Photo: Santiago Mejia, The Chronicle
From left: Dayana, age 22; her father Miguel; her brother Joshua, age 14; mother Veronica; and sister Luana, age 6; listen in to church service at Grace Cathedral on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016 in San Francisco, Calif.
People may have noticed the lack of new posts from my blog and now I must admit, I’ve been stunned by Donald Trump’s election as US President but not half as much as other people.
Not being an American citizen, it hasn’t had the same impact. From a distance, trans-Atlantic – the signs were there. The Democrats supported a mainstream/status quo candidate and rejected the populist alternative. The Republicans tried to reject the populist candidate on their side but he succeeded, despite them.
Protests about Trump’s election continue and like Britain’s surprise Brexit vote knocked the liberal world for six, my instinct is to say, ‘suck it up and get on with it.’
Trump will try to do what Trump says he wants done. President Obama tried to do what he said he’d do but was opposed, move by move, step by step, by the Republican Senate and Congressional majorities and the established order, the status quo, the secret Government.
Will that happen to Trump? Now there’s a good question. He’s put his team in place and if he imagines lining Republican rivals against each other in his Cabinet might effectively be its own ‘checks and balances’, that remains to be seen but I don’t think so. There’ll be more back stabbing and power brokering going on than in a bathhouse in Imperial Rome.
Immigrants, legal or not, should be afraid in this chilly new world. Minorities must watch their six. As for the U.S’s international relations – and this is what should concern me most – Trump’s waving a Big Stick will bring its own contradictions.
Europe wants to make Brexit a tough and exemplary experience for Britain because the prospect of Europe dismantling itself looms in France and Italy, through the possible election of more right wing, conservative, anti-immigration, anti-EU Governments. In this day and age, anything’s possible but what will come from it is inevitable and frightening.
Edmund Burke, the politician and philosopher, was an Irishman, I’m proud to say. I wouldn’t necessarily agree with many of his writings but he remains a champion of liberty who grew and worked through challenging historic times and supported the American revolution.
He held strong opinions about the role of a public representative in a democracy and it’s worth quoting,
… it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinion, high respect; their business, unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own. But his unbiased opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure; no, nor from the law and the constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion. (Edmund Burke, 1774, to the electors at Bristol)
He also believed people have not just the right but the duty to speak out against tyranny. Unfortunately, the quote most commonly attributed to him is ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing‘. He did write, …when bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle, which means the same thing. However, John Stuart Mill said, almost a century later, Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.
This reminds of the reporter’s remark to James Stewart in the classic western, The Man Who shot Liberty Valance, ‘when the legend becomes fact, print the legend.
The message remains the same and I could even venture to paraphrase Bob Marley to echo the same sentiment, get up, standup, stand up for your rights.