action challenge history observations

We Should All Be Political

I’m writing this post on January 3, 2021, just after an hour-long recording dropped from The Washington Post of Donald Trump trying to pressure Brad Raffensberger, Georgia’s secretary of state, into overturning the presidential election so that Trump could win.

I’m writing my posts for January and February early and scheduling them because I’m expecting a lot of work over the next few months. By the time this post publishes at the end of January**, we’ll see what, if any, fallout there is from this call.

[ADDENDUM, January 9, 2021: The fallout from the call has vanished from the news due to a violent coup attempt at the U.S. Capitol by Trump insurrectionists on January 6. See additional notes below.]

Trump seems to keep skating by with the most egregious offenses throughout his life and I don’t understand why we don’t hold him accountable.****

Actually, maybe I kind of do understand why we don’t hold him accountable.

Most Americans have been asleep at the wheel of politics for several decades. Politicians and the wealthy and powerful have taken advantage of that in order to further consolidate wealth and power and to create laws that allow them to remain in power.

Our excuse is, “I don’t like to talk politics.” It’s too heated and we don’t like conflict.

Except, by avoiding conflict, we’ve gotten our country into a real mess that has seriously threatened our democracy. [ADDENDUM, January 9, 2021: With the coup attempt, this is now an understatement.]

If we’d all been more willing to discuss politics, to push back against the excesses that have allowed the degradation of democracy, maybe we wouldn’t have to work so hard now to rebuilt it.

In my writing notebook from December 23, 2020, I wrote, “Stop telling athletes and artists to not be political. Laws — the actions of politicians affect our everyday lives — we should ALL be political, no matter our profession.”

This sentiment must have been floating around more widely because a few days later, on December 27, I saw this tweet from Bo Thao Urabe:

"I’m puzzled why Americans tell each other to avoid talking about politics. If we are democracy of the people and for the people then the people should be more actively engaging in talking about and shaping our democracy. Perhaps not taking about it is what got us here." Bo Thao Urabe tweet, December 27, 2020.
“I’m puzzled why Americans tell each other to avoid talking about politics. If we are democracy of the people and for the people then the people should be more actively engaging in talking about and shaping our democracy. Perhaps not taking about it is what got us here.” Bo Thao Urabe tweet, December 27, 2020.

And then I ran across the following in “The Geography of Genius” by Eric Weiner:

“Civic life [in ancient Athens], though, was not optional, and Aristotle tells me the Athenians had a word for those who refused to participate in public affairs: idiotes. It is where we get our word idiot. There was no such thing as an aloof, apathetic Athenian, at least not for long.” (pg. 26)

If Trump has accomplished nothing else, his behavior has forced apolitical people to become political in order to save democracy and rebalance the power in the United States.

However, most of us could probably use training in how to have political discussions that are more fruitful and in methods for managing conflict. We’ve got some work to do, and part of that work is to admit that each one of us needs to be engaged in politics in some way. Our lives depend on it. Literally, as the COVID-19 pandemic [and the violent coup attempt] made very clear.

Have you become more political since Trump took office? If so, how have you engaged in civic life?

Because of the developing nature of the coup attempt, here are updates I wrote since first scheduling this post. So much has happened in the course of a week and we’re not done with the fallout yet.

**ADDENDUM, January 6, 2021: I rescheduled this post for January 10 after we witnessed a violent coup attempt today by Trump’s supporters, who stormed the U.S. Capitol and broke in during the certification of Electoral College votes. After about four hours of occupation, including one insurrectionist sitting with his foot up on Nancy Pelosi’s desk, the insurrectionists were mostly just escorted out, with very few of them arrested. One woman was shot during the coup attempt and died. It has been pointed out many times on social media that law enforcement during peaceful Black Lives Matter, Native, and disabilities advocates’ protests have been met with swift violence by law enforcement, yet actively violent insurrectionists appeared to be allowed at times to wander around the Capitol building without much resistance. State capitals around the nation saw Trump supporters show up to riot at various capitol buildings and statehouses.

**** ADDENDUM, January 9, 2021: After the insurrection at the Capitol, which resulted in the deaths of 5 people, including a police officer, people are so fed up that we are insisting Trump be held accountable. Fifty-seven percent of Americans want him removed NOW, calling for removal by impeachment and/or the 25th Amendment. Vice President Mike Pence has indicated he won’t invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump, which is puzzling because there are indications that some of the insurrectionists targeted Pence during the coup for not overturning the election on behalf of Trump. It is obvious that Trump has turned on Pence, just as he does on everyone who doesn’t give him absolute loyalty. (If I were Pence, I’d invoke the 25th so quickly, heads would spin.)

House Democrats have drawn up new articles of impeachment, which will be introduced Monday if Trump doesn’t resign and Pence doesn’t invoke the 25th. Suffice it to say, a narcissist like Trump will never resign, and with Pence unwilling to invoke the 25th, it looks like the impeachment is the path forward.

Social media acted more swiftly in holding Trump accountable for inciting the attack on the Capitol. Twitter, Trump’s favorite platform, first suspended Trump’s account for 12 hours after the coup because he continued to inflame the insurrectionists. Many of us, me included, have directly told Twitter and Jack Dorsey (co-founder of Twitter) to delete his account permanently and ban Trump from Twitter because he wouldn’t follow Twitter’s terms of service and continued to incite violence. We have been telling Twitter this since Trump took office. Finally, on January 8, 2021, Twitter banned Trump altogether. Each time he tried to use alternative accounts to tweet from, Twitter banned those accounts, too.

Other social media platforms have also banned Trump and groups and content related to the insurrection, including Facebook, Instagram, Apple, Google, YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok, Discord, Reddit, Twitch, Shopify, and Pinterest. Axios has a running list.

(Last night, when I saw a call on Twitter to mark the Parler app on Google Play as inappropriate, I did so. Within a half-hour of my doing so, along with many other people, I assume, Parler was pulled from Google Play. If we speak up and make our voices heard en masse, sometimes positive action will result quickly.)

It’s now up to us to insist to our Representatives and Senators that they impeach Trump without delay. We can’t afford to have him remain until January 20th. He is a clear and present danger to our country and Constitution.

If we want to keep our democracy from being violently overthrown by a treasonous group of domestic terrorists, we have GOT to become political.

For more background on events related to the attack on the Capitol, read historian Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter from January 8, 2021.