I’ve advocated a lot on this show, on twitter and as an organizer here in St Petersburg, Florida for the necessity of peaceful protest on a large scale right now. I do believe we need to use our bodies and our voices to condemn the crimes being committed by this administration.
Crimes against asylum seekers and migrants at the southern border. Violations of the emoluments clause of the US Constitution as our President accepts funds from foreign governments through his hotels. Obstruction of justice in Trump’s many attempts to shut down the Mueller investigation. Our laws are being broken and our Constitution violated in bigger and bigger ways every day.
Checks and balances between the three branches of government were built into our Constitution to limit or even remove a criminal President such as this one, but the Republican party of this country has abandoned its oaths to defend our constitution. They’ve made their constituency the cabal of racists, Russians and billionaires who have decided they are done with American democracy. Our constitution provides too much potential for racial and gender equality for the racists, too many schools, roads, parks and hospitals for the billionaires, and too much of a beacon of democracy for Vladimir Putin.
We are in a dire place now, with Senate Republicans complicit in Trump’s obstruction of justice, a Supreme Court grotesquely stacked with racists and ideologues, and a Democratic House fearful of losing the one foothold of sanity in the nation’s Capitol should they dare to exercise their authority and impeach.
But we are still here. When I ask myself if we have lost this fight yet, I really don’t think we have. And that’s because I am still here and you are still here. These are our streets and our houses, our businesses and places of worship. We are not owned or controlled by the racists, Russians or billionaires. We are not impoverished. As a people, Americans have the capacity to whisper amongst ourselves if that’s how we choose to do it, or talk openly about upholding the rule of law, or cry out with a roar that we demand these criminals leave our house now.
When Americans occupy in the streets in large numbers peacefully demanding that this end, it will end. If we had demonstrations in the Capitol and around the country with 250,000+ people in an ongoing way starting now and growing, Trump would be gone by the end of the summer.
It would not be easy. It would cost us time. It will cost us money. It will destroy some family vacation plans. But the price we’re going to pay to protect our democracy gets higher every day we delay.
The analogy I keep coming back to has to do with a story from my experience when my son was born
When I was pregnant, my wife and I attended classes for something called hypnobirthing. It sounds kooky, but lots of people are able to enter into deep concentration and use these powerful breathing techniques to get through childbirth basically without pain. I think of it like a luge ride down a massive, incredibly steep mountain. It’s not easy. You’ll be shooting down a hill at 100 miles an hour. You’re holding on with everything you’ve got. The turns feel like their going to break you. There’s no guarantee that you won’t wipe out or get hurt along the way, but if you’re strong enough and prepared you have a way to get through this dangerous path down the mountain.
I didn’t practice the exercises. I thought I had enough of a background in yoga and as a musician to connect with my breath the right way. No. I did not feel like I was zooming down a luge track. I felt like I was in a mine cart that was careening from boulder to boulder, knocking me hard over and over again. I was making progress, but I was getting hurt and it was utterly terrifying.
Each breath was a battle, my counting was ragged and forced. Nothing about it fit or felt right. I was fighting hard to keep it going and I was still in intense pain, so at a certain point I decided maybe I shouldn’t bother doing this if it’s not actually helping, so I stopped counting my breaths.
Now, instead of smashing against the sides as I lurched down my track it felt like just face planted into a rock. It was agony immediately. This was a way to get crushed. However awful the minecart experience was, it was getting me down the mountain. I was most likely going to get hurt, but I’d probably get to the bottom alive.
I feel right now, like as a people we’re in one of the last moments when we can get in the minecart. We had chances over the last couple of years to make a luge ride out of this. We could have stayed in the streets after the muslim ban, or after Jared and Ivanka were given security clearances that endangered our country. The best time would have been when Mitch McConnell refused to seat Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. Nothing about it would have been easy. It would have been scary, risky, hard, time consuming, but we would have been defending our democracy and rule of law with much smoother walls around us and a clearer path to the end.
Right now we’ve got a deeply compromised Justice Department, Trump defenders stacked into the Supreme Court, and officials throughout the executive branch openly refusing to obey the law in their compliance with Congress. It’s nearly an entire government daring the House Democrats to arrest them all. We have a Constitution we can defend, my friends, but just barely. It’s time to grab ahold of it right now and get yourselves in the streets. The Constitution is the one most important guide we have down this mountain. It’s the one guide-rail that matters the most. Trump and the Republicans know this and are shredding it as fast as they can.
I know the idea of taking to the streets right now is daunting. I know we wonder if it will work. There are no guarantees that it will, but we are close to losing the only chance we have to hold this republic together as a democracy of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Find four friends who will stand out with you in your town this week to demand the administration abide by the law. There is a regular protest in DC that needs people from all over the country to join them. If your community can send a team to stand with them for a week this summer, maybe each of our cities can send teams for different weeks to make a bigger, unavoidable presence there. These are the conversations we need to have if we don’t want to squander the tools we do still have available to us. I fear we’ll look back at this moment and wished we’d taken the leap before it was too late.