Heavy Thoughts Entering 2017

Monsignor William J. LinderEditorial By
Monsignor William J. Linder

As we enter the New Year, let us take a moment to reflect on all that has unfolded in 2016.

With Donald Trump set to take office on January 20, it is my hope that the national conversation will focus on the key issues surrounding our nation’s new commander-in-chief once he takes over the White House.

The period of time since Trump’s stunning November 8 win has flown by in a blur. The holiday frenzy has now settled down. However, let me be clear that we must not lose sight of the important issues that have yet to be resolved.

Trump’s massive business interest sprawled across 20-plus countries will unavoidably create conflicts of interests. Already, his daughter, Ivanka, has used major network interviews or meetings with heads of state to peddle her fine jewelry line (her $10,800 bracelet was on display). Trump’s business dealings span real estate, golf resorts and food and beverage and may lead to possible violations of the Constitution, according to legal experts.

Russia’s role in interfering with the presidential election has become a grim reality as the latest news reports have shown. We are living in an era of cyberattacks of the most pernicious sort and the American people deserve more information from the intelligence community. I believe that we need to have some sense of what our capabilities are, as a nation, to protect ourselves from malicious hackers. The Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the dozen other agencies and groups that comprise the intelligence community must act with urgency to cooperate on matters of national security like never before. Our cherished democratic process must not and cannot be undermined by false news stories generated from overseas. These are the discussions we need to have more now than ever.

In terms of the cabinet appointments, I was disappointed, but not surprised, by the lack of diversity offered by Trump’s picks. As reports have noted, his appointments read like a billionaire’s country club members list. And don’t even get me started on the dearth of women or racial diversity. What I find most disturbing of all is how Trump has sought to elevate people who deeply oppose the work of the departments they are tapped to lead.

Let us continue to vigorously press the new administration for more publicly accessible information—on everything from Trump’s slew of conflicting interests to our cyber intelligence capabilities—and let us relearn to read beyond the headline of a news story.

If we learned any collective lessons from 2016, it was that an ill-informed electorate cannot be ignored or underestimated. These conversations must be brought to the forefront of our national discourse.

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