants. Trump made it OK to be a Nazi or a KKK member, a skinhead and to go ahead and take our your rage at those who offend you. There is a direct line between Trump and the murder and mayhem by his fascist supporters in Charlottesville.

How easy it would be for that to trickle down to Charlestown with its own long-simmering racial and cultural conflicts, and our coterie of radical-right legislators (Blake “Flip” Filippi, Justin Price and Elaine Morgan).

Trump has also set an example for conservative politicians at all levels that it’s OK to lie, OK to ignore the rules on ethics, OK to steal, OK to insult and bully anyone who opposes you, OK to utter what was once unutterable. We’ve had our share of that in Charlestown, but now such conduct is standard operating procedure in the White House and of course that will have its trickle-down effect.

Since Trump took office, the one thing that happened that caused any broad popular happiness in Charlestown was the end of the controversial AMTRAK Old Saybrook to Kenyon Bypass proposal.

As I predicted when this controversy first became a major public issue here in Charlestown, there was no way either Trump or the Republican-controlled Congress would fund AMTRAK’s needed and overdue modernization of the Northeast Corridor. Unless, of course, AMTRAK is privatized and, to gain Trump’s support, sold to his kids.

But even the reprieve from the Saybrook-Kenyon Bypass comes at a cost. As much as Charlestown came out against the Bypass, AMTRAK is still important to our area. Now AMTRAK faces huge budget cuts that could further wound an already struggling system.

All this after only six months. Imagine how long the list of ways Trump has affected our lives will be if he serves out his full four year term.

We still will cover the CCA, Charlestown area news and events and the motley collection of other things we think might be of interest to you. Though I must admit it is hard to get excited about Charlestown Town Council meetings when there are so many other horrible things happening.

For the foreseeable future, you will continue to get a lot of Trump. I particularly look for items that are not widely reported and for those that have a specific impact on us. You’ve probably noticed a lot more added “Editor’s Notes” appended to articles to point out the particular local impact of the story.

Finally, I freely and proudly confess that publishing information casting light on Trump and his minions is my way of contributing to the Resistance. Age and health limit what I can do. My days of marching are over. But it’s not about what I can’t do…I believe each of us must do what we can to fight back and I can still work on Progressive Charlestown.

In the six and a half years since Tom and I started PC, we’ve published 13,000 items and had almost three million page-views. In the global scheme of things, that’s really not much. But it’s something and as Edmund Burke said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good [people] to do nothing.”