Think About It: Are we safer today?

Safety is one of our most basic human needs and probably closely tied to our survival instinct. At least that’s how I see it. We all have our unique set of safety requirements developed through life experiences that taught us what makes us safe and what makes us feel safe.

I’ve often written of having the sort of childhood that resulted in being hyper-vigilant brought on by a combination of childhood threats and events that led me to believe that no one had my back. I created my own safe places and habits.

I know now that most of what made me feel safe was an illusion. Still, I find comfort in certain places of solitude and not in others. I intuitively feel safe with some people and not with others. Despite maturing over the years, the lessons living in my cells do not forget.

My childhood fears about external events were mostly about being bombed in a nuclear attack. I’m certain that I was not the only child who had nightmares filled with the flash and horror of seeing your town disappear in a mushroom cloud.

I knew then and I know now that my safety and that of others related to external events like mass attacks on or in our country is out of our control. Our safety is in the hands of our local, state and federal leaders. National, state and local security is essential to our sense of well-being and our safety.

Can we say with certainty that our federal government is keeping up with threats to our national security? Are we able to interpret the mixed messages coming from the White House on any one day? Can we trust the information that’s being said, ignored or withheld?

I don’t think so.

Political chaos unsafe at any speed

The politically motivated chaotic approach to governing our nation’s detection and response to threats has resulted in an inability to recognize threats, lack of strategy, lack of comprehensive action plans and a deterioration of our national security.

The priority of national security seems to rise and fall with polls that rise and fall for the president. Our president is a very good marketer and showman in certain circles, but he is a very poor president who spends very little time being the president.

Rather than deal with threats, he hides or distorts material that either substantiates the threat or would lead to constructive action. He manages the message to conform with his limited world view and outsized ambition instead of keeping the nation safe.

Here are a few examples that concern me and millions of others:

Denying and stifling the science that proves the threat and predicts the violent storms and temperatures that result from a heated Earth trying to cool itself and using his power to eliminate environmental regulations and funding. We don’t need to imagine the human and property devastation from violent storms; we see it.

Denying that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to the point of stifling and discrediting the nation’s intelligence agencies and using his power to eliminate a national security position related to cybersecurity and reduce funding that would make voting more secure.

Withdrawing from nuclear arms treaties and failing to enter into constructive diplomacy to reduce the nuclear arms race and the chance nuclear weapons are developed and used by sinister forces. Note the status of our influence on Russia, North Korea and Iran.

Assaulting democracy by disrupting the balance of power written into our Constitution by refusing to release documents and people, including agency heads, to provide information to Congress and willfully using executive power to deny and stifle concluded legislative acts.

Denying the safety of Americans

The most confounding governing malfeasance in protecting Americans is the refusal to take measures to protect Americans from homegrown terrorists and crazy people with assault rifles. Since 2017, the Office of Homeland Security has dramatically cut its domestic terrorism budget in the areas of prevention, domestic terrorism analysts and help to local communities. The FBI was to take on more but only 20 percent of the terrorism budget is dedicated to domestic terrorism and hate crimes.

Safety for Americans in gathering places doesn’t look like a priority to the current administration despite the support of Americans. Ninety percent of Americans polled want 100 percent background checks on the sale of firearms and over half support a return to the ban on assault rifles and/or ban on high capacity ammunition clips. We don’t have to imagine the nightmares children are having now. We see it.

We should be worried, very worried that our degraded democracy no longer puts a high value on protecting the safety of all Americans. The only other explanation is utter incompetence at every level of leadership in the White House, Cabinet and Congress.

Bertha Cooper spent her career years as a health care organization and program administrator and consultant and is a featured columnist in Sequim Gazette. Cooper has lived in Sequim with her husband for nearly 20 years. Reach her at columnists@sequimgazette.com.

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