Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Declare Your Independence with Your Vote

Last night I watched the local fireworks celebrating our country’s declaration of independence from a tyrannical king. Ironically we now have a tyrannical president who, with the compliant political party he owns, is working as hard as he can to undo some of the values and rights so many of our forebears fought and died for.

I re-read the Declaration of Independence. These are the key passages: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Let’s analyze these precious lines in today’s context. According to the wannabe dictator who is sometimes in the White House when not on one of his golf courses, there are no truths. He speaks and tweets more lies than a shark has teeth. In case you didn’t know, sharks continually replace their teeth throughout their lives. The Trumplicans (I cannot call this once respectable party Republican any longer.) have replaced truth with “alternative facts,” following the Nazi dictum that the repetition of lies conditions the less discerning masses to believe them as truths.

Since taking office, hardly a day has passed without Trump’s vilification of the press, most recently calling it the “enemy of the people.” This drumbeat, along with his repeated rhetorical incitements to violence, recently had tragic consequences--the murders of five journalists at the Maryland newspaper, Capital Gazette.

Then there’s the passage about all men (women weren’t recognized as full citizens in 1776) being created equal. Equality was a radical concept to the wealthy white men who signed the Declaration. Some of them, including Thomas Jefferson who wrote the Declaration, owned slaves. They did not practice what they dared to preach, but they left the noble concept of equality that we are still trying to live up to. And we were making progress until the current administration took office and began working to take us backwards and resurrect the worst abuses in our racist history. With slave-master cruelty, this administration is empowering white supremacists. It has violated every tenet of moral decency by wrenching children from immigrant parents and holding them in cage-like internment camps.

Appealing to hatred and prejudice against people of color, this tyrannical president calls immigrants of color “criminals,” “animals,” and “rapists.” He never mentions he is the son of immigrants. His wife is an immigrant. But they’re white. So they’re OK. He called Haiti, El Salvador and African countries "shit holes."

With respect to the Declaration’s “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” the Trumplicans are doing as much as they can, as fast as they can, to strip those rights from everyone except the privileged 1 percent of the wealthiest Americans. To avoid any ambiguity about the Trumplicans' position on people's rights, the United States has withdrawn from the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Trumplican denial of decades of scientific evidence for climate change poses an unprecedented threat not only to national security but also planetary security. Climate change has already started creating extreme storms, flooding, heat waves, and other conditions that will make it difficult if not impossible for many people to enjoy life, liberty or any kind of happiness. On the home front, we have an EPA administrator whose Trumpian-endorsed goal is to weaken hard won environmental protections of clean air and water and conservation of our wild national parks.

Trumplicans worked hard throughout the two Obama administrations to trade patriotism for power. For eight years they worked only to destroy a presidency rather than work on behalf of the American people. In my book, that was treason. Their shameful efforts to deprive millions of people of health care have endangered life, liberty and the health necessary to pursue any kind of happiness.

Trumplicans wage war against women. Apparently they never recovered from the fact that women can vote. This gang of men vow to take women backwards into a pre-scientific era by taking away women’s fundamental liberty to make their own reproductive choices. Repeatedly these men try to enact legislation that would enable the government to control women’s bodies as if they were commodities.

Trumplicans have a problem with that last passage: “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Representative democracy is only as good as the education of its citizens. Trumplicans know that and are doing all they can to promote ignorance--ignorance of science, the U.S. Constitution, complex thinking, and basic educational skills. Under slavery, reading was banned among slaves. Anyone who taught a slave to read could be punished. Nobody has dared suggest that reading be banned, but the current education secretary is doing everything she can to destroy public schools.

Trumplicans do not want an educated people who can think critically. In order to stay in power, they need a people who will follow them without question or criticism. And this leads to the most insidious action of all -- suppressing the vote, especially among voters of color, through voter suppression tactics, including gerrymandering of districts to favor one party. In the 2016 election, governmental officials close to Trump and members of his family, even reached out to a foreign government to interfere in our election. Some of these officials have already been indicted on criminal charges.

So here we are on Independence Day 2018 with a corrupt, tyrannical president who idolizes totalitarian dictators, again with the support and approval of a once respectable political party that now seems bent on destroying basic democratic institutions.

In my mind, this calls for a new declaration of independence this coming November. View your vote as your declaration of independence from the tyrant in the White House. Vote as if your life and your country depended on it, because they do.

1 comment:

Althea Waites said...

Thank you for this very powerful and eloquent statement about the crisis that is going on in our nation. If we ever needed a more compelling and urgent reason to vote, I cannot think of one that is stronger than putting these tyrants out of office. Our rights are being taken away by a president who has emboldened white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups, while Congress merely looks on and does nothing to stop him.
This Fourth of July should be a turning point for all Americans to take action and vote,as you pointed out,as if their lives depend on it. This is not the time to sit back and ignore the gathering storm because if we fail to act,we will have no one to blame but ourselves.
And finally,the quote from the Declaration of Independence which begins with "All men are created equal" did not include women or people of color. Unfortunately and tragically, we are still dealing with inequality and racism on so many levels that I doubt that it will be resolved in our lifetime, but nevertheless, we must continue to fight and not give up in the face of these challenges to our lives.