Despite the image being painted by big cities, America still consists of a bunch of small towns filled with people who work hard, dads and moms together and sometimes the kids too, to get enough money to pay for a modest home, a decent health plan, a good education for the kids, and maybe a little recreation. For these folks, the subtleties of international agreements and the brouhahas about Trump’s sex life and money dealings, are basically irrelevant. What matter are their circumstances. Can they pay their bills? Can they get medical care without bankrupting themselves? Can their kids get a decent education and a good job? Can they work and play and pray without undue interference?
These folk, the backbone of the nation, don’t care much about the wars and military actions going on elsewhere in the world, primarily because they don’t know much about it, and because it is not happening here. It is not that they are heartless. They are decidedly not. They are generous to a fault. They will contribute to local causes and help local people, sometimes absolutely beyond the call of ordinary decency. It is just that the violence of Iraq and Afghanistan and Yemen and those many other places are so far away that it is impossible for them to understand it, much less do anything about it.
Now, however, those faraway conflicts are about to very much impact these good folk. Trump has unilaterally withdrawn from an agreement with Iran. I have not read that agreement, and all I really know about it is that it was agreed to by a group of nations, including our closest allies, France and Germany and England. I also have no idea what impact this withdrawal will have on the production, and perhaps use, of nuclear weapons in the Mideast or perhaps even globally.
What I do know is that those good people in those small towns are about to pay a lot of money for this and other decisions Trump has made. Because of the agreement, gas prices are about to skyrocket. It’s not that there is less oil available. It is that those who sell oil are going to be able to raise the price of a barrel of oil, and that will immediately result in higher gas prices. Because Trump has withdrawn from other agreements, the price of goods, and likely even the price of food, will also skyrocket. Small town America is about to get a financial lesson in the meaning and value of international agreements.
I understand why those folks voted for Trump in such large numbers. The Democrats were not paying attention to them, and Trump was promising them the moon — drain the swamp, make good deals, “win” (whatever that means) so often we will get sick of winning. They were, of course, all political rhetoric, that is to say, lies. Now, however, the awful truth is emerging in the cold, hard currency of family economies. The Affordable Care Act, instead of being improved, has been kneecapped, and there is no replacement. The environmental laws have been essentially dismantled, and the resultant damage is already being felt. The Consumer Safety laws have been discarded, and the financial vultures are circling overhead. On and on.
By the time Trump gets through with his bovine dash through the china shop that is America’s legislative and economic structure, it will be too late to stop the pain to be felt by these ordinary folk. The only remedy, and it will be a long, long trek, will be to suffer even more pain restoring the agreements that, while made far away, do have real and lasting effects on all those small towns, and working back to a lasting and well-reasoned program of health care, education and consumer and environmental protection.
More important than anything, the good people of America will likely have learned the meaningfulness of relating to those faraway places. They will have also learned the treachery of hucksterism.