Last night on the news I watched the tragic images coming out of India and they destroyed me. India lacks the resources that we have and the situation there is horrifying. Family members desperately–and with utter futility–trying to save their loved ones dying of COVID: without hospitals, medicine, doctors, ventilators, oxygen, or vaccines. Funeral pyres signaling India’s sorrow and desperation to the heavens. What those people wouldn’t give for the opportunity to get a vaccination. And yet here, in the United States, ANY of us can now waltz down to the nearest hospital, drug store, or abandoned K-Mart and receive a FREE vaccine to protect us, our loved ones, and our communities. We have a pathway forward. But we also have a tragedy in the making because of the dangerous seeds of misinformation that have been sewn about the virus and the vaccine. 45% of Republicans say they will never get it; more shocking still, 41% of evangelicals say they never will. This ignorance, fear, and selfishness will doom us to living with this virus for years to come.
I have survived cancer twice and open-heart surgery; my health is precious to me. Thus I was the first in line in January to get my vaccinations (with zero side effects.) I can now safely be with my family and friends. I can visit my elderly mother and fly to Texas to see my son. I can invite friends over to my house again. Won’t you please roll up your sleeves and join me in gaining the peace of mind that comes with being vaccinated? I want our lives back.
Across my four decades in the Genesee Valley I have been immeasurably blessed by the ministry of three godly senior pastors at the Houghton Wesleyan Church: Mark Abbott, Mike Walters, and most recenty Wes Oden. On the occasion of Wes and Cindy’s quarter century of ministry with us I’d like to pause and pay tribute to the third member of that trilogy. I’m a lover of written communication, but words fail me as I try to explain how deeply I appreciate, and have been blessed by, Pastor Wes Oden, and I know that I’m only one of hundreds that have been so deeply touched by his ministry, and yet one of Wes’s amazing gifts is that he often makes me feel as if I am his only congregant. Just as a loving parent makes each one feel that s/he is the favorite child, so it is so easy for me to imagine that Pastor Wes and I have a singularly unique and special relationship.
The bond I feel with the Pastor Wes was forged early as our children grew up in the church. One Sunday nearing the end of the sermon, Anthony proclaimed loudly “that guy will be done soon!” And another time Anthony whispered loudly to me in church, “that guy has a direction name!” Once when two-year old JonDavid somehow wandered out onto the platform mid-sermon (long story) Wes looked over at him as the congregation all laughed and said “Well, hello there!” with JonDavid beaming brightly at everyone in the congregation. Wes, who was speaking on “What mean these stones?” walked over and picked up JonDavid and wove his impromptu appearance so eloquently into his sermon: discussing how critical it is that we raise our children to know the meaning of the altar and the stones. Wes barely missed a beat, and afterwards several asked us how we had managed to stage that scene!
But it was another incident with our children that I remember most fondly. In those days, Nathan & Casda Danner and their four children and Olga and I with our three were always the last ones to leave after church. We visited while our children played happily together, usually in the fellowship hall. One memorable day–while there were still quite a few people in the sanctuary and we were standing in the back visiting–one of the doors at the front burst open – crashing into the wall and our seven whooping, laughing raucous children came racing into the church. Casda and I were mortified and apologized to Wes and everyone standing around and tried to shush the kids. Wes said, “No, no, please don’t quiet them. This is how children should feel about being at church. They should be joyful and happy to be here and feel like they are at home. I love the sound of their voices!” I still get tears in my eyes remembering his wise words.
In more recent years, when I have faced crises in my life, Wes has always been there to support me. In 2009 when I learned that my job at the college was being cut, I’d barely gotten the news myself and was sitting in my office, alone and stunned, when Wes appeared in the doorway and said “I’ve just heard, I don’t know what to say, but can I pray with you?” When I took my terrifying ambulance ride to Strong three years ago and learned that I had to have open-heart surgery, my cell phone rang in my hospital room, I looked down and of course it said “Wes Oden.” Like Radar O’Reilly, he has an uncanny ability to know when I need him and then rushes to my side. He and Cindy came to visit me in Roswell after my cancer surgery. More recently when I went through some unsettling experiences at my home in Fillmore, related to my “Black Lives Matter” sign, I got several messages from both Wes and Cindy offering their prayers, concern, and support for me. I never have to ask for prayer or support. Wes is already there before I even realize I need him.
