Tom Fulks

Like Trump, the Board of Supervisors is waging an assault on government

Tom Fulks
Tom Fulks

Marching toward the gallows of history, Donald Trump’s supporters behave as if it’s perfectly normal that he and his people connive with Russian gangsters and spies, feloniously lie about it on security clearance applications and now conspire to cover it up.

The eye-popping dishonesty and unrepentant lawlessness of the president hastens the rapid decline of American global prestige and power and portends the top-to-bottom dismantling of our government—including in our own county.

If they were honest, Trump’s supporters would admit he and today’s Republican Party are unfit to govern at any level. You’re either with America—rooting for our success, defending us from enemies, making government better—or you’re with Trump. You can’t be both.

Trump creates chaos not seen since World War II—reneging on treaties, withdrawing from climate and trade agreements, alienating allies, threatening Germany with trade war. No wonder Pope Francis looks dyspeptic in Trump’s vanity pics.

Trump clearly loathes America, treating U.S. intelligence services as enemy combatants, preferring Russia—our longstanding global adversary—to entrust his secrets.

He seems eager to install Vladimir Putin in a West Wing office suite. Republicans—heretofore anti-Soviet hawks—seem to be entirely OK with that.

In fact, Republicans appear to have decided treason and the degradation of American government at every level are acceptable byproducts of cutting taxes for the rich, stripping our health care and eliminating environmental protections in the name of greed. Rational public policy and good government are dismembered policy by policy, not for public benefit, but in service of extreme, right-wing ideology.

If this wholesale assault on American government were prosecuted by a foreign power, we’d have declared war months ago. But those taking the wrecking ball to our government are homegrown fanatics—see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, Trump-loving Republicans.

Locally, this dystopian, government-is-the-enemy philosophy festers among three SLO County supervisors. They don’t want to rein in county government. They want to destroy it. Just like Trump is doing at the federal level.

With Trump-like insolence, the board majority cares nothing for good policy or practice, dispensing public funds to cronies, chasing off highly regarded professional staff, elevating in importance potholes over people.

Contempt for government is the operating mantra of supervisors Lynn Compton, Debbie Arnold and John Peschong, seemingly motivated not by desire for quality governance, but in the smug satisfaction they take in thwarting and frustrating their political opponents.

Whereas “conservatives” of the past espoused core principles of patriotism, the rule of law and fiscal constraint, today this far-right cabal is the local equivalent of the pro-Trump talking-head industry, aptly described by conservative talk radio host Charles Sykes.

“Rather than defend President Trump’s specific actions,” Sykes writes in the New York Times, “his conservative champions change the subject to (1) the biased ‘fake news’ media, (2) over-the-top liberals, (3) hypocrites on the left, (4) anyone else victimizing Trump or his supporters… . For the anti-anti-Trump pundit, whatever the allegation against Trump, whatever his blunders or foibles, the other side is always worse.”

No matter how terrible their policies are for the public, SLO County’s hard-right board majority want them because their opponents don’t.

Five supervisors voted last November to manage the North County’s groundwater in a rational way, assessing management costs to actual water users. Four months later, Compton and Arnold reversed themselves, siding with newly elected Peschong to foist the costs onto all county taxpayers, flipping their so-called “conservative” principles upside down.

This trio’s actions aren’t about us. They’re about political gamesmanship. Running local government into the ground is their mission. Draining the public treasury for the favored few is their method.

Inflicting pain on the public – making us pay for someone else’s water, stripping us of our health insurance, undoing our clean air and water protections: This isn’t about making life better for Americans. It’s about imposing an ideology that can’t survive democracy without force.

Don’t like this message? Call me an enemy of the people, like Trump does.

Body-slam me, like that new congressman from Montana does.

Set the goons on me, like that Turkish dictator does.

Arrest me, like Trump desires of American journalists who report his traitorous, criminal behavior.

All that’s normal now, right? License has been issued from the top.

Thanks, Trump & Co. And thanks to your supine, bootlicking Republican apologists.

Enemy of the people here, wrapping up by reminding you that things aren’t normal. They may never be again.

Liberal columnist Tom Fulks serves on the San Luis Obispo County Democratic Central Committee. His column runs every other Sunday, in rotation with conservative columnist Andrea Seastrand.