The impeachment battle and the current wave of violent white supremacy is the enduring battle for our nation’s soul — does the wealth of a few matter more than the dignity of the many? Our nation was founded with the immoral compromise to enslave human beings for the sake of the formation of a union. Capitalism and the value of cotton allowed the expansion and growth of the inhumane institution long after many believed it would die out.
It took a brutal civil war to end the institution of slavery. Black and white female abolitionists were told they had to wait, as the Fifteenth Amendment secured the right to vote only for males. The battle to secure the vote for women would take another 70 years.
Post-civil war reconstruction resulted in Black men elected to local and national office and achieve some financial power. The rise of white supremacy and a presidential candidate who won by promising to end reconstruction efforts. In order to win, they engaged in voter suppression, including violence to prevent Black men from voting.
Many pundits argue that Trump’s presidency is a reaction to the election of our nation’s first Black president. While that undoubtedly played a role, the rise of Trump and the resurgence of white nationalism is a backlash to the dignity demanded by the Black Lives Matter Movement and movements for undocumented peoples to be treated with respect, through programs like the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents immigration policies.
Just like post-reconstruction, Trump’s election has been linked to nefarious means. Close to 35 people have been indicted or convicted in connection to his 2016 campaign. That is separate from the racial gerrymandering and voter suppression of many states to silence people of color, because they disproportionately vote against Republicans.
The recent impeachment focused on the obstruction of Congress and abuse of power of enlisting foreign aid in preparation for the 2020 election. Conservative politicians have not taken to the streets in protest of the violation of our constitution because the regulations and laws the president has fought for benefit the wealthy. More than that, they punish the working poor and those experiencing poverty through destroying social safety nets.
Despite their achievements, the efforts to democratize has not stopped the progress. The prison abolish movement is resulting in calls to close private prisons. Almost half of states have decriminalized marijuana to some degree. Voting rights efforts in Florida achieved an incredible victory in re-enfranchising its residents (though the battle continues with efforts to minimize these efforts). In Washington, progress has been made on legislation to make re-enfranchisement easier. Indigenous communities lead the way in protecting the land and nature. The #metoo movement is bringing consequences to even the most powerful men.
The march toward justice may not be a straight line, but advocates will never give up, and the simply reality is that the masses outnumber the elites.
Jill Mullins is an intersectional feminist, attorney, activist and much more. She has written for NW Lawyer, King County Bar News and LGBTQ outlets.
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