News & Politics

Sally Yates Calls on Americans to Rise Up in Powerful Op-Ed

"It is not enough for us to admire our nation’s core values from afar."

Photo Credit: YouTube/PBS

Americans find themselves at a critical moment in their nation's history, when they must decide what kind of country they want to have, according to former acting Attorney General Sally Yates.

In a searing op-ed for USA Today, the Trump foe reveals she tried to warn and help the administration, only to be thrown out of office. Now she is calling on her fellow Americans to uphold the “country’s core values.”

“Our founding documents set forth the values that make us who we are, or at least who we aspire to be,” Yates writes. “I say aspire to be because we haven’t always lived up to our founding ideals — even at the time of our founding. When the Declaration of Independence proclaimed that all men are created equal, hundreds of thousands of African Americans were being enslaved by their fellow Americans.”

She recalls the Jim Crow South when Americans were forced to choose between segregation and racial justice. And while we have often failed to live up to our ideals, we have always had a shared vision of what the country means and what is expected of its leaders.

Yates asks Americans to look back at the Preamble to the Constitution for inspiration:

“’We the people of the United States’ (we are a democratic republic, not a dictatorship),” she writes. “‘In order to form a more perfect union’ (we are a work in progress dedicated to a noble pursuit) ‘establish justice’ (we revere justice as the cornerstone of our democracy) ‘insure domestic tranquility’ (we prize unity and peace, not divisiveness and discord), ‘provide for the common defense’ (we should never give any foreign adversary reason to question our solidarity) ‘promote the general welfare’ (we care about one another; compassion and decency matter) ‘and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity’ (we have a responsibility to protect not just our own generation, but future ones as well).”

She goes on to explain that the Bill of Rights guarantees individual liberty and other rights that Americans often take for granted.

“But without vigilance, [they] can erode and slip away, such as freedom of speech (our right to protest and be heard); freedom of religion (the essential separation between how one worships and the power of the state); and freedom of the press (a democratic institution essential to informing the public and holding our leaders accountable),” Yates continues.

Yates also notes that one thing that separates the United States from an autocracy is the “strict separation between the Justice Department and the White House on criminal cases and investigations.” This ensures the public believes in the legitimacy of the criminal process.

“There is such a thing as objective truth,” she explains. “We can debate policies and issues, and we should. But those debates must be based on common facts rather than raw appeals to emotion and fear through polarizing rhetoric and fabrications.”

She closes with a powerful call to action:

“We are not living in ordinary times, and it is not enough for us to admire our nation’s core values from afar…So stand up. Speak out.”


Sarah K. Burris writes about politics and technology for Raw Story. 

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