"I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose voters," Trump proudly boasted
last year. That single quote explains why the media and all those who believe in a better America must take seriously their role as an opposition party during the Trump administration.
Notably, the aforementioned quote came from candidate Trump. Now, as President Trump, he responded to Bill O'Reilly's claim that Vladimir Putin is a killer by saying
, "There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers. Well, you think our country is so innocent?"
President Trump can run his mouth, just as he could have shot someone and not lost, knowing that Americans who took President Obama to task for a supposed apology tour
will run to his defense even as he belittles an imperfect, but great country.
This latest comment, made in a pre-Super Bowl Fox News interview, proves Trump knows that no matter what he says, no matter what he does, tens of millions of Americans will defend him against every criticism, even when it legitimate or well-deserved. That will provide him fuel to push forward with every promise and unpopular policy -- regardless of potential damage -- while being unafraid of rolling back laws such as Dodd-Frank at the expense of the everyday American.
And that's why I'm a proud member of what White House adviser Steve Bannon calls "the opposition party
." The best defense for our democracy in times like these should be a Republican Party, which holds dear its long-stated principles of the preservation of liberty, religious freedom, compassion, anti-bigotry and the protection of life. But given the reality that was Trump's first two weeks in office and the tendency of top GOP leaders to remain silent
, soft pedal their criticism or side with the new President, everyone else must find the clarity to oppose him when our most cherished principles are at stake.
Had the GOP adhered to its professed principles, a man like Trump would have never secured the Republican presidential nomination, let alone moved into the White House. No Republican should have ignored his bigotry last year. A handful of conservatives have owned up to that massive misjudgment and spoken forcefully
against decisions like his immigration executive action. However, a majority have not. And how can those who refuse to do even that be expected to uphold American ideals against a man who seems to devalue them?
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party is still finding its way in the Trump era, seemingly willing to find common ground with Trump one minute, ready to oppose most of the President's appointments the next.
That leaves the task of checks and balances to the rest of us. And it shouldn't be because of a personal dislike of Trump. I for one am a member of the opposition because I refuse to turn back the clock on a country I love.
I'm opposed to open bigotry.
I'm opposed to snatching life-saving health care from millions of Americans for no good reason.
I'm opposed to a seemingly endless stream of lies and repeated falsehoods.
I'm opposed to alternative facts.
And if the President continues engaging in these acts -- like he did throughout his campaign -- I will oppose him on those grounds, not to enforce a kind of political correctness, but rather to defend common decency in the United States.
Truth be told, the opposition party Bannon referred to is actually the majority of Americans -- not just the media. Trump did not win half the vote during the Republican primary or the popular vote during the general election, and he has an approval rating hovering around 44%, according to the latest CNN poll
That tells me that many Americans are horrified by the direction Trump is trying to pull this country, that many of us are taken aback by Trump's attempt to transform a country that long prided itself on its embrace of the downtrodden -- even when we struggled mightily to uphold that standard -- to one stuck in a cowardly crouch, afraid of the rest of the world.
That tells me that there is fertile ground upon which the rest of us can stand to hold dear the principles the Republican Party has declined to defend because it wants to protect a Republican president and policies it could not enact with a Democrat in the White House.
It may not always seem effective, but a consistent expression of opposition, through peaceful protests, letters to the editors and calls to lawmakers, can bring about positive change.
Too many times throughout our history we have failed to uphold the highest moral standards, and too many times we have looked back on those decisions with shame. Let's not make that mistake today.