First and foremost, allow me to be perfectly clear about this piece. I did not want to write it nor did I ever conceive that in my own lifetime, there would be a catalyst or something to inspire the harshest words directed at our nation’s highest office. Yet here we are and so shall we remain until all of us can recognize the current state of things.
This is not about who voted for who or which side truly won the election. This is about the rapidly changing state of who we are as a country and the ascent of an authoritarian government. Although I am a proud liberal, I worked for a Republican Congresswoman in Miami for five years and attended the 1996 RNC in San Diego. It was an invaluable experience, and a thoroughly enjoyable one, in learning that our two political parties are not so different, perhaps only separated by a couple core issues but definitely two sides of the same coin. This is not an article decrying a Republican administration because to call Donald Trump and his cabinet Republican is an insult and affront to conservatives and American values alike.
For the past nine days, like many Americans, my attitude in regard to this new presidency began with “wait and see” before growing to utter disdain following the seven country (predominantly Muslim nations) ban signed into executive order on Friday. The official word is that this measure will be a bold step in further protecting us from terrorism abroad through “extreme vetting.” Oh, how I look back fondly when euphemisms were mainly used to sell consumer goods rather than hate and intolerance.
When does an overreaction become justified and when does a reaction become too late? I have wrestled with this very question as the true answer may only be revealed in hindsight. It is important, ladies and gentlemen, that we peer back in history and identify parallels between our current political climate and past governments before claims of a dictatorship can be made.
To be brief, there was a man who, although losing the 1932 election, was reluctantly appointed German chancellor by the Weimar Republic the following year after the his party wrested control of the majority of seats in the Reichstag. This man came to power riding a wave of populism and dissatisfaction with the Hindenburg administration mainly due to the struggling economy as a result of reparations from the First World War. This individual methodically delegitimized the mainstream media until the only news reported favored the administration and its goals. Sanctions were placed on institutions of higher learning and the scientific community. To openly dissent against the government quickly became labeled as unpatriotic and treasonous.
However, the largest political victory this man gained was dividing the people of his country against each other. People who lived side by side, worked together, celebrated together, and who were proud of their nation and heritage. The names of citizens who were seen as undesirable or critical of the new administration were recorded and legislation was enacted to first limit their businesses and later to limit their freedom. These citizens were eventually segmented into ghettos, and later, concentration camps. Some of these citizens attempted to flee to this country but were denied entry because of xenophobic fears (sound familiar) of Americans at the time. Some of these citizens, denied entry, were then executed by this democratically elected man. Some of these citizens were my family.
The German constitution under the Weimar Republic also had a form of checks and balances, however, the biggest flaw was the allocation of presidential power. That flaw was exploited by a narcissistic candidate with delusions of grandeur, who was able to suspend civil liberties and appoint himself even more power to ensure the safety of Germany. I do not need to tell you this man’s name nor do I wish to print it.
We stand at a crossroads of who we are as people and as a Republic. The past week we have all bore witness to repeated attacks on our free press, a gag placed on scientific agencies, and the denial of facts and subsequent offering of alternative facts. Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, was elevated to a position on the National Security panel, a position reserved for military or intelligence officials. Steve Bannon is neither, however, he previously held a distinguished position in charge of a hate-fueled “news agency” called Breitbart. In the not too distant future, my money is on this regime labeling anyone against the notorious DJT and his surrogates as being unpatriotic and treasonous.
The actions taken by this administration are antithetical to our constitution and our values. To be an American is to openly dissent but also champion individual freedom from tyranny, liberty and justice for all. To be an American is to accept all religions and cultures with open arms. To be American is to give safe haven and asylum to human beings escaping tyranny and genocide. There is no wall expansive enough to contain our ingenuity and kindness when we are united.
We all have a duty to this country and each other to see past our differences and be united. We all have a duty to be vocal about restrictions placed on fellow citizens and to call “alternative facts” propaganda. For this is our Republic, if we can indeed keep it.