Letter: Democracy demands an engaged public now more than ever

I want to thank Richard Stokes for his Jan. 6 Letter to the Editor (“The public — and the Empire — must be vigilant”). He nudged me to sit down and actually write the letter I’ve been composing in my head over the past couple of months since Hillary Clinton lost the Electoral College’s votes to Donald Trump. It’s still a bitter loss, and it had become even more painful now that the President-elect’s mercurial persona is writ large. The frosting on this bitter cake is that we know that Russia’s interference on behalf of Donald Trump was (in part) to get even with Hillary Clinton for dissing Vladimir Putin in 2011.

This week, Trump is publicly criticizing the Central Intelligence Agency. This Saturday’s headline in The New York Times was “Ex-CIA director: Trump’s comments will lead to ‘wave’ of resignations.” There is no need to recite all the downright weird and inflammatory things Trump is doing, but who on earth messes with the CIA?

I’ve always been an engaged citizen, but I had never heard of Breitbart News or the term “Alt-Right” in relation to the U.S. until Rachel Maddow started covering it. In a few weeks, the Alt-Right Breitbart’s Steven Bannon and Kellyanne Conway will be two shining stars with offices in the White House. It’s a twisted version of Trump’s “America’s Got Talent,” but now his finalists are also “The Worst Possible Picks for Cabinet Positions.”

Richard Stokes wrote that “the public must be vigilant and Congress must do its job.” His last sentence is, “I write and ask them to use whatever authority and influence they have to curb abuses, to rein in the administration when necessary and to, in plain terms, do right and preserve our nation.” Another headline in The New York Times was: “Trump’s Dangerous Anti-C.I.A. Crusade.” Maybe that will finally get the full attention of Republicans in Congress, including Alaska’s delegation. I join Richard Stokes in asking that the Juneau Empire run the editorials on Donald Trump of other newspapers across the country. Democracy demands an engaged public now more than ever.

Barbara J. Belknap

Juneau

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