These are dark days, there’s no doubt about it. Like Sauron in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Trump has cast his dark cloud over the entire land. Pundits, and even some Democratic presidential candidates are calling the 2020 election more than just an election, they’re casting it as the apocalyptic battle for the soul of the country. They will tell you that democracy itself is at stake.
But is it really? Maybe, but if His Lowness has spread his dark, noxious cloud o’er the land, there are some pretty big patches of blue breaking through up there, enough to at least give us hope. For starters, our own 2018 midterms. The Democrats not only shook off their famous midterm apathy with their voting base, they shook off the 2016 apathy, and the rampant despondence that followed Trump’s coronation. And 2020 is looking positive so far as well. Grassroots activism is high, fund raising is healthy, recruitment for candidates seems strong, and both issue awareness, and voter intensity is high.
But regardless of Trump’s anti American “America First” policy, and despite the best efforts of Rupert Murdoch and his merry band of sycophants at FOX News, we don’t live in a self contained bubble, and we never have. Only Trombies have the luxury of willful, perpetual ignorance. But if you’ve been looking outside of our own news in the last week, there have been three developments that show us not only how important it is to be an American, and a proud one at that, but how important Americs still is to the rest of the world, in spite of Trump’s desperate machinations. The first one has been going on for a while, but the other two are new. Here they are, for your consideration.
The first one is immigration. Donald Trump has done everything but sign an Executive Order formally declaring war on anyone south of El Paso. Trump and his jackbooted thugs have thrown them into cages, separated parents from their children, and then sent the children off to live with strangers, with no plans or ability to reunite them with their parents. He’s made them sleep on cold concrete floors and drink from toilets. He has forced them to remain in cramped, even dangerous conditions in Mexico for weeks on end, before even beginning to fill out their asylum paperwork. Jesus, he even had his agents lob tear gas into a foreign country to try to break up a protest.
And still they come. They come because they believe. They believe in America, and everything it represents. They come because no matter how much Trump vilifies them, no matter how much hatred he stirs up against them, no matter what trials and trials he puts them through, it’s still better than what they face at home. And they come because they know that America is more than just one man, no matter how bad he may be. It’s now up to us to show them that their trust and belief was not misplaced.
The second, more recent developments are taking place a half a world away, in President Bone spur’s favorite playpen. For multiple weeks now, Moscow has been rocked by massive weekend pro democracy protests in the streets. Did you catch the operative word in that last sentence? They are having pro democracy protests in Moscow. Yeah, you know, democracy, that shit we’ve been taking for granted for 240 years, until 2017 rolled around? Last weekends protests were reported to be the largest pro democracy protests in Russia since the 2011 protests that sent then Prime Minister Putin into orbit.
Make no mistake about it, protesting in Russia isn’t quite the same pastoral activity it is here in the good ol’ US of A. Around here, whether you’re sitting or standing, as long as you’re peaceful, the cops put twist ties around your wrists, sit you on a bus, and give you a citation with a court date on it if you have no criminal record. And then you take that citation to show to the guys at work, and become an activist hero with your coworkers, as long as the boss doesn’t learn what you were doing on that sick day.
In Russia, whether you’re sitting or standing, even with your hands in your pockets, you’re used for rugby practice. They must have a shortage of soccer balls in Russia because the local police teams use protesters for substitutes. People don’t tend to wander out of police stations after being arrested, with a piece of paper and a court date, and protesting convictions in Russia don’t tend to come with fines and community service either. You can literally disappear in Russia once you enter “the system,” And if you’re labeled a “subversive” it can cost you your apartment and even your livelihood. And yet, tens of thousands of people in a country that has never known either personal freedom or democracy risk their lives just in the hopes of fair freakin’ municipal elections? Even with the giant, industrial size tube of Preparation H that we currently have in the White House, and his affinity for all things Russian, the Russian people know a good thing when they see it.
