Again, we are at the moment we all feared would come at some point with Trump. The President appears to be preparing to disband the investigation into his collusion with Russia. Having succeed in reviving Roy Moore’s Senate bid, he knows full well what is gradually dawning on the rest of us – that no Republican will work to stop him. On anything.
Pundits across the country are acknowledging the authoritarianism implicit in this development as a rueful addendum to the weary head-shaking and not-quite surprise they share. As though if Congressional Republicans fail us we will all sadly walk away from the game of democracy.
If the pundits are the referees, they are so truly disheartened by the news that a decent percentage of Alabamans believe that child sexual abuse is a reasonable price to pay for white supremacy that they’re calling the game over.
It’s hit me in the gut too, but the whole country needs to get smacked upside the head right now with the reminder that 63% of us strongly disapprove of this President. That’s 200 million people. I’m not seeing anything from national papers, Democratic leadership, or progressive non-profits but a shrugging of shoulders and composition of regrets. As though the American people have no more moves to make but accede to an authoritarian government taking a hammer (and sickle) to our system of justice.
These venerable institutions are steeped in the moves of institutions – letters, calls, hearings, votes. But we can do much more than vote. How did we end the Vietnam War? Americans protested. Americans marched. Americans held sit-ins and hunger strikes. Sometimes Americans got arrested for disrupting the daily flow of life in order to insist that their message was heard for the good of the country. In great numbers and with an annoying regularity. It has to be annoying or it doesn’t work.
There are greater penalties today for peaceful protest than there were in the 1960s and 70s, but I think the penalties are going to start becoming insurmountable very quickly if we let Donald Trump get away with the destruction of the last legal constraint on his Presidency.
This is a use it or lose it moment for civil liberties in the United States.
If he doesn’t have to worry about Republicans in Congress enforcing the laws against collaborating with a foreign power, if they are compliant about installing his pedophile picks in the Senate, if they aren’t moved to action by the threat of nuclear destruction of American cities, will they do anything if he begins closing down media outlets with Eric Prince’s armed goons? Will they stand up to him for using his Justice Department (and it truly will be his at that point) to arrest people who criticize Trump?
We are far from out of moves. In fact, I would say the determined resistance to Trump’s authoritarianism is just beginning. I am surrounded by people ready to mobilize. Not all of us know exactly where it will go, but we are starting with a march and rally tomorrow in St Petersburg. We are standing up for ourselves, our daughters, our land, our healthcare. We are standing up for our system of laws and the principle of equality under the law. We are standing up for our law enforcement officers attacked by the President. And we are standing up for Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller whose investigation we need in order to understand and react appropriately to the involvement of Russian state actors in the 2016 election.
You are surrounded by them too and they will take action if they are asked to.
It won’t take 200 million people in the streets to turn this around. It will take 100 of us – resistance activists who have been wondering when this moment would come, or people are not activists at all deciding there is no more time to wait to defend our country. Whoever you are, we have to start now.
Think about what you will feel like telling your kids about how our country used to have a free press. How the laws used to apply equality to everyone, at least in principle. How everyone used to have a right to vote.
It’s looking pretty dire right now, but I don’t think we have to lose this battle or lose the magnificent inheritance of government by the people, of the people and for the people in America. Even should we actually lose, commit right now that you will not let it slip away without giving something significant now in the fight for our country.
Find an afternoon to protest. Babysit for the kids of people who are heading out to protest. Call to inform people about actions. Work to defend people arrested for disrupting the regular flow of life to say we will NOT kiss goodbye our equality under the law.
All this year we have had to work harder at citizenship. Writing letters, attending meetings, sharing information online. We can no longer stay in the lanes that are polite anymore. Non-violence is the practice, from beginning to end, but we must deliver a powerful and unmistakable message over the coming days and weeks that we won’t let our country be taken from us. Our hard work must now be public and unyielding.
See you tomorrow in St Pete. If you don’t live in St Pete start organizing public demonstrations to demand Trump not fire Mueller.