aNewDomain –I don’t want to write about politics. I want to write about deep concerns; about suffering well, living well, getting peaceful with the idea of dying.
My meditations are interrupted hourly by the antics of our new commander in chief and his PR team. Yesterday it was “alternative facts.”
Today it’s a hiring freeze for federal employees outside the military and pushing oil pipelines.
The leading edge of this administration is a campaign of lies and disinformation – just as it always was. People seem to be having a hard time accepting that this is how it is going to be or seeing what the purpose of it is.
We keep giving the Trump administration credit for good intentions — but not for rational behavior.
Here’s what I mean by that.
The problem with alternative facts is, it makes us all waste a lot of time arguing the basic facts that otherwise would never even be at issue.
As long as we’re worrying about how big Trump’s inaugural parade was or what an “alternative fact” is, we are not asking questions about policy. There isn’t time.
All of the executive orders that came over the last two or three days came with no warning.
As Newt Gingrich said of Trump’s lying:
“I have had a theory going back to Reagan that you have to have rabbits that the media will chase, or they will invent their own.”
We have all been so busy with the Conway-Spicer shameless lies that nobody has any time left for deep or useful investigation.
And here’s the other big problem with Trump’s alternative universe is:
It makes us have to re-litigate basic rights that those who came before us already fought for and secured.
There’s even chatter right now about several states putting limitations on peaceful protest. There are discussions going on now, reportedly, on everything from how to treat protesters blocking roadways to whether to escalate penalties for interfering with oil and gas pipelines.
This has happened before, and it wasn’t pretty.
I am thinking of when John Lewis crossed the Pettus Bridge in Selma. He had a clear First Amendment right to make that pilgrimage.
And it was unconstitutional for Alabama’s government to set limits on congregating in public, but it did. The result was a legal mess that required months and a ton of money to solve.
But that wasn’t the worst of it, not for Lewis and his protesters.
The worst part was the force protesters found waiting on the other side of the bridge. They were there explicity to disperse the crowd and prevent their march to Birmingham.
The Civil Rights Movement met many such impediments, ranging from high-pressure hoses to failure to investigate lynchings and bombings, effectively creating open season on black folk in the south.
In some ways, this is par for the course, right?
In America, there are two main responses to protesters. One is to be friendly and encouraging. Here is a picture of some police officers interacting in a friendly manner with Women’s Marchers …
The other is an authoritarian show of force, like at Selma. Here are some pictures of police at the inauguration.
And here are some photos of police preparing to behave in a friendly and encouraging manner at Black Lives Matter protests:
Your right to peacefully assemble guaranteed by the first amendment doesn’t mean anything if you can’t afford to get beat up, go to jail, pay your legal costs and appeal all the way to the Supreme Court. A
nd if you’re the wrong kind of person – for example, a black protester or a water protector impeding oil profits – expect serious injury or death.
When Donald Trump says he will “open up those libel laws,” he means that.
Your rights to free speech, to peacefully assemble, to protest, to fair trial and to vote will all be up for grabs.
It costs him nothing at all to challenge your rights; it might cost you everything to defend them.
Finally, remember some of the lies are propaganda with future aims.
One of the big lies repeated many times in many settings is that Trump would have won the popular vote but for illegal votes. As usual, the non-conservative media don’t take these statements very seriously.
It looks like just another brick in the proverbial wall, more bullshit to refute and waste time on.
But it isn’t.
This is a central part of the Republican strategy.
Remember when they lost so hard with Romney and went off to do an autopsy?
Remember high-profile Republicans saying “We’ve got to stop being the stupid party?”
That was Bobby Jindal. He briefly ran for president, which isn’t remarkable, because it seems like a hundred candidates came and went.
But the thing is, they didn’t really re-examine their values at that time. They did not decide to proceed in a more judicious and intelligent manner.
They re-committed to the worst policy ideas in the face of statistical evidence ever — and refined their voting base.
One way they did this — and do this — is in limiting who has access to the polls.
