I am the “resistance”

Loved this from law professor Richard Primus:

Another common critique is that the notion of resistance—with or without a capital R—is melodramatic. The archetypal (nonfictional) example of something called “the Resistance” operated in France during World War II. However awful the Trump administration is, it is not Nazi Germany, and the people opposing it are not risking their lives in clandestine meetings, one step ahead of the Gestapo. So it is easy to think that people who regard their anti-Trump activism as resistance have lost perspective.

I think otherwise. Like many terms, resistance means different things to different people. To me, resistance names a posture that goes beyond ordinary political opposition; it suggests a context in which power is wielded in unusually dangerous ways and is countered by a population with heightened consciousness, exerting itself to an unusual degree. Understood in this sense, I embrace the term: I’m a resistor. And my resistance is based on two premises. The first is that the Trump presidency is morally repugnant and a threat to the rule of law. The second is that I am obligated to exceed my normal level of civic engagement to meet the threat.

Many people disagree with my first premise—that Trump is morally repugnant and a threat to the rule of law. Roughly 40 percent of Americans say they approve of Trump’s job performance. They shouldn’t. The president is a bigot, a con man, a relentless liar, and a spoiled bully who inflicts needless suffering on vulnerable people. He pardons convicted war criminals, uses his office to enrich himself personally, and courts foreign interference in American elections. He will break any rule, violate any norm, betray any national interest for his personal benefit.  The constitutional system is not built to withstand the damage that an unscrupulous president with no sense of self-restraint can inflict. As I have explained at greater length elsewhere, the Trump presidency is the greatest internally generated threat to our republic since the 1870s.

As for the reasoning behind the second premise: I firmly believe that Americans can meet the challenge posed by Trump and Trumpism. But we cannot take anything for granted. Every system of government eventually passes away, and the United States enjoys no magical exemption from that reality. Our constitutional republic can survive Trump and Trumpism, but there is no guarantee that it will.  Whether it does depends on what we do, now, and week by week until the danger has passed. Navigating that danger successfully will take a lot of effort by a lot of people.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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