Three rescued North Korean prisoners do not atone for millions of disenfranchised American citizens

I’ll admit it: I hate the fact that Trump was able to procure the release of three American prisoners of North Korea. I hate the fact that he received credit for doing anything noteworthy.

But while I’m being honest, let’s put that prisoner release in perspective—weigh it against the other so-called achievements of his presidency (let alone against the fact that about a half dozen Americans remain interned in Iran, whose leaders have little use for America these days).

For instance, how does it match up when we juxtapose it with the number of women who will die a painful death from cervical cancer because of the Trump administration’s attack on Planned Parenthood? How many unwanted children will be born to parents excluded from access to contraceptives or deprived of access to abortion? And how many birth defects will accrue as more women find their health care restricted by quasi-religious considerations?

How does the prisoner release match up with the number of children who will suffer physical and mental impediments at the hands of Trump’s EPA, hell-bent on deregulating every environmental advance America has made in the past fifty years? Lead in drinking water, coal dust in rivers, poisonous pesticides on crops, more auto pollution in our atmosphere—an entire generation of American children face greater disease risks, decreased mental capacity, and believe or not in 2018, shorter life spans!

How does it match up with the draconian immigration policies of the current administration and a confederacy of I.C.E. stormtroopers who look upon the fracturing of families as collateral damage—if they look upon it at all? And what of those whose everyday lives are dominated by fear of arrest and deportation, who can no longer report criminal activity to the police for fear that their very existence will trigger some untoward response?

How does it match up with our lickspittle president’s embrace of the NRA and the gun deaths that have accrued during his presidency, and which will no doubt continue to increase as military-style weapons remain available? Or his dog-whistle appeals to white supremacists and other hate groups that exacerbate our racial divisions? Or his signature tax law which excludes an entire generation from upward mobility and decimates what little remains of the middle class? Or his dismantling of the Affordable Care Act and the concomitant benefits it was providing to Americans for whom health insurance had been an impossible luxury and who, again without it, will get sick and die? Or his denial of climate change and its concomitant rise in sea levels and the coming inundation of large parts of Florida and Louisiana—of the coastlines of Oregon and Massachusetts?

Three men are enjoying newfound freedom with their families today. Good for them. But tens of thousands, maybe millions more will go on about their lives, stagnant, trapped, watching from behind barriers as the American Dream slowly, but inexorably, awakens to a Trumpian slough of corruption, mismanagement, and stupidity.

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