It’s hard to imagine a nicer and more gentle spirit than Pastor Wes Oden, or someone more ideally suited to the pastorate. But Wes’s gifts to our community go beyond niceness. Last summer, as our nation was being ripped apart by the long overdue racial reckoning, I saw a tweet that said “If your church isn’t talking about racism this Sunday, you need a new church.” I somehow doubted that we would at our church because of the volatile topic and the conservative nature of this area. But then Wes beautifully preached the most caring, compassionate, timely and yet also BOLD sermon about a Christian response to racism. He perfectly named and honored the moment, not shying away from a volatile and controversial topic, and yet like everything else he does, he did so graciously, and grounded in his faith and wisdom.
I was working at the college the day the Odens were candidating at the church. A small but memorable incident was a harbinger for this past quarter century. I briefly met the Wes and Cindy early that morning when they came by the Student Life Office on a campus tour. I was one of literally hundreds of people they met that day. When I was going home from work that evening the Odens were arriving for a dinner meeting. I smiled as I passed them and Cindy said “Tim, it was so nice meeting you this morning, thank you making us feel welcome.” I am the WORST with names, and yet Cindy cared enough to memorize mine and has this amazing capacity to let those around her know how deeply she cares. That has been shown and proven time and time again across the past quarter century. It is also impossible to understate the myriad ways that Cindy’s quiet, loving graciousness has blessed our church through her ministry.
During our turbulent socio-political times, I have at times lost faith in the organized church, but our dear pastors remind me of what Christendom should and can be. Wes and Cindy, thank you, from the bottom of my heart; I am forever grateful that God brought you into our community, our church, and my life.
“There’s a house whose rooms I know by heart, where I hosted friends and celebrated holidays, where dreams were dreamt and memories made, where my children grew up and I grew old. There’s a house where life was lived, a house where I belong.”
I knew I’d love you from the start: I walked in on a day in May in 1992, got as far as the staircase, and said to the realtor: “I’ll take it.” When I was growing up, my family always rented and moved frequently; I wanted my children to have a permanent place to put down roots; And to think I found it on Emerald Street. Twenty-eight years ago our story together began, and today, it comes to an end. I love my new house in Alfred, but I know that for as long as I live, I will carry with me the sadness of leaving you today.
You were the beautiful canvas on which I painted my life. Memories of barking dogs, crying babies, playing children, laughing teenagers; Olga and I planting a flowering crabapple on the day we moved in; That very first meal, in a pile of boxes, with Bruce, Kathie, & Suzanne; Toby, Tasha, Taylor, Tessie, & Tillie romping on the lawn; Setting up the nursery and bringing three little bundles home from the hospital. The birthdays: the yellow-brick road, Hogwarts castle, giant Candyland board; Christmas decorating, cookie baking, carols around the piano, the annual parties; Adding on the not-so-new-anymore family room; The trampoline, playground, and pool: the best money I ever spent; The bonfires and backyard campouts in the tent; The dog and hamster burials we will leave behind; Friday Night Pizza, cousins’ visits and sleepovers; and always: the Brennemans; Adding a fourth child — from Switzerland; The last time my dad visited, our last meal with Bruce; The RA parties, cast parties, slumber parties: kids crowded into the family room; And then in a blur of the school bus stopping at the end of the driveway And the minivan pulling in and out of the garage, it was over. Then I was home alone with Tillie, comforted by this beloved old place; Every room, nook, & cranny alive with happy memories and ghosts of the past; Across three decades we were rarely separated: The longest was my seven weeks in Virginia for open-heart surgery; I wasn’t sure if I would live to walk through your doors again; I’ll never forget turning onto Emerald Street, and discovering that my precious kids had decorated for Christmas, inside and out; In 28 years, this house had never looked more beautiful to me than that day. My mom has always said, “It takes a heap o’ livin’ to make a house a home.” I wish I’d gotten to do all of the retirement projects I had in mind for you. May your new owners love you as well as I did. You served us well; I will carry you forever in my heart. My home.
As I do every evening, I was walking my faithful collie right outside my home last night. A pick-up truck drove–much too fast–past me, but because Tillie was safely out of the road, I barely noticed. Until it reached the crest of the hill beyond my house, slammed on its brakes, and someone yelled back loudly and menacingly at me, “F##king N-word Lover!” then laid rubber and sped off up the road.
