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To End Police Brutality End Trump’s Presidency 2

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Why There is Hope

At the time I worked as a prosecutor I did not know what could be done to change the culture of systemic racial injustice. But since then I have learned about restorative justice, community policing and many other ideas that work to shift the culture of policing.  I no longer think the problem is hopeless. When the Obama administration left office, they left the Trump administration a valuable playbook based on years of research about how to implement 21st century policing. The guidebook is chock full of good ideas and suggestions. The Trump administration has totally ignored that manual just as they ignored the handbook on what to do in case of a pandemic. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/04/opinion/police-reform-obama-task-force.html

As Barack Obama said this past Wednesday, we can get out that 21st Century Policing Manual and get busy right now implementing the ideas in there. Mayors and lawmakers could take action immediately with (to name just a few ideas) de-escalation training for police, community policing, and re-thinking bail (which all too often keeps poor defendants in jail pending trial condemning them to continued poverty including loss of jobs and a record that keeps them from getting future work).

Given the rising tide of outrage and energy we are seeing in America, I have never had as much hope as I do today that much can be done to fix our 400 year old problem of systemic unfairness to people of color.  But…there is a catch.  Trump and his enablers have to be voted out and the military cannot enable Trump to stay in office if he loses the election.

How Trump is Using This Moment to Test the Military

Trump has trampled on the Constitution and many long established norms before in his presidency, and has been rewarded.  He has not only evaded expulsion from office, but  grown in power and capacity to get people to carry out his orders even when they are suspect or illegal. Trump asserts control over as much of government as he can and eliminates anyone who will not play along. Now, I think, Trump is testing the military to bend this institution to his will and see if he can get it to help him achieve his ultimate goal of staying in power even if he loses the election.

Trump’s use of brute force to clear his path to get a photo op in front of St. John’s Church where he held up a bible as if it was a Trump steak, that unnecessary force against peaceful Americans exercising their first amendment rights in the nation’s capitol, was, I think, a dry run and a test of loyalty for the military. He got General Milley and Mark Esper to accompany him in that walk across Lafayette Park. Gen. Milley ducked out before the photo was taken. But Esper got caught in that shameful photograph that will be discussed by historians in years to come, assuming we can hold onto our democracy.

That use of force against protesters to get a photo op was the last straw for many retired military leaders, causing them to finally speak up:  General Mattis, Admiral Mike Mullen, John Kelly, (former Chief of Staff), General Martin Dempsey, General Douglas Lute, General John Allen, General Anthony Thomas, Admiral Stavridis, Admiral McRaven.  The fact that so many are speaking up and pushing back on Trump is a hopeful development.

There are also many discussions going on behind the scenes right now in the military and at the Pentagon about what should happen if and when Trump gives them an unconstitutional order.  Mark Esper and Trump are the only two people who have the power to issue orders to the US Armed Forces.  It is important that yesterday Esper pulled armed forces out of Washington, D.C. against Trump’s wishes, asserting his will over Trump’s and responding to the request of the DC mayor.

The Tipping Point

The systemic change we need can happen only if the Trump administration is expelled and the GOP-led Senate flips blue. Trump, Barr and his enablers are using these mainly peaceful protest marches to achieve their own political ends, trying to scare Americans and use that fear to get Trump re-elected as a law and order president, wanting protests to be violent so that they can build a case to derail the election. Winning is their only goal.  Democracy could be the casualty.

I hope that Americans are onto Trump.

Trump wants to be seen as a Nixonian law and order president protecting white America from scary people of color.  But this is a different era. In 1968 Nixon won election as a law and order president, but he was not an incumbent. Trump cannot pretend that he is an outsider when it come to the mess he has created in 3 1/2 years of his presidency.

More important, white Americans of all ages are marching alongside black Americans in the streets of our cities. That did not happen in 1968. That is why I have hope.


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