Reuben Brigety spent three years of his life trying to help African nations develop their own governments. Now, as the retired U.S. ambassador looks at the United States, he’s concerned that the country is at risk of losing its values under President Donald Trump. “This great experiment we have is not guaranteed to stay forever,” Brigety warned a group of about 25 people during a Wednesday lecture at the University Club in Oakland. To keep the experiment in democracy and freedom alive, Brigety suggested an agenda of political activism, community engagement and faith in other Americans. Brigety, who lives in Washington, D.C., represented the United States at the African Union from 2013 to 2015, and has held other positions within the Department of State.
Although teaching through the long, angry campaign and the first controversial days of Donald Trump’s presidency may be difficult, many teachers think it provides students with a stronger understanding of their country’s history — as well as lessons on how to live in a democracy. And some students, to their teachers’ delight, are rising to the occasion.
Mayor Bill Peduto looked glum. Soon-to-be Vice President Mike Pence was on the stage speaking before a packed ballroom at the 85th winter meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors. Peduto sat in the back listening along with other mayors, aides and staffers. Pence’s speech, delivered to an audience of about 500 people, focused little on the nitty gritty — he advocated for infrastructure investment, education reform and more support for law enforcement, but he didn’t go into details on policy plans or execution. The former Indiana governor catered to his audience, emphasizing that “mayors are on the front line of public service,” and that “this new administration will work in partnership with city halls all across America.”
As Pence concluded his speech to less-than-enthusiastic applause, Peduto muttered.