Freedom of Speech Is A License to Speak — Use It, Or Lose it!
As writers, we have a responsibility to speak out when things get under our skin and poke at our gut in an unrelenting way.
Words that evoke emotion or provoke thought is what writers do and should be doing, especially now at a time of one-party government led by an authoritarian bent president.
Yes, our President has authoritarian tendencies. He embraces dictators like Putin, Duterte, and Erdogan and condemns our democratic allies — And no, I’m not speaking as a progressive, though I wear the label proudly. I’m speaking as a citizen of our great democracy, as someone who can’t sleep at night when I think about the man who sits in the oval office with a temperament of a five-year-old.
You may have noticed that his epidermis is thin. He can’t take criticism or responsibility for his actions or words. He has no problem blaming others for his mistakes then sacrificing them to save himself. His only loyalties are to his family and his bank accounts. That is the only constant in a chaotic administration ruled by an unstable man.
His masculinity is threatened if he’s not a “winner” or doesn’t have the biggest crowds. *wink* *wink* He responds to unflattering accusations by lashing out with pompous, incredulous lies to protect his manhood, while undermining the institutions that are a framework of our democracy: the press, the intelligence agencies, the judicial branch, the scientists and the laws that he believes don’t apply to him.
You might think he’s dumb or crass or inept at diplomacy. It doesn’t matter. He is capable of destroying us by the power he wields in the highest office, along with the controlling party of one that enables him, putting party over country to hold onto power.
The GOP started their power grab years ago by redefining electoral districts through Gerrymandering. They continued their absorption of power and deference to the powerful by hijacking Obama’s supreme court seat to keep the court conservative, by denying the reality of science for the sake of oil company profits, and by tweaking the Senate rules to favor lobbyists and special interest groups. If they approve Trump’s budget, they’ll cut programs for the poor and middle class and change the tax code to enrich the rich, allowing billionaires to control our country like Russian oligarchs — the men Trump admires and emulates.
It isn’t paranoid to think there could be a political shift in this country from democracy to autocracy. The cracks are evident in our divided political system and the uncertainty of what is real or false. Thanks to Trump’s cult-like repetition ridiculing and demeaning the “dishonest media” and branding them as “an enemy of the people.”
Undermining and vilifying the media is a playbook often used by dictators to effect a radical change in government.
“The phrase “enemy of the people” — that has a history. The only people that I know that have used that phrase were (Joseph) Stalin and the people who succeeded Stalin in the Soviet Bloc,” Nadler said. “The press is not the ‘enemy of the people.’ Nobody is an ‘enemy of the people,’ because they disagree with me or you about what we ought to be doing.”
During Trump’s recent overseas trip, he shut out the media, conducted press briefings off camera, and never held a press conference in order to control the coverage. According to MSNBC reporter Kelly O’Donnell:
When world leaders convened at the G7 Summit in Italy, the United States was the only country that didn’t hold press conferences:
If we ignore signs of the erosion of our freedoms or dismiss the notion as progressive neurosis or hysterical hyperbole, autocracy will blindside us one day.
It has happened before to people in nations content in their complacency of unintended ignorance. It happened while they sleepwalked through their day and missed the legislative creep of plutocratic policy passed by their leaders, as they pulled the strings that unraveled the fabric of society.
Whether we agree or disagree on right/left wedge issues is irrelevant, as long as we can agree that we need to be free in order to disagree.