It’s literally impossible to make any record of the political shenanigans of the last 4 years of the Trump White House without depressing the hell out of all of us. With a spirited but ineffective Democratic Party in opposition, it has seemed that there is no way to stop the sheer wholesale dismantling of our once ethical and principled American society.
The legacy of Reagan (and the sycophantic Thatcher in the UK) was that he created a selfish ‘Me” generation. Trump has denigrated it even further by his blinkered self-centered greed in establishing only an “I” narrative.
It seemed our own possible salvation was people taking to the streets in protest. And recently with the power of #BlackLivesMatter we actually cautiously started having a glimmer of hope again.
However this extremely gripping documentary is a timely reminder that there is an even greater force at work in the shape of the ACLU. Although they have been fighting for our civil rights for almost 100 years, their resources, energies and commitment have never been tested quite so hard as in the past 4 years.
They have (so far) issued 147 Lawsuits against the Trump Administration.
This documentary by three filmmakers Eli B. Despres, Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg (who made WEINER doc) focused on 4 particular cases. There’s a Family Separation suit fighting for all immigrant/refugees to be reunited with their children that were just snatched away from them at the Border.
Plus a case against a Refugee Resettlement Facility headed by a Trump appointee a Catholic father of six who was denying a 17-year-old rape victim an abortion. Then a suit following one of Trump’s overnight tweets that banned transgender people from serving in the military. Finally the ACLU were taking on the Administration and their newly added immigration question on the 2020 census that could cost diverse cities i.e. Democrats up to six seats in the House of Representatives.
To head up one of the ACLU legal teams tackling these cases requires that not only are you an expert in your field, but one so dedicated to the fight that the overly long hours means you put your own family on hold, and also anything resembling a healthy diet.
It also means being motivated by the exceptional injustices, which in so many cases is triggered by what only can frankly be described as the sheer evil of the President. Keeping emotion at bay is tough, as we see from the clip of Rachel Maddow on MSNBC when she fails to keep her usual composure reading out the sheer number of children who are now ‘orphaned’ and in holding camps on their own.
Most of the ACLU lawyers never dreamed they would be called up to argue in Federal Courts and even in the Supreme Court. Sitting watching you may want to believe that as truth and injustice are on their side, a ‘win’ in Court is automatic. However with the number of political appointed conservative judges rising, the ACLU’s fights are all very one-sided now.
There is only one huge problem with the ACLU that is still tough to get one’s head around. They are committed to the civil liberties of ALL Americans, even ones they cannot agree with like the White Supremacists. It may make sense in theory, but in reality it is still very tough to stomach.
There is an upside to what would otherwise be yet another very depressing Trump story. The outcomes of the cases give us hope that there is still some good in our world. Even if the rage the losing President gets into empowers him to try again to impose his immoral and illegal demands on us again.