My heart pounded as I raced back inside with Tillie and went around and locked all of my doors and windows. In three decades of living here I’d never felt so unsafe before. I was shocked, saddened, scared, but most of all, disgusted that such ugly public racism had invaded my peaceful little village. It was an apparent reference to the “Black Lives Matter” sign I had in my yard about three months ago, until it was stolen (pictured above.) The pick-up truck driver had apparently been carrying around his rage about my sign ever since then, which only made it more traumatic for me.
It was terribly jarring to hear that highly offensive racial epitaph used after so long. I used to hear it in my childhood, but never in my enlightened adult world of academia. How can anyone still be using that awful word in 2020? How dare he defile my street, my neighborhood, and my home with his ugly hate speech? I alternated between fear and anger the rest of the night, and then slept badly because every time Tillie heard something outside and “woofed” at it, I awoke with a start and couldn’t get back to sleep.
Today I contemplated reporting it to the police, but then found myself wondering how they would react to an incident originating with a “Black Lives Matter” sign. And then it hit me: I’d had the tiniest, most insignificant, dose of what our Black brothers and sisters live with every day of their lives. Every damn day. I hesitate to compare anything about my privileged white male existence to theirs, but at the same time it taught me something that I feel like I need to write about. I had one really minor incident. Their experiences are inexorably bound to the generational trauma that has been inflicted on Black Americans. Their lives are affected every day and in every way by our deeply racist policies and practices.
Imagine feeling fearful every time a car slows or stops near you. Imagine the terror you feel when pulled over by a cop – every Black American is haunted by the possibility that any traffic stop gone wrong could result in their death. That has never crossed my mind when I get pulled over. I recently learned of a deeply distressing experience of our Black students at the University where I work: when they visit the local Wal-Mart, they are required to surrender their backpacks, even though the White students never have to. When our Director of Diversity and Inclusion (himself a Black man) inquired about the policy, the Wal-Mart manager said “Yes, that is exactly what we do.” THAT is the air our Black students breathe.
The peaceful privileged air I breathe was disrupted by this ugly incident last night, and yet, I had the luxury of considering going to the police with my fears. Few, if any, of my Black brothers and sisters would even consider that. By bitter experience they have learned that the police are there as their foes, not as their protectors. Where are they supposed to turn?
I had a one small very unsettling experience. What if that represented my whole life? What if I, my parents, my grandparents, my great-grandparents had been battling that racial hatred for generations? I was terrified last evening as those hateful words hung in the night air. But how terrified were Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Phillip Pannell and countless others in their final moments before having their lives snuffed out for the crime of being Black in America?
Having to live in that world is the reason the Black Lives Matter protest movement MUST exist. That is what Colin Kaepernick was trying to tell us. That is why I am an ally of that movement. That is why I will not be deterred by this incident. And THAT is why “All Lives Matter” is NEVER the proper response to “Black Lives Matter.” Never say that to me again.
In my six decades on earth, I have encountered a lot of sadness, tragedies, outrages, and injustices, and the pace of these events has decidedly accelerated since January 20, 2017. Sometimes it feels as if life is but a tug-of-war, with hope and happiness on one side fighting against darkness and despair on the other. Which side will prevail? Last month when I listened to the recording of sweet, gentle Elijah McClain pleading for his life, something snapped inside me. I don’t think I can ever get it back. It has become increasingly apparent to me that the darkness has won.
As 140-pound, unarmed Elijah struggled for his life, on the ground, handcuffed, with three cops on top of him, putting him in the carotid hold that ended his life, he lacked the strength and the weaponry to challenge his attackers. Bewildered by the inhumane murderous treatment–when he was entirely innocent–he was left only with words. He tried valiantly to use words to let them know what a non-threatening, gentle soul he was. He told them he loved them for God’s sake! He told them he was a vegetarian and would never hurt anyone, which of course, contributed to his astonishment about why he was being slowly and intentionally murdered by the policemen. (After several minutes elapsed of the cops watching him struggle to live and continuing to deprive him of oxygen, this went well beyond an “accidental death.”) Elijah also tried, tragically, to explain, “I’m just different.”
I was “different” in high school also: I did not play nor follow sports; I didn’t go hunting; I listened to ABBA instead of Led Zepplin. I was the proverbial last one to be picked for the team in gym class. (Why the hell did we ever do that?!) I suspect Elijah might have been as well. In What’s Up Doc, Barbra Streisand’s character, Judy Maxwell, says “I know I’m different, but from now on I’m going to try and be the same.” Another character asks, “The same as what?” Judy answers, “The same as people who aren’t different.”
