We Are the New Resistance

leia

In the past twenty-four hours, Bruce Springsteen spoke for the first time about the inauguration of Donald Trump. He said:

“… our hearts and spirits are with the hundreds of thousands of women and men that marched yesterday in every city in America … who rallied against hate and division and in support of tolerance, inclusion, reproductive rights, civil rights, racial justice, LGBTQ rights, the environment, wage equality, gender equality, healthcare, and immigrant rights. We stand with you. We are the new American resistance.”

Over on this side of the world, we may not be the “American” resistance, but we can still be the resistance.

Since, Trump’s election, we’ve heard a lot about how we should “give him a chance”, to “see what he’s going to do.” Well, it’s now mere days after the election and we’ve already seen what he’s going to do. His administration has removed web pages from the official White House website related to civil rights, climate change, and LGBT issues. Hours after taking office, he signed an executive order beginning the repeal of the Affordable Care Act that will strip millions of Americans of their health insurance. And his press secretary’s first act was to blatantly lie to the American people about the numbers in attendance at the inauguration (a lie that was later described by another Trump lackey as “alternative facts”, adding another terrifying piece of 1984-speak to the language).

We may not have the power of the Presidential office – or of the American Senate and House of Representatives – but we are not powerless.

We can march. Estimates put the number of people who attended the #WomensMarch at three times the amount who attended the inauguration.

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To quote Bruce again, we can “bear witness and testify”. Writing blog posts, sharing information on social media. We can highlight the injustices this administration perpetuates, expose their lies, and disseminate the truth.

We can satirise. As we’ve seen time and again, if there’s one thing Trump (like all demagogues) can’t stand, it’s satire. Write your jokes, spread your memes, expose him for the thin-skinned charlatan that he is.

Marching, speaking out, sharing information, satirising – these are the weapons in our arsenal.

We are the new resistance. And the fight has just begun.

 

No, Obama Didn’t Create Isis, But He Did Create Trump

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Before I get crucified for that headline, hear me out.

It wasn’t his fault.

Obama didn’t create Trump willingly, but his presidency did create the conditions to enable the election of Trump. This is the main issue that we have to take from this election, and the thorny one that America – and the world – is going to have to tackle. That the mere fact of an African-American family occupying the White House could lead to such an outpouring of vitriol and hatred from many Americans – and, indeed, ultimately lead to the election of a quasi-fascist demagogue – is probably the most terrifying consequence of the Obama presidency.

When Barack Obama was elected President in 2008, the United States – and the world – it seemed, were united in elation at the election of the first black President. Except they weren’t. There were many people in America who still viewed Obama as a “Negro”. Sixty years after desegregation, there were still many people in America who found the idea of a black President abhorrent.

And there were quite a few white gentlemen in the House and Senate who shared the same views. And those gentlemen decided they would do whatever it took to stop any kind of change that this new President suggested. And in doing so, they started a movement. They started a movement that put paid to any kind of rational debate. Anything that the left – or Obama – suggested was wrong. Full stop.

The movement first emerged as a loose affiliation of gun advocates, Christians, and right-wing conservatives that became known as the Tea Party. After that movement started to wane, its members were left looking for political leaders.

Enter Trump.

The remnants of the Tea Party were a natural fit for Trump. These people are the ones America rarely even acknowledges exist. This is the ugly detritus left over from the Civil War, from the Jim Crow laws, and from desegregation, that has been bubbling under the surface of American society. Trump just gave them a face.

I heard a phrase recently which resonated with me: “The left thought they had won the cultural war.” And this is true. The left in America thought they had achieved “relative” equality for women, for the LGBT community, for minorities. So much so that they thought they could delve into the details and parse some of the more nuanced issues, such as, transgender bathrooms, the conversation around the issue of consent, safe spaces in colleges, etc. But it appears they were wrong. It would seem that they put the horse before the cart. They started to parse the nuanced issues without realising a large percentage of the population still weren’t on their side for even the larger issues.

For the past eight years, a large swathe of the population (white, conservative, Christian) felt that their voices weren’t being heard, that the only people Barack Obama and the “liberal” media cared about were minorities and LGBT folk. I’ve personally heard Americans complain that they’re sick of hearing about rights for transgender people, about the plight of refugees, and so on. (What they seem to ignore, of course, is the fact that issues such as transgender bathrooms only became hot button issues because Conservatives chose to fight against them.)

And, of course, we all know that not everyone who voted for Trump was a racist and a homophobe. There was another demographic that he appealed to: the millions of disenfranchised Americans who were having trouble paying their mortgage, paying their healthcare, and putting their kids through college. These weren’t necessarily the types of people who would ordinarily have found themselves on the side of homophobic, guns rights conservatives. But Trump started talking about immigrants coming and taking jobs, companies fleeing to offshore tax havens, and suddenly he started making sense to these people.

But there’s no denying that there are amongst Trump supporters, many who are racist and homophobic and xenophobic. One only has to look at his rallies: at the violence perpetuated against minorities, the anti-Semitic slurs shouted at the media, and the threats of taking up arms if the result did not go their way.

Now, this very vocal, very angry contingent – emboldened by Trump’s victory – is going to try to turn the tide of the past eight years. They are going to “Make America Great Again” by going back to a time before those eight years. Already, “Pink News” reports that the Trump-Pence administration is ready to “repeal Barack Obama’s landmark LGBT discrimination protections”. And this will have the support of many in the Congress and the Senate and many millions of Americans on the ground.

That is probably the most terrifying aspect of this election. And it’s something that America – and the world – must be ready to tackle head on. And, most importantly, they will have to appeal to those millions of disenfranchised Americans who don’t support repealing gay marriage, or deporting illegal immigrants, but who also have no faith in the system of politics as usual.

How do they do this? By starting at a grass roots level. By spending the next two years finding progressive candidates who can retake the House and the Senate, and the next four years finding a progressive candidate to run for president.

And to those who think “people power” doesn’t work, look at what Trump’s people achieved in this campaign.  Look at what Bernie Sanders achieved. Remember that a few years before he became president, Barack Obama was a little-known Senator for Illinois.

It’s going to be a tough battle, but the left must try to hold onto every hard-won piece of legislation protecting women’s right over their bodies, protecting the LGBT community, and protecting minorities. The left must appeal to what Lincoln called the “better angels of our nature” lest we succumb to the demons that are surely already pounding at the door.