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Learning Manners

In a compendium of essays entitled “Dismantling the Empire,” Chalmers Johnson makes a sobering statement:  “America must learn what it means to be a third world nation, and the manners that go with it.”

It’s disconcerting to think of the US as a third world nation, exceptionalism and all that being preached in school.  Yet, there’s plenty of evidence that we’re on the brink of sliding into that category.

Social examples:  Maternal death rates in the southern US are alarmingly high for a developed world, especially among women of color. The suffering of tax-paying citizens of Flint, Michigan and the entire island of Puerto Rico are being blatantly ignored.  More and more homeless occupy our streets. Severe civil unrest and tension is prevalent in our news cycles.

Economic examples: Taxes slashed for the 1% while also cutting social services for the middle class and increasing military spending.  Fewer and fewer protections for the ‘average’ worker.  Grifting tax payer money to a leader’s coffers via golf trips and business meetings held at president’s owned venues. An EPA chief traveling first class using federal dollars.

Political examples:  A president deriding the fourth estate. A third of government refusing to act as a check and balance to the executive branch. A daughter and son-in-law of president sent abroad to represent the nation.  The exclusion of a political party to meetings on the fear of being held accountable.

How are we behaving as citizens facing the prospect of becoming one of those nations we’ve always sort of pitied?  Are we demonstrating manners of a third world nation?

Actually, maybe. I suggest that are manners are much too polite and subservient for a nation watching its democracy being burned faster than a doused flag.

We let it slide when Congress refused to work with the past president and shut down the government instead of working towards a compromise.  We let it slide when a SCOTUS seat was left vacant because Congress refused to do its job.  We didn’t take to the streets when the Tax and Jobs bill was being voted upon. We haven’t collectively voiced our support and protection of the Mueller investigation, and we seem to be rolling over at the notion that Congress will not even bring to vote a bill that protects an independent investigation into a foreign government’s meddling of our election process.  We aren’t being noisy enough about the current administrations lack of action in keeping the approaching election free from tampering. We are merely complaining on Twitter about a journalist being forcibly removed from a government (people) sponsored meeting.

While we’ve been a bit vocal about Trump’s America with two Women’s Marches, these have been somewhat vague and ultimately futile judging by the fact that the administration just announced its intent to withhold Title X funding which gives women access to affordable, educational reproductive health care.

If our manners, so far, have been too nice, too rooted in confidence of the words written in our constitution, and focused on winning the mid-terms, what’s the alternative?

-We also should be ‘atting’ congressional leaders, encouraging them to make a strong stand against the dictator president and be consistent in their messaging:  We have a man in office who is an authoritarian, we are a democracy.  We have a man in office who has capitulated to a hostile foreign government who is selling out our democracy. We should be unashamedly noisy about this.

-When the president is called out, we should liberally and publicly thank them. Rep. Pelosi and Sen. Schumer sent a letter calling out the president over a closed door meeting without Democrat representation,. Many, many others have been vocal about the assault on democracy coming out of the White House, thank them whether or not they are your representative.  Right now, they represent the Democracy, not just a constituency.

-We need to hold the press accountable. Journalists need to start using the word ‘dictator’ when stories like NFL owners requiring players to stand for the anthem are written.  The word ‘jingoism’ needs to be introduced into our conversations and its meaning pointed out in the demonstrable ways it’s rearing its head in our nation. News writers should be pushing back against obvious attacks on the profession, and repeatedly point out the benefits of a healthy, critical fourth estate.

Finally, we must march, and do so strictly for our Democracy.  Several times a day the current administration ignores past precedents, breaks common protocols and blatantly ignores the Constitution.  We must let it know that we see these sins against our nation, and they will not go unaccounted.  We must demand with a loud, singular voice, that Congress vote to protect the Special Counsel investigation.  We absolutely must demand that our leaders take preventative actions to ensure a safe, valid election occurs this November. We need to let Donald Trump know that we know he’s an illegitimate president and his lies hold no meaning to us.

I’ve been writing to MoveOn.org, Women’s March, March for our Lives, and recently added Millennial Politics to my list, asking them to come together to organize such a march.  I invite you to join me!  It’d be great if something were to occur around Independence Day, in celebration of, and in effort to keep that which our forefathers revered enough to institute: A government of, for, and by the people.

Mr. Johnson was prescient in his work ‘Blowback’ in that he all but predicted the 9/11 attack on our nation.  Let’s work together to prove him wrong about needing to learn the manners of third world nations, and instead display the manners of a justifiably angry citizenship determined to keep its Democracy in tact and functioning.

Write, tweet, ‘at’. Let’s make a #MarchforDemocracy reality.  I look forward to joining you in the streets.

Frankie

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