Law in Contemporary Society

“Trump: How do “we” resist? How do I resist?”


Based on the feedback from my first draft, I am going to tackle the question of Trump, and the response to him in a more singular and personal light. What difference do I want to make? What difference can I make? Does it matter? What actions will I take to fight the evil that is the current administration? To this, I believe that the way to make the biggest impact is to oppose the specific discrete evils that I understand. It would be na´ve and self-deluding to think that a young lawyer could take some grand stand against Trump or the evils of the world, or fix something they don’t understand. I see an example of this idea in my work prior to law school


Before coming to Law School, I worked for several years as an English teacher in Okinawa, Japan. Okinawa has a long history of problems. The American military has been there since WWII. Both Tokyo and Washington want to expand the bases into the undeveloped north. This expansion has been against intense local resistance. There’s plenty of dislike and distrust of Americans and the American government because of a few accidents and some incredibly awful and well publicized crimes.

As an American whose government is partially responsible these problems, I wanted to help and still do. However, as an English teacher in a rural area of the north, there wasn’t that much I could directly do. Even as a lawyer, the problem of the United States’ current military industrial complex, is not something I believe one person or group could tear down. However, I could make a difference in the discrete instances of the lives of people that I directly touched on. I taught elementary school, and I was the first American lots of my students really got to know. I hoped to be a better model, or at least an alternative for the vision of America they otherwise saw. It didn’t solve how Okinawa viewed Americans, but it helped. It gave my students and the community more information and a different perspective. This is my basic model of how to approach these problems, improve the aggregate by improving the specific. .

West Deer

In thinking about the specific ways that I want to oppose the evils I see, I agree with the idea that you have to fight the battles that you understand. Besides an American perspective on the military presence in Okinawa, I understand the economic frustration that underlies much of Trump’s rural support. The area I grew up in, the township of “West Deer”, near the city of Pittsburgh is pure rustbelt.

Virtually all of the people close to me that I grew up with haven’t been able to better their economic situation because of a lack of opportunities and lack of training to recognize and take advantage of opportunity. They (we?) are the poor white rural class that has come more into focus after the election. Great swaths of people have been left behind, and the lack of answers from the supposedly “progressive” options, have caused them to give up hope in the entire system. This frustration then caused them to turn to someone that they didn’t understand because he promised easy answers to save them, scapegoats for why they were “temporarily embarrassed millionaires”, and the promise of burning down the systems that hadn’t helped them. All of this was a lie, but Trump played them masterfully.

The quote by LBJ sums up the specific brand of racism that Trump stirred up in this election, that “If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you.” This division against ourselves and distraction from bettering our own economic interest, worked because of real unaddressed problems. Until we are able to fix the parts of America that have been left behind, I doubt the support for radical terrorist like Trump will dissipate. Coming from this area, I at least understand the problem. And, maybe I can fight Trump by returning to rural PA and working there.

As a counterpoint, I do think the disorientation that my previous draft focused on is still relevant here. The situation is just so different than anything that has come before, and so unpredictable that it is hard to orient your plans or future around it. Re-reading my first draft, it already feels anachronistic, and the possibility that Trump is impeached before I graduate law school has become a more real option. Yes, I am going to law school in the time of Trump, but I could be entering into the legal market where the rule of law doesn’t exist. Or Trump could be impeached. Neither would not solve the problems, of course, Pence and Ryan are still cartoonishly evil, and the structures that caused west deer will still be present, but they are at least a more understandable and predictable evil to oppose.

I believe what this means for me in how to oppose the chaos being unleashed is to fight the root causes that I see. Assuming I will be here next year, the question turns to what I can do to use my degree to help my area. This might still mean hawking it for a few years so that I can have the middle-class life I want. I have come a long way, and the golden handcuffs are still golden. But, that’s a conversation for where I see myself next year and in the future. In answering how I will oppose Trump’s chaos, the answer is working directly in the areas I understand.


Webs Webs

r7 - 01 Jun 2017 - 07:59:43 - PeterClaus
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