Category: Commentary

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.

Donald Kaufman: Do the FBI and Department of Justice Want a Photo of Every American? – Truthdig

A recent hearing by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform revealed some troubling news concerning privacy rights: Using facial recognition technology, the FBI has captured images of more than half of all adult Americans and is storing them in perpetuity in databases for law enforcement agencies to access. The technology is part of a 2010 FBI program called Next Generation Identification. The program uses facial recognition, finger and palm prints, and iris scans to track people and put their information in repository systems for law enforcement use. No warrant is required, and everyone, including people with no criminal record, can be recorded.

People Reject Neoliberalism’s Return, But Challenges Remain in Ecuador | By William K. Black | Common Dreams

Ecuador has just staged another successful democratic election—as even the Wall Street Journal now reports, based on international election observers from the Organization of American States (OAS) that have no love for the Ecuadorian party that won the election. Most of the foreign reportage on the election focuses on Julian Assange, who has taken refuge in Ecuador’s embassy in London. But what are the real problems that Lenin Moreno and the people of Ecuador will face when he becomes President?

Ecuador’s oligarchs have run the country for most of its existence, crippling economic development and producing high rates of unemployment, poverty, and inequality. The neo-liberal policies that became synonymous with the “Washington Consensus” led to extreme financial deregulation and privatization that produced the typical wave of “control fraud.” The nation’s leading bankers led that epidemic of fraud by seemingly legitimate banks. The fraud epidemic led to one of the many banking crises of the late 1990s that swept through Latin America. The banking crisis drove a serious recession, led to exceptional levels of emigration from Ecuador, produced extreme political instability in Ecuador—and set the stage for the election of the reformist Rafael Correa. Correa and his supporters created the Alianza Pais (AP). Correa became president in 2007. The AP has a majority holds a majority of the seats in Ecuador’s unicameral legislature.

The election of Correa and AP supporters, and the discrediting of the oligarchs based on their economic and political malfeasance and thefts, created the political space for dramatic changes in Ecuador’s public policies that have broad support among the people of Ecuador. Hundreds of thousands of Ecuadorians have “voted with their feet” to return from emigration to work and live in Ecuador. Poverty, unemployment, and inequality all fell under President Correa.