JIM WAUN

Now is the time to come to the aid of our democracy.

We’re all familiar with the heads, privileges, side of the citizenship coin. We raise Cain whenever it looks like our gun or abortion rights, for example, are threatened. Businesses and corporations maintain litanies against what they consider nonsensical regulations. Don’t mess with our freedoms.

But we tend to neglect the obligations, the tails side, of the coin. Sometimes we don’t know what the right thing to do is. Sometimes doing the right thing seems futile. But when anyone’s freedoms or opportunities are jeopardized, everyone’s are at risk.

These days, challenges to our duties as citizens are coming from the Trump administration’s approach to policymaking and legislative and budgeting proposals.

The president’s strident claims that Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a total disaster that must be repealed were a centerpiece of his election campaign.

Then, less than a month after inauguration, he laid bare his ignorance on health care for all to see. He told a meeting of the nation’s governors that nobody knew health care is so complicated. The governors know all too well how complicated it is.

With that comment, he was demonstrating that the emperor has no clothes. He didn’t seem to be the least embarrassed.

Significantly, Paul Ryan, speaker of the House and third in line for the presidency, complimented Trump on the wonderful job he did on health care in his national address.

The dynamic duo set to repeal and replace Obamacare stand naked on their understanding of the prey. And determined they are to repeal it.

As it presently stands, if their legislation repeals and replaces Obamacare, the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans will receive a tax cut worth hundreds of billions of dollars. The proposed “health care” legislation has also been aptly described as tax cut legislation for the super wealthy.

If Obamacare is repealed, 16 million people will be without health insurance at the end of this year. Within a few years, at least 24 million, and probably more, who now have insurance will be without it.

Additionally, fewer of the poor will qualify for Medicaid. Many who are elderly, poor and live in rural areas will go without needed health services.

Or they will receive care that financially burdens rural hospitals with uncompensated health services. Smaller, rural community hospitals without high numbers of wealthier, insured patients will be forced to close.

If — or when — that happens, many millions of us will have lost or have severely compromised opportunities for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

There are a couple of other government programs affected by the radically changed governance philosophy that are worth mentioning.

President Trump’s budget proposal before Congress cuts spending for continued restoration and protection of the Great Lakes by 97 percent — from $300 million to $10 million the first year. The claim is that maintenance of one-fifth of the world’s fresh water supply is the states’, not the federal government’s responsibility.

And the administration doesn’t believe climate change is affected by human activity. Subsequently, basic scientific research on climate and climate change by NASA and the EPA will be discontinued.

Science is the perpetually immature study of the world we live in and of our interaction with it. Our future as a species depends on better understanding of humans’ and their environment. How can we not continue studying it?

I’m not promoting any particular policy, legislative or budget position. I say now is the time for us to protect and defend our democracy. Pay attention to what’s going on in the halls of government. Get your information from more than one source. Form opinions and discuss them civilly with others, especialI with those you disagree with: you might learn from each other.

And inform your elected representatives and policymakers so that: “… government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

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