MAGA Threat and Beloved Community: the Promise of America

by Tefere Gebre

January 16, 2023

Our democracy should be our best tool for advancing climate solutions and environmental justice, but it has been hijacked by fossil fuel interests, extremist politicians, and corporate greed.

Juneteenth Protests at MLK statue honoring Black freedom and resistance

Juneteenth Protests in Washington DC

© Tim Aubry / Greenpeace

On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King delivered a speech that inspired generations. In his “I have a Dream” speech, Dr. King spoke truth to power when he said that “now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.”

Today, poverty and racial injustice prevails, and our democracy is in peril. Extremist politicians are busy putting up barriers to silence our voices based on what we look like or where we live.

Our democracy should be our best tool for advancing climate solutions and environmental justice, but it has been hijacked by fossil fuel interests, extremist politicians, and corporate greed. Millions of people, especially Black and Brown communities (as well as working families, people with disabilities, and older Americans), are blocked from participating because of restrictions on voting rights, protest rights, and the corroding influence of corporate money in politics.

MAGA extremists in our government are planning on calling the shots, and holding up business as usual, to get their way. After McCarthy’s laughable 15 rounds of elections for Speaker of the House, it is clear that the Republican party is willing to bend to the extremists’ will. Even though the bipartisan House January 6th Committee exposed that Trump and his cronies planned, promoted, and paid to overturn an election they lost, MAGA extremists are emboldened to drag our country in a dangerous direction.

They are working to subvert future elections and overturn the will of voters by changing state laws, suppressing voting rights of BIPOC communities, threatening state officials, and infiltrating election administrations to have the final say over election results – even when they lose. They will stop at nothing to take away our most fundamental freedoms, including the right to protest and choose our own leaders.

We only have a handful of years left to reduce the power of fossil fuel companies and other corporations polluting our communities and democratic systems before rocketing past climate thresholds and finding ourselves at a catastrophic point of no return — unless we first fix our broken democracy. A healthy planet depends on a healthy democracy.

This year, the strategic theme for the annual Dr. King celebration is “Cultivating a Beloved Community Mindset to Transform Unjust Systems”. And perhaps that is where we need to start. With each other. And a promise to each other, that we will struggle together and for each other to not let right wing extremists drag down the promise of America. We must come together to hold those who instigated and abetted the attempted coup accountable. We must demand that our Congress put in place the necessary safeguards to ensure that it never happens again. The movement to defend our democracy is growing every day.

We call on the Biden Administration to use the full power of the presidency to protect our right to vote and have our voices heard. We stand shoulder to shoulder with people across the country demanding that our government follow the will of the people. We will keep struggling for democracy – and the planet – we deserve. That is the best way to remember the legacy of Dr. King.

Tefere Gebre

By Tefere Gebre

As Chief Program Officer, Tefere oversees the long-term strategy for Greenpeace's strategic campaign areas, including Climate, Democracy, Oceans, and Forests and his work amplifies the organization’s standing as one of the world’s most influential environmental groups. He guides our peaceful, non-violent actions, and deep, meaningful research that ultimately exposes global environmental problems and promotes essential solutions to a green and peaceful future.

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