Electronic Frontier Foundation
 Electronic Frontier Foundation
 Electronic Frontier Foundation
 Electronic Frontier Foundation

John R. HallDue to the unfathomable rise of President-elect Trump and his subsequent filling of the swamp with a dubious self-serving political power structure which will bring with it widespread disenfranchisement through the President-elect’s racist, xenophobic, islamophobic, homophobic and misogynistic platform, a seat in the Oval Office awaits, and America is once again in peril. The survival of both our republic and our democratic process may very well be on the line.

 

I want to share a time when our democracy was moments away from failing. America almost did not survive its founding in the 1700’s. Forces were conspiring to seize power from civilian rule, but a respected man of goodwill rose to the occasion. The following recounts a moment in America’s history. A moment wherein our great experiment of democracy could have ended.  Due to that moment and the complete sacrifice of one man for his country, catastrophe was avoided, our resolve made stronger, and our forefathers continued to build the greatest government known to mankind.

 

It was at the closing of the Revolutionary War when officers of the Continental Army wanted to meet in secret to speak among themselves. They huddled in Newburgh, N.Y., to discuss grievances, to consider an insurrection, a military coup against Congress.

 

Tensions were running high within the command structure of General Washington’s upper echelon, and down throughout the ranks. His officers had heard rumblings from Philadelphia that the recently formed American Government was going broke. That news, coupled with the fact that Congress appeared to be welching on its promise of salary, bounties, and life pensions for the men who fought and secured our nation, led to a letter being circulated. That letter, issued on March 10, 1783,1 called for an unauthorized meeting of General Washington’s main camp officers. The letter addressed complaints against Congress and the meeting was to be a forum to consider possible military solutions against the civilian government for its financial failings.

 

General Washington caught wind of that letter and of the unsanctioned meeting; he put a stop to it by forbidding it to convene. He offered a solution to the blatant violation of military protocol by suggesting that the officers instead met a few days later during the regularly scheduled officers’ meeting on March 15, 1783. Another letter was passed among his officers suggesting that the General himself might be sympathetic to the officers’ concerns and complaints against Congress.

 

When the officers gathered for their authorized meeting in a Newburg, N.Y., church, the fate of America was effectively placed in the hands of the military. Without announcement nor invite, General Washington entered the church. His presence was not entirely welcomed by his men. He sensed that, yet he still chose to address them.

 

His speech bombed, badly. His men were in no mood to hear what the General had to say. After the speech, General Washington, with his battle weary and aging hands, retrieved a letter written by a member of Congress from his pocket. The letter explained the financial difficulties by which the government was siege. General Washington proceeded to read from the letter….

 

With his eyes strained, he squinted to focus upon the small writing, after only a few short passages, the General stopped reading. His officers stared at him, holding their breath, wondering why he had suddenly ceased. General Washington again reached into his pocket, this time pulling out a pair of eye glasses. Surprise instantly spread throughout the room, a room filled with his brothers in arms, men with whom he had suffered and endured the darkest and deepest despair that battle holds. Together they had fought for our country, for our nation, and together they had prevailed. Then, in that church, the unthinkable was given a forum, the overthrow of the newly formed civilian government. In all the time spent in battle with General Washington, his men did not know that he needed the aid of spectacles. His men were taken by complete shock and utter disbelief.

 

With his aged hand holding his glasses, the General looked up at his men and said: “Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country.”2

 

In that moment, with that admission of frailty of age and of personal sacrifice to his men, they were deeply moved, shamed, and tears flowed. As General Washington continued to read from the letter with the aid of his glasses, his men looked through tear filled eyes with great affection at the pillar who had stood so strong, who had been so unwavering, who had led them though so much to secure our civilian government. Sensing the sentiment permeating throughout the room in that church, the General finished reading the letter and departed without giving voice to another word or thought.

 

General Washington’s officers then voted. It was unanimous. The civilian rule of government was preserved, our great experiment of democracy in America continued, and it continues to this very hour.

 

George Washington had given everything, even his sight, to his nation, and once his men realized that, they refused to dishonor such a sacrifice. That is one reason that General and President George Washington is revered as the father of our nation.

 

We are heirs to that kind of sacrifice – let us be worthy of it and not dishonor it. On January 20th, 2017, President-elect Trump will become the 45th President of the United States of America. He will inherit all the sacrifice from all the bloody fields of the Revolutionary War, and through the strife-filled fields of the Civil War, through all the struggles of all the people who fought all our nation’s wars on foreign shores, from all who have petitioned government for a redress of grievances, from all who have marched for better days and for equal rights under the law. All that will land in President-elect Trump’s lap immediately after taking the oath of office.

 

Nether citizen Trump, nor business man Trump, nor reality show host Trump, nor candidate Trump, nor President-elect Trump has displayed even one ounce of worthiness to inherit all that sacrifice which has brought us to this place in space and time. Not even the popular vote endorsed him. He has mocked, thumbed his nose at, and trumped the law suggesting that expressions of free speech are grounds for imprisonment or loss of citizenship.3 He has given place and voice to hate. He has demonized the press. He had dismissed the First Amendment. He has ignored the CIA’s concerns that America was/is being hacked by Russia.  He has turned his back on the those who elected him by flip-flopping on promised issues from the campaign trail. He has shown no respect nor self-control with regards to his title of President-elect. I am of the opinion that President-elect Trump views the American people as P.T. Barnum did, as suckers. And that high up in Trump Tower in New York City, as he looks towards January 20th, 2017, he is hysterically laughing at US … and will soon be laughing all the way to the bank. A fool and his money soon go their separate ways.

 

So, this is no time for idle chatter. This is a time for heightened awareness. We could very well lose it all, all the sacrifice, all the goodwill America has earned throughout the world, all the rights for the disenfranchised – all of it could vanish with an Enabling4 or Patriot Act.5

 

Lou Reed summed up “this time” best in his 1989 song: There Is No Time: “This is no time for Celebration….This is no time for my country Right or Wrong, remember what that brought…. This is no time to Swallow Anger, this is no time to Ignore Hate….This is no time for Phony Rhetoric, this is no time for Political Speech. This is a time for Action….”6

 

We have been chosen and are alive for this just and honorable struggle which lies before us: the preservation of our county, and the progress our nation has made.  It is no accident that we are alive, possessing the skills bestowed upon us. This is our calling. This is our time. It is our sacred duty to honor those who came before us. It is time for us pay up, to find the cost of freedom, if you will.  That cost is found on the bridge leading into Selma, AL; it is found on the campus of Kent State, OH; it is contained within Mario Savio’s The Machine Speech delivered on the campus of Berkley, CA, and it may be heard within Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Find the Cost of Freedom (lay your body down).

 

I am truly honored to be equipped with word-processing and web publishing skills for this just cause. Edmund Burke, a British statesman during the revolutionary war, has been attributed with saying, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”7
Well, I shall not do nothing. I shall write and scream and holler and cry out that the emperor has no clothes. And I shall do more. I shall do whatever it takes to deliver that message loud and clear.  I shall do it with my last breath, with my last strike of a keyboard, unless President-elect Trump changes his ways, or resigns, or is removed from office, or his term ends.

 

I will now step down, just for a moment, from my soapbox, for respite, but know that I am fully fledged and equipped for this fight, shit, I even have a virtual private server (VPS). Let us patriots resolve to not allow America to recede from her creed:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Because we too have a dream. President-elect Trump: nota bene!  We can see clearly now.

 

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