Democracy is so beautiful. It’s been quite a week for America, but you already know that. Since the inauguration last Friday, a rolling thunder of opposition has defended the ground of civil liberties while Trump initiates one attack after another like a bull in a china shop. When did American citizens become so angry, that they would elect government officials to represent them with this degree of deeply authoritarian hate? I don’t like to think of Americans as hateful, but maybe rage is the zeitgeist.
But the President isn’t the entire government, and I’m trying to be optimistic things will balance out as best as it can. The most beautiful moments of democracy are happening in response to this new regime. There’s grace. Here’s my list of what started with a goal of five but swiftly grew to the ten most beautiful moments in democracy this week:
- The Women’s March on Washington (and across the world). Over three million women showed up IN PERSON in their cities to support each other in peaceful protest for their rights.
- Facts. Merriam-Webster reminds us what facts are after Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway tried to defend as “alternative facts” the falsehoods Sean Spicer presented in his first appearance as White House Press Secretary. The English dictionary weighs in:
- The National Parks Service went rogue on Twitter, exercising the First Amendment. Trump issued a gag order on the EPA while wiping climate reports from the White House website, clearing the way for new pipelines and cutting funding for scientists. The Badlands National Parks account briefly regained access to their account and started tweeting real facts about climate change in defiance.
- Then NASA went rogue. And so did many others. Scientists are in the business of facts.
- Greenpeace’s Resist Banner flying in view of the White House. A group of activists scaled a crane (with equipment) and unfurled the banner early Wednesday morning to protest Trump clearing the way for Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.
- Waterboarding. Republican and Veteran John McCain defending the law that prohibits waterboarding and other methods of torture for interrogation. I’m not always the biggest fan of John McCain, but his conviction is beautiful. This is just one of the many beautiful moments by politicians this week.
- George Orwell’s 1984. 1984 shot to the top of Amazon’s most popular books purchased after many people saw the parallel between Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer’s lies presented as “alternative facts” and the doublethink unreality the totalitarian government used to control the people in Orwell’s novel. And then IT SOLD OUT. If you grew up in America, I bet you’ve read this book. People have already read this book. They’re buying it because they remember. This work of dystopian literature, among other similar novels climbing the charts, is part of the foundation of our collective identity.
- Chelsea Manning, a transgender whistle-blower incarcerated in a man’s prison for 7 years after leaking American intelligence to WikiLeaks related to American war crimes against Iraqis, was pardoned by Obama.
- Sanctuary Cities. Mayors of sanctuary cities, like Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, issue statements to residents know they are safe and that HPD officers will not ask about immigration status.
- Dialogue. Unrankled dialogue and inquiry between friends on Facebook. One hallmark of American democracy is the peaceful change of guard from one party to the other every eight years. Leadership culture trickles down from the top, and Trump is building a culture of hate. We don’t have to fight the hatefulness of the government’s rhetoric with more hatefulness, and we don’t always. I’ve seen reasonable conversations. You should absolutely engage in the most beautifully democratic way. Find a local group in your neighborhood, contact Congressmen and be present. It’s important to remember that Trump fueled his campaign with hate speech, and fanning that fire will only make it worse.
I think this is the whole list. The week isn’t over yet. Currently digging this economist: Robert Reich. Check out his Facebook and FB Live posts. Let me know if you can think of any other beautiful moments in democracy this week!