Everyone has an opinion on how a businessman with no experience in politics won the title of the 45th president of the United States. Some say it’s because of the people who voted for him. Others say it was the Democratic Party’s failure to listen to their own supporters or because of the amount of people who chose to vote third party.
All of those reasons definitely played a role in Trump’s election, but the biggest reason is the entire establishment’s outright dismissal of the First Amendment.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…”
Many people across the country have insisted that we should “give our new president a chance”—although the way I have heard it put here in the Bible Belt is “I’m praying for our new president, and you should too”. I have heard people say, “His words may not be very Christian, but he is a Christian, so I know he’ll do right by us.”
Republicans love to claim that we are a Christian nation, but this is simply not true. Our founding fathers were a mix of Deists and Orthodox Christians who believed that religion should play no part in our government, just as our government should not be able to prevent people from practicing whatever religion they choose. That is why they wrote the Constitution without a single reference to “God” or a higher power of any sort.
Despite this fact, both parties have done nothing to stop the grip Christianity has on our government. As an agnostic living in the buckle of the Bible Belt, it is clear to me that this is perpetuated by more than just the right wing.
I have received glares from Democrats as well as Republicans when I refuse to say “Under God” during the Pledge of Allegiance—but most people don’t seem to realize that “Under God” was only added to the pledge in 1954 by President Eisenhower, in response to the “Communist threat” of the times. Two years later, Eisenhower approved a resolution declaring “In God We Trust” our country’s official motto. Since then, no president has attempted to change this, despite the fact that our constitution clearly says this should not have happened in the first place.
In fact, we have never had a president that did not believe in Christianity in some form or another. Bernie Sanders was the only non-Christian presidential candidate, who upheld the separation of church and state by example, and was shut down because he would not adhere to the establishment’s ways.
“…or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;…”
Speaking of Bernie Sanders, his 2016 presidential campaign is an excellent example of how the establishment attempts to shut down free speech—largely by controlling the so-called “free press,” or as many of you know it, the mainstream media.
While Bernie Sanders was drawing historically large crowds to his rallies, the media chose to focus on Hillary Clinton’s considerably smaller rallies, or whatever crazy statements various Republican candidates were making (especially some of the outrageous claims made by Trump).
This is because of the 2010 Citizens United ruling, which allows corporations—including the media corporations that control the majority of American’s news sources—to be viewed as people who are able to fund government candidates.
While Time Warner and CBS were invested in making sure the establishment Democrat got elected, News Corp was invested in making sure the Republican candidate won. And none of them were going to risk allowing Bernie Sanders the airtime he should have had.
The other mistake Time Warner and CBS made was choosing to use Trump’s constant gaffes as rating fodder. In this instance especially, any press was good press.
“…or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Not only has the establishment squelched the freedom of speech by corrupting the free press, they also regularly silence those who use their constitutional right to protest. As a nonviolent activist myself, I have witnessed peaceful protesters be arrested, and been arrested myself.
Of course, on the citation it never says that the charge is protesting—it will say “loitering” or “disorderly conduct” or possibly “unlawful assembly” even though, according to the First Amendment, we have the right to assemble peacefully.
These arrests are not made because protesters are breaking the law, but because the establishment does not want their own citizens, who may have been unaware of the issues at hand, to see other citizens standing up for their rights. That is why protesters are arrested quickly and efficiently. That is why the media frequently doesn’t show up to cover protests, or even makes fun of the protests. That is why people need to continue showing up and protesting.
Many people may be disheartened because of where we are now. When thousands of people showed up in support of Bernie at the DNC in July 2016, the establishment ignored them. When even Republicans raised their voices against Trump’s nomination, they did nothing to stop him—and now they are turning on each other to try and stay afloat.
Nonviolent protests do have a long, beautiful history of creating change. Our country’s new administration has sparked hundreds of thousands of protests nationwide since the inauguration on January 20th. Many local media stations are beginning to show up to cover the protests, and with the technology now available, more and more people are turning to their fellow citizens for news, instead of corporate-owned mainstream media.
The establishment has done poorly in upholding the Constitution and protecting the rights of American citizens—so we need to remind the establishment of what our country is all about, what our Founding Fathers dreamed of, and take advantage of our First Amendment rights to make sure we don’t completely lose them to our current administration.
Edited by Lydia McMullen-Laird