Why aren’t the former presidents speaking out more?

The gods should not be silent

Sep 13, 2018 · 4 min read

Recently, former President Barack Obama, my favorite president, gave a few speeches to inspire voters to vote, and he talked back to the daily disgrace of democracy we witness.

With Obama’s speeches, and more to come over the campaign season, I smiled as I removed his face from the sad milk carton in my fridge.

But Obama’s reappearance forces me to raise my hand and ask, why aren’t more former presidents and first ladies speaking?

I know about the tradition and the code of silence. But it sucks. I insist on an exemption and a break from tradition.

We are not under a typical administration. And the silence says, “it’s not that bad.”

But, does anyone think Donald J. Trump will honor this tradition? As long as Donald Trump is breathing outside a prison cell he will troll the nation. Since Trump has debased the nation, the golden rules are worthless. So, I damn the truces and the traditions.

We need a colossal coup d’état.

We’re in a hostage situation, and those with the loudest voices are silent.

The former leaders of the nation have the rare ability to light TVs, spill ink, and fill stadiums. And since they refuse to use the oxygen-sucking powers vested in them, I want a refund.

Here’s my message — if the Secret Service still protects them, we need them in the line of fire.

If they receive taxpayer benefits, they should pay it back and forward every day and in every way.

If they make money off the presidency, we need them to swat at the shit that soars with speed.

Here’s what I want:

1. Give me a raging and roasting op-ed regularly.

Remember when the first ladies spoke out against the cages and family separations at the border? We need more of that now.

We need op-eds layered with biting and sniping lines that reporters can fling at Sarah Huckabee Sanders during the depress and suppress briefings. I want to hear her say every question is ridiculous.

2. Give me regular press conferences and speeches that slam and remand Trump to the custody of truth.

It’s not enough to hit the road for the election season. Donald Trump seizes every day as his chance to punch our democratic institutions. We need someone to interfere with his habitual havoc.

3. Give me tweets to taunt Trump and counteract his flurry of fury.

This should be easy! Twitter users can schedule their tweets and Trump’s tweets are so predictable.

The Blue Wave, disgruntled Republicans, and lukewarm Independents are ready to heart and retweet every presidential clapback.

But I know none of that will happen.

And I get it now. No one is coming to save us. We, the voters, are the change agents. We must settle for special anniversaries, funerals, college graduations, and other spontaneous utterances from the former leaders. And for me, that shade, here and there, is too shallow.

So, why are the nation’s former leaders honoring these most sacred traditions while we sit stuck — in the bowels of hell — with a desperate need for a monumental movement?

The former leaders have too much faith. They trust in the public and the fundamentals of our democracy. Their fingers don’t type because they’re crossed. The former commanders-in-chief believe in a sure to come system correction.

But I’m unsure.

The United States is a baby; a baby that hasn’t acknowledged its faults or made the corrections.

Plus, in America, a good economy can justify almost anything. Money is the ultimate shiny object. And the electorate votes like the country is a slot machine owned by Donald Trump.

Then, others use a good economy as an excuse for their votes when racism is the real reason for the season.

The economy isn’t good enough.

Democracies are fragile, especially those built on fault lines and stolen foundations.

We need an intervention. We need higher powers.

They say — “power,” which includes money, “corrupts.” But I say — power, which includes money, protects.

And that's another reason the gods are silent. They have protections against the threat with a capital T.

Trump could make rubble of the republic and the former first families would be fine. But what about the rest of us?

Silence may be the language of god, but this is no time to be still. There’s no prize for the most tooth marks on a tongue. I need their fingers off their lips and in Trump’s face.

I won’t forget the consenting silence of democracy’s so-called friends. I hope they aren’t silent forever. I hope they speak and tweet.

But I’m done.

I’m done looking for hope and change in the sky or on the screens. I’ve put my hope in the gods to bed. I guess I’ll try a mirror instead.



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Sam McKenzie Jr.

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I combat racism and whiteness with verbicide and literary devices. https://www.patreon.com/SamMcKenzieJr | http://ko-fi.com/sammc

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