Living With a Loose Cannon
Welcome to a new year, my friends. We are about to have a new President. I know some people must be happy about that, but I am not one of them. If he is your guy, then congratulations. But I am worried, disappointed and concerned.
For the second time in five elections in this young century we have apparently elected a President who did not get the most votes. The President-Elect lost by 2 percent, about 2.8 million votes! He also received the benefit of Russian hackers and James Comey’s thumb on the scale. Add voter suppression to the mix and we have an election that did not live up to the standards of democracy.
I do not want to belabor his shortcomings. But to summarize hundreds of commentaries, he is a fact-free thinker, a habitual liar, a greedy, unethical businessman, a hero of racial bigots, an uneducated and uninterested student of democracy and a boastful sexual harasser. He seems to have no moral center and no purpose other than to accumulate more wealth and power. His leadership style is autocratic and dictatorial. I do not wish him ill, but he is not what our country needs.
So we probably have at least four years to live with this guy as President. What can we do? This is the question haunting the hearts and minds of millions of people. I have five suggestions, five ideals we need to fight for.
The first is truth. We need to fight for the very idea of truth before it is completely wiped out. There is a lot of talk about fake news. Trump rose to power on the back of a fake news story called birtherism. He just said it over and over again until it seemed like it might be true. It had “truthiness” as the old Stephen Colbert used to say. We have to stand up for truth on a daily basis. The media will have to join this campaign as well or soon the idea of truth will only exist in museums.
We need to fight for civil and human rights. We all need to stand up for our Muslim brothers and sisters, our Hispanic neighbors, our African American friends, our country’s native people and the rights of all women. If we let this new President do all the things he has threatened, this country will not be safe for anyone.
We need to stand up for election reform. How do we explain to our children that even though we taught them that whoever gets the most votes wins, actually this is not really true? This obsolete system needs to change. And we have to stand up for voting rights just like Martin Luther King and other civil rights heroes did. If we really want democracy to survive, we all have to play by the rules of democracy. Let everyone vote. Count every vote fairly and equally. Whoever gets the most votes wins. Simple but powerful ideas.
We are going to have to stand up for a compassionate, caring society. We will have to fight to save Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and health care for all. Are we really going to discard the 20 million citizens who got covered under Obamacare? Are we really going to kick these people out of the system?
And finally we will have to fight to preserve our earthly home. We will have to face climate change and not pretend that it doesn’t exist. Climate change will not go away if we just ignore it. We can’t be silent. We have to be the voice of the earth and of all those in danger.
These may well be four tough years for many of us. But we have to stick together, talk to each other, build community, be inspired by our ideals and energized by the challenges. Truth, justice and compassion still exist, but we will need to be their voices in the world. This new regime has signaled that it will not speak for these precious values. This is the time for us to stand up for democracy.