Since last Tuesday’s result, many have written to me asking “what should we do now?” We all need to process the events and that will take some time.
I’ll share some of the concerns that are at the top of my mind as a state legislator.
First, there are a lot of people feeling very unsafe right now. Our President-elect said many destructive things as a candidate. With his harsh insults, he encouraged Americans to disrespect one another. His words have had consequences, even on elementary school playgrounds. I will take every opportunity to send the positive message that Massachusetts is no place for hate.
Second, it does look like he will appoint one or more conservative Supreme court justices. He is not, himself, by any stretch, a social conservative, but he made clear campaign promises in this area and seems likely to keep them.
To the extent the Supreme Court peels away federal constitutional protections on civil liberties, state legislators and state courts will become more important in protecting those liberties. I am personally very deeply committed to equality and civil liberty and I believe that other Massachusetts leaders will step up to emerging challenges in this area.
Third, it seems likely that, with Republican majorities in both branches, he will seek to dismantle many things that were built by President Obama and the Democratic majorities he had in his first term, perhaps most notably in the health care and environmental areas.
In Massachusetts, universal coverage is likely to survive – we had our reforms in place before the Affordable Care Act. I do not expect the Trump administration to cut federal funding for health care (most governors would oppose that), but new federal leadership may create challenges for us since we need federal permission for many of our coverage and cost-control initiatives.
Tragically, on the environmental front, we do need national leadership to make real progress. We are going to lose another few critical years in our efforts to reduce carbon emissions. If our new President formally abrogates the Paris agreement, it will set us back even further.
Fourth, immigration policy is another area where state policies will become more important. We may be asked to support increasingly harsh federal enforcement. I will continue to work to make Massachusetts a welcoming place for immigrants — all residents of Massachusetts should be able to trust local enforcement to protect them from crime.
Finally, we do have to acknowledge and respond to the power of Candidate Trump’s economic message. While many in the district I represent are doing well economically, there are many who are not. Establishment free trade policies have devastated the work prospects of many Americans. Many people who had deep concerns about his hateful language voted for him because he spoke to that reality with persuasive passion.
Trade is a national dilemma and President Trump will find that there are no easy answers. But at the state level, I am more committed than ever to looking for ways to make sure that everyone has a way forward in our economy.
Our national leaders have a lot to sort out with the new balance of power. I will be watching closely and continuing to consider how national changes require new responses from state leaders. I welcome your guidance now and at every stage of the process.
What can I do?
Jeff and Linda Levin-Scherz held a wonderful discussion last Sunday (11/20) in Belmont. Congresswoman Clark participated as well as Democratic National Committee member Jim Roosevelt. Our national political leaders are sorting out strategy in the new landscape, but a couple of ways for people to be involved right away came out.
- First, support the free press by paying for subscriptions to reputable news organizations. There is a lot of unreliable news out there in social media and it is harder and harder for serious news organizations to survive. Their investigate and truth-telling roles are essential in a functioning democracy. Subscriptions make a great holiday gift.
- Second, join and support advocacy groups that stand for the causes you care about that may be threatened by the new balance of power in Washington. Again, this is also an opportunity for holiday giving.
- Generally, become engaged and engage others in the many ongoing conversations about the future of our country.