An Act of Nature

Today’s politics call for a chance of thunder and lightning…with a slight chance of sunshine

Jamie Wanzek, Managing Editor

January was an extreme month. With record breaking snowstorms in the Sierra Nevada to America’s new and divergent atmosphere, I cannot help but see these seemingly different topics converge. As many are troubled by Trump’s presidency– the darkest and coldest part of the storm– we must remember that spring will arrive. Yet, although the laws of nature can be easily applied to today’s political environment, we cannot naturalize the turn of events.

Tahoe has been reminded that sometimes winter actually happens. Real winter. The lake is full, the mountains are white and the ski bums are happy – California’s seven-year drought might finally be over. The snow gods stacked up a series of torrential storms over the Pacific and sent them west across the Sierra, rewriting January weather history in one giant sweep. A recent study by the University of Colorado Boulder and NASA found that a month of Sierra Nevada snowfall produced more than 5.7 trillion gallons of water, growing the snowpack to a whopping 173 percent of average.

And as I dust the rust off my powder skis and celebrate this lucky turn of atmospheric events, I am reminded of the delicate balance of nature – one of the West’s most extreme droughts on record is corrected with an equally extreme winter. It’s yin and yang, night and day.

So when I check into the political reality in America, I try to remember this basic law of balance. After eight years with a left-leaning, liberal president, the pendulum has swung swiftly the other way. This is Donald Trump’s America now. And while this political equilibrium has the hallmarks of a natural balancing event, Americans need to remain vigilant about our values, and avoid accepting the whims of Trump’s leadership as if we have no control over the outcome.

After just three weeks in office, Trump has shown his style of governance is stark and extreme. As an (almost) college graduate, I am scared. I am scared for my health as woman, of threats to the First Amendment, and of loss of institutions like public broadcasting and the department of education. I worry for my Muslim and Mexican friends and their families, and I fear for the future of the public lands and the environment I cherish. In a matter of weeks, my values, and many of your values, have come under attack.

And yet, even as we stand exposed in this political deluge, nature is acting quite beautifully. Trump enacts the global gag order– the foundation of women’s health? One day after Trump’s inauguration, 2 million women across the world marched to say “Hell no.”When Rep. Jason Chaffetz proposed selling 3.5 million acres of federal land, environmentalist and hunters alike picked up the phone and said “Hell no.” And when Trump recently banned travel entry from seven Muslim-majority countries, Americans exercised their freedom of assembly at airports across the country and said, “Hell no.” America is taking a stand. America is waking up.

The drought years in Tahoe taught us to be resilient and attack the problem by radically changing our environmental policies. The Trump administration must be treated with that same level of engagement. Let’s take a stand. Let’s continue to exercise our civic responsibilities as a democracy. Let’s care about our neighbors, our children and environment. Take it or leave it, America is experiencing a shift of energy and concern– an act of nature. We must fight to prevent this political storm from destroying our future.