America’s Exceptionalism is Rooted in Stubborn Dissent
Plus, an overview of Week 1 of the Trump Administration
While the world may not have marched specifically in solidarity with the rights of American women, the world did march in solidarity with distinctly American visions of rights for all, peaceful protest, and government by and for the people.
That is what makes America great. Our nation is the proverbial shining city on the hill.
We are the legacy of tenacious rebels who beat back far superior forces to demand and win our freedom. We are the legacy of courageous women and men of color who held on to the promise of freedom that is written into our founding purpose, despite the hypocrisy of slavery and Jim Crow. We are the children of women who were scorned in their determination to take part as equals everywhere from the political process to the work force and military.
We stand on the shoulders not of giants but of ordinary people willing to take extraordinary stands.
Since our founding, the United States of America has given the world a model of transformation that begins with everyday people — we will not keep quiet, we will not be easily subdued or frightened by the authorities that govern us, and we are committed to the long journeys of liberty.
It was a rough week in American democracy. This week alone, the Trump Administration has done the following:
- Denied mortgage relief to millions of homeowners
- Undermined the enforcement of Affordable Care Act provisions
- Claimed without any evidence that the reason he didn’t win the popular vote is because of “3 to 5 million” fraudulent votes
- Ordered an investigation into voter fraud — targeting “urban areas” and states he didn’t win — despite state-level election officials saying it’s a non-issue
- Repeatedly lied about his inauguration crowd size & just can’t. let it. go.
- Withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership
- Implemented a federal hiring freeze, as well as an additional freeze on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grants and contracts
- Ordered the hiring of an additional 10,000 Immigrations & Customs Enforcement officers, thus tripling their numbers
- Promised a “great rebuilding of the armed services”
- Restricted social media use & the publishing of certain scientific research for several agencies, including the National Park Service, Department of Agriculture, Department of the Interior, and the EPA
- Reauthorized construction for the Keystone & Dakota Access Pipelines
- Halted foreign aid for organizations that provide abortions (to be clear, this is not a ban on foreign aid that pays for abortions but a ban on foreign aid to organizations that provide abortions)
- Nominated, and in some cases installed, Cabinet officials who fit at least one of the following descriptions: (1) woefully unqualified for the position, (2) actively attempted to dismantle the agencies or causes they are now charged with leading, and (3) possess blatant ethics issues. (Just to provide a lesser-known example, John Gore was tapped as deputy assistant attorney general in the civil rights division, but his only experience in civil rights cases is as the lawyer defending those accused of violating civil rights.)
- Increased hostility with the media — White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon was quoted as saying the media “should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut,” and Trump himself told the CIA he has a “running war with the media”
- Pursued felony charges for protestors and journalists
- Signed a waiver bill into law that provides an exception to the requirement of a 7-year gap between military service and serving as Secretary of Defense, which allowed Gen. James Mattis to be duly appointed as the Secretary of Defense
- Refused to release his tax returns
- Refused to sell his ownership stake in the Trump Organization
- Refused to put his financial holdings into a blind trust, opting instead to put them under the authority of his two sons who continue to be intimately involved with his events and decision-making
- Hinted at investigating the ethics chief (rather than Trump’s conflicts of interest)
- Threatened federal intervention in Chicago over homicide rates
- Removed climate change, Spanish translation, civil rights, and gay rights issues from the White House website
- Gutted federal grants to sanctuary cities
- Instituted a broad regulatory freeze
- Threatened to pull out of NAFTA
- Attributed, incorrectly, the rise of ISIS to the United States not taking oil from Iraq
- Claimed, incorrectly, that people actually lost coverage under Obamacare
- Supported the use of torture
- Ordered the Department of Homeland Security to publish a weekly list of “criminal actions committed by aliens”
- Discussed “protect[ing] our interests” in the South China Sea, despite not being a party to the dispute
- Banned refugees and put a hold on visas from 7 Muslim-majority countries (none of which is responsible for any terrorist activity on U.S. soil), and expressly prioritized entry of Christians from those same nations — the ban also effects some legal permanent residents and green card holders from those countries, as well — and all of this on Holocaust Remembrance Day
- Ordered a wall to be built along the U.S.-Mexico border without any real plan for paying for it and continues to say that Mexico will “pay us back” (possibly through an adjustment to how imports are taxed — even though that wouldn’t be Mexico paying us back at all) — a controversy that, ultimately, sparked President Peña Nieto of Mexico to cancel his trip to Washington, D.C.
- Proclaimed his inauguration day as the National Day of Patriotic Devotion
- Coined the phrase “alternative facts”
But don’t begin thinking that all hope is lost.
From Boston mayor Marty Walsh to rogue Twitter accounts to the in-progress organizing of a Science March on Washington, the American people are doing what we have done throughout generations — getting unruly in the face of threats to our liberty.
Stay stubborn, America.