Randi Kreiss

Dear Europe: Step up. It’s payback time.


We’ve hit a rough patch in America. For the first time in memory, the eyes of the world are looking toward us with more pity than admiration. Our burnished reputation, earned through decades of economic and pro-democracy leadership, is tarnished. Our moral compass is spinning. And the spinner in chief, sadly, is our president.

In 1948, the United States launched the Marshall Plan, which pledged $13 billion ($130 billion in current dollars) to rebuild Europe. Every European country benefited from our largesse. Now it’s payback time: We need their support to see us through the Trump years.

On the day he took office, President Trump began dismantling the government, as promised. Strong bastions of leadership and research and governance, like the Department of State, are dangerously understaffed and unprepared for the inevitable crises ahead. Domestically, Trump has hobbled our departments of housing and environmental protection and consumer protection and education, presaging a lack of services and funds for our most needy citizens.

Our government, cheered on by the president, is shaking the pillars of our singular democracy, rolling back progress on race relations, gender equality, immigration rights and economic opportunity. Just a year ago, we were a country that welcomed newcomers without regard to race or religion. Now we impose travel bans on predominantly Muslim émigrés.

The president, who should be the beating heart of the nation and its moral center, is a self-serving buffoon, coyly boosting hate groups, denying climate change and supporting reprehensible candidates like Roy Moore, an accused pedophile.

America needs a helping hand, and it should come from Europe, which we rebuilt from the ashes of World War II.

Just last week, President Emmanuel Macron of France, in what was considered a response to Trump’s intransigence, welcomed American climate scientists to France to do their research. He named several Americans as winners of a grant to study climate change in Paris.

One of the applicants, Ashley Ballantyne, a bioclimatologist at the University of Montana in Missoula, said in an interview, “It used to be that European scientists would come to the U.S. for opportunities. But I think the tides are turning, and there have been several really well respected, mid-career scientists leaving for institutions in Germany and Switzerland and France [and] England. … In some respects, there’s been a bit of a reverse brain drain.”

Our allies in Europe should step up in any way possible to help us get through this. So how about if England helps Puerto Rico get back on its feet? It’s clear that our president doesn’t see the devastation of the island that Hurricane Maria left behind as an urgent matter.

Maybe Germany could take in the “dreamers” who Trump is threatening to deport and allow them to finish their education and launch their careers. Germany has been very generous with immigrant populations, so maybe it’s willing to help. Especially after Trump was so publicly disrespectful of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Sweden might provide free reproductive services for American women who soon may not be able to find abortion providers. And Switzerland, we’ll need some money if the new GOP tax plan creates a catastrophic deficit, as expected. Canada wasn’t part of the Marshall Plan, but it might want to set aside more parks and wilderness areas, since our president is shrinking our protected lands to accommodate even more oil drilling. Soon we may have to go to British Columbia to hike without seeing a pipeline.

Perhaps Italy can send over a team to keep our rivers and reservoirs clean, so that while Trump & Co. are killing our environmental regulations, we can keep our drinking water safe for our children and grandchildren. Austria, the home of modern psychotherapy, might provide counselors to treat the great numbers of women coming forward with sexual harassment and assault accusations. At least 12 of them have accused the president of inappropriate or illegal behavior. Surely these women could benefit from free supportive therapy.

What no one can help us with is the man himself. We did it. We elected a morally depraved individual who brings a dark vision and a cold heart to the presidency. Donald Trump is evolving into the worst version of himself: willfully ignorant about the critical issues facing America, mean-spirited and divisive. He neglects the business of government, including security briefings, at his pleasure and our peril. The land of the free and the home of the brave can do better. Until we do, let’s accept a helping hand from those who accepted our help in their hour of need.

I know it’s wishful thinking — a fantasy. We own this problem. We voted our way into this mess, and eventually we’ll come to our senses and vote our way out.

Copyright © 2017 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at randik3@aol.com.