by Errington C. Thompson, MD –
It is February. It is Black History month.
If you are a progressive, life is hard right now. It is hard for you to get out of bed. It is hard to stand in your kitchen and make coffee. It is nearly impossible to sit down with your spouse or significant other and binge-watch your favorite show, because America is the middle of Trump Depression Syndrome (TDS).
TDS is defined as large numbers of Republicans standing up and marching towards a microphone in a zombie-like state and bald-faced lying to the American people. Their lies are raining down on us like snow in the middle of a blizzard. And of course, if Trump is tweeting, he is lying.
This is what is making it hard to live, breathe, even exist in America right now if you are a progressive. As Martin Luther King said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Frank Minis Johnson, Jr.
Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr. might be the greatest American from the civil rights era that you’ve never heard of. He was born in northern Alabama in 1918. He stumbled into law. He was hard working. He was wounded twice in World War II. He was a Republican in Alabama when everyone else in Alabama was a Democrat.
President Dwight Eisenhower appointed him to the Middle District of the federal court in Alabama in late 1955. Earlier that year in Montgomery a young lady named Claudette Colvin had been roughly thrown off a bus for not moving to the back of the bus when she was told by police officers to do so. It was later that year that seamstress Rosa Parks was famously “too tired” to move to the back of the bus and arrested. Judge Johnson was in his position for less than a month before he was required to hear Browder v. Gayle, the Montgomery busing case that ended segregation of the races on the public transportation system.
Judge Johnson was not a crusader for civil rights. As far as I can tell, he didn’t love or hate minorities: he just loved the law. To him a state law that said that blacks had to be placed in the back of the bus was wrong.
“Where in the Constitution is there anything that says you can segregate (the races)?” he asked. He went further and said, “It (the Constitution) specifically says you can’t abridge the freedoms of the individual.”
Frank Johnson decided that segregation on buses was wrong. The city of Montgomery appealed his decision to the Supreme Court, and the highest court in the land upheld his decision.
Judge Frank Johnson would end up deciding a string of important civil rights cases—Freedom Riders, March to Selma, school desegregation, and the Ku Klux Klan conspiracy case. None of these decisions were popular in Alabama. As a matter of fact, the KKK burned a cross and shot up his mother’s house. (They mistook his mother’s house for his.) He had death threats. He had to have a bodyguard for the last 30 years of his life. Yet he made thoughtful, principled decisions based on the law. Each of his big civil rights decisions was appealed to the Supreme Court, which upheld every single one.
Think about it. A thoughtful, principled Republican who decided not to bow to pressure. Instead, he upheld the Constitution. Man, that is refreshing. Because now we have a group of Republicans who have been lying to the American public as if their moms told them that lying would get them into heaven.
Let’s just go over the facts. As Jack Webb used to say on the popular TV show Dragnet, “Just the facts.” So here they are—some facts that we know.
We know that the earth is round. We know that President Trump called up President Zelensky of Ukraine and said, “I would like for you to do us a favor…” Then President Trump asked the president of a foreign nation to investigate a politician rival, Joe Biden.
This is a violation of campaign finance law. Now, we can get mired in lies and spin, but this is the basic fact. You really don’t have to know anything else. You don’t have to know that Rudy Giuliani was Trump’s personal lawyer and that he was running around trying to dig up dirt on the Bidens. You don’t have to know the Attorney General Barr has been acting like the president’s personal attorney instead of the AG of the United States. All you need to know is that President Trump asked President Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden.
And don’t buy the idea that Trump and everyone in Trump’s world thought that this was just fine. If the White House thought that the call with President Zelensky was fine, then why did they try to hide it by placing all the records of it on a secure server where almost no one could find it?
I actually agree with Majority Leader McConnell. We don’t need to hear from any more witnesses. We know that Trump broke the law. We also know that the framers of our Constitution were worried about foreign influence in our domestic elections. Both James Madison and Alexander Hamilton talked about the destructive influence of foreign powers. John Adams said, “As often as elections happen, the danger of foreign influence recurs.”
The only necessary question is this: Does asking a foreign power for help in our domestic election rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors? My answer is yes, a full-throated, as loud as I can scream it; YES!
If you believe that the president can do whatever he wants then, you don’t believe in our Constitution, you believe in kings and queens. If that’s who you are, okay; it’s not the American way, but that’s fine.
Progressives, like me, live in a different world. We love the good and the bad of our democracy. We live in a land of laws.
We all knew perfectly well that the Senate was NEVER going to remove Trump from office. But Trump has plenty of other troubles. He’s the most unpopular president in recent history, and unless he cheats he’s going to be roundly defeated in November. If the stars line up, the Republican dominance of the Senate will also end.
To make that happen, we all have to work together to elect a progressive majority—with American votes, not Russian ones. And when we make that happen, we need to focus on turning this country into a progressive oasis.
We must rewrite our laws to make sure that presidential candidates must reveal their tax returns before the first caucus. We need to take the money out of our elections—not just secret money from overseas (remember the $50 million the NRA of Russia funneled into the campaign in 2016?)—but all the big money. We must stop the TV commercials, and regulate the disinformation on social media right out of existence.
We have to guarantee the right of every American to vote, and to have their votes counted. Everyone’s vote must count equally: it’s long past time to get rid of the Electoral College.
We need to repair our environment. We have to fix our education system. We must figure out how make universal healthcare available and affordable for all Americans. We have to have judges who uphold justice and the Constitution, instead of subverting them.
We have to re-draw the rules of Wall Street, so that companies like GE don’t go decades without paying a dime in taxes. We need to fix the unfair tax “reform” bill that gave hundreds of billions to Wall Street and almost nothing to working people. We have to ensure that corporations are penalized, not rewarded, for sending jobs overseas.
We need to take down fences and walls that fall over in a high wind, and repair relationships with just about every other nation in the world. We need to figure out what the heck is going on with Iran, a nation we just about went to war with, and fix it. We must come up with a real plan to contain North Korea. And we have to deal with global climate change before it’s too late.
We must all band together and get this done. We must defeat Trump in the 2020 election. We must figure out how to contain the spread of lies and hate on Twitter and Facebook.
These are the first steps in fixing our democracy. Let’s get this done. Together.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed here, as well as assertions of facts, are those of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of The Urban News.