Solveig Torvik

So, people, how are we liking the new, improved United States of America?

Not so much, you say?

Is it the unending White House chaos and blatant lying of its inhabitants that you find wearisome? Or is it life under a president whose governing goal is dividing the nation into warring camps?

Perhaps it’s just that you don’t like the optics of screaming children being torn from their parents by government functionaries?

Maybe you simply object, in the name of good order and efficiency, to amateurish launchings of government baby-snatching programs that don’t offer parents so much as a receipt for their kids?

Despite President Trump’s reluctant promise to stop separating children from parents at the southern border, there’s little hope, never mind incentive, for speedy reunion of the snatched ones with their parents. There’s the vexing problem of finding mislaid children, for starters. Plus it turns out there’s big money in government baby-snatching, good taxpayer money, paid to the tune of nearly $1 billion thus far to private, for-profit companies cashing in on the asylum-seeker detention business. Just as with our privatized prisons, nothing could be more unhelpful to furthering the goal of emptying immigrant detention centers than turning them into private profit centers.

If our government wants to snatch babies in the name of national security, it hardly seems too much to ask that it own the responsibility for carrying out its detention policy — a policy Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen, in award-worthy Doublespeak, assured us did not exist, even as the children were being carted off. Instead, we’re asked to accept that terror-stricken, wailing children should languish among the Disappeared in secret, for-profit holding pens. By order of the government. In the United States of America.

Perhaps your real beef is that such heartlessness is espoused by a self-proclaimed Christian vice president babbling biblical scripture to sanctify it?

What, we would be very wise to wonder, will the Holy Bible next license us to do to one another? Hello? Mr. Pence? Looking at you, sir. Any more bright ideas?

Pence and his former aide, Stephen Miller — who prepped for his role as adviser to Pence and Trump by advising the inestimable former Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann — are the leading cheerleaders for deliberately inflicting cruelty on children for political gain.

Mark this well: Child cruelty was not a regrettable byproduct. It was the point.

These worthies coldly calculated that if only enough pain is inflicted on them at the border, desperate asylum seekers fleeing murder and mayhem in their own lands will stop coming here seeking safe harbor. Fat chance.

However, for the cost of a wall, say, investments could have been made to improve civic life in Central American countries. Instead, they have been largely ignored — except for exploitation — by this nation for more than a century.

There’s no sugar-coating this. The baby-snatching broke new ground, even for this administration. It’s the first crossing of the line by Trump and company into Gestapo-like behavior, as in: Inhumane means are acceptable to achieve desirable ends.

Lucky for us, this hapless crowd lacks the Gestapo’s competence.

There’s been lots of testing of our mettle for signs of pushback by this gang of bully boys masquerading as a government, and probing of our tolerance for uncivilized comportment. When Trump successfully neutered the Republican Congress, it gave him a free pass to abandon our national norms and values.

The border scandal has shown us two important things about Trump:

There’s little that’s so morally repugnant that he won’t do it to “win.”

And like many bullies, he backs down, sort of, when challenged by enough determined opponents. He blithely dances away, spouting nonsense about who is at fault for the mess he’s made. But he backs down.

Sure, he’s gotten away with plenty: Abandoning American citizens in hurricane-razed Puerto Rico. Abandoning consumers to usurious denizens of corporate America. Abandoning efforts to cope with climate change and to protect clean air and water. Abandoning support for science and the free press. Abandoning the cooperation with military allies and trade partners that’s given us 70 unprecedented years of peace. Abandoning American consumers and producers by launching trade wars.

Who, really, does this man work for?

Yet Trump and I both are betting that you will like all these improvements to our national life ever so much better when you see how nicely you are treated at tax time next April. And a few Aprils after that. Nothing like a little tax break to calm the conscience.

It is regrettable, certainly, that this little tax break for the un-wealthy could not be made permanent, as was the big one for the wealthy.

Those tax breaks — quite unexpectedly, surely — gave the utterly surprised (read here “devious”) Republican budgeteers exactly the opening they long have pined for: an excuse to slash Medicare and Medicaid spending. With such large tax giveaways to the rich, we just don’t have enough money for other things, it turns out. Who knew?

Sad.

If you’re one of those sore-headed spoilsports who wants incompetent baby-snatchers and math-challenged budgeteers removed from government, you must vote in the Aug. 7 primary. Register online or by mail by July 9, or appear in person at the county auditor’s office in Okanogan before July 30.

This cannot stand.

Solveig Torvik, who lived as a child in Hitler’s Nazi-occupied Norway, resides in Winthrop.