“Over the course of our nation’s history, we have faced inflection points — times when we had to decide who we are as a country and what we stand for. Now is such a time.”
Sally Yates, who was fired by Trump for not defending his unconstitutional Muslim ban, just wrote a fantastic op-ed in USA Today. Yates didn’t mention Trump’s name once in her piece, she didn’t have to. It was plainly clear who she was talking about.
Yates worries that we as a nation are abandoning our core values because of Trump and the Republicans.
“Over the course of our nation’s history, we have faced inflection points — times when we had to decide who we are as a country and what we stand for. Now is such a time. Beyond policy disagreements and partisan gamesmanship, there is something much more fundamental hanging in the balance. Will we remain faithful to our country’s core values?”
Yates notes that we “haven’t always lived up to our founding ideals,” citing the days of slavery and Jim Crow. But she says even when we’ve fallen short we have always remained dedicated to our defining principles.
“Despite our differences, we as Americans have long held a shared vision of what our country means and what values we expect our leaders to embrace. Today, our continued commitment to these unifying principles is needed more than ever.”
Yates says that the values that unite us can be found in just 52 words of the Preamble to our Constitution.
““We the people of the United States” (we are a democratic republic, not a dictatorship) “in order to form a more perfect union” (we are a work in progress dedicated to a noble pursuit) “establish justice” (we revere justice as the cornerstone of our democracy) “insure domestic tranquility” (we prize unity and peace, not divisiveness and discord), “provide for the common defense” (we should never give any foreign adversary reason to question our solidarity) “promote the general welfare” (we care about one another; compassion and decency matter) “and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” (we have a responsibility to protect not just our own generation, but future ones as well).”
Yates points out that many of the individual liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights are now being taken for granted and are in danger of eroding or slipping away. Some of those rights include freedom of speech, the separation of church and state, and freedom of the press. And Yates says that we must insist on the rule of law, for everyone, including the President of the United States.
“The rule of law depends not only on things that are written down, but also on important traditions and norms, such as apolitical law enforcement. That’s why Democratic and Republican administrations alike, at least since Watergate, have honored that the rule of law requires a strict separation between the Justice Department and the White House on criminal cases and investigations. This wall of separation is what ensures the public can have confidence that the criminal process is not being used as a sword to go after one’s political enemies or as a shield to protect those in power. It’s what separates us from an autocracy.”
“And there is something else that separates us from an autocracy, and that’s truth. There is such a thing as objective truth. We can debate policies and issues, and we should. But those debates must be based on common facts rather than raw appeals to emotion and fear through polarizing rhetoric and fabrications.”
“Not only is there such a thing as objective truth, failing to tell the truth matters. We can’t control whether our public servants lie to us. But we can control whether we hold them accountable for those lies or whether, in either a state of exhaustion or to protect our own political objectives, we look the other way and normalize an indifference to truth.”
And Yates concludes with a call to action.
“So stand up. Speak out. Our country needs all of us to raise our collective voices in support of our democratic ideals and institutions. That is what we stand for. That is who we are. And with a shared commitment to our founding principles, that is who we will remain.”