Along our way through life, we get socialized into not being “different.” We attempt to conform our quirks to the standard norm. Society eschews differences. In 1961 Baltimore, Broadway character Tracy Turnblad triumphantly reflects the optimism of JFK’s New Frontier, proclaiming “Those who are different, our time is coming!”
Tracy Turnblad, Judy Maxwell, and I ended up being allowed to be different because we are privileged and white. (Also, Tracy was wrong.) What did Elijah mean when he pleaded with the police, “I’m just different?” Would the world have eventually persuaded or forced Elijah to stop being different and be “the same?” Would his time have ever come to be embraced and celebrated for being different? We’ll never know because the police snuffed the life out of him on that horrible night. Was Elijah murdered by the police because he was different? Or because he was Black? Our deeply racist culture would not allow Elijah to be both.
As a white, middle-class male, I was given the luxury in life to remain fairly different: I’m the liberal oddball in a very conservative family and am one of the few Democrats in a very red area of western New York. Like Elijah, I’m a vegetarian. I detest the unspeakable suffering of animals in our factory farms on their way to our tables, grocery stores, and restaurants. Also like Elijah, I grieve having animals trapped in shelters. That was why he spent his spare time serenading shelter animals by playing his beloved violin to make their dreary shelter existence a little more bearable. (That, by the way, was the life force that the Aurora police force felt needed to be crushed until it ceased to exist.) He had after all, had the temerity to look “sketchy” while going to buy iced tea. My great grandfather’s name was Elijah, is that one reason I feel his short life and tragic death so keenly? Is it because I see him as a kindred spirit? Or is it because when I look at pictures of him before that awful night, I see my own children’s eyes smiling back at me?
My own precious children are what keep me going when the shattering darkness gets to be too much; I would lay down my life for any of them in a heartbeat. How can any parent of any color listen to the recording of Elijah’s final minutes and not have the same horrifying reaction of imagining our own child in his place? How I wish I had been there to try and come between Elijah and those murderous cops. I have lived a good long life: I would have sacrificed it to save his precious young one. We are ALL Elijah’s parents and we have ALL failed him miserably. And until we fix our dangerous and tragically broken system, we are failing all of God’s Black children who have not been murdered by the police yet, but who will. For the love of God, join me in working to overcome racism and demanding change. We begin by celebrating differences rather than fearing them, and by rejecting our own racism. Each of us must take a hard look at ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves this: “What part did I play in why sweet, gentle, different Elijah McClain is not still with us?”
(cover photo credit: Matthew Weidenbach, Illuminated Shadows Photography)
This past weekend gave me the privilege to be a part of history: marching alongside thousands of others at the Black Lives Matter/Stop Killing Us Protest Rally in Rochester, NY. People of all races and ages met in Martin Luther King Jr. Park, listened to speeches, meditated and sang together, and then marched to the police station. After the murder of George Floyd, the most recent horror inflicted on the black community, I–like so many others–wanted to stand with our black brothers and sisters in outrage and to try to make this a human issue, not only a racial one.
The protest march was cathartic for me, but it was symbolic only. I hope it helps to shine light on the problem of systemic racism, but in and of itself, it doesn’t change anything. The harder work is what each of us needs to do inside ourselves, in a brutal examination of the role of racism and privilege in our own lives and actions. If I want to honor the lives and protest the brutal deaths of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery and so many others, that is what I must do, not just march.
Before I can become a part of the solution, I must stop being a part of the problem. I live in a small town in a rural area with no racial diversity and without a police force. I do not have investments to divest. What can someone in my situation do? I’ve determined that this is not a sufficient excuse. I am vowing to myself–and publicly in this blog–to do one thing each day to end racism in my life, in my work, in my community, and in my world. Most days it will have to be something small like reading an article, watching a TED talk, or even just listening. (Something that white men like me are exceptionally bad at.) But I hope that other days it can be something great.
Despite my setting and circumstances, I have a powerful opportunity for change that many do not. I am a teacher, and not just that, but a teacher of teachers. I have always striven to help prepare these students to be inclusive and celebrate diversity, but I now have a renewed vision and catalyst to go further than that. My teacher candidates will each encounter @3000 students during their careers. Education in America has always been our best engine for social change and has succeeded where government policy makers have failed. How can the dialogue and interactions we have in my classes help–even on a small level–move future generations beyond racism? A what do I need to learn from my students in the process?
