Inaugural Address or Another Campaign Stump Speech?

January 20, 2017

Photo by angela n. (CC BY 2.0)
Photo by angela n. (CC BY 2.0)

Earlier today, Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States. His toxic rhetoric as a candidate has not changed even as he became President. He has made no effort to unite with the majority of the nation that did not cast a ballot for him.

President Trump’s inaugural address was a populist, protectionist, and anti-establishment message meant to pander to Rust Belt voters. However, the policies he has proposed, and the actions he has taken, indicate that it will be business as usual in Washington. Trump claims he will “drain the swamp,” yet there will be more billionaires in the Trump Administration than any administration in history. Trump claims he will “make America great again,” yet he plans to retreat from global leadership on issues like climate change and human rights. Trump claims he will be a president for all Americans, yet his statements about Muslims, Latinos, and African Americans indicate otherwise. All three were attacked or stereotyped in his inaugural address.

Under the Obama administration and his openness to engage all communities, MPAC strengthened and established relationships with key players in the federal government to work on issues pertaining to national security, civil rights and equal protection for all under the law. Now, we are shifting our advocacy as we intensify our presence on Capitol Hill and create new partnerships with lawmakers at each level of government to ensure that American Muslims are represented, heard, and visible.

Senator Bernie Sanders issued the following after the election: “To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I… am prepared to work with him. To the degree that he pursues racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-environment policies, we will vigorously oppose him.”

This is the approach that MPAC will use during this next administration. MPAC will work with lawmakers to pass legislation that benefits our communities and nation at large. But if policies and political rhetoric aim to scapegoat minorities and undermine the American principle of equality under the law, thereby harming this nation and its people, MPAC will advocate against them.

The next four years will be turbulent but the American people have the power to hold our government accountable for its actions. We understand the challenges facing our country, but our democracy is strong and America is not fragile. We remain committed to working in solidarity with others to see the values of American democracy as a reality for all.

One of the greatest tools that Americans can wield is the Constitution which guarantees and protects rights for all Americans. As President Obama said in his farewell address, “But [the Constitution] is really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power…” The Constitution will not enforce itself. That responsibility belongs to the American people. The responsibility falls on us to ensure the protection of our human rights and dignity.

We can no longer afford to vote once every two or four years and simply go home and let inaction take over. We cannot disengage or refuse to participate in the political process. From healthcare to human rights to protecting the environment, there are many issues that we need to continue to work on. Engaging in the civic and political process ensures our role in defending the values we hold so dear. We all have the power to do so.

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