Ill at Ease in the Trump Era 

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For better, and mostly worse, it's now the era of Trump — which is either a little over a month old or almost four months old, depending on whether it's dated from last November 8th, Election Day, or January 20th, when the current president was inaugurated.

A sense of dismay, joined at times with outrage and organized protest, has been pervasive in much of the American electorate (and not just on the side that lost the electoral vote) since Donald Trump's ascension to power.  

To borrow from Lewis Carroll, things have not only gotten curiouser and curiouser, they've gotten worser and worser. The unnatural and unexplained courtship of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin by Trump has not only continued, it has escalated — along with more and more compelling evidence that the Trump campaign and the Kremlin had more than a casual relationship during the election cycle. Ditto with the new president's ongoing war with the U.S. intelligence community, upon whom his (and our) safety arguably depends, and the nation's media, upon whom our hope for reliable information rests.

There was a time, maybe, back during the GOP primaries and those delightful demolition derby debates with Little Marco and Lyin' Ted, when Trump provided us with a steady source of dismayed amusement. He has long since ceased to be funny.

The reason for our trepidation has to do with the fact that, between the time these words are written and the time when they can be read, the president will have addressed Congress, fulfilling a promise (or threat) to reveal the essentials of his plan to "repeal and replace Obamacare," which is Republican code for dismantling even the relatively bare-bones system of semi-universal health insurance that has been provided through the Affordable Care Act.        

It is worth repeating again what many thousands of our fellow citizens are saying en masse on a more or less daily basis these days at congressional town meetings: To eliminate the ACA is to deprive no fewer than 20 million previously uninsured Americans of their sole hedge against unexpected health crises. Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan and the rest of the GOP ideologues who control things now pretend they will retain protection for those with pre-existing conditions, as one example. But it is simple common sense that without the mandates of the ACA, there will be no way of funding insurance for the impoverished and desperately ill. And the conversion of outlays for Medicaid expansion into reduced funding dispersed via block grants for the states is sure to make the nation's already stressed safety net dangerously ineffective.

Not even the spectre of presidential impeachment, which polls tell us half the Americans surveyed are willing to consider, would help much, at this point. The problem lies with Congress, which remains unable or unwilling to do what is necessary to "repeal and replace" the ACA, now that they're actually, you know, governing. There is always 2018 and another election, we suppose, if we last that long.

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