Trump’s not our only problem

Over the last few weeks I’ve wondered, sometimes out loud, are we too focused on Donald Trump? It certainly seems like it. Ever since he announced that he was running for President, we as a nation have been obsessed with Trump.

The media helped a lot with that, and they still do by making him the lead in both newspapers and televised news programs every single day. Every move, every tweet, is reported. Part of it is our fascination with celebrity, because let’s face it, Trump is a celebrity billionaire who is famous for … what exactly? Before the birther movement that he started, Trump was famous mostly for his marriages, his buildings, and “The Apprentice” TV show. He’s a game show host and yet he managed to get elected President of the most powerful country in the world, elected by people who watch Duck Dynasty, Honey Boo Boo, and the Kardashians.

How else can you explain how a guy who claims to grab at women’s private parts won the election? It wasn’t that long ago that having your sexual exploits go public would sink your career. Remember Gary Hart? John Edwards?

Trump’s comments about women, disabled people, and Mexican immigrants were more than enough to end his presidential run, and yet here we are. Someone suggested to me that Donald Trump was put in office by the real powers that be (whoever that is) to keep us all distracted from what’s really going on. I’m not what you’d call a conspiracy buff, but when you think about it, maybe it’s about more than just the Russians. Whatever the case, he’s done some horrible things since he got to the White House and we should do all we can to oppose him.

But we’re so fixated on him that we’re missing other things, at least locally. Take Massachusetts: there are currently over 2 million people living in the state, and 20,000 of them are homeless — though I wouldn’t be surprised if the numbers were even more staggering than that. Regardless what our politicians across the country are telling us, things haven’t gotten better.

Many in this country are without health care, our schools are underfunded, people are without clean water and living in unchecked poverty, living with systemic racism; all of this existed well before Trump came to the White House. It seems like it’s all him but we know it isn’t. He is the product of this very system we are fighting against, he didn’t create it.

Gentrification is another thing that is happening in neighborhoods around the country, and you only have to look at Dudley Square in Boston to see it. Six businesses have have either closed their doors or are planning to, as poor people are being pushed out to make way for a shopping center and luxury housing. That’s how it is for poor neighborhoods all over Massachusetts.

Again, this was all happening before Trump, and with us focused on him the powers that be locally are pulling the sidewalks out from under our feet. Homelessness has gotten worse, not just in Boston but everywhere, and people are dying in the street.

So what do we do? Pay attention. Not just to the celebrity in the White House, but to what’s going on around you, what’s happening in your state, your city, your neighborhood. Because if we don’t pay attention we’ll be Trumped again.

James Shearer

James Shearer is a writer and co-founder of Spare Change News.

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