Opinion » Editorial

Reaping the Whirlwind

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There may still be a misguided sense of loyalty among Republicans both locally and elsewhere, that fealty to the party requires looking the other way at the rapidly onrushing perils that threaten the country as a result of the tragi-comedy known as the Trump administration. It is worth examining some of the more recent threats to Americans' life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness:

It seems a dead-level certainty that sometime this week, perhaps even before this issue of the Flyer comes off the press, President Trump will announce some fateful alteration in this nation's observance of and commitment to the international Paris Agreement on climate change.

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Either Trump is prepared to withdraw the United States from the terms of the Agreement, or he intends to soften our commitment to it in such a way that it comes to the same thing. That much seems clear from the President's recent domestic actions in disavowing one previously adopted environmental safeguard after another and granting the fossil-fuel industry free rein to resume polluting the atmosphere with massive amounts of carbon dioxide. The net result of that will likely be to accelerate the ravages of ongoing climate change — one species of which, last weekend's violent windstorm and downpour, Memphians are even now attempting to recover from.

Beyond weather catastrophes themselves, though, Trump's attitude has also invited the ongoing contempt and alienation from nations long allied with the United States and now, as witness the aftermath of last week's NATO meetings, preparing to go their own way.

And the breakdown of NATO, an alliance already at risk from its cumulative nonstop disparagement by candidate and now President Trump, would leave its member nations, including the United States, vulnerable to increasing pressure from the resurgent and expansionist Russia of Vladimir Putin. The case can certainly be made that a measure of cooperation between Russia and the United States is necessary to combat Islamist terrorism, but Trump's policy seems obviously aimed at something larger and more recklessly transformative than that.

Although various governmental investigations are belatedly underway into the meaning of Trump's undeniable, unrelenting, secretive, and potentially illegal devotion to Putin and Russia, these inquiries are just now moving in a dangerously lumbering fashion. What's holding them back is a lack of significant participation from Trump's own Republican Party — participation like that from Tennessee's GOP Senator Howard Baker and others that helped resolve the Watergate crisis of a generation ago.

Another Tennessee Republican, Senator Bob Corker, has lately begun to vent serious misgivings about the Trump administration's course of action, and that's a start. But too many other members of the President's party are holding themselves back from the prospect of remedial action. While there's still time, key Republicans can reconsider their reluctance and provide real service to the nation by holding the President to account. If they don't, they could end up reaping, not the gratitude of their fellow citizens to themselves and their party, but the whirlwind itself.

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