By LIAM MCMAHON
Don’t stop America. Whatever you do, don’t stop what you’re doing right now.
Not you and your cronies Mr. President, you who are in the midst of pursuing the most un-American of agendas.
No, those of you harnessing your Constitutionally protected right to assemble peaceably, you who are standing up to policy which violates nearly every principle upon which this great nation was founded. Do. Not. Stop. We need you now more than ever before.
In the space of the last two weeks, President Donald J. Trump has signed executive orders to repeal the Affordable Care Act, start construction of the Keystone XL and restart construction of the Dakota Access pipelines.
He’s signed orders to cut down drastically on environmental regulations, build a wall along the US-Mexico border, and gut funding for sanctuary cities.
He’s put a temporary freeze on refugees and green card holders from seven predominantly Muslim countries — now halted by the courts — and restructured the National Security Council so senior advisor and white supremacist Steve Bannon has a permanent seat while the Director of National Intelligence doesn’t.
Take a moment to let that sink in. And then let yourself get angry. Just for a minute — not too long to let the anger build to a point where you feel powerless before the might of the man who didn’t win the popular vote.
Now, get ready to channel that anger. Channel it into whatever you think the most productive thing to do is right now. Don’t sit on the couch stewing for an hour before posting a passive-aggressive status on Facebook that’s just begging someone to pick a fight with.
Get involved. Call your representatives. Write them, until their mailboxes and voicemail boxes are full. Engage with people in real life. Protest. Tell your friends and neighbors of color that you love and respect them. Don’t be afraid of pointing out that you know that black, Muslim, immigrant, Jewish, queer, Latino and so many other kind of lives matter.
There was a dream once of what America could be. It began in the sweltering midsummer heat of 1776, was forged anew nearly a century later and born again in the 1960s.
It’s not the dream of a set of laws. It isn’t owned by any group of people. It’s a fundamental ideal that people can listen to their better angels over their worse ones, and create a state which will work for all people, regardless of race, age, ethnicity or any other social construct designed to divide us.
That dream, that ideal to be strived for, is of a state which recognizes that all people are created equal and have the right to life and to liberty and to pursue happiness.
That all people have a right to speak their mind even when it’s critical of their government. That all people have a right to the due process of law. That all people have a right to be equally protected under the law no matter who they are or where they come from. That all people have an equal right to pursue an education and get a job and try to create a better life for themselves and their families.
That dream is under threat right now. It is in grave peril, peril greater than it has faced in quite some time. It needs people to stand up, and speak in its defense. As the Trump administration makes it more difficult for people to get healthcare, to have equal access to jobs and education and to participate in their democracy, resistance is required.
Abraham Lincoln once said that the “right of peaceable assembly” is the “Constitutional substitute for revolution.” We have no right to violently overthrow our government. But we have every right to call and write our elected officials and let them know that the values of liberty, justice and equality got more votes than hatred, division and fear in November.
We have every right to march in Washington, New York, Boston, Chicago, St. Paul, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and everywhere in between. It’s on each of us to defend the America that we all know and love.
We cannot be submissive and sit by meekly while these things are done. The best sort of people to submit to tyrannical regimes are nice. They want to keep their heads down, chat with friends and neighbors about sports and weather rather than politics.
They don’t want to get in trouble, and look after their own interests before considering those of others. They don’t want to ask awkward questions or get in the way of the government.
Don’t fall into the trap of being afraid of seeming “political.” There’s nothing wrong with that. That means you aren’t afraid to stand up for something. Think back to when you were growing up and learned about the great moments of American history.
The Revolutionary, the Underground Railroad and the Civil War, both World Wars and the Civil Rights Movement were all portrayed as great acts of heroism, performed by people of some kind of special fortitude and moral fiber. But, they weren’t. They were ordinary people coming together and standing up to do extraordinary things.
At some point in class, all of us – even those with less than a passing interest in American history – wondered how we would have reacted had we been alive during the abolitionist movement or the freedom rides. Now is the time to decide what you would have done and how you will act.
Welcome to the fight. Get ready, because this isn’t going away. So go: connect with the resistance on Facebook or Twitter or your chosen social media platform. Have genuine conversations with your friends and family members. Demonstrate.
Come up with witty protest signs, because goodness knows we need as many good laughs as we can get for the next few years. Add your voice to the cacophony of those standing up in defense of the values we all hold dear.
Most importantly, vote. Vote in your school board elections and mayoral primaries this spring, your local summer and fall elections in 2017, and for goodness’ sake vote in the midterms in 2018.
Here’s to the next four years. Let’s get in some good trouble.