I Take Up Space in Solidarity with Rep. John Lewis

[Content Note: Racism; authoritarianism.]

On Friday, I noted that civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis had said he would not be attending Donald Trump's inauguration, because he doesn't view Trump's presidency as legitimate, owing to Russian interference in the election, to say nothing of Trump's bigotry.

Over the weekend, Trump kicked off Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend by slandering Lewis on Twitter. In a piece I co-wrote with Tommy Christopher for Shareblue, I noted:
Every American has the right — and the responsibility — to hold the president to account. That Trump disagrees with this most basic premise of vibrant democracy is itself reason to question the legitimacy of his presidency. A president who does not respect the rights guaranteed by the Constitution cannot be trusted to represent the values of the nation.

...It is a rich irony that Trump, who peddled racist lies in order to try to delegitimize the nation's first Black president, is now outraged that a Civil Rights Hero would, using facts, state his belief that Trump's presidency is not legitimate.
A flood of Democrats outpoured support for Lewis, a show of solidarity which was shamelessly denounced by Trump opponents as reflexive partisanship. In response to that wildly misplaced criticism, I wrote: We fight for Rep. John Lewis because he has fought for us.
The strong and widespread support for Lewis is now being denounced by Democratic opponents as partisan politicking. This could not be more wrong.

It is wrong because there is nothing stopping Congressional Republicans from showing their support for their colleague Lewis, except their own craven indecency. It is not a reflection of Democrats' partisanship that they are the only ones exhibiting solidarity for an American patriot, but of Republicans' partisanship that they do not feel obliged to do the same.

It is wrong because the concerns Lewis has that prompted his comments about Trump's legitimacy — Russian interference in the election, for one — are not partisan issues, irrespective of many Republicans' indifference to their gravity.

And it is wrong, most importantly, because those of us who take up space in solidarity with Lewis are not doing so because we are Democrats. That has it precisely backwards. We are Democrats because of people like Rep. John Lewis.

We are Democrats, in part, because of the men and women who are the standard-bearers of the Democratic Party, who have modeled for us what principled resistance and progressive values look like. We found a home with his party because people like Lewis not only laid the foundation, but built the walls and fitted the roof and laid the path to the front door of that home.
There is, as always, more at the link.

In a final insult, Trump's incoming Chief of Staff Reince Priebus appeared on This Week with George Stephanopoulos to further criticize Lewis, and brazenly advocated quashing dissent against Trump, admonishing President Obama to "step up and get his people in line, and tell them to grow up and accept the fact that they lost the election."

As I noted at the link:
It is deeply chilling that the official position of the incoming Trump administration is that dissent should be disallowed. That is not the way a democracy is meant to work. That is the way dictatorships work.

Citizens of a democratic country cannot and should not be expected to "get in line" behind a politician with whom they disagree. If Trump did not want to be criticized, then perhaps he should have sought a different line of work than leader of a diverse democratic nation of more than 300 million people, with a Constitutional right to dissent and an implicit duty to hold their leaders to account.

...Those of us who unyieldingly reject the legitimacy of Trump's presidency are not doing so just because we do not like Donald Trump; we are doing so because we deeply value and desperately want to preserve our democracy.

That Priebus' response to that is to deploy a sickening argument advocating a further erosion of democratic principles is horrifying.
Horrifying and unsurprising, given every single thing we've seen from Trump, his staff, his surrogates, and his supporters.

If that isn't reason to resist, in every way possible, I don't know what possibly could be.

I take up space in solidarity with Rep. John Lewis, a genuine American hero and patriot, his colleagues who will join him in boycotting the inaugural, and everyone else who has resolved to resist Trump and the normalization of his rank hostility to our basic democratic principles.

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