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