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The state of the union in the age of Trump


Day after day, the bad news spills out: During last year's presidential campaign, the Russians not only hacked into the Democrats' e-mail system but also proposed a meeting with Donald Trump's son, on at least the pretext that they had incriminating evidence about Hillary Clinton. A gleeful Donald Trump Jr. agreed to the meeting, and, for good measure, took along his brother-in-law and the Trump campaign chairman.

Republicans in Congress have responded fairly tepidly to signs of Russia's meddling in our election, but they're dead set on making it harder for Americans to vote.

Trump is alienating the leaders of foreign nations at a horrifying pace, and the damage he's doing – to our reputation, to our history of international leadership, and to other nations' trust in us – will last long after he's gone.

Trump appointees and Republicans in Congress have their sights set on regulations that protect the environment and Americans' health and safety.

Trump has walked away from an important international agreement on climate change, despite growing evidence that the world faces catastrophe if we don't work together, quickly.

North Korea is testing missiles that could reach our shores, and our volatile, unpredictable president will determine our response.

Meantime, on Capitol Hill, Republicans continue to construct a war on the poor, the elderly, and the sick. The latest version of the Republicans' health care bill – abandoned Monday night – would have let health-insurance companies charge the sick and the elderly far more than they would charge people with no health problems. That version of the Republican health-care plan was so bad that the two big insurance trade associations, America's Health Insurance Plans and BlueCross BlueShield Association, came out against it.

The plan was "simply unworkable in any form," the two groups said in a letter to Senate leaders, "and would undermine protections for those with pre-existing medical conditions, increase premiums, and lead to widespread terminations of coverage for people currently enrolled in the individual market."

The senior-citizen lobbying group AARP said the plan would "make a bad health bill worse" and warned that it would tell its 38 million members how every Senator voted.

And here was the banner on the American Medical Association's website: "New Health Bill: Tell Senate to Put Patients Before Politics. Join AMA and urge senators to stop Medicaid cuts & ensure meaningful, affordable coverage."

None of that opposition mattered to most Republican senators, and the bill came close to passing. And with that plan dead, the Senate's majority leader, Mitch McConnell, was urging his legislators to simply repeal Obamacare and come up with a replacement in a couple of years. That would get Republicans past the midterm elections, but it would throw millions off of health insurance, reinstate the atrocities of the old system, and throw the insurance industry into chaos.

This is just incomprehensible.

In his column late last week, the Times' David Brooks traced some Trump family history and said that a "moral obliviousness" was bred into our current president and his namesake son. "It takes generations to hammer ethical considerations out of a person's mind and to replace them entirely with the ruthless logic of winning and losing," Brooks wrote, "to take the normal human yearning to be good and replace it with a single-minded desire for material conquest; to take the normal human instinct for kindness and replace it with a law-of-the-jungle mentality."

Trump Sr. and Jr. aren't the only ones who seem to have lost the normal human instinct for kindness, though. That loss is evident throughout the Republican Party.

So here we are. Conservatives' grip on the Republican Party seems permanent. Even if Donald Trump doesn't fill out his term, Mike Pence will take his place. And Ruth Bader Ginsberg won't live forever.

Good merciful heaven: how did we let this happen to this country? And how will we fix this mess?