So far, nothing that President Donald J. Trump has said or done since his inauguration as the 45th President of the United States of America has surprised me, and I cannot imagine a scenario where that would be the case. Unlike many of my fellow Americans, I expected him to come to the defense of the far right, alt-right and KKK protesters who wreaked havoc on the emotional and physical well-being of not only the people of Charlottesville, but of people throughout the country. And how anyone ever doubted President Trump's eventual pardon of Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County Arizona, is truly mind boggling. After all, DJT and Arpaio were “birther” co-conspirators, who insisted that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States and that his birth certificate was a fake. Arpaio is the same “official” who defied a court order to stop the racial profiling, illegal arrests and detention, and inhumane treatment of thousands of Latinos in Arizona, according to the US Justice Department. President Trump has managed to incite and arouse the ire of the media by continuously dubbing them the “fake news media” every chance he gets, much as he demonizes “the liberal elite.” While I identify myself as a liberal independent voter, as well as a voracious, discerning media consumer, I have long been concerned about the selective and sparse media coverage given to issues of monumental consequence both to Americans and to people around the globe. However, “fake” is not the adjective I would use to describe either the local or national media—or the news it covers.
It was the power, poignancy, persistence and persuasiveness of the media which helped hasten passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It was media coverage that influenced public perceptions about the human toll of the war in Vietnam and the evil effects of apartheid in South Africa, both of which eventually ended. And over the past six months, the media has been relentless in its coverage of the impact that repeal of the Affordable Care Act would have on millions of Americans, helping mobilize widespread opposition to its repeal. Just as the media has stepped up, taking responsibility for its role in preserving democracy as we know it, it is time for another group to do the same. At the risk of offending scores of people who consider themselves political liberals, I’m beginning to conclude that many of these folks are “fake liberals.” It is this group that I worry most about! A fake liberal is one who espouses a verbal commitment to social and economic justice, equal education opportunity and open housing, but refuses to hold elected officials accountable. A fake liberal is one who proclaims offense at racist acts of the far right, but refuses to acknowledge personal responsibility in helping to resolve those issues that have a significant impact on the quality of life for historically disenfranchised people. Fake liberals love the nonviolent philosophy espoused by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., yet they have difficulty accepting the philosophy and principles advocated by Black Lives Matter. Yes, they favor equal justice under the law, yet they turn a deaf ear to the pleas to end the massive incarceration of African Americans. There was a time when political moderates and liberals (joined by a smattering of conservatives) said “no” to segregation in housing, and “yes” to affirmative in higher education and employment. Today it seems that support for affirmative action is lukewarm at best, as long as the privileged class need not share its privileges with anyone else, no matter how deserving. Despite this, I am convinced that the havoc wreaked upon America’s fragile democracy by the election of our 45th President can serve as a galvanizing force, uniting citizens across racial, religious, political and economic lines. Together we must chart a course through this storm.
The first step in doing so is not to view each other as the enemy. We must look for and focus on the values that bind us together. We can no longer afford to be the Divided States of America. Second, we must hold our elected officials accountable. After all, it is we who elected them and it is we who can deny them the opportunity for reelection. Anyone who doesn’t understand what accountability looks like need only study how members of Congress voted in recently failed efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Finally, we cannot abdicate our personal responsibility to be voices of hope, help and opportunity for those less fortunate than ourselves. We must be more than hand wringers and complainers, waiting for others to rescue us. We must join hands and realize that what unites us is greater than what divides us. The time has come to recommit ourselves to achieving the social economic justice for which we have fought so hard. We are the people we have been waiting for!