MHI Statement on Fighting Trump & Trumpism
Nov. 15–Tens of millions of Americans–and people throughout the world–are rightly terrified of what awaits us under President-elect Donald J. Trump, and they have begun to fight back.
Our August editorial, “The Extraordinary Dangers of Trump and Trumpism,” warned of the dangers that lie ahead. We urge you to study it again, as preparation for confronting the future. To hear more about our views, you can listen to an in-depth post-election interview with Anne Jaclard and Andrew Kliman by a left-wing German radio project, Freies Sender Kombinat, which remembered our editorial and reached out to discuss it with us. We expect the English version of the podcast shortly and will post it in our publication. [Editor's note, Nov. 24, 2016: the link to the hour-long podcast is now posted here.]
THE ONGOING PROTESTS
The whole world has been turned upside down. We protest without a semblance of normalcy in our lives.
Today was the seventh straight day and night of anti-Trump protests in cities and college campuses. Through Sunday, there were at least 193 different protests across the U.S., plus more overseas. In New York City, we march to Trump Tower, the new seat of government; tens of thousands gather outside to shout and cry.
On Monday, thousands of students walked out of 20 high schools in Los Angeles while others walked out in Portland, Oregon. We are not surprised that Latino students are leading the charge, because their lives are, literally, at stake–they or their parents may be deported very soon. They are indeed brave to show their faces, as are the Muslims who carry signs proclaiming their identity as Muslims.
“Not My President” has been the watchword of the demonstrations, and hand-made signs are more specific, demanding to save women’s reproductive rights (“My body/voice/power/ CHOICE”), to stop deportations of immigrants, to make Black Lives Matter, to defend Muslims, to defend everyone’s civil liberties and the press.
Trump is angry about the protests and has told us to stop; we know he is vengeful and is undoubtedly taking down names. But we must not stop the opposition. By the time he takes over the government in January, much harm will already have been done, even before he has the might of the world’s biggest power behind him.
We need to oppose, protest, and struggle against Trump and Trumpism on all fronts, all the time, until we get rid of him.
ECONOMIC DISTRESS, RACISM & XENOPHOBIA
Donald J. Trump has become president-elect of the United States largely because of an inextricable combination of economic distress, racism, and xenophobia. He promised to improve the lives of one segment of the multiracial and multiethnic working class at the expense of other segments. Owing to the racism and xenophobia that were already present, he has succeeded in directing discontent over economic conditions along white-nationalist lines.
Race and class have always been inextricably intertwined in the U.S. It cannot be otherwise in a country that developed largely on the backs of an enslaved Black population, a country in which Blacks to this day remain disproportionately poor and racial segregation persists in housing, schools and employment.
We recommend that you read Sean McElwee’s recent analysis of data on this issue, “Yep, race really did Trump economics: A data dive on his supporters reveals deep racial animosity.” Despite the unfortunate title, McElwee’s actual conclusion is that “economic anxiety and racism are deeply intertwined.”
In spite of Trump’s success, thus far, in dividing the working class against itself, he did not win the support of a majority of U.S. voters. The anachronistic Electoral College system is what gave Trump the victory. Even though the Republicans used many tricks to suppress the African-American and Latino vote, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by up to 2 million votes (the counting still isn’t finished). And more than 40% of eligible voters did not vote at all.
WHAT LIES AHEAD
It is imperative to abandon false hopes that Trump might fulfill his promise to be the president of all of us. We strongly recommend that you read the recent article on this issue by Russian oppositionist Masha Gessen, “Autocracy: Rules for Survival.”
It is also imperative to abandon the delusion shared by far too many on the Left that Trump and Trumpism are no worse than the status quo. Consider, first of all, that capitalism has not been able to rebound strongly from the Great Recession. Since it cannot make our lives better now, the preservation of the system demands that anger against economic conditions be turned against scapegoats and that working people be pitted against each other–whites against Blacks and Latinos, native-born workers against immigrants, Christians against Muslims, men against women, straights against LGBTQ people. Second, the Republican Party is determined to hold power indefinitely by rolling back voting rights–and now, by closing the country’s borders and deporting millions of immigrants. Third, Trump is cruel and vengeful; what we saw of him on the campaign trail was no act, as his biographers and those familiar with his conduct attest. This combination of factors indicates that he will indeed try to carry out his extraordinary threats.
The election has already given the green light to the most monstrous forces of reaction. Trump has started appointing his top advisors and named as “Chief Strategist” Steve Bannon of Breitbart News, a leader of the alt-right who is an unapologetic racist, white nationalist, anti-Semite, and conspiracy theorist.
The number of hate crimes has shot way up. Within a few days after the election, there were 300 recorded attacks on African-Americans, Latinos, women, and LGBTQ people—about 30 times the typical number.
Many of MHI’s editorial’s expectations about his presidency are already underway. He has announced that he will seek to end women’s right to abortion through his appointments to the Supreme Court aimed at overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that declared the federal right to abortion. He has announced plans for ending all or much of “Obamacare” health insurance, and for deporting up to 3 million people right away, as just the start of his promise of 11 million deportations. To the extent that he is now sending some contradictory signals, spurring some to hope that he may soften his positions, there is not the slightest reason to believe him. He just hopes to quell the protests.
The Republican Party will do Trump’s bidding because he won and brought more Republicans to power in Congress and the states. The Democratic Party is soul-searching about what it did wrong, and dividing in strange ways. Congresspeople such as Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, who are not even liberals, have continued their strong condemnation of Trump. But other Democrats want to “give him the benefit of the doubt” and “try to help him.” President Obama and Hillary Clinton immediately took the latter position.
Thus, we can’t count on the Democrats to fight Trump and Trumpism or to curb his actions against us and our civil liberties. Indeed, as we warned in our August editorial, we could not even count on them to stop Trump on Election Day. Women, students, Latinos, African-Americans, Muslims, immigrants, and other workers–all of us–need to resist, thwart and try to defeat him. We have some allies in the press, and in some civil rights and civil liberties organizations who have stood up and promised to oppose his plans. They cannot do it alone.
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