The following post, written by The Rev. Robert A. Franek, is a part of Politicus Policy Discussion, in which writers draw connections between real lives and public policy.
Amid the billowing smoke of the Trump Russia scandal both Donald Trump and the Republicans in Congress have found time to further their agenda of stripping the civil rights away from LGBT people, taking healthcare away from women, and assuring that scientific data be kept away from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Each of these is an outrageous moral failure. Each is a step backward in our nation’s progress towards greater equality for all. And each is a threat to the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness guaranteed to every person.
While the present civil rights challenge for LGBT people persists and the funding for Planned Parenthood hangs in the balance, the damage being done to our environment through toxic pollution of water systems and neglecting climate change realities even to the omission of scientific data will be much harder to restore with a new administration and Congressional priorities.
The Trump Russia scandal smoke will eventually clear but the carbon dioxide billowing into the atmosphere is doing permanent damage. More the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines present real threats to land and waterways for millions of people.
Rolling back environmental protection regulations and willful denying of scientific data to forestall efforts to fight climate change is a direct threat to each person’s right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. When the air we breathe and the water we drink are imminently threatened so that corporations can make more money, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are on the line.
It would seem that these fundamental freedoms would be something especially Republicans would want to defend in the cause of patriotic duty. However, as the Trump Russia scandal has proven time and again there is no limit as to the Republicans’ will to put party over the good of the country.
The threats to life because of environmental deregulation and not addressing climate change are more than theoretical. All kinds of illnesses are on the rise and can be traced to chemicals in air and water. Storms are becoming more and more severe causing greater damage homes, businesses, and entire communities. And still repugnant Republicans put profits over people and stupid over scientific data.
Without a habitable environment that is safe from toxic waste, harmful chemicals, and dangerous carbon dioxide emissions leading to an ever-warming planet, how can anyone be assured of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? When the environment poses an unnecessary threat to one’s health life is denied.
One might expect the so-called party of life to be concerned about this. But one would be grossly mistaken. If there was any care for life beyond birth, they would not be stripping rights away from LGBT people or denying women access to healthcare, much less actively working to endanger and destroy the necessities for life: air and water.
Amid the Trump Russia scandal and the smoke that continues to billow around the White House and Congressional Republicans, we must not lose sight of the actual smoke and pollution destroying our planetary ecosystems that sustain life for us and all creation.
Securing the long-term future of civil rights for LGBT people, women’s access to heath care, and the flourishing of our environment that we may all enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness rests not only on getting to the bottom of the Trump Russia scandal and draining the swamp in his administration along with the scandal-covering, right denying, profit seeking in Congress but also on preventing the confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
Assuring that all have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental moral commitment that we share as citizens working together for the common good of all people and the whole creation.