Curiouser and Curiouser.
Here’s how slippery these bastards are.
Five hours after the inauguration, Donald J Trump for President, Inc, filed FEC Form 99 declaring Trump’s candidacy in the 2020 Presidential Election. Why is this significant?
Simply put: it limits dissent, chiefly dissent from non-profit organizations. An election lawyer in DC Tweeting with the handle The Resisterhood broke this story and explains that by Trump declaring himself a candidate this affects how groups can speak about him.
PACs and non-profit 501(c)(3)s are legally required to speak cautiously about a presidential candidate. For example, should a non-profit such as Planned Parenthood choose to criticize Donald Trump they do so at their own peril — actively campaigning against a presidential candidate could cost an organization their non-profit status and will result in legal actions against said non-profit. This limits dissent.
I suspect that is exactly what Trump and his cohorts desire — especially Steve Bannon. What leads me to this conclusion is the way in which the administration pursues its vilification of the media and the press. When someone such as Bannon says that media is a “bunch of idiots” that needs to “shut up and listen” he’s challenging their direct authority to question and comment on those in power by challenging their legitimacy to do so.
While I think both sides need to practice a bit of this “shut up and listen”, it is unprecedented that the White House has declared such open warfare on the Fourth Estate. The last sitting president to go all Genghis Khan on the media was Richard Nixon.
What’s more frightening is this time around we’ve got far more media savvy personalities in both Bannon and Trump occupying the West Wing. No one understands optics and social media better than this dynamic duo. They play by different rules; they are re-writing the game.
Filing FEC Form 99 proves they’re diabolical as well. Such a move, filing as a candidate so soon after winning, is neither illegal or immoral, let’s get that straight. It is tactical, strategic, and savvy. It is also very smart. Smart because this changes the rules of engagement.
Journalists are currently trying to comport themselves as if they’re dealing with a Richard Nixon or a Ronald Regan, and not the slightly orange reality TV star who had the hubris to trademark “You’re Fired!” Another tactical move legally forcing anyone who wants to utter the catchphrase on broadcast TV to compensate him. This is why in NBC’s latest gestation of Celebrity Apprentice, Arnold Schwarzenegger is reduced to embarrassingly uttering, “You’re Terminated!”
Brillant brinksmanship. This is who has been elected, a gamesman and a litigator in chief. Now that he’s a “candidate”, non-profit organizations are forbidden to engage Trump politically — their political speech is hereby curtailed.
No doubt this move will conceivably help the Trump Campaign in fundraising, but I have a feeling that is the furtherest thing from our Chief Executive’s mind. Knowing President Trump’s predilction for litigation, crushing opponents in court with teams of lawyers, and his purportedly thin skin, this hardly bodes well for any organization tempted to confront the administration on their policy positions over the next four years.
Many non-profits will certainly find themselves targets — NPR, Planned Parenthood — should they decide to stand up for themselves under a Trump Administration. Stand up against fascist intentions, stand up and speak truth-to-power, stand up and refuse to capitulate.
In 1935, August Landmusser was expelled from the NAZI party for marrying a Jewish woman. A worker at the Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg, Germany, he refused to perform the Nazi salute at the launch of the naval training vessel Horst Wessel in June of 1936 a moment captured in the photo above. In case you didn’t know, he’s refusing to salute Adolph Hitler.
Trump’s move, even if it is legal and benign, is unprecedented.
So too is the level of fear and anxiety his presidency is breeding — and it’s only been 9 days. Perhaps those alt-right voices on Twitter are correct — maybe those resisting in the streets are the ones with thin skin? Maybe protesters shouldn’t have blocked the streets of DC, Chicago, New York, Providence and Boston last week as millions of women marched in protest? Maybe they should just suck it up, shut up and let the guy do his job with out comment?
Or, maybe not.
In the early 1970s it finally took the likes of Walter Cronkite, the nation’s most respected journalist to become the media equivalent of Mr. Landmusser. Cronkite took the lead challenging the mis-truths of President Nixon, and the citizens of this nation followed. I wonder what he’d think of us today? Without such a person, or persons, rising from the reviled ranks of the White House Press Pool what is left to us?
Capitulate? Conform? Salute? Heil Trump?
I think not.
At this point I offer the final word to another bastion of journalistic integrity, the esteemed Edward R. Murrow:
“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men – not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.”
I think that about does it, except to say, “Good night and good luck.”