WHEN DARKNESS DESCENDS UPON A NATION at the hands of its leaders who “lord it over them,” the people will rise up in righteous indignation and their prophets lead the way. The tides of massive resistance will amass across the land rather than cower before the ploys of pernicious politics.
Those who value truth, justice, and compassion above the exploits of the powerful who deal in falsehood, injustice, and coercion will exhibit solid spine in counteraction to the capitulations of spineless politicians. For in the pursuit of goodness it is undaunted courage that displaces fear, and resilient love seeking righteousness that shines light to cast out the shadows of evil deeds.
We must remember that already President-elect Donald Trump has sufficiently demonstrated that he intends to be a bully president. Psychologically he is an autocrat whose emotional development was arrested in adolescence when his bully-identity solidified. He gains a sense of personal empowerment by willfully attacking and threatening others. Revenge, as he has admitted, is his weapon of choice. He will delegate his henchmen to extend the scope and chilling effect of his dirty work. Addicted to his own will-to-power, his anti-social behaviors will be prone to multiply as he assumes the reins of power.
The test of America’s strength from its legislatures to its courts and state houses, to all its diverse communities of citizens throughout the land, will be measured by our collective ability to withstand Mr. Trump’s onslaughts to the very integrity of our life together in this democracy.
Americans must respond to Mr. Trump as the authoritarian that he is, prepared to meet him on the battlefield of moral and political discourse and decision-making, armed with the scepter of truth and the sword of justice. We can expect Trumpian witch hunts and possibly even worse, and we must be prepared to meet them head-on and to protect the vulnerable and defend the defenseless. It is our moral obligation to do so as American citizens. For those of us who are Christians it is imperative. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” For if we do not remain vigilant, we shall be in grave danger of losing our freedom.
The picture becomes clearer with every passing day. Mr. Trump’s strong-arm tactics are quickly taking root through his transition team, as in the case of the lengthy questionnaire presented to the U.S. Department of Energy, designed to single out those who had attended events and conferences pertaining to the science of global warming, which included questions such as these:
# 1 – “Can you provide a list of all boards, councils, commissions, working groups, and FACAs [Federal Advisory Committees] currently active at the Department? For each, can you please provide members, meeting schedules, and authority (statutory or otherwise) under which they were created?”
# 27 – “Can you provide a list of all Department of Energy employees or contractors who have attended any Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon meetings? Can you provide a list of when those meetings were and any materials distributed at those meetings, EPSA emails associated with those meetings, or materials created by Department employees or contractors in anticipation of or as a result of those meetings?”
# 29 – “Which programs within DOE are essential to meeting the goals of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan?”
# 40 – “Can you provide a list of Department employees or contractors who attended any of the Conference of the Parties (under the UNFCCC) [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] in the last five years?”
# 71 – “Can you provide a list of current professional society memberships of lab staff?”
# 72 – “Can you provide a list of publications by lab staff for the past three years?”
# 73 – “Can you provide a list of all websites maintained by or contributed to by laboratory staff during work hours for the past three years?”
Thus we have an example of the repressive measures by which totalitarian tyrannies can quickly arise and impose themselves upon government institutions and beyond. The effect is to establish an atmosphere of intimidation, fear, and suspicion, to turn employees against employees, to make Americans distrust fellow Americans, and to set the stage for black lists and purges. It is a stratagem that comes straight out of a dictator’s playbook.
Again, Thomas Jefferson: “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”
We should heed the warning of the late German pastor, Martin Niemöller, who spent seven years in Nazi concentration camps for his opposition to Adolf Hitler:
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
© 2017 Charles Davidson — All Rights Reserved
Charles Davidson, writer and editor, is a retired Presbyterian minister, psychotherapist, and professor of pastoral theology, care, and counseling. He is the author of Bone Dead, and Rising: Vincent van Gogh and the Self Before God (Cascade Books, Wipf and Stock Publishers).