Gerrymandering works by dividing the population into favorable districts. A state like mine (Colorado) votes about 50-50 red and blue. A comparison of the popular votes and the congressional representatives shows pretty good representation – 4:3 conservative to liberal.
In North Carolina, things are different. Citizens in that state voted nearly 50-50 in the popular vote (49 percent Trump, 46 percentClinton).
But their Congressional representatives are overwhelmingly from the red team – 10 Republicans and three Democrats.
Three of the 10 most gerrymandered districts in the country are in North Carolina.
Everybody knows about this by now and it’s one item on a long list of things we think we won’t stand for but continue to tolerate.
Who has a billion dollars to fight this in court only to lose or have the verdict overturned in twenty years?
The other thing we can do, though, is directly limit not just impact but access to the polls. The Voting Rights Act was meant to ensure everyone could register to vote and access the polls with equal ease. That bill has been challenged repeatedly in the last two decades and, while some of the challenges have failed, in the meantime we had an election with all sorts of illegal activities keeping the wrong kinds of voters (black people) away from the polls.
Place with the most stringent voter ID laws tended to carry Donald Trump – sometimes by quite slim margins. Consider: 300,000 people in Wisconsin lacked the ID’s that were newly required for voting. But Trump carried that state by only 27,000 votes.
These laws disproportionately affected Democratic voters.
So does this constitute a rigged election?
And here’s another thing to think about: Dcriminatory enforcement of drug laws incarcerates many more black than white people, and each of them is barred from voting – sometimes ever again.
So, when Trump and his staff refer to illegal voting or voter fraud, aren’t they just continuing a campaign begun by Conservatives to rig the elections in their favor.
This is no casual lie, you know. It’s a justification for limiting the pool of available voters to just the ones who trend conservative.
Look. Many people are very enthusiastic about Donald Trump.
I don’t blame them.
Liberals would have voted for Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert if they could – our flavor of trolls. Those guys said a lot of true things during the elections, but they were also really nasty about it.
As long as the person being roasted is the enemy, it’s funny.
Did you know Stalin is enjoying a surge of popularity in Russia right now?
And here in America, it’s becoming an us against them country.
The more Trump puts limits on freedoms, the more people like me are going to become “them.”.
We’re so divided and Congress and the Senate are so addicted to power.
I just don’t see how we can stop this train or even slow it down. There are so many balls in the air.
So what are we to do? What are thinking people to do with all this?
The only solution is to fight on multiple fronts.
I realize that didn’t work out well for Germany. But here, notice, we have a strong opposition to Trump, but it’s a huge and diverse one that itself is divided over issues.
Tight now there are so many issues to fight we can’t possibly fight them all and make our livings day to day. We can’t afford to go to Standing Rock.
And anyway, even if we could, the National Guard is there now with surface-to-air missiles.
That protest never ended. The locals are still there, still camping, freezing, enduring assaults, provocation and harassment.
Meanwhile, the rest of us lacks the means to block the appointments of Trump’s cabinets picks and secretaries and czars.
Big oil as foreign secretary? Christian charter schools in charge of the Department of Education>
Rick Perry in charge of the nuclear weapons?
But we are unlikely to block much or any of this.
And even less can we block the appointment of a super-conservative Supreme Court Justice who will rubber-stamp all of Trump’s quasi-legal proceedings from the first day of his appointment.
We can’t stop Trumps provocation of China, his assault on women’s access to health care, the wall on the Mexican border, the ACA rollback, federal hiring freeze, military expansion or bypassing/speeding environmental review.
And that’s just a fraction of what’s worth addressing during just the first full week of Trump in office.
Here’s what you have to accept, because it’s true:
We are all going to have to re-litigate our basic rights. We are going to have to establish what everyone once knew to be true.
We are going to have to face the fact that we lack representation,.
And the majority of us are going to have to face a war against our freedoms on dozens of fronts all at once.
Why does Trump lie? That’s why.
For aNewDomain, I’m Jason Dias.