The last examples are taking place even further away, in Hong Kong. Unlike their Russian brethren, the people of Hong Kong have known basic autonomy, and lots of it. As a colony of Great Britain, the former UK administrator for Hong Kong, John Cowperthwaite instinctively knew something that our current Toddler in Chief has never quite grasped. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Cowperthwaite let the local government pretty much run itself, on the basic tenets of personal freedom and justice as in the UK, and be done with it. And it worked.
In 1997, when the UK formerly turned over Hong Kong to China, it did so with a promise from the Chinese of autonomy for the island city/state for 50 years. But the Chinese, politically astute as they are, realized that the attention span in the west is only as long as the next television program. After 22 years, they, so far correctly assume that nobody in the west gives a shit about Hong Kong anymore, so they’re making their move.
The central issue in the dispute is a bill pushed by China that the Hong Kong government passed, allowing people arrested in Hong Kong to be sent to China for trial and punishment. The activists in Hong Kong quite correctly see this as a step by the Chinese government to crack down on freedom of expression, by allowing Hong Kong nationals to be arrested locally, and then deported to China as subversives for trial. And they’re mightily pissed about it.
The protests began in the streets, and they were massive, but peaceful. The protesters demanded the repeal of the law, and also the resignation of the Hong Kong official that pushed it through. China allegedly sent ringers into Hong Kong, disguised as counter protesters, to fight with and beat the locals. The protests spread from the streets into the Hong Kong international airport instead, again peaceful, but now seriously screwing with the local economy through disruption. The Hong Kong police are starting to respond with increasing violence against the protesters, although still non lethal, but the protesters are starting to respond with violence of heir own. Basically, it’s a mess.
The point I’m leading up to here isn’t that the people of Hong Kong are protesting, but how and why they’re protesting. They’re protesting to protect their democracy, allegedly the number one export of the State Department of the United States. And in their protests, they’re appealing directly to the United States! In their protests, they’re carrying and waving American flags, and they’re even singing the American national anthem. The protesters already know that they’ll get cold comfort from the sniveling British cowards that abandoned them in the first place, so they’re appealing directly to the one country who will hopefully know and understand what they’re protesting for. Because we invented it.
All of these events share one thing in common. They all believe in America. They all believe in democracy, and they all believe in the innate goodness that this country represents. And despite the baggy pants clown that currently occupies the Oval Office, they believe that our original concept of democracy will survive and thrive long after Trump leaves office and starts modeling a jumpsuit the same color as his face. We can’t change Trump’s mind, and we can’t make him support them or their goals, but what we can do is to fight right alongside them here at home, and let them know that by all means, check back with us in another 17 months. We’ll still be here, but The Great Pumpkin won’t.
*Just an amusing aside to all of this *
Back in 2011, when the pro democracy protests in Russia grew to, at that time, unprecedented size and scope, Vlad the Imp, in his Trump like fashion of being unable to accept any responsibility for a situation he created, had to cast around for a scapegoat. And whom should he land on? None other than then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, of course! He blamed Clinton’s loud and persistent calls for an international inquiry into the Russian elections as an intrusion into Russian affairs, and the reason why Russians took to the streets to protest his own benevolent self. Putin’s hatred for Clinton largely fueled his interference in the 2016 election, not that he was a particular lover of Trump, but by his revulsion at the thought of a Clinton presidency. Putin loves strong, independent women about as much as The $1 Store Caligula does.
Which poses an interesting conundrum for Czar Vladimir I. The current pro democracy protests are now nearing the same size and intensity that they were back in 2011, but Clinton is a stay at home grandmother these days. What American capitalist running dog is responsible for Putin’s current ills? Rex Tillerson? Current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo maybe? Who knows, maybe even his own personal sock puppet with the carrot top? All I know is that if these protests intensify, and more drastic measures are required to combat them, it’s gonna be fun watching him try to find an American patsy to put on the hook he’s desperately trying to wriggle off of.