Donald Trump’s First 100 Days Were a Stress Test for Democracy

In Governing and the Cabinet On
- Updated

“We’ve learned a crucial lesson in the past few months: our democracy is not as easily ‘deconstructed’ as Steve Bannon might have hoped” Lawrence Douglas

We have learned one crucial lesson since January 20 – we are not Germany in 1933. I shared the fear that Trump represented an existential threat to American democracy. I am not convinced those fears have been entirely allayed. But the first hundred days of the Trump presidency have demonstrated that American institutions and traditions of democratic constitutionalism are not as easily “deconstructed” as Steve Bannon might have hope.

We should be proud of the resistance shown by our civil society. Ordinary citizens have taken to the streets in record numbers; we have confronted our representatives in town-hall meetings; we have flooded members of Congress with letters and emails; we have organized ourselves into groups such as Daily Action, mobilizing the energies of millions unwilling to quietly acquiesce in the destruction of American democracy.

In one weekend, the ACLU received more online contributions than it typically receives in six years. Art supply stores are enjoying gravy days, as Americans race to purchase poster boards and magic markers, the low-tech tools of peaceful protest.

We should be proud of our “so-called” federal judges, who, in jurisdictions from Massachusetts to an “island in the Pacific,” have put a stop to Trump’s travel bans and now have barred the administration from penalizing sanctuary cities by withholding federal funds. These judges, appointed by Democratic and Republican presidents, have demonstrated the indispensability of judicial independence to the maintenance and preservation of constitutional values.

We should likewise feel grateful for the work done by our great institutions of “fake news” that have withstood unprecedented attacks from the president, and have worked tirelessly to subject Trump’s lies and distortions to the rigors of fact-checking and critical scrutiny.

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