Category: Activism

The Anti-Trump Movement: Recover, Resist, Reform

INDEED, MANY AMERICANS—not just liberals and progressives—view the prospect of four years of Donald Trump in the White House as frightening. He has already inflicted much suffering on vulnerable Americans, and more pain is in the offing. It is uncharted territory. Nobody has a clear road map. But the upsurge of protest in the streets and political activism in the precincts is promising—not only to win back the House next year and put a progressive Democrat in the White House in 2020, but also to build an ongoing movement for change.

Containing Trump, and using that energy to rebuild a persuasive progressivism, is a challenge unlike any other we’ve faced. Looking back on a century of organizing, there were periods when large numbers of ordinary people were mobilized for years, even for decades. But the struggles to build unions, the anti-war movement of the 1960s, and the fights for civil rights, women’s rights, disability rights, LGBT rights, and environmental justice were each about a reasonably well-defined project with concrete objectives.

The movement to resist Trump is in a whole other category. Its goal is nothing less than to save American democracy, and then to use that mass mobilization to resume the project of creating a humane America that is more like social democracy than corporate plutocracy. The challenges are on multiple fronts, but never has the need for solidarity been so urgent. To succeed, this movement will require a permanent increase in the level of popular engagement—a reinvigoration of democracy to save democracy.

The stakes have never been higher. Trump is too dark a threat to use words like “blessing in disguise.” The best response is to defeat Trump’s fake populism and his appeals to fear and bigotry by showing the world that the American people are more decent than he is.

Chris Hedges: A Last Chance for Resistance – Chris Hedges – Truthdig

There are three institutions tasked in a functioning democracy with protecting the truth and keeping national discourse rooted in verifiable fact—the courts, the press and universities. Despots must control these three to prevent them from exposing their lies and restricting their power. Trump has not only attacked the courts but has also begun purges of the judiciary with his mass firing of U.S. attorneys. The Trump White House plans to fill 124 judgeships—including 19 vacancies on federal appeals courts—with corporatist lawyers such as Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch who are endorsed by the reactionary Federalist Society. By the time Trump’s four-year term is up, Federalist Society judges could be in as many as half of the country’s appellate seats.

Trump has continued to attempt to discredit the press. During his rally in Nashville, Tenn., on Wednesday, he told the crowd, “Some of the fake news said I don’t think Donald Trump wants to build the wall. Can you imagine if I said we’re not going to build a wall? Fake news. Fake, fake news. Fake news, folks. A lot of fake.” He went on to say in an apparent reference to the reporters covering the rally, “They’re bad people.”

The attacks on universities, which will be accelerated, are on display in the budget proposal. The Department of Health and Human Services, the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Department of Education, the Commerce Department, the National Institutes of Health, the Energy Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs all give grants and research money to universities. Colorado State University, for example, gets about 70 percent, or $232 million, of its research budget from federal sources. In February, Trump suggested he might attempt to cut federal funding for universities such as UC Berkeley. His comment was made after a riot at the California school forced the cancellation of a speech there by the far-right ideologue Milo Yiannopoulos, who has called Trump “Daddy.” A university will of course be able to get corporate funding for research if it casts doubt on the importance of climate change or does research that can be used to swell corporate profits or promote other business interests. Scientific study into our ecocide and the dangers from chemicals, toxins and pollutants released by corporations into the atmosphere will be thwarted. And the withering of humanities programs, already suffering in many universities, will worsen.

It will be increasingly difficult to carry out mass protests and civil disobedience. Repression will become steadily more overt and severe. Dissent will be equated with terrorism. We must use the space before it is shut. This is a race against time. The forces of despotism seek to keep us complacent and pacified with the false hope that mechanisms within the system will moderate Trump or remove him through impeachment, or that the looming tyranny will never be actualized. There is an emotional incapacity among any population being herded toward despotism or war to grasp what is happening. The victims cannot believe that the descent into barbarity is real, that the relative security and sanity of the past are about to be obliterated. They fail to see that once rights become privileges, once any segment of a society is excluded from the law, rights can instantly be revoked for everyone.

There is a hierarchy to oppression. It begins with the most vulnerable—undocumented workers, Muslims, poor people of color. It works upward. It is a long row of candles that one by one are extinguished. If we wait to resist, as the poet C.P. Cavafy wrote, the “dark line gets longer” and “the snuffed-out candles proliferate.”

Meetup takes risky leap into the Trump resistance

Neil Blumenthal, co-CEO of the web-based global eyewear retailer Warby Parker, which was among the companies that filed legal briefs opposing Trump’s immigration and transgender policies, acknowledged political activism could turn some consumers off.

“There’s always the risk that when you stand for something there can be a backlash,” Blumenthal said. “The bigger risk is to stand for nothing.”

Defending Truth Is a Radical Act of Resistance – In These Times

It’s pointless to prioritize the threats we face from the Trump administration. They’re diverse, profound and legion. They include long-term trends like accelerating inequality, as well as perversions specific to this presidency, like the fact that Steve Bannon now sits on the National Security Council. But Trump’s assault on facts and truth is at least as dire as any of these. And it poses an especially difficult challenge because progressives have their own reasons to despair over the condition of the nation’s institutions—their deep corruption by corporate money, their anti-democratic structure and their general capture by elite interests.

Having a president actively disdainful of truth will erode the basis for faith in those institutions even more. This is the awful reality. It’s also the case that a strong defense of the truth, working for institutions that foster and honor it, is essential to any hope for democracy’s survival. Defending truth is among the most radical acts of resistance we can mount in the era of Trump.

S.D. Passes Law to Crack Down on Protests

PIERRE, S.D. (CN) – Responding to the massive Dakota Access Pipeline protests that unfolded throughout 2016 in North Dakota, South Dakota’s governor has signed into law a bill that would expand the power of his office to curtail protest activities in the state.

Senate Bill 176 allows the governor to set up “public safety zones” in which protest activities can be limited to gatherings of 20 people or less. It also authorizes the state’s Department of Transportation to restrict protester access to highways by prohibiting “stopping, standing or parking” in certain areas.

The law, which is a direct response to the Native American-led massive protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, does not sit well with the state’s nine tribes and other advocates of free speech.