Courage Needed

I have fears and anxieties like everyone else, but there is something in me that pushes aside fear when representing my clients. Maybe it’s anger over what was done to them. Maybe it’s an impulse to protect the people I care about. I don’t know where it comes from, I just know it’s there and I can’t ignore it. It’s not about courage, or any virtue I’m claiming, I am just telling you that it’s automatic – I can’t let an injustice go.

So, I can’t for the life of me understand how members of Congress can stand by while this president is not just dividing the country, but assaulting the very foundations of our country. He threatens judges, prosecutors, Senators, the media. Every element of our check-and-balance system is being assaulted by Trump, and every one of those GOP members of the House of Representatives and the Senate knows it. Some of them, ironically enough they call themselves “Tea Party” Republicans, like what Trump is doing. Their goals are consistent with Trump’s to some extent, so I can understand their silence. I don’t like it, but at least they have the decency to not pretend to be decent.

It’s men like Paul Ryan who stand by in silence, or in finer moments issue mealy-mouthed, muted criticism, that I can’t understand. Ryan never criticizes Trump directly, he just kind of shrugs his shoulders and says ‘I don’t agree with what was said, or done.’ There are plenty of other men like him in Congress, but he is supposed to be some kind of leader and have some kind of influence. We are not talking about providing political cover for a President so that they can pass their political agenda. At this point, we are talking about standing up and defending the values and institutions that are the foundations of our country.

When a president tells us that the media is an enemy of our country, he is not defending the country, he is assaulting our democracy. There may be some in the media who don’t like the country. There may be some in the media who are biased and have an agenda. However, the media is a critical element of checks and balance to the power of the president, and for the most part they have been much more vigilant in protecting that balance now than they have in times past (such as the lead up to the war in Iraq). To vilify the media in general to the point of calling them the “enemy” is inciting violence, or at the very least attempting to cower them into silence … the same silence of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan.

I take on powerful bullies every day,  like insurance companies with nearly infinite resources and every ally in the Michigan Legislature they can buy. I can tell you that the only way to respond to a bully is to do it immediately, aggressively and every time. Bullies become bullies because they are fundamentally cowards reassuring themselves by pretending to not be afraid by making others afraid. Resist their bullying and they eventually can’t pretend anymore and slither away. In the courtroom, it is the future lives of individuals at stake. With Trump, it is the country’s future at stake. Cowards like Ryan and McConnell should never be in a position to have to defend our liberties. Let’s hope that other men and women in Congress will emerge as the patriots we need at this critical time in history.

 

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