DEYAN RANKO BRASHICH was born in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia, and is an Op-Ed columnist for Connecticut's Litchfield County Times.  He writes the monthly Letter From America column for Romania’s Scrisul Romanesc, a literary magazine and is the Editor-at-Large for  The Country and Abroad, another literary/art magazine where he authors the Dispatch from Abroad column. He is a frequent contributor to Pecat, the Belgrade, Serbia weekly news magazine, Britić, a magazine published in the United Kingdom, Ekurd Daily, a multinational Kurdish news portal and Passport, a lifestyle quarterly. He resides in New York City and Washington, Connecticut.

 

 

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Friday
Dec072018

A MODEST PROPOSAL FOR A PROPER PROTEST

THE DIRECTOR FRANK CAPRA ON THE SET OF “MR SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON”, 1939 OSCAR WINNER, THE ORIGINAL UNITED STATES SENATE PROTEST STORY – PHOTO COURTESY COLUMBIA PICTURES

Representative democracy is an endangered species. When destroyed it resurrects as a totalitarian democracy. “Not so” you say, “Is so” says I - but I write from the catbird seat as I point to Victor Arbàn in Hungary, Vladimir Putin in Russia, Recep Ertoğan in Turkey, Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Andrzej Duda in Poland, Milo Ðjukanović in Montenegro and, lest we forget, Donald Trump and the United States.

I can’t suggest appropriate protest for the rest of the world, see what’s happening in France, but I have a modest proposal for the United States. 

On January 20, 2017 Trump became the 45Th President. The very next day, Trump launched the first lie of his presidency. He had his Press Secretary, Reince Priebus claim that while “no one had numbers” the crowd “was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period”, notwithstanding stark photographic evidence to the contrary. No one protested that lie, reporters and the media in the White House press room just snickered.

On that day, the President’s first full day in office, some 500,000 to 1,000,000 people, many of them women bedecked in “pussy hats”, pink hats complete with cat ears, marched in protest in Washington while another four million protested elsewhere in the United States. A proper and lawful protest indeed, but two years later of little impact.

Thereafter Trump lied day in and day out, including in the dead of night. The Washington Post keeps a Fact Checker’s database which “analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president”. As of October 30, it documents 6,240 Trump lies and misleading claims, a world record I believe.   

In January President Trump will give his second State of the Union address and “give to the Congress information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” If such “information” contains blatant lies, what would be a measured and proper protest?

In 2009, during a joint session of Congress President Obama informed Congress of the proposed health care legislation that would be the Affordable Care Act. In mid speech Representative Joe Wilson, a South Carolina Republican shouted “you lie” twice at the President. His “you lie” protests were met with a scattering of boos and a reprimand by the House of Representatives. It seems that his outburst was an acceptable protest – to this day Joe still represents South Carolina in the House. 

When discussing a proper protest during a Presidential State of the Union address, one potentially laced with lies and prevarications, you must differentiate between the Office and the man occupying that office. The Office must be given deference and respect, the man not much so.

When President Trump takes the podium and speaks this January, the presence of our elected Representatives and Senators, Cabinet Members, Supreme Court Justices and senior government officials is a mark of respect for the office he presently occupies.

If President Trump tells a lie or misstates the truth during the State of the Union, as he has done time and again, the proper response for the Representative, Senator or official is not to yell, scream or make a scene, or sit mute like a bump on a log but to stand up and make for the aisle and walk in mute but respectful protest walk quietly, somberly out of the Senate Chamber. If he or she has a husband, wife or significant other in the gallery they too, should they be so inclined, should get up and walk.

Sitting silently while the President lies makes them, by their silence and continued attendance complicit in his desecration of the office and a rebuke for the stated principles guiding our democracy. By walking out they would be dissing the man not the office of the President of the United States.

 

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