I’m Worried: U.S. Authoritarianism on the Rise

By Patrick Metzger

I’m worried.

I’m worried by the fact that Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to resign because Trump wants to go “in a tougher direction” on immigration.

I’m worried that Nielsen’s legacy includes the policies that now daily separate families from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border. I’m worried that a month ago, Nielsen struggled to sidestep a question about why the United States is keeping children in cages. But apparently Trump doesn’t find her “tough” enough.

I’m worried that on an average day, ICE is holding a record-breaking 42,000 human beings in detention facilities (roughly 1/3 of them children). I’m worried because these people are being starved, dehydrated, forced to sleep on cement floors (if they even have a floor or space to rest at all). I’m worried because 22 people have died in these facilities in the past 2 years.

I’m worried that the violence and corruption that asylum-seekers are fleeing is getting worse, and that it’s a direct result of the war on drugs that the U.S. has waged and profited from for the past 50 years.

I’m worried that the Trump administration is spinning a humanitarian crisis into a racist, military-minded frenzy, using fear to justify border troops and ICE raids. I’m worried that ICE arrested 158,581 people in 2018, an 11% increase from 2017—a year that already saw a 30% rise in ICE arrests from 2016. I’m worried that ICE walked into a tech repair company last week and arrested 280 people at their job. I’m worried that raids like this have increased at workplaces, at courthouses, at homes.

I’m worried that Donald Trump used this immigration panic to declare a bogus national emergency, testing the waters for a constitutional crisis with respect to the separation of powers. I’m worried that Trump suggested that Congress should “get rid of judges” and has made regular attacks on the Judicial branch of the U.S. government.

I’m worried that when Trump spreads misinformation and attacks journalism as an “enemy of the people,” he’s using a coordinated propaganda strategy to keep people from figuring out just how terrible things are.

I’m worried that all of the chaos about a racist border scare is an attempt to keep us distracted from increased rates of hate crimes, increased rates of gun deaths, an increase in murders committed by right-wing extremists, an increased proportion of inmates housed in private prisons, an increased proportion of non-party spending in elections (i.e. legalized corruption), increased rates of catastrophic climate events and widespread environmental racism (e.g. the Midwest is flooding right now and 63 million Americans have been exposed to unsafe drinking water).

I’m worried about what sections of the Mueller Report are being blacked out by William Barr right now. I’m worried that some conservatives have already moved on from the Mueller investigation, that Trump’s tax returns might not be released and may not be a sufficient body of evidence to substantiate his removal from office, and that we might need to wait until the 2020 election before we have any hope of getting rid of the fascist currently holding the highest office in what should be the “land of the free.”

I’m worried that members of the Democratic Party are already starting to fight amongst each other about which candidate should win the primary, rather than focusing on the issues and the strengths of the incredibly qualified, diverse candidates available to choose from.

I am hopeful that we as citizens can stop hatred when we see it. I’m hopeful that we can support each other and effectively organize to stop demagoguery.

If we don’t, I’m worried that things could get much worse.

Shout out to all the incredible people doing work to fight these injustices:


(Photo credit Austin Kirk)

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