THE TWELVE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS DONALD TRUMP HAS TAUGHT ME (Thing No. 9):
He gave us a real time demonstration of the fragility of our political system.
Many Americans who were born here and came of age here view our democratic system as a sturdy, durable frame around the good life — where communication is open, we have freedom, and we have a voice in the choices made on behalf of our whole society. The Civil War seems like an odd and archaic thing of the past. Besides, the slavery issue has been settled, at least in the crudest sense of human chattel.
Other Americans who came here more recently as immigrants have witnessed the fragility of government. They have seen governments fall, often with terrible consequences for the people. That’s why they come here in tiny boats across across dangerous seas. They face starvation and dehydration to walk through deserts where they can fry in the daytime and freeze at night.
They do this because they have faith in America’s willingness to extend the same hand of welcome that has welcomed immigrants since the 17th Century. And they sense in America the kind of stability that will allow them to build a good life if they simply work hard, follow some basic rules, and pay a fair share of taxes.
Many who came by American citizenship the easy way, by being born here, take it for granted. Apathy is so much easier than activism. But now we have seen, on January 6, 2021, that there is a kernel of resistance to the values that have made us who we are. And when a politician comes along who is willing to incite those who do not share democratic values, American democracy becomes as fragile as the government in any other country.
January 6, 2021 was a frightening day for America. And there may be more to come if we are not vigilant and firm.
If you love it, take care of it. Be a part of it. Vote. Follow the rules. And learn how to lose. No citizen gets her/his way every time.
And we should be glad for that. It may be democracy’s wisest and best feature.