Tuesday, January 31st, 2017
Out of many, one
While the recent refugee ban has gotten more attention in the media, the unprecedented reshuffling of the National Security Council might be as significant as any other issue in the news right now: a weak-minded, insecure president surrounds himself with persuasive, unelected advisors and cuts himself off from some of the most experienced voices on the NSC. From gag orders to “shock events” and classic autocratic power consolidation, the current administration is working to silence dissent, delegitimize critics, and undermine the free press.
Trust in government is currently at a record low both globally and in the US, but compared to much of the world Americans still enjoy a relatively high degree of trust in their government. That trust is now causing a lot of cognitive dissonance—we’re still working under the assumption that the goal of the administration is to govern well. While I was uncomfortable with things that both Bush and Obama did, I generally assumed (maybe naively) that their motives were more or less good, and that they were at least trying to do what they thought was the right thing. We may not have the luxury of assuming that anymore. The goal of the current administration might actually be to destabilize, to distract, and to create chaos so that they will have less resistance and scrutiny. (I’ve never been in the tin-foil hat camp before but we’re in uncharted waters here.)
Who are we?
All of this cuts at the foundations of what we say is true about our country, and feels more like Putin’s Russia, or Venezuela under Hugo Chavez. Do we believe in checks and balances, a limited executive branch, and in separation of powers? Do we want a president or an autocrat? What about our character as a country—are we a “land of opportunity?” Is this country a “melting pot” where people from every corner of the world contribute to a greater whole?
We decide what America will be
We get to decide, collectively, who and what we are. We decide if we will work together with people who aren’t like us; if we will defend free speech (even for the people we disagree with); if we will work to make our country a “land of opportunity” for others. We get to decide if we will be a nation divided or if we will be “out of many, one.” Will we be the United States, or a nation of us and of them?
(Feel free to use the [Censored] States of America images above as you find them helpful – option-click / right-click and Save As on a laptop or long press on a mobile device.)