By Charlene Muhammad CHARLENEM
The continued polarization of Donald Trump’s presidency saw continued protests over the weekend. Saying their aim was to restore faith in the American government, elected leaders, community organizers, celebrities and musicians across the country held a rally under the hash tag #MarchForTruth on June 3 to call for urgent investigations into Russian interference in the U.S. election and ties to Pres. Trump, his administration and associates.
#MarchForTruth organizers are calling on Congress to require Pres. Trump to release his tax returns to clarify his business interests and obligations to any foreign entity. They are further calling for prosecution if any crimes were committed.
“It’s clear that Michael Flynn, who was compromised by the Russians, would still be in the White House if it weren’t for leaks, yet that’s all that the GOP seems to want to focus on in the #RussiaGate hearings,” said Andrea Chalupa, author, activist and #MarchForTruth organizer, in a statement posted to #MarchForTruth’s website.
“What more is this administration hiding? With our nation’s sovereignty at stake, it’s time for Republican leaders to put country before party just like they did during the Watergate scandal,” Ms. Chalupa said.
Partners for the rallies, held in more than 135 cities in the United States and abroad, included MoveOn, Women’s March, Indivisible, Public Citizen, Free Speech for People, Town Hall Project, The Opposition, Swing Left, Stand Up America, Common Cause, OurStates, Action Group Network, flippable, Rock The Vote, Lawyers for Good Government, DailyKos, Working Families Party, Rise to Run and Progressive Democrats of America.
“Quite frankly, I just feel the political climate is in political turmoil,” said Shayla Nunnaly, president-elect of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists.
“I think that whatever foreign policy that a president makes not only signals to the world where the United States stands on foreign policy, but it also sends a signal to the people of he United States,” Ms. Nunnaly told The Final Call.
She said the world views the U.S. as a leader, so when America projects itself as being less of a player in world politics and in continual opposition to what could be the best for global environmental advancement, it signals to people at home how they will be dealt with.
Ms. Nunnaly said she also isn’t quite sure America’s current political climate is one of deliberation, given Pres. Trump’s extreme views on the political spectrum. “The question is what does that mean for Trump and his supporters in terms of their willingness in consideration of people’s ideas rather than being more exclusive … what does that mean for any attempts for progressing and including people’s political views and really trying to advance the country?” she asked.
Ms. Nunnaly is also concerned about advancements. “When you think about cuts to programs and services, programs for people to have better quality of life, the health of people, social mobility, I am really concerned even as far as education and all of what then becomes a part of what had been the portfolio of the United States in advancing people, because when people advance, ultimately the country advances. And I’m not quite sure we’re in that state, but in one more privatized, where public good is not the overall objective. It’s in the best interest of some and not the best interest of many,” she stated.
On June 1, environmental activists held an emergency rally in front of the White House to protest after Pres. Trump announced the U.S. was withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
Under the agreement, countries agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gases are capable of absorbing infrared radiation, then trapping and holding heat in the atmosphere.
“This decision sends a dangerous signal to the rest of the world that the United States doesn’t honor its commitments. The Paris Agreement was signed by 196 countries and is the backbone of international action to tackle the greatest challenge facing our civilization: climate change,” read an online statement from organizers of the rally.
These and more protests occurring against Pres. Trump around the country have an impact on national security interest in several ways, said Mustafa Santiago Ali, senior vice president of Climate, Environmental Justice & Community Revitalization for the Hip Hip Caucus.
The marchers help to bring attention to and place a spotlight on the injustices that the Trump Administration is trying to move forward on, but they also help to galvanize individuals, he said.
“People are finally beginning to break down silos. They’re finally beginning to have an understanding that we all need to come together to work on these issues to not only better protect our communities, but the next generation,” Mr. Ali said.
He said he knew if everyone adhered to the Paris Accord, it would benefit the planet, but especially lessen the burden inside the most vulnerable communities.
“You find that in our communities–African American communities, Latino communities, Asian American/Pacific Islander communities, Indigenous communities, and even some low-income White communities–are primarily where polluting facilities are located, especially coal-fired power plants and other greenhouse gas emitting industries,” Mr. Ali told The Final Call.
If Pres. Trump’s and America’s current political climate trend continues, the country could be headed in two directions, Mr. Ali said.
From the Trump Administration’s position, if they’re able to progress, unchecked, unfortunately, more people in the communities cited above will continue to get sick and more will die, he stated.
While that’s the reality of the situation, the flip side is, at his last count, 200 cities and mayor have vowed to proceed on some aspects of the Paris Climate Accord, according to Mr. Ali.
In Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser signed an order reaffirming her city’s support, saying D.C.’s values didn’t change on Election Day.
“The effects of climate change are already here, and without proper planning and collaboration, they will be catastrophic. It is in the country’s best interest to take climate change seriously, and as the nation’s capital, we have a special obligation to create policies and implement programs that protect our environment,” Mayor Bowser stated during a June 5 press conference.
In response to President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., and Washington State Governor Jay Inslee formed the U.S. Climate Alliance to convene U.S. states committed to achieving the U.S. goal of reducing emissions 26-28 percent from 2005 levels and meeting or exceeding the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan.
“The President has already said climate change is a hoax, which is the exact opposite of virtually all scientific and worldwide opinion,” said Gov. Brown. “I don’t believe fighting reality is a good strategy–not for America, not for anybody. If the President is going to be AWOL in this profoundly important human endeavor, then California and other states will step up,” continued a statement posted on his website.
“It’s the power of the people,” Mr. Ali told the Final Call. “Folks are seeing that this administration does not care about the lives inside our communities and especially our most vulnerable communities. And folks are saying that they are going to do something about it,” Mr. Ali continued.
“Now that does not let folks off the hook who are in this new administration. They have a responsibility of protecting the public health of our communities, but if they won’t lead, then others will lead.”