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The Real America

It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks since the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as Forty-Fifth President of the United States.

The new President has signed the most executive orders in the shortest time period since Franklin Roosevelt in 1933, at the height of the Great Depression. The issues addressed by these executive orders are far-ranging and seek to overturn many of the initiatives of the Obama administration, as well as settled law and established practices. Cancelling the Transpacific Partnership, sanctioning the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, unraveling Dodd-Frank, negating regulations that require investment bankers to operate in the best interests of their clients, unfettering coal mining companies from laws that keep our streams free of sludge and, of course, the travel ban on refugees and visa holders from seven Muslim-majority countries has been an exhausting roller coaster for Americans.

There are some who fear that this chaotic charge to get things done is a reflection of the administration’s lack of governmental experience. Others believe these actions to be consistent with the President’s short attention span and his rush to be considered a strong leader who gets things done. While I agree that part of swirl of news out of Washington may be a result of inexperience, or borne of deep psychological insecurities or emotional needs, I am more convinced that this is a deliberate political strategy to keep the opposition off-balance and unfocused. And for a very brief time, it seemed to be working.

The good news: the strains in the strategy are beginning to show as a great diversity of Americans have risen up in ways both brave and creative in opposition to pronouncements and appointments by the President.

Women have knitted pink hats with cat ears and marched by the hundreds of thousands in support of human rights.

Lawyers have scrambled from their offices to sit on the floor in airports around the country in defense of those trapped in the travel ban.

The congressional phone system has become so clogged in opposition to the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary that legislators’ phones have been shuttered; and when messages couldn’t get through, citizens commandeered pizza delivery boxes and included notes to members of Congress opposing an Education Secretary who seems to know little about education or care about how kids with disabilities can get equal access to schooling.

Veterans reaffirmed their solidarity with Native Americans against construction of the pipelines that threaten their water supplies and sacred lands.

Yemeni bodega owners shut down their shops in Brooklyn for a full day to protest the travel ban.

Justice Department officials and Federal Judges used the power of their offices to strip the travel ban of its authority.

Nearly 1,000 diplomats and State Department employees signed a formal “dissent memo” in opposition to administration initiatives.

Religious leaders drew stark contrasts between these policies and basic tenets of their faith from pulpits across the country over the weekend.

This is the takeaway of these two weeks: It is not in the frenzied behavior emerging from the White House; it is in an America that will not be bullied or deceived; an America that will stand fast for justice and human dignity. In the midst of this very dark hour—there are, as a previous President once said—“a thousand points of light.”

May your light burn brightly, and let no darkness wrought by powers or principalities dare to put it out.        

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