Tuesday, June 2, 2020

We’re On Our Own

Charles P. Pierce:

On Monday evening, the President* of the United States gave his first public remarks since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. He used it further to divide the country, to traduce the Constitution, and to declare war on citizens of whom he does not approve. A mewling tub of unresolved psychological flotsam, with the moldy stench of the bunker still clinging to him, thumping his bloated chest and threatening martial law while, just up the street, police and soldiers were deployed as special effects against peaceful protestors so this plump and odious little man could inflate his withered mushroom at the expense of a once-great republic.

Yeah, it was a bad moment.

We are not going to be unified. We are not going to be healed. He doesn’t have it in him, and it is not the purpose of his presidency. (That he’s apparently been chatting up Vladimir Putin while the United States falls apart is too perfect a plot twist.) It is not the basis of his campaign for re-election. The violence is the campaign. That is going to be how he runs for re-election.

If we are going to be unified, or healed, we’re going to have to do it ourselves. A thousand acts of individual citizenship. Military men and women who refuse unlawful orders from a lawless president. Law-enforcement officials who remember that they are first—and last—public servants. Politicians who respect their profession enough to do it fearlessly and well. Disciplined protest, day after day, from people who know the difference between governed anger and ungoverned rage, the difference between fearless speech and vandalism, and who remember the old axiom of the Black Panthers, that spontaneity is the art of fools. And, ultimately, millions of voters who force a return to first democratic principles, to crush this president* and the forces that worked over 40 years to make him not merely possible, but inevitable. We are all we have left.

This is as close to general martial law as we ever have been and, I fear, not as close to it as we’re likely to get. Because he is fundamentally a coward, he only threatened to use active-duty military for domestic law-enforcement, which is to say he only threatened to violate the Posse Comitatus Act, which is a crime, and he only threatened to invoke the Insurrection Act, which would be an escalation beyond anything in anyone’s experience, a signal for chaos beyond understanding, and something that, anyway, the law says he can’t do unless a governor asks him to do so. (Not that it matters, but these would be impeachable offenses.) He fumed and threatened and blustered and bellowed, a great pufferfish blown up with the gaseous resentments of two centuries. And then he walked across the street to St. John’s Church and held up a Bible. His hand did not burst into flame. There is no god.

He is a weak man trying to sound strong to the weak.