Thursday, December 1, 2016
PEOTUS deplorably ignorant of Constitution Dan Nelson
Second-year public health student
Liberals must be prepared for action in next four years Linden Atelsek Third-year psychology student
Dear young liberals, Many of us are not used to losing. That’s probably why wak ing up on Nov. 9 felt so different from wak ing up on Nov. 8, although we were living in the exact same country as we were before. We’ve g row n up u nder t wo ter ms of Obama — t wo massive wins in 20 0 8 a nd 2012. A nd a lt hough progress has been stifled by rabid p a r t i s a n s h ip a nd g over n ment gridlock, victories have been won over the course of our lifetimes — LGBT rights, environmental refor m, i ncreased gover n ment transparency, healthcare reform, t he ex pa nsion of a civ il right s division in Department of Justice a nd so on. Slow prog ress, but progress nonetheless. The country was taking strides forward. But what many white liberals, like me, learned as t he result s came in was what minorities in t h i s c ou nt r y h ave k now n f or a long time: We weren’t tak ing st rides for ward so much as we were straining against the pull of a rubber band. On Election Day, the band snapped back. Progress isn’t permanent. For me, that was a crushing realization to have, but for my friends who are people of color, it was less surprising. We st ill have abort ion rights because activists and organizations l i ke Pla n ned Parent hood have been fighting to keep restrictive laws from getting passed. We have the voting rights we do because ac t i v i s t s h ave b een at t ac k i ng suppression laws in t he cou rt s whenever they emerge. Gay rights are where they are because gay people sued and sued to overturn discriminatory laws, and they’re still suing. Civil rights advances have always come at the expense of great time and great effort by marginalized groups, after years of crushing injustice. And it’s always
momentou s when refor m get s passed into law, but most of the fight happens in making sure we don’t slide backward. It is unlikely that we’ll make any real progress in the next four years, but the fight to keep from regressing will continue. Donald Trump will be president. W het her or not t he Elec tora l College is unfair and should be eliminated, he played by the rules of the game and won. But he won’t be president until Jan. 20, which means we have time to learn from this election and get ready. Here’s wh at I le a r ned f rom 2016: I’ve been slacking. A lot of us have been. Yes, there have been some white people beat ing t he streets fighting for racial minority rights. Yes, some people who are not mentally ill or disabled have been fighting for people who are mentally ill or disabled. Yes, some straight people have been fighting for LGBT people a nd some Christians have been fighting for Muslims and Jews. Some men have been fighting for women’s rights. Those contributions are amazing. But part of losing this election is being honest with ourselves about what we’ve done wrong, and while everything I’ve just said is true, what is equally true is this: A lot of us haven’t. That’s hard to admit. But I’ve told myself that I didn’t donate to things I believe in because I didn’t have the money, while people with less money than I have have donated to the causes I passed over. I have been to some protests. I have volunteered. But not often. I told myself I didn’t have time to do more, but that wasn’t really true — I just didn’t want to spend my free time holding a sign or pushing a cause when I could be relaxing. I voted a nd I sig n pet it ions — i nc red ibly low- ef for t c iv ic participation. I write for this paper, but if I didn’t love it I probably wouldn’t have started, or continued. I could have been doing more, but I didn’t, because I didn’t have to. My drinking water was never in danger. I was never going to be shot in the street by the police. I was not ever and am not now in danger of being registered for my religion, or losing my job and falling behind on my rent because I am being held in jail
on a minor charge that I cannot afford to pay bail for. This should be sounding familiar to a lot of you. Because I am not alone. Only 13 percent of people participate in politics to the extent I do or more — the remaining 87 percent do less. And 37 percent do nothing at all. Yes, you could blame that on the older generation, or Trump voters not caring about the preservation of democracy, or the fact that millennials don’t have the money or the time to participate. But that would be a disingenuous shifting of blame. Older people participate more. Trump voters voted, or we wouldn’t be here. They went to rallies. They worked for his campaign. Additionally, some of us — like I was — are lying to ourselves about not having the time or the money. Many of us are act ually liv ing paycheck to paycheck, deeply in debt, and cannot be expected to contribute to causes. But some of us are not. Some of us are overloaded with class, homework, jobs and so on, and genuinely don’t have the time to participate. But some of us are not. And that balance tips towards white people, because our families, on average, are richer, and we tend to get more scholarships. Liberals — particularly white liberals, st raight liberals, male liberals — are going to have to start putting our money where our mouths are. I could have been doing more. So could many of the people reading t his. But marginalized people did not have the luxury not to care, and that is even more true now. And if you say you care about civil rights, you need to stand up for them. It’s all well and good to say that our new government will enact discriminatory policies —what are liberals who will not be hurt by them going to do about it? A lot of us who have not felt the urgency of discrimination have been t a l k i ng t he t a l k w it hout wa l k i ng t he wa l k . T hat was always unacceptable, but it’s even less acceptable now. If Trump’s pre sidenc y ’s ef fec t s a re to be mitigated, our activism has to be active rather than performative. So don’t just put on a safety pin and complain for the next four years — get out there and fight.
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At 3:55 a.m. on Nov. 29, Presidentelect Donald Trump t weeted that “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag - if they do, there must be consequences - perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!” To label this t weet as yet another middle of the night rambling would miss the major constitutional confl icts Tr u m p’s o p i n io n r u n s i nt o . I n particular, Trump appears to have little understanding of the Supreme Court’s interpretation of both the First and Fourteenth amendments. For a man who claims that he “see[s] the Constitution as set in stone,” he knows terrifyingly little about it. To u n d e r s t a n d t h e s e r i o u s l y misg uided and, frank ly, insidious nature of Trump’s remarks, we must take a dive into constitutional law. Texas v. Johnson was a landmark Supreme Court case that dealt with the legality of flag burning as a form of protest as it pertains to the First A mendment. The court ruled that the government may not “proscribe part icular conduct because it has ex pressive element s.” Th is r uling invalidated all laws that prevented or punished flag burning as flag burning was found to be protected speech under the First amendment. This assumes that the flag burning was in line with the Brandenburg v. Ohio ruling that “free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” Texas v. Johnson was reaffi rmed yet again in United States v. Eichman, as the court concluded that laws that prevent flag burning on the grounds that it is desecration of a national sy mbol r uns in opposit ion to US Code 496 U.S. 310, 313–319 that “the Government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society fi nds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.” Now t hat we have d isc u ssed Trump’s utter ignorance in regards to t he c on s t it ut ion a l it y of f l ag burning, we will dive into another area of his ignorance — citizenship. Trump appears to believe that a just punishment for f lag burning would be a revocation of one’s citizenship, a punishment ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. In Afroyim v. Rusk, the court ruled that “once acquired, this Fourteenth Amendment cit izenship was not to be shifted, canceled, or diluted at the will of the Federal Government, the States, or any other governmental unit.” Under this, the only way to lose citizenship would be to voluntarily give it up. The Presidential Oath of Office reads, “I do solem nly swear t hat I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, and will to the best of my abilit y, preser ve, protect and defend t he Constitution of the United States.” Trump’s inability to even properly distinguish articles and amendments of the Constitution further highlights how nearly impossible it will be for him to carry out this essential role. His uniquely cancerous ignorance of the foundational principles of our freedom poses an existential threat to t he b ed ro c k of ou r republ ic. Americans have fought and died for constitutionally guaranteed freedoms since our creat ion, Trump’s utter disregard and ignorance for the most sacred of American values is affront to the very history of this nation.
This is the print edition of The Daily Gamecock 12/01/16.