Finding and stating facts is an act of resistance in the age of Donald Trump. The Trump campaign already had stirred a strong sense that facts were under threat, besieged by a candidate who told untruths in both significant and casual ways, as Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star and others documented and compiled. Since Election Day, the situation has only worsened, as the president-elect’s tweets and statements make clear. Even more is at stake when this man will become the leader of the United States on Jan. 20. So many of us are being assaulted and buffeted by Trump’s statements and tweets that are just plain false or exaggerations.
Still, facts, they say, are stubborn things. In their stubbornness, they form a part of the resilience and the resistance we as people must embrace and act on, if an enlightened democratic republic is to have hope of solving serious problems and meeting challenges. Facts are meant to be shared, too, in ways that will empower citizens to resist. It’s crucial as well when people share real-life experiences that counteract ignorance. We can take specific actions that will strengthen these efforts and, thus, the democracy.
The conflict that arose this past week between long-time U.S. Rep. John Lewis and President-elect Trump epitomizes why it’s crucial in the Donald Trump era to research, find, and confirm facts and to state them boldly. It’s important because Trump inhabits his own reality, and he will soon be taking actions as a president who is misinformed, deliberately misleading, careless, or uncaringly clueless, and captured by that unreality. In an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd for Meet the Press, taped for the Jan. 15 show, the Democratic congressman from Georgia stated in a calm manner, responding to an interview question, why he believes that Trump is not a “legitimate president” and why he plans to not attend the Jan. 20 Inauguration Day ceremony.
As he has done before, Trump displayed little concern for the storm he would stir up in the way he responded. Lewis is a man whom many in our society revere, a leader who was one of the keynote speakers with Martin Luther King, Jr., at the 1963 March on Washington, whom troopers beat and bloodied at Selma in the 1965 Voting Rights March, and who persisted in nonviolent resistance in the civil rights movement despite dozens of arrests and various physical attacks, as this PBS biography notes. He has been a champion of human rights, health care, and gun control, leading a sit-in on the floor of the House to call attention to the Congress’ inaction on guns. [Read more →]