We Face a Choice

By William B. Turner

Some have said that Donald Trump’s criticisms of the FBI are consistent with Vladimir Putin’s program of causing people in theUnited States to lose faith in our institutions.

Now the Donald has promised to announce “The Most Corrupt and Dishonest Media of the Year Awards.”

Since Trump won the election, we have seen lots of discussion of gaslighting and things to do to resist creeping tyranny. Do what you need to do to keep your sanity, but this is actually very simple.

Just assume anything Trump says is false.

The grounding philosophy of the United States appears in theDeclaration of Independence. Lots of people know the bit about how we all have inalienable rights, including the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Most people are likely less aware of what comes next: “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving theirjust powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” In other words, the rights are the goal, andgovernment is the means to the goal. The goal is paramount, and only the governed – you, me, your neighbors, and your third cousin – get to decide if government is doing its job properly. We don’t have to listen to the president.

In practice, this has made people in the United States always willingto criticize their government. Okay, yes, Trump’s spokesmodel said soon after he won that we should all stop protesting, but we ignored her, as we should have.

It is certainly true that the model citizen who has usually claimed this right in the United States has been the presumptively heterosexual white man, but Martin Luther King, Jr. invoked the Declaration of Independence as part of his drive for African American civil rights. Yes, this philosophy emerged from a bunch of white boys arguing in England in the late 17th century over who should be the next king, but they made it up, and there is nothing about it on its own terms that prevents its adoption by anyone who wants to invoke it.

Donald Trump is wrong. So far, not one of his public statements as president has been correct. On any topic. He is always wrong. Do not let his garbage get into your head. If it comes from Trump, dismiss it.

Our institutions are far from perfect. The FBI has done some very nasty things in the past. Law enforcement in the United States in general too often reflects the racism of the larger society. We’re human. We do not create perfect institutions. But the Donald is no improvement. He appointed a man named Jefferson from the state that recently took many steps to disfranchise lots of its African American voters to the hugely important position ofAttorney General. The perfect choice does not exist. Given the choice between the FBI and the Donald, I pick the FBI. That I can see, the people who run it are at least aware of the idea that they owe some loyalty to the well being of the people of the United States, given a lot of argument over exactly what that is.

The Donald cares for no one but himself. He is stupid and crazy.

Choose sanity. Choose not the Donald.

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