I would ask my friends, colleagues, relatives, current and former students, my precious friends from the Long Civil Rights Movement Seminar at Yale, anyone reading this to help me in this quest. Of course it is not your job to educate me: that I must do for myself, and I pledge to do so. But I do need help with my blind spots. My students and my own children have been great at that over the years. Ever since graduate school I’ve been fascinated by the concept of the Johari window (below) As we self disclose and gain input from others, we expand the arena of what is known while reducing the other confining and limiting areas. This process occurs only through free dialogue with, and feedback from, others.
Please do not be afraid to give me input, to educate me about my blind spots and to tell me hard truths that I need to hear. I am only one small person–and an old one at that–is it even possible for me to make a difference? The problem of systemic racism and four centuries of oppression can seem so great, tragic, and deeply entrenched that we are tempted to throw up our hands and decide that change is impossible, or expect someone else, such as future generations, to solve it for us. But we must fight every day, until every one of us can truly breathe free. The change that is so desperately needed happens in each human heart, one at a time. I’m doing everything I can to change mine, I pledge that to myself, and to all of you. Join me.
If you’re seeing this, it’s because you haven’t unfriended or unfollowed me on Facebook, and for that, I’m grateful. Throughout this period in our history (one of many, actually) of deep and bitter political division, I have steadfastly refused to unfriend anyone based on our political differences. A couple of times, regrettably, I have had to because of an individual who became abusive of my friends, family, or me. Everyone else, I’ve hung in there with, because of a relationship we’ve shared, and because I continue to believe in civil discourse and in the intellectual significance of understanding both sides of an argument.
To be sure, these are perilous waters in which we swim now and I’ve frequently been tempted to–and indeed guilty of–broadly dismissing a whole category of people because of their political ideology. And Facebook has presented us with a strange venue to air and argue our political grievances, one with which I’m not particularly comfortable. These are often earnest discussions that should take place in person, face-to-face, between friends. It can be too easy to hide behind a written, posted word or thought. But there you have it, that’s 2020 for you, even more so now that we are all quarantined in our homes.
I’ve certainly lost friends since the wrenching 2016 election and it broke my heart to lose a couple more yesterday during a discussion about when and how we should reopen our economy. So if you have still hung in there with me, and if you continue to see our commonalities as friends, family, and human beings as more important than our ideological differences, I’m deeply grateful to you. My relationships are the most significant aspect of my life. If I were making a list of the Top Ten Things that are important to me (my kids, my family, my faith, my friends, my work as a teacher, my community, my pets, I don’t think that my politics would make the list. It’s probably somewhere down the list after cold fountain drinks and my VW convertible.)
Why do we even have the Facebook fights? Does anyone’s mind ever change? I will never understand your support of Donald Trump any more than you will understand my deep and bitter resentment towards him. Does that mean that this issue has to become more important than our relationship? Or can we peacefully coexist and still appreciate one another while holding onto our differing political beliefs? I have to believe that we can. I have to believe that we can continue to have lively and yet civil political debates. Occasionally I’ll have an old high school friend say to me, “I sure disagree with you, Tim, but I still like you and respect you.” And that means all the world to me.
I’d like to offer an olive branch. I will do my best NOT to question your patriotism nor your Christian faith–if applicable–based on your politics. And I would ask you to do the same for me. We have each earnestly searched our conscience and our life experiences to come up with our political positions. And I think in order to continue to be a community of Americans, we have to be able to respect that in each other. We must find a way to keep the “united” in the United States. Thanks for still being my friends and for reading this. E Pluribus Unum.
So now we are embarking on a new adventure in education. Who could have foreseen this when we first sat down together in January? Our world has turned upside down just since the last time we met as a class. I looked sadly at the kitchen counter today because I had bought ingredients to make St. Patrick’s Day cookies for class yesterday, when I thought you would be returning from spring break. Throughout my 20 years of teaching I have baked my famous chocolate chip cookies for every single class…up until now. It is hard to believe that we will not be in the same room together again. (You are all invited to come by my office and get a cookie whenever the world returns to normal and I bake again; they really are quite good, if I do say so myself!)
