Sunday, January 29, 2017

No way to run a republic

So the first overt violation of rights has happened, the first act that touches people directly, stops ordinary residents from going about their accustomed business and puts them in a dangerous legal limbo.

Customs and Border Patrol says it only affects a small number of the millions of travelers entering the U.S., which is an asinine way to defend an unjustified action. "Yes, I did take those two kids' lunch money, but they're only a  small percentage of all the students at the school."

For now there has been partially effective pushback: demonstrations at airports, a judicial stay, detainees released.

The new administration tried to do something patently wrong, there was resistance, and the extent of the wrong has been reduced. I am grateful to patriots who took the initiative to go demonstrate at the airports, and to the ACLU for doing the complementary legal work. Thinking about what "victory" might look like in the age of Trump, this is about the best I would have hoped for.

But it is only a partial win, and look what it took. Thousands of people had to drop whatever else they were doing to go put out a fire.

We can be energized by responding meaningfully to danger, but it's like a stress reaction: the phenomenon is necessary in the short run, but harmful if continued over long periods of time.

Which isn't to say we should back off (and I feel silly using the word "we," since my small actions have been so much less than those of many others, but I want to make clear that this fight is my fight as well). Fires are being set and we need to respond.

But it will be draining.

The word "republic" is from the Latin "res publica":
from res "affair, matter, thing" + publica, fem. of publicus "public".
A government to look after the affairs of the public. We don't all make our own shoes, design our own computer games, build our own houses. We parcel out the work to different people, so we can all do more.

And we don't all run the affairs of the public. We assign the management of public affairs to selected individuals, so that we can get on with our lives.

It turns out that this time we assigned the management of public affairs to an immature narcissist advised by an anti-Semite who gladly publishes the work of white supremacists. So we don't have the option of leaving the management of public affairs in his hands and getting on with our lives.

The resistance is necessary.

But it will be a mixture of exhausting and exhilarating.

And its victories will be partial.

It's no way to run a republic.
from here

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