Letter: #MeToo offers a chance to fight the all-powerful
It has been just over a year since my letter to then-president-elect Trump. It was an attempt to show my young daughter how to sanely address the shocking political and social divisiveness that seemed to grip our country at the time. In retrospect, I was naively optimistic. A year later, here are my observations.
Trump is the personification of every negative trait in our American personality: narcissism, arrogance, greed and abuse of power. He believes the rules of law and decorum do not apply to him.
The #MeToo earthquake and its resulting tsunami of revelations is not an aberration. It is the product of brave and reasonable people standing up to say enough is enough. This is not an issue about gender; it is about power. As social and political victors, some men feel entitled to have their desires met without limitation or consequence. #MeToo can be transformative if we take this opportunity to address all abuses of power. We need also reflect on how we got here.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is an axiom of human behavior, heeded by our constitutional architects as they designed governmental checks and balances. The very notion of a federal system is to ensure that all American citizens are afforded equal protections.
As our society evolves, so too do the protections we set in place. Civil rights legislation of the 1960s would not have been possible in Lincoln's time; we required an evolution of thought and context. Our current social context requires us to seize upon this momentum and evolve our thinking about who exercises legitimate power and how. This involves not only our elected officials, but also the money behind them. "Money is power" is an American axiom that must also evolve.
Society has always lauded winners, but the American inclination to win at all cost has resulted in an unsustainable disparity of wealth and a broken democracy. Our scorched-earth politics and, most recently, tax legislation, amount to nothing less than codifying oligarchy.
This administration serves those who have already consolidated power through the acquisition of wealth. Those with power are, in turn, attacking our social, political and financial safeguards, including the free press and environmental and financial regulations. They sow distrust with accusations of "fake news" and lie in the process. Our current government is no longer of the people, by the people, or for the people.
But we can overcome this by redefining who we, as a society, perceive as "winners." Winners can be redefined as those who have overcome the temptations of power and ego and contribute to making America great again — as a whole. Winners are teachers, healers, parents, neighbors, veterans and volunteers.
#MeToo has created an opportunity for America to look in the mirror. As parents, we counsel children that we cannot change a bully's behavior, only how we respond to it. We must respond to the tactics of our bully-in-chief by redefining greatness.
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