Office of Public Affairs / Flickr sally yates...
Office of Public Affairs / Flickr

Sally Yates is a hero…… Just days after Trump was sworn in to the Presidency on January 20, 2017, he signed an Executive Order that banned anyone from seven countries from entering the United States. Sally Yates was the acting U.S. Attorney General, and on Jan. 30, 2017, despite knowing she would likely be fired, she notified the Trump administration and the American people that she would not defend the order because it was unlawful. Trump fired her the same evening, and issued this statement: “Yates has betrayed the Department of Justice.”  (Trump issued a New Order in September which varies from the original Order, but limits entry from these countries: Chad, Iran, Libya, N.Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. The Supreme Court upheld extreme vetting travel ban in December.) 

Yates penned an OpEd today in USA Today, which has one of the widest circulations of all newspapers in the US with a daily reach of seven million readers. She obviously wants to make maximum impact with her warning, which is to all Americans, and not just to those in Washington:

If we want to save the ideals we have worked so hard to achieve, we must not be passive. We must act. Now. 

A few clips (I’ve underlined and bolded pertinent points, and hopefully stayed within Fair Use boundaries):

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?

Our founding documents set forth the values that make us who we are, or at least who we aspire to be. I say aspire to be because we haven’t always lived up to our founding ideals — even at the time of our founding. When the Declaration of Independence proclaimed that all men are created equal, hundreds of thousands of African Americans were being enslaved by their fellow Americans.

Not so long ago, all across the Jim Crow South, our country’s definition was defiled by lynchings, the systematic disenfranchisement of African-American voters, and the burning of freedom riders’ buses. And still today, we have yet to realize fully our nation’s promise of equal justice.

What are the values that unite us? You don’t have to look much further than the Preamble to our Constitution, just 52 words, to find them:

“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)….

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.

We here at Daily Kos are active in many ways—we write letters, we sign petitions, and we are active voters and campaigners. But, do most of us actually get out and do the hard work of talking to people? Do we organize a small group to weekly protest Trump’s quest for a dictatorship in front of our Representative or Senator’s office? Do we encourage others to do the same? Do we raise the issue of Trump’s Neo-Nazi affiliations at dinner parties, even when it might be uncomfortable for some? Do we host political pot-lucks where people are allowed to speak freely about what is happening? (Our country has lapsed into a “don’t talk politics” sensibility that has paved the way for Trump, imo.)

Sally Yates is calling upon us to use our voices to peacefully protest Trump and his enablers’ efforts to turn the United States into an autocracy/dictatorship.  It may result in arrest, pepper spray, verbal abuse, or other non-pleasantries even though it is Constitutionally protected under the First Amendment. Our country was founded on much more pain and adversity—this is a critical time in our history that will again require us to find our courage and act on it.

Yates has inspired me to make a weekly commitment to speak out and make my voice heard. Will you?

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.

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