Keep Calm and Write On

Keep Calm and Write On
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"La Mort de Marat" (detail) by Jacques-Louis David

Two weeks ago, I wrote a letter that I thought might serve some use in the future. The letter contained my thoughts, fears, and expectations of Donald Trump as our 45th president.

In hindsight, I suggest everyone do the same. A week is a year in politics, and it changes more than a nation. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself! You’d be surprised by the things you have to say on the subject.

It took less than two weeks for Trump to confirm my deepest suspicions: that he would not preserve, protect, or defend the Constitution of the United States. His unabashedly unconstitutional immigration order—issued on Holocaust Remembrance Day, no less—paints a sick portrait of his administration as clear as Kristallnacht. The same could be said of his jaw-dropping appointment of Stephen Bannon to the National Security Council, his sudden purge of senior State Department employees, his Monday night massacre, and whatever “alternative facts” he plans to threaten our arts, humanities, schools, sciences, reproductive rights, voting rights, and the lives of more than 43,000 Americans every year.

What we’re witnessing more closely resembles a coup d’etat, a götterdämmerung, or some other excuse for a presidency. I don’t know, perhaps the Russians have the perfect word to describe it.

In any case, please heed my advice: write yourself a letter. Find the right words to preserve who you are, how you feel, and what you fear for our future. Consider it a safeguard before crossing into the world of tomorrow, for tomorrow’s liars are already hard at work trying to make you forget what happened today! Don’t let them rewrite your history or muddle your memory. You’re going to need your head moving forward, but don’t take my word for it. Take yours!

Believe me, you’ll thank yourself for it later.

Thank you kindly.

P.S. For those interested, you can find my letter in full below:

As a former staffer for then-Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, I must say this is neither the situation nor circumstances I had hoped our nation would be in eight years after his inauguration.

Part of me wishes I had been in Chicago with my friends and fellow Obama Alumni this week, most of whom I have not seen since our farewells at the Obama for America Staff Ball during the early hours of the Obama Administration. As we enter its twilight, no price should have been too much to hear the president’s farewell address, to swap tales, change embraces, and ultimately breathe life back into that engine that thousands of staffers and millions of volunteers assembled to make Barack Obama our nation’s first African-American president. We were and remain the greatest political organizers in history, as “the boss” reminds us in conference calls to this day. For those who were a part of it, the Obama campaign was our D-Day; our Bunker-Hill; our Vietnam; and I know I speak for my fellow sisters and brothers when I say that it most likely always will be.

But in raw human terms, in emotional terms, I could not go to Chicago. I could not bring myself to celebrate what feels like a funeral for the nation we worked so tirelessly to save.

Call me Cassandra, but I know a cataclysm when I see one. When confronting "what's the worst that could happen?" around this time sixteen years ago after Bush v. Gore, a then sixteen-year-old me feared something like 9/11 might happen under George W. Bush. It did. Four years later, Katrina was nothing surprising to someone who remembered how unsafe Bush kept us during the first months of his presidency, nor was his bungling in Iraq and Afghanistan surprising considering how and why those wars were sold to the public, the US Congress, and the world.

It’s almost poetic how much one can discern about a president based on how they come into power. Abraham Lincoln was twice elected amid sectional, political, and even spiritual crises of conscience that would only be settled of the battlefield through civil war. Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected four times to face unprecedented challenges at home and abroad in what would determine not only his presidency, but the rest of his century. Richard Nixon was twice elected through methods ranging from burglary to treasonthe latter something we just learned from H. R. Haldeman’s notes. George W. Bush was appointed president by five judges in a decision that even they did not want to see applied to the future. Barack Obama was elected on a promise of hope that would be used by merciless opponents to hobble him.

I have been to Russia—coincidentally, it now seems, before my presence at President Obama’s first inauguration. I have seen both sides of the Iron Curtain. I have met those yearning to see Russia breathe free for the first time in their history. I know what we're in for, and if you think Donald Trump is bad now, just wait until he exercises emergency powers. Wait until he has nuclear missiles. Wait until he has the full might of the US armed forces behind him.

You don't need a pair of eyes to figure out when an emperors wearing no clothes, and this one is either a narcissistic man-child at best or a quisling at worst. I have no faith in him, I will not trust him, and I do not expect him to preserve, protect, or defend the Constitution of the United States.

So help me God.

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