I have no idea who this lady is but I am very grateful for her words when she closed the Asian American Dreamers rally outside Trump Tower last night. She finished calling for solidarity for Dreamers, for Muslims, for Mexicans, for . . well everyone knows the list by now.
She didn’t ask the crowd to stand by Muslims and Mexicans and Dreamers because we are “allies”, she called for solidarity because of a self-evident truth: Because our humanity is shared.
I am very grateful. I am done with hearing about “intersectionality” and allies. I do not stand with those attacked by this administration because I am an “ally”. I stand with people targeted as strangers because our humanity is shared, because I am human and because I am an American . . . And so are the Dreamers we were rallying for last night.
What happens in the next four years will depend heavily on whether Trump is right or wrong about how little Americans care about their democracy and the habits and conventions that sustain it. If they surprise him, they can restrain him.
Public opinion, public scrutiny, and public pressure still matter greatly in the U.S. political system. In January, an unexpected surge of voter outrage thwarted plans to neutralize the independent House ethics office. That kind of defense will need to be replicated many times. Elsewhere in this issue, Jonathan Rauch describes some of the networks of defense that Americans are creating.
Get into the habit of telephoning your senators and House member at their local offices, especially if you live in a red state. Press your senators to ensure that prosecutors and judges are chosen for their independence—and that their independence is protected. Support laws to require the Treasury to release presidential tax returns if the president fails to do so voluntarily. Urge new laws to clarify that the Emoluments Clause applies to the president’s immediate family, and that it refers not merely to direct gifts from governments but to payments from government-affiliated enterprises as well. Demand an independent investigation by qualified professionals of the role of foreign intelligence services in the 2016 election—and the contacts, if any, between those services and American citizens. Express your support and sympathy for journalists attacked by social-media trolls, especially women in journalism, so often the preferred targets. Honor civil servants who are fired or forced to resign because they defied improper orders. Keep close watch for signs of the rise of a culture of official impunity, in which friends and supporters of power-holders are allowed to flout rules that bind everyone else.
Those citizens who fantasize about defying tyranny from within fortified compounds have never understood how liberty is actually threatened in a modern bureaucratic state: not by diktat and violence, but by the slow, demoralizing process of corruption and deceit. And the way that liberty must be defended is not with amateur firearms, but with an unwearying insistence upon the honesty, integrity, and professionalism of American institutions and those who lead them. We are living through the most dangerous challenge to the free government of the United States that anyone alive has encountered. What happens next is up to you and me. Don’t be afraid. This moment of danger can also be your finest hour as a citizen and an American.
On Sunday, December 18th, withstanding rain, thousands of New Yorkers came out on globally recognized International Migrants Day to attend The March for Immigrant NY – International Migrants Day March. Organized by The New York Immigration Coalition and sponsored by 85 organizations representing immigrant rights and advocacy, legal services, labor, faith, civil rights, LGBTQI, women’s rights, and anti-violence groups, today’s march brought together New Yorkers to send a clear message to President-elect Trump and his administration that immigrant communities are here to stay. Rally participants pledged to help protect and defend immigrant New Yorkers, and help fight back against hate and anti-immigrant policies.
“And so the man who thought he was through with politics has, it turns out, one more essential role left: Beginning next year, Obama needs to rally the opposition, to community-organize his coalition, and to exploit his celebrity to make the case for saving his legacy. His visibility alone would serve a vital function. Trump’s election has sent a statement to Americans and the world about the country’s identity. It has been received viscerally, by bullies abusing minorities as well as by fearful allies overseas. Obama is a powerful symbol of rationalism, thoughtfulness, and pluralism — the ultimate anti-Trump, both ideologically and symbolically. Women, religious minorities, immigrants and prospective immigrants, transgender people, young Africans with iPhones, the beat-down opposition in places like Russia and China, and the people who bully all the preceding groups and more — the whole planet, really — need reminding that Obama’s version of America has prevailed before and will prevail again.”
. . .
“Trump’s election is one of the greatest disasters in American history. It is worth recalling, however, that history is punctuated with disasters, yet the country is in a better place now than it was a half-century ago, and a better place than a half-century before that, and so on. Despair is a counterproductive response. So is denial — an easy temptation in the wake of the inevitable postelection pleasantries and displays of respect needed to maintain the peaceful transfer of power. The proper response is steely resolve to wage the fight of our lives.”
“Rule #6: Remember the future. Nothing lasts forever. Donald Trump certainly will not, and Trumpism, to the extent that it is centered on Trump’s persona, will not either. Failure to imagine the future may have lost the Democrats this election. They offered no vision of the future to counterbalance Trump’s all-too-familiar white-populist vision of an imaginary past. They had also long ignored the strange and outdated institutions of American democracy that call out for reform—like the electoral college, which has now cost the Democratic Party two elections in which Republicans won with the minority of the popular vote. That should not be normal. But resistance—stubborn, uncompromising, outraged—should be.”
Protesters outside Trump Tower the day after the election, New York City, November 9, 2016