Beyond Legitimacy

Few people have more justification to question the legitimacy – not merely of Donald Trump’s presidency, but of our entire political system – than John Lewis. Born to sharecroppers in the violent, apartheid world of rural Alabama, he later had his head split open on Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge, named for a former Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan.

John Lewis (foreground) AP File Photo

Only six years apart in age, Lewis (76) and Trump (70) are now forever linked. Yet how different have been the trajectories of their lives. One a bullhorn bellowing from outside the ropes, looking out for himself and encouraging violence by others on others; the other a man pledged to non-violence, beaten senseless for insisting his country live up to its “self-evident” truths long denied to his people.

Until November, Lewis seemed to point the way forward for America, toward increasing inclusiveness and greater justice. Now our future seems less clear, as the man who underwrote eight years of malicious attacks on our current president’s legitimacy prepares to succeed him in office.

It’s time to accept the reality of the election and move ahead. That does not mean we must put aside our principles or give up our hopes. Rather, we must learn how to come together under a president who is intent on keeping us divided.

In this quest I take heart from something Van Jones said last month, that “Trump is much worse than anybody in this country is willing to accept, but a lot of his voters are much better.”

James G. Blaine

About James G. Blaine

Most of us undervalue what seem our tiny contributions to our communities and the world. As a result, we feel powerless, even victimized. But, like the butterfly effect in science, the lives we lead with our families, in our communities, and at work – all the so-called little things we do – collectively change the world. As I grow older, my ambition grows more modest but not less important: to participate fully and to contribute what I can. That’s my goal with this blog.