So, the remainder of the course does not look like what any of us had planned. Reworking this course for online-contact-only presents a challenge for the Socratic teaching style I have always favored. I like the give and take, the exchange of ideas, the synergy that arises among a group of learners. I hope this can still happen, but it will be a greater challenge for all of us. (It could be worse; we could be a pottery class.)
I have spent the weekend trying to consider how the remainder of our time together can be as meaningful for you as possible, while trying to be sure that you tackle the various topics and issues that are so compelling and significant for future teachers. It will take some dedication and creativity on all of our parts and it will–of course–be an exercise in “thinking-outside-the-box” which, fortunately, is an invaluable skill for everyone in education to develop.
The issues that we still need to cover, in one way or another, this semester include:
The experience of students with special needs
Educating for Social Justice
Checking our privilege – inequity as a recurring theme in American Education
How the Supreme Court and the Congress have affected our work, our schools, and our students
Cultural Miseducation – how do we, as teachers, pass along the collected cultural wealth of the generations without bundling it with cultural liabilities?
The world in which you’ll teach…. issues for the schools of tomorrow
At the time of this writing, I am still not quite sure what the remainder of the semester will entail. It will be a combination of online meetings of the class, (but I would like to minimize my contribution to the “screen fatigue” you will doubtlessly be experiencing in the weeks ahead) using some online resources, posting responses to readings, and doing more contemplation, reflection, and writing on your own.
I cannot promise that it will be easy, and there will almost certainly be problems, technical glitches, and irritating unintended consequences. But let us covenant together to make the best of a bad situation and see what good can come from it. Life rarely turns out the way that we had planned, so this will be learning laboratory. To paraphrase Robert Burns, “the best laid lesson plans of mice and men often go awry.” Just imagine how someday you will have your own classroom and your students will ask you to tell them what it was like during the Great Pandemic of 2020. How we respond to this and other challenges in the weeks and months ahead will determine what story you will have to tell them.
Let’s plan to meet online on Monday during our regular class time. Instructions to follow. Please read this article by next week (in addition to the reading assignments I gave you before break)
I’m writing to implore you to carefully consider the judgment of history in this perilous moment. I completely understand the intense party loyalty and pressure that you must feel. It has to be tempting to think about 2020 and the November election and to focus on doing battle against the Democrats. You would hate to give them the satisfaction of having been right about Trump. But I am begging you instead to think about 1776 and 1789 and the brave, passionate sacrifice that the founders and revolutionary generation made to imbue us with freedom, to give us this system of government, and to spare us an imperial, corrupt, unworthy leader. The framers are looking over your shoulder in the Senate chamber this week, Senator McConnell. You carry the mantle of their leadership on your shoulders. I would also beg you to consider 2076; our children and grandchildren will look back on this moment and what YOU did to either sacrifice or preserve the great American experiment in democracy.
I have to believe that deep down, you–and most or all of your fellow Republicans–must realize how manifestly unworthy, corrupt, and compromised this president is. I believe that you still have the moral compass that is telling you that Donald Trump cannot be allowed to infect the presidency and our political system in this way. The echos of this trial will haunt us forever; if he is permitted to get away with this, it will set a political and legal precedent that will become the standard for all future presidents – Republicans and Democrats alike. You are intimately familiar with our government and have to know how deeply dangerous this is. If the Senate fails to remove Donald Trump, I am utterly convinced that our grandchildren in 2076 will NOT live in a free constitutional republic. The American president will have become an all-powerful demagogue with no restraints on his authority, and without the checks and balances that have preserved our system. They will NOT have our fundamental privilege of free and fair elections.
This is YOUR moment Senator McConnell. What will you do with it? I’m not asking you to turn the presidency over to Hillary Clinton, I’m asking follow our Constitutional protocol for this situation and remove Donald Trump and inaugurate Mike Pence. I’m not a big fan of Pence, but he must inherit the presidency to tell the world, and our children, that Donald Trump cannot be allowed to abuse his power this way. All will be lost. It will take considerable courage and fortitude for you to do this, but I believe that you, and you alone can do it. In the moment that you stand up for principle, for country over party, for what is eternally right, you will become the great hero of American history. Please, Senator McConnell. You are our last defense. The America that we know and love–and that generations have fought and died for–is at stake and will end the moment that Donald Trump gets away with this. In your heart, you know what is right.