NOTE: The Star-Herald has decided to stop allowing reporters to write columns. This is what I wrote for tomorrow’s column and would have run on Thursday, February 2, 2017. I normally have more links and photos in my stories, but I did not know until late Wednesday afternoon this column would not run in the paper. I’ve added links for the sites I could remember and could find again.

This country is in danger of falling apart.

Policies are threatening us and our way of life. Illegal bans on individuals from countries who are not a terrorist threat were put into place through executive order. It didn’t matter if they were green card holders. Donald Trump consulted no one and fired the one person who legally questioned its constitutionality.

Peaceful demonstrations around the nation forced the justice system to take a stand. Republican Strategist Ana Navarro said, “In period of 7 days, Trump’s twice managed to mobilize thousands of Americans against him across the USA. Something’s happening out there.”

That something is the people who will not stand for hateful policies foisted upon them with no checks and balances.

This ban, which doesn’t affect countries where terrorists who killed Americans actually came from, enhanced unfounded fears and made Trump ISIS’s number one recruiting agent.

Moves have been made to allow drilling for oil and gas in national parks. Scientists are being silenced. Proposals have been made to cut or eliminate the arts. Walls to keep “them” out and “us” in threaten habitats and species.

Paper trails documenting policies, which are vital to the stability of a democracy, are not being kept.

We are lied to continuously.

These incidences have the fingerprints of Steve Bannon all over them. Beginning with the inauguration speech, words drifting out of the White House are traced back to him. We don’t talk enough about Bannon, the editor of a white nationalist website, who wormed his way into the job of chief strategist for the president. He’s now a member of the National Security Council. Bannon has no experience with foreign policy and national security, but was given the job anyway. The Joint Chiefs of Staff were promptly ousted, despite being the most knowledgeable members on security.

This white supremacist told the press to shut up and listen to what he says.

I will not be a silent accomplice to the destruction of America.

Theodore Roosevelt wrote in 1918 in the Kansas City Star, “To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American Public.”

I’m not against the office of the president. I’m against policies which seek to violate or destroy the Constitution.

I will not give Trump a few weeks or months before I criticize his policies. I don’t want months of executive orders – orders the Republicans said should be stopped under Barack Obama – and violations of the Constitution. Trump had his chance and he came out of the gate with a pen to destroy.

I have been asked why things can’t be like they were before. Why can’t people just share fun stuff on Facebook? Why does everyone have to talk politics? They’re talking politics because they see what is happening and care enough to try and fix it. They share because you don’t want to see what is happening to your country, how one man is dividing us into chaos and you’d rather sit idly by and look at cat memes or pictures of your grandchildren.

The people who voted for Trump refuse to denounce his policies that are based on fear, not facts. They seem fine with the notion our country is headed toward a propaganda-driven nationalist state. They said they were “good people” when they voted for Trump. Where are they now? Why are they silent?

This is not a left vs. right battle. It is democracy vs. authoritarianism.

I am horrified at what we are becoming. People I now live in fear of the “other” who are somehow going to harm them despite all evidence to the contrary.

This fight is not over. We will keep showing up because it matters. I want to have hope things will get better. I really do. But the White House is devoid of integrity and our humanity is at stake.

Steve Bannon, and some folks in Scottsbluff, have told me I should keep my mouth shut. You should already know that’s not going to happen.

I will speak up for those who cannot. I will be a voice for those who can’t speak publicly for fear of losing their job or being ostracized. I will speak for the cowards who refuse to speak. I will speak for the people who voted for Trump but can’t swallow their pride and admit something is wrong. I will not be silent. I will criticize policies that hurt us all.

When you drain a swamp, you remove mostly water. What’s left behind is the mud and the muck. Trump was right. He drained the swamp. It’s the garbage left behind America has to deal with.