Here comes 2019 and we can finally leave 2018 behind with its total political chaos that has wracked the nation. History will undoubtedly record Donald Trump as the most divisive, disruptive and least accomplished president in the history of our country, which is really nothing to brag about.

If pitting Americans against each other could be seen as a great thing, then Trump definitely fulfilled his phony pledge to Make America Great Again. But of course there’s nothing even remotely great about turning our citizens against not only each other, but against longstanding allies and nations that have stood with us in our most dire times. Nope, what will make America great in 2019 is putting our system of checks and balances in the political and policy arenas back in action and putting Trump’s insulting, and dangerous political rhetoric and destructive policies back where they belong — which is in the dumpster of cheap scams and fake reality TV from which he emerged.

The new Democrat majority in the House of Representatives will be stepping in to fulfill their role in the checks and balances upon which our form of governance was founded. They will have their work cut out for them — and not just in what are expected to be extensive investigations into the corruption and profiteering of Trump, his family, his campaign and his administration, but in reversing the incredible damage he’s already done to the environment, the social safety net, our international relationships, and America’s image in the world.

There’s little doubt the extensive investigations of Special Counsel Robert Mueller will peel back the covers of Trump’s misdeeds for the public to finally see. It will also provide the basis for House probes that may expand far beyond Mueller’s original task. Although impeachment remains uncertain given the Republican majority in the Senate, that’s a call that really can’t be made until the full truth of Trump’s perfidy is revealed in its totality.

In the meantime, while the Trump presidency explodes Montana’s legislature is preparing to head into session. Given that we have Republican majorities in both chambers of the legislature and a Democrat governor, it would be highly advisable for our elected leaders to eschew the hyper-partisanship Trump has espoused and remember that they are coming to the Capitol to work — and that their work is the governance and well-being of all Montanans, not a Red vs. Blue football game between political parties.

To be sure, there’s plenty of work for our policymakers to do. Pollution doesn’t distinguish between political affiliations and cleaning up Montana is something everyone should agree to do for the good of all Montanans. And while it seems like old news, it’s worth remembering that Montana hosts the nation’s largest Superfund site, the Clark Fork Complex, as well as toxic mining and industrial Superfund sites scattered across the state. We cannot allow the responsibility for full and complete cleanups of these sites to be passed on to future generations.

Simply put, there is too much that needs to be done in 2019 at both the state and national levels to allow the ugly and useless hyper-partisan battles of 2018 to continue. The good news is that we are still a wealthy and strong nation and can well afford to take care of our citizens and the environment upon which all of us rely for existence. All it requires is the political will and wisdom of our leaders to do so — and the perfect time is the New Year of 2019.

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George Ochenski writes from Helena. His column appears each Monday on the Missoulian's Opinion page. He can be reached by email at oped@missoulian.com.

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