Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Trump era: time to take our country back

In our appropriate despair over the outcome of Tuesday's election, let's keep a grip on our brains and our hearts. The thoughts that follow are skeletal. Whether we want to or not, we're going to have to flesh out this stuff over coming months and years. This post is an effort to create a framework that might guide my thinking. It will necessarily be incomplete and provisional -- and individual. These matters are not individual. Communities work out their fates collectively, but individuals have to start somewhere.

I still see Donald Trump's electoral success through the lens of the Californification of the nation.
Others have call this "white-lash" or whites voting like a super-unified "minority" population. Whites won't be a minority nationally until 2045 or so, but a demagogue has taken advantage of their fears to push into national power.

Here in California, the vote against this man was 61 percent to 33 percent. There's a lot wrong in this state -- including that our cities are becoming unaffordable to all but the very rich and our cops are shooting Black and brown people with impunity. But we've been moving in some good directions: a significant majority seems agreed that we want a multi-racial, economically egalitarian, gender non-constricting, woman affirming, democracy that preserves the earth. This is worth striving to protect and advance.

The Donald's accession presents at least three related challenges which seem worth enumerating. It is possible, though not clear, that fighting them may require different tactics so being aware of the distinctions could be useful.
  • First, the GOP program for the nation which they are now in a position to enact. They have promised to and certainly will demolish Obamacare, gut the Lilly Ledbetter fair pay act, cut taxes for the very rich and make the poor and middle classes pay for the giveaway, end net neutrality, and legions of other regressive measures. This would be bad enough, but there is much more.
  • Second, rampant corruption will be the order of the day. The new President is a classic con man (thanks, Bloomberg) and so are his cohorts. They will steal all they can while in power. This will be a lot. Infrastructure improvements would be great, unless the scam artists walk off with 90 percent of slush as, for example, they did in U.S. projects in Iraq under occupation. We have contractors salivating to get their piece of the public trough.
  • Third, and most horribly, Donald Trump aspires to be our homegrown dictator and it is not at all clear that constitutional checks on authoritarian aspirations will hold. In fact, there's plenty of reason to fear that they won't. Most of us are not accustomed to preparing for resistance to tyranny.
I've been thinking about some principles for living in resistance; here are some preliminary items.
  • Don't play circular firing squad. Sure, the Dems nominated a candidate who was difficult to put over the top and lost a campaign and left us in this fix. But the causes of that are not simple and most likely involved multiple apparently minor missteps that added up to a foul face-plant. The various elements of our big tent coalition do not easily get along with each other. Whites will act racist, men will behave like pigs, more conventional people will look askance at gender queers. But when we rub each other wrong, we have to ease up.
  • Holding back the fascist tsunami must override these unresolved animosities as much as possible. People will try various paths and tactics. We need to try to respond generously and imaginatively, even when we think some of our comrades are going wrong. We don't have a lot of practice at this and we need all the avenues we can invent. And if people screw up and then try to come back to us, we need to be cautiously welcoming. Authoritarianism thrives by driving us apart. We need to act always to help people continue to feel that it is worth staying mobilized.
  • Our urgent task is to protect the vulnerable. Right now, individual Trump enthusiasts and long time haters are feeling empowered to attack Muslims, people of color, people perceived as immigrants, random women of all perceived identities. We must act -- aggressively, imaginatively, and creatively -- and as peacefully as possible. This last is important because fascism thrives on hyping disorder. They will label anything we do "violent," however peaceful, but we need to minimize their ability to do so.
  • When we have successes, even tiny incremental ones, we must celebrate. We win by attraction (something Dems forgot). In fighting off the propaganda of our rulers, we can easily teach ourselves to be so cynical and so defensive that we cease to recognize small victories. Yes, everything is awful, but when we win, point it out. Unlike previous eras, our job in the next period will not need to be convincing our friends that something terrible is happening. Our job is to win small victories on the way to big victories -- on the way to taking our country back.
Yes, a better way is possible. We have no alternative but to struggle to construct it.

This post owes a lot to Masha Gessen's Autocracy: Rules for Survival and Garrett Epps' Donald Trump Has Broken the Constitution.

5 comments:

DJan said...

Thank you for this, Jan. I am just now beginning to come out of my despair and looking around for a way to survive. :-(

amspirnational said...

You seem to overlook key aspects of what really happened.

"Sure, the Dems nominated a candidate who was difficult to put over the top and lost a campaign and left us in this fix. But the causes of that are not simple and most likely involved multiple apparently minor missteps that added up to a foul face-plant. The various elements of our big tent coalition do not easily get along with each other. Whites will act racist, men will behave like pigs, more conventional people will look askance at gender queers. But when we rub each other wrong, we have to ease up."

A mere "difficult candidate to elect?" Kind of evasive isn't it? How about a corrupt Wall Street owned Elitist job outsourcing Nafta-TPP approving warmaking imperialist?


When Steinem and Albright accused female Democrats of betraying their gender if they voted Sanders, was this women behaving like pigs? (We can assume they already regard the 53% of white women who voted Trump traitors many times over.) When certain members of BLM express vulgar, violent anti-White impulses, is this blacks acting like racists?

What about Clinton and Obama actually killing multitudes of innocent Muslims?

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/edward-snowden-oliver-stone-asks-how-many-muslim-countries-has-obama-bombed-a7358066.html

Is this multicultural egalitarian liberalism in action?

I myself heard many Sanders supporters accusing the phony and corrupt Clinton of playing tribal politics against a true left socialist. Does she and the DNC deserve blame for electing Trump? The answer is obvious.

Hattie said...

I'm carefully re-reading and considering your plan of action, Jan.
The Sanders diehards are a real pain. He caved right away, didn't he? Sanders a true left socialist. Hahahahaha! (Sorry, couldn't resist.) And plenty of Democrats, at least now, have not caved in, including Senators Harry Reid and Brian Schatz.
We need to understand that our democracy has been eroding for decades and has now been overthrown.
I'm compiling a checklist of my own, a program that I can work on every day. My reach is not very great, but if enough Americans work to fight fascism every day we will prevail, eventually. My kids were out marching and protesting today. They and their kid, my grandkids, are the ones who will pay the highest price for what's going down.

Rgilboa said...

Trump is nothing more than the true unmasked face of the Republican party. This who/what they have always been, but behind closed doors, sheets, never in rudely your face during the past 20 or so years. Do not believe that Trump and Co will ever change. Despite his two weeks of very strong current mwedication, he's not about to become "reasonable" or disavow what he promised to his various voting blocs. He will directly or indirectly strip away anyone's human rights that he doesn't like, he will deport as many migrants.immigrants and refugees as he can get away with. He will attempt to play one group of us against another, weith false assurances of "Same Sex marriage is the law of the land< It doesn't bother me" while promising to0 overturn Roe Vs Wade, which has been the law of the land much longer than Same sex Marriage by pushing State's rights Listen to him, watch him closely, point out loudly the lies and dangers of shining example of greed and arrogrance. Stay the course. Do not stay depressed, overwhelmed,sad or hopeless. Do not waste time as to who or why the election and your specific canidate "lost"? It fucking doesn't matter now. We need to recognize the real danger at hand, work together, support each other across our comfort lines. Act on your truth and hope. Don't settle or compromise your life or anyone elses. From an old yet relevant song: Well, you say you want a revolution? Seems that we all got the republican defination of one shoved at us on Nov 8. Don't like it? Then do something about it.

janinsanfran said...

Thanks Ronni! Exactly -- Trump will perpetrate any atrocity he wants and feels he can get away with be. Be afraid -- and resist.

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