Make America Again 1

freedomofspeechmeans

I’m torn.

The newly elected people are so negative, uncaring, and bent on destroying what we as Americans have built based on the values, the creed, that founded our country.

I watched in tears at President Obama’s Farewell Speech. He reminded us of those sacred beliefs,

“we are all created equal, endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

He added a problem:

And that’s what I want to focus on tonight, the state of our democracy. Understand democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders argued, they quarreled, and eventually they compromised. They expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity. The idea that, for all our outward differences, we’re all in this together, that we rise or fall as one.

He shared we must see each other again — believe we all want to be part of our United States of America:

So regardless of the station we occupy; we all have to try harder; we all have to start with the premise that each of our fellow citizens loves this country just as much as we do; that they value hard work and family just like we do; that their children are just as curious and hopeful and worthy of love as our own.

Because if we don’t:

The peril each poses to our democracy is more far reaching than a car bomb or a missile. They represent the fear of change. The fear of people who look or speak or pray differently. A contempt for the rule of law that holds leaders accountable. An intolerance of dissent and free thought. A belief that the sword or the gun or the bomb or the propaganda machine is the ultimate arbiter of what’s true and what’s right.

The people elected now and assigned to important cabinet positions have ideas that undermine the values most Americans believe in: life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, freedom of religion [or not], freedom of speech, freedom of assembly. Let’s just mention the Bill of Rights:

Amendment 1: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The laws and programs they support against women are based on their religious views. They are people who do not believe in Civil Rights or Climate Change or affordable health care.

Here’s the Preamble of the Constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

These cabinet members and elected Republicans seem bent on ignoring “general Welfare” or “Blessings of Liberty” for some people and plan to repeal all that has been passed that help millions of people afford health care, and have equal opportunities for success and living their lives their way [liberty]. They have a strange view of “justice.” America was not perfect, but now it looks like it will not be great anymore.

And– we have a person in the highest office who bullies people, businesses, corporations, journalists, and media in his tweets, and he lies. He is threatening our democracy, our democratic republic.

But this is why I’m torn: the vitriol of which Obama warns us. I’m torn because people have a right to speak up and support or dissent the policies proposed. But we don’t have a right to bully or slam or disrespect others’ ideas when they do so. And for sure, people should not be told to stop.  As Obama said:

But, protecting our way of life, that’s not just the job of our military. Democracy can buckle when it gives into fear. So just as we as citizens must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are.

Later he said:

Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power. We, the people, give it meaning — with our participation, and with the choices that we make and the alliances that we forge.

Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law, that’s up to us. America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured…

It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy. Embrace the joyous task we have been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours because, for all our outward differences, we in fact all share the same proud type, the most important office in a democracy, citizen.

Citizens must participate — that means to speak up. Speak up against the weakening of our values. Citizens must participate — they must listen. Listen to all sides and facts. And like our founding fathers, compromise.

I believe that the rash proposals eliminating the gains made the last eight and more years of civil rights, health care, opportunities for all — these rash decisions are not the way of our founding fathers– they are not arguing and discussing with each other: they are bullying their party ideals to the destruction of our republic. I thank those Democrats and those Republicans who are saying, “Slow down,” and who are asking critical questions of the cabinet nominees.

But I’m torn to speaking up. We get yelled at and shut down. I’ve always encouraged my students to speak up to rules that seem arbitrary and unfair; I’ve supported them in appropriate ways to approach their dissent. Yet, here I am. Afraid. Afraid of the bully. Afraid of all those bullies.

I just want to make clear: I believe in the power of the American dream, that all of us have rights to pursue our goals and dreams, and that our laws should support the opportunities for all to succeed. I believe that programs should exist to help people who need it — in food, housing, health [including safe air and water].  The laws and programs that started in the last eight years support us all.

Abraham Lincoln said in the Lincoln-Douglas debates:

I believe each individual is naturally entitled to do as he pleases with himself and the fruit of his labor, so far as it in no wise interferes with any other man’s rights; that each community, as a State, has a right to do exactly as it pleases with all the concerns within that State that interferes with the right of no other State; and that the General Government, upon principle, has no right to interfere with anything other than that general class of things that does concern the whole.

 But many of the laws and ideas being suggested do interfere with others’ rights.

Civil Rights, Health Care and Climate Change  all concern the whole. The Bill of Rights concerns the whole. We’ve got to speak up to protect these values.

I do not want an authoritarian government destroying these values and restricting the lives of my grandchildren. I know that the people who voted for the bully thought he would help them. I just don’t want our country to be about a few — we need to join together to see how we can work together for all Americans. All.

Mark Barnes is an inspiration to me — he’s taken his stand. He’s written about it here: Hacking Powerful People: Inspiration from Meryl Streep. He encourages us to:

1 — Acknowledge the problem

2 — Face the oppressors on their own playground

3 — Recruit the strong to help

I’ve acknowledged several problems in general.

I’m not sure how to face “oppressors,” and I still hope that their are those Democrats and Republicans who will slow things down and compromise for their citizens’ our country’s wellbeing.  Even today during the confirmation hearings, several senators asked good questions and dug in. Several GOP have said they want to slow down on health care. Although certain Republicans and their leader are rushing forward, bullying others, I’m hoping saner minds will prevail.

I’m looking for “the strong” who are most effective — any ideas?

My problem might not be your problem, but I do [and should] have a right to speak up about it. And all of us have a responsibility to have conversations about these issues, including those now taking over. I do want to make America again. It already was great– not perfect — but great.

I’m torn, but getting braver.


Quote:

“Alan Dershowitz.” BrainyQuote.com. Xplore Inc, 2017. 10 January 2017. https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/alan_dershowitz.html

Image: Notegraphy

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