The former acting attorney general who became an instant symbol of heroic defiance of Trump when she was fired for refusing to support the administration’s unconstitutional Muslim ban has been nominated for a Profile in Courage Award, known as the highest honor given to public servants.
The award is named awarded in honor of John F Kennedy and “recognizes a public official (or officials) at the federal, state or local level whose actions demonstrate the qualities of politically courageous leadership in the spirit of Profiles in Courage, President Kennedy’s 1957 Pulitzer prize-winning book, which recounts the stories of eight U.S. Senators who risked their careers by embracing unpopular positions for the greater good.”
It seems like Yates’ refusal to enforce an executive order that was not only unconstitutional but unethical as well fits that bill. She was nominated by Democratic politician Jackie Speier who offered this message on Twitter:
Just told w/ Sally Yates I've nominated her 4 President Kennedy’s Profile in Courage Award 4 standing 4 the public good #ThankYouSallyYates
— Jackie Speier (@RepSpeier) January 31, 2017
At a time when many politicians are showing a marked lack of courage, Yates stands out from the crowd. In just one egregious example of gutlessness, recently an audio recording taken of Paul Ryan during the presidential campaign proved that he not only despised Trump but viewed him as fundamentally unfit for office. Now that Trump got elected, nobody has been more subservient and docile than Ryan. The lack of backbone is embarrassing to watch, but Ryan is hardly alone. Republicans are nearly unanimous in supporting Trump despite privately admitting they think he is a lunatic. If there were a “Profile in Cowardice” award, this year would have some stiff competition.
Despite her popularity among the American public, Yates’ decision to stand against Trump couldn’t have been an easy one. She was publicly fired from her job as acting Attorney General, only to find that Trump wasn’t finished. In characteristic shamelessness, he sicced his attack dogs on her who quickly went to places like Fox News and Breitbart to smear her.
Yates’ experience is a reminder that opposing Trump, particularly from within the government, is not going to be easy. He will use every tool at his disposal to discredit and attack his critics. Which is why being recognized for the courage it takes to do so is vitally important. It may send a message to other would-be defectors that America is behind them. And Trump’s administration will start to unravel at the seams.
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