It’s Now Up to Us and Maybe It Always Has Been

Walden Pond. Concord, Massachusetts.

As the United States paused to protest the police killing of George Floyd in a Minneapolis street gutter, another 10,000 Americans died after contracting Coronavirus.

The twin crises have brought the county to a standstill, but our national government seems unable to respond in any meaningful way. The problem begins with President Trump who has very openly and without apology abdicated his responsibility with regard to the public health crisis and has tried to turn the outrage over the death of Floyd into an opportunity to impose military order in the hope it will help him win re-election.

It is a sign of how little the president cares about the plight of his fellow citizens that he continues to hold meetings with his re-election campaign team at the White House in the middle of the drama and continues to use every chance he gets to make a public case to voters to give him another four year term even as people lose their lives to the virus and others petition in favor of police reform. The president and those around him are obsessed only with the survival of the administration. The problems of the country are an inconvenience and they wish we — the American people — would get over it.

Anyone who functions in our society as a normal adult could have seen this coming, but very few in positions of power have been willing to speak up until now. With regard to the president himself, he has demonstrated since he first began his campaign in 2016 a disregard for accepted normal, professional, moral behavior. I will not waste time here proving the point, because the public record is ample.

Led by former General James Mattis, who served as Trump’s first secretary of defense, some in official Washington have begun coming out to denounce the president and warn the country that he does not operate with the best of intentions. Too tentatively, a few Republicans on Capitol Hill have now stepped forward to agree with Mattis’s warnings and the warnings of others.

It is too little, too late. No one, no one who has served previously in the Trump administration, no one who currently serves and no one serving as a Republican in an elected position in our national government deserves any credit now for calling the president out, because they have all known for a long time that eventually the state of our nation under President Trump would look something like it looks today. Broken internally and without friends overseas. When it could have made a difference they were all silent.

The time for talk, the time for action was in 2016 when he could have been stopped even if it meant ceding the White House to the Democrats. The time for action was as the administration got underway and it became obvious the president’s only goal was to sow discord in the country, and based largely in the promises of a racist campaign, undo everything done by the previous administration, because it had been led by a black man. The time for action was earlier this year when Democrats in the House of Representatives made an air tight case that President Trump, for political purposes that would benefit his own re-election campaign, used United States taxpayer money, appropriated by Congress, to extort a foreign leader.

The leadership of the country has failed us and that failure has been led by Republicans who have refused to stand up to the president and by those who have served in the Trump administration and made excuses for the president as he has repeatedly lied to the country and revealed his pure incompetence.

It is now up to us, the American people, to fix the catastrophe that is the Trump administration through the power of our vote.

I wonder why Donald Trump even wants another term in office since he has never tried to do the job of president or taken it seriously. About a month ago he simply became bored with the COVID-19 crisis and declared it over. Since then 20,000 more Americans have been added to the death roll with no end in sight.

With regard to the response to the Floyd killing he has refused to even consider the calls for an end to police violence. He has instead advocated for more of it and used the crisis to attempt to expand his powers to use the military against the American people.

Last week I visited Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts where Henry David Thoreau lived in a cabin in the woods for two years before emerging to eventually write his essay on civil disobedience.

The message of that essay, first delivered about fifteen years before the start of the American Civil War, resonates today and calls on each of us to take our civic duty seriously by opposing a government — an administration — which has lost the confidence of most of the country.

“All recognize the right of revolution,” Thoreau said. “The right to refuse allegiance to and resist the government when its tyranny or inefficiency are great and unendurable.”

For the last two weeks the early stages of the revolution have been seen in the streets of American cities nationwide. I hope the spirit of protest carries forward to Election Day, because unless we bring the Trump administration to an end the damage to our country may be irreparable.

Photojournalism for Brands and Ideas.