The recent presidential inauguration created a controversy when our new leader counted more people than were actually there. The controversy became a media uproar after the next day’s Washington D.C. demonstration by women whose numbers were superior to those of the inauguration.
The President also lost the national vote by almost three million and scape-goated the loss by saying that it was because immigrants voted illegally. He has also ordered a so called “investigation” that threatens to extend vote suppression activities in an effort to disenfranchise people in selected voting districts which very much represents a dangerous assault on our Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
The women demonstrations along with the almost daily gatherings against new immigration policies that have targeted Muslim majority countries (that do not have Trump business properties in their territories) has resulted in the drafting of laws branding demonstrations and the public petition process in the streets unlawful. Evidently, there is thinking on the part of some that the Constitution and its protections apply only to certain sectors of our society.
Just as serious is the attack on the press as the President’s principle handler has come out to the media and told them to “shut up.” This attempt to deprive the press of its voice, brand public demonstrations unlawful and deny the ability to vote freely is a direct attack on the Constitution of the United States.
When the Constitution was first offered to the thirteen states, it was not accepted by a sufficient number because it did not have the personal guarantees that were later included within the Bill of Rights. When the first 10 amendments were added, it made the document ready for adoption.
For the original voters that ratified the Constitution, the first 10 Amendments also called the Bill of Rights were a matter of personal liberties. For the Latino community, the Constitution and its Amendments mean a lot more as they guarantee their very political existence.
I took my first oath of allegiance to the Constitution when I was 17 as I entered military service. I thought raising my right hand at the time was just another requirement I had to fulfill to be part of the Air Force community.
It was as a civilian beginning a career in higher education that I came to understand the real meaning of the oath and the Constitution. I had landed in the middle of the Chicano Movement and the exercise of our constitutional rights was paramount.
I came to understand that as a member of a minority challenging the privileges that came with majority rule, I had only one non-violent political protection: the Constitution. Not only that, the Constitution afforded me and my contemporaries the right to press our case in the media, in the voting booth and in the streets.
As the Latino political strength grew, especially in voting power and business, the value of the Constitution became more and more apparent. Today we find ourselves in the middle of a political storm that may last for several decades.
Latinos will come out of the storm much stronger and able to govern provided the Constitution remains the basis for their political existence as a people. For now, there is a need to be vigilant and hold those that would diminish it accountable.
In retrospect, history before World War II in Europe has many tragic chapters. The Germans, too, were vulnerable to a nightmare that eventually took their country and people down.