Conscience of a Country

In October 2016, President Barack Obama hosted a South by South Lawn Festival for people working to achieve social good through organizing and innovation. Rep. John Lewis told a new generation of committed change makers it was necessary to “get into some good trouble”, to upset the balance of power making injustice too much the norm, and to make more good possible.

John Lewis was 23 years old when he addressed the 1963 March on Washington. On the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, he was nearly beaten to death. He often noted he was arrested more than 40 times in the 1960s, during protests demanding fully equal protection of civil rights and voting rights. He was uniquely driven and dedicated, but was never alone; he believed in being part of a movement, was always attuned to the movement of public conscience, and he never gave up.

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George Floyd should be Alive Today

George Floyd should be alive today.

George Floyd was murdered. The four men who killed him could have chosen not to kill him at any time. Now former police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes. For six of those minutes, George Floyd begged for his life. For three minutes, he was unresponsive. Chauvin continued to press his knee down, deliberately using the weight of his body to cut off both the air and blood supply.

The actions of the 3 accomplices—who not only failed to stop Chauvin but aided him—have shredded the sense that we are protected by a shared fabric of mutual responsibility. Public authority comes from the authorization of the public. As the nation’s founding document notes, “governments … [derive] their just powers from the consent of the governed”, and then only to protect universal rights.

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Berlin Wall opened 30 years ago today

The Berlin Wall separated the city into West and East, and created tense conditions for conflict that lasted for decades. Because Berlin was surrounded by East Germany, the Wall was a kind of dual siege—cruelly isolating both West Berlin and East Germany. An estimated 200 people were killed trying to get across to the other side, to visit friends and family, or to escape from tyranny.

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Respect the dignity & worth of every human being

Asked by Brian Williams what he says to colleagues who are being subjected to racist attacks by a lawless President, civil rights hero Congressman John Lewis, of Georgia, said:

I tell them to keep the faith, to keep their eyes on the prize, and to never ever give up, ’cause Dr. King taught us never to hate, never become bitter, because hate is too heavy a burden to bear, to believe in peace, and the way of love, to believe in the philosophy of nonviolence, and over and over again, I say we must respect the dignity and the worth of every human being. A young Republican came up to me today and said ’John, what must we do?’ I said ’Just continue to love; it is the best way; it is the only way.’

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Bigots are Enemies of Democracy

When Donald Trump used the racist trope of recommending his critics leave the country, insinuating that four Democratic members of the House of Representatives are not Americans due to their race and ethnic origin, he declared his fundamental hatred for democracy. He sent a signal that he aligns with hate-based terror groups that have waged war against the United States since the 1830s.

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Warehousing People is Incompatible with Democracy

July 4 is not just a national holiday. It is not just a day to celebrate national pride or history. It is a day to honor the incredible hard work that is shaping, improving, and maintaining a democracy—a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, as Lincoln put it.

As we mark the 243rd anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, thousands of people are being held in makeshift prisons, having committed no crime except to ask the United States to protect them from tyranny.

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It is illegal to dehumanize any person

It is a daily tragedy in the United States that our political culture is becoming accustomed to the obsessive dehumanizing tendencies of the Trump administration. There has been virtually no legal penalty so far for the rampant and deliberate abuse of children and vulnerable people seeking asylum from evil.

Children are dying in extrajudicial detention camps, and the President still has allies, who behave as if recognizing the fundamental inhumanity of these abuses would undermine their partisan or factional interests.

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Uphold the Humanity of Every Person

We inhabit a period of great turmoil and suffering, while at the same time immense hope and promise flood around us, making it possible for any person anywhere to potentially make great contributions to the betterment of humankind. That better possibility is entirely dependent upon the guarantee that all people have access to the benefits of education, science, rule of law, and real protection of human rights.

Many question right now how we can best defend these instruments of our protection and empowerment.

In just the month of June 2018 we have seen the President of the United States reject the very “rules-based international order” that his nation built and which secures democracy and human rights, forcibly separate children from parents and send them to internment camps, and then call for an end to due process.

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Trump is destroying conservatism

If you are a conservative American, Donald Trump is your enemy. More than any other figure in American politics, it is Trump who seeks to use conservatives’ own ideas to rob them of what they most value. Trump’s policies directly undermine the Constitution of the United States, personal civil liberties, checks on executive power, the integrity of the family, and religious freedom.

Many conservatives say they support Trump, not because they like his style or his views, but because they believe he will give them hard-line policies on issues that matter to them, such as immigration and abortion. What these conservatives get wrong is largely about integrity: Trump doesn’t even pretend to have any, let alone allow them to keep any of their own. Worse, the hard-line policies they expect Trump to enact are not conservative wins; they are removals of rights and protections of personal liberties.

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SCOTUS finds travel ban legal; judicial review to continue

The US Supreme Court narrowly upheld as Constitutional the 3rd and most limited version of President Trump’s temporary travel ban, but rejected the administration’s claim it will ever be beyond judicial review. 

The Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling upholding version 3 of the administration’s “travel ban” for citizens of 7 countries, including 5 majority Muslim countries rests entirely on one idea—that the Executive has “broad discretion” in areas of foreign affairs and national security. What the 5 Justices ruling with the majority appear to have ignored is that the Constitution affords no powers to the President or to the Executive that are not explicitly granted in Constitutionally compliant law.

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