Somewhere along the way, the American right started believing their own lies, made up stories they continually told about the left’s weakness, immorality, and lack of patriotism. The right severely underestimated the left’s love of our constitution and our country.
That’s what I saw this weekend at the protests in Boston at Logan International Airport and Copley Square, in Boston. Thousands of Americans spontaneously coming out to defend the country that they loved from an illegal executive order that targeted legal aliens residing in the country and laid the groundwork for discriminating against immigrants based on national origin and religion. The protests across the country should serve as a warning to the new president and his enablers that the people of this country are awake, and won’t easily surrender our values or our laws.
The visceral dislike of the new president, paired with his disrespect for the laws of this land, including those inscribed within the founding documents, has brought home to a lot of people how fragile our system is if we don’t actively defend it. But many of us saw signs of its fragility long before the recent election of Donald Trump (and those familiar with history know that our values have never been perfectly realized). For instance, the constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure has been eroded beyond recognition. Corporations have been afforded constitutional protections that had previously been reserved for individuals. And, the power of the president has gradually expanded, while congress’ place in the system has contracted. These are gradual, long term trends that can’t be blamed on any one individual or party. It is, however, safe to say that every single one of our elected officials, as well as the interest groups and lobbyists who largely set the political agenda, and the corporate owned mainstream media, and all of us as individuals, have some measure of responsibility for letting it get to this point.
The question I’m asking myself, after I finish asking myself if our system of government can survive the unprecedented threat that Donald Trump poses, is whether there’s a way to oppose Trump that also manages to breathe new life into our politics, that rejects leaving certain people out of civil life based on race, or class, or geography, or any other factor, and leaves us stronger and more committed to American laws and to our country’s values of radical equality, individual freedom, and tolerance for difference than we were before. If there is, it’s up to those of us somewhere to the left of liberal to find it. Supporters of Black Lives Matter and Bernie Bros alike, we are united at the very least by our knowledge that the system wasn’t broken by Trump. We saw its fractures when he was just a laugh line.
We need to come together. We need to put aside our differences and work for a common cause. We need to fight this urgent threat to our constitution and our way of life. I believe all that. But is it enough to fight only for a return to the status quo which produced Trump in the first place? I don’t believe it is.