Stand up for democracy! It’s time to use it or lose it

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By Michael Pellegrini

“…This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.” T.S. Eliot

I got into trouble on Facebook, recently. It was in a thread urging people to put aside their political differences. The theme was, “Let’s all just be friends and get along, no matter what Trump is doing to the country.”

I’m an American patriot and feel very passionately about my country. From my perspective, Donald Trump is a tyrant and a bully; a self-serving, pathological liar and malignant narcissist; a person who won his office with help from the Russians. Accordingly, when told I should be accepting of Trump supporters’ views, I reacted very passionately. I argued that giving Trump supporters any measure of comfort or legitimacy – even by simply tolerating their views – only exacerbates the problems we face. I argued that the time for civility was past because our country is facing an existential crisis. 

A great many would discount that conclusion out of hand. People have become inured to the damage Trump is doing. It’s like a death by 1,000 cuts – after a certain point, you tend not to notice the new cuts. The situation has become so normalized that many people find it hard to believe anything is really wrong at all. All the trappings of normalcy still exist. They have their jobs, their house and their cars. Their kids are in college and the world is great! All that stuff happening in Washington, D.C. is just an abstract; it’s an intangible. It’s inconsequential because there’s no personal connection. It doesn’t affect them right now, so what the heck? The people shrug it off. Politicians will be politicians. Let them play their stupid little games.

Baloney. Ignorance is not bliss; and it will not long be a refuge for those who are uncomfortable with the truth. 

The simple fact is our democracy is presently at one of the most crucial junctures in all our 243-year history. The latest and perhaps most serious affront is that Trump’s attorneys recently argued he could shoot a person on Fifth Avenue and the police wouldn’t even be able to investigate, much less prosecute him. That amounts to sovereign immunity, where the king can do no wrong. This concept of a “royal” president who is above all laws is diametrically opposed to the ideals this country was founded on. It’s in direct opposition to our constitution.  

In the past few weeks, it’s become clear that unchecked, Trump will eventually attempt to proclaim himself king. And he’s potentially about one Supreme Court Justice away from being able to pull that off.  

Our one shot to avoid that outcome is Trump’s impeachment. But right now, the prospects look very bleak. 

This is because the Republican Party has lost its way; it has blinders on. Trying very hard to ignore the incontrovertible evidence of bribery, corruption and obstruction of justice, as well as other high crimes and misdemeanors, they’re still solidly behind Trump – and deathly afraid of retribution if they stray from the fold. They’re thinking more about their reelection campaigns and maintaining the current lifestyles, and less about their constitutional oaths.  

They are the key. If the Senate Republicans stay sheepishly behind him, Trump will win the impeachment battle, setting the stage for his reelection and our final descent into a totalitarian autocracy.  

Those are the stakes: preserving the representative democracy that’s stood for 243 years, vs. returning to medieval times with Trump as our king. It’s that simple.  

Our only real chance at moving the Republicans to back impeachment is to turn the poll numbers around. That’s what politicians understand. The Republicans must conclude that by backing Trump, they’ll be jeopardizing their chances at reelection; their fear of the electorate must be greater than their fear of Trump’s retribution.  

Granted, the way things currently sit this is a tall order to fill. But it is possible. Public opinion can be shifted if we all work together and do our parts.  

We are not helpless; we must not go down with just a whimper. The time for action has come.  

We all have friends, neighbors, or relatives who are Trump supporters. Turn to them now, and actively and very forcefully work to convince them of the urgent need. The time for civility is past. To blithely tolerate their aberrant and pernicious political views is wrong; they need to wake up and smell the roses, because the very future of our democracy hangs in the balance.  

Trump must be removed from office. We don’t need another king. Stand up for democracy! 

Michael Pellegrini is a longshoreman and writer who lives in Tacoma.

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