This will be the seed-bed for a progressive populist uprising, if we organize, coalesce and make it so
“We matter” is the message from the 99 percent who are not the intended beneficiaries of an America that is “great again.” This protest is by students at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. – Photo: Austin American-Statesman, AP
If you care about everything from civil and human rights to economic justice and climate survival, Trump’s impending presidency is terrifying – but the amount of wreckage he can cause depends in part on how people respond. Already, a Dump Trump rebellion is rising up in the streets and online; it’s also worth remembering Trump lost the popular vote, the Senate is close to tied and not filibuster-proof, and things have a way of see-sawing in American politics.
What evolves may not be one grand strategy or unified movement, but millions of people joining multiple movements opposing Trump’s destructive agenda and promoting a vision for an egalitarian, sustainable America. In the spirit of the need for multiple approaches combined with broad unity, here are 10 ways to fight the Trump nightmare that is just beginning to take hideous shape.
Mutual support and solidarity: This will be a time of heightened attacks – political, fiscal and physical or verbal – on so many groups, including Muslims and Arab Americans, Black and Brown communities, immigrants, LGBT people, women – just about everyone except heterosexual white men – although Trump’s tax and labor policies will hurt many working-class and poor of all races.
Amid this vicious politics of division and scapegoating, we must band together in mutual support and solidarity, have each other’s backs, be ready to vigorously defend one another’s rights and needs. Already, there are signs in the streets of greater unity among people threatened by Trump’s message and agenda – this will be an important four years to build a powerful politics of unity and solidarity. Support each other’s movements and stand with people threatened by Trump’s policies and rhetoric.
Into the streets – and movements: In the first 72 hours of Trump’s election, hundreds of thousands marched and protested across the U.S., setting a tone of resistance that is only building. These protests can and must feed into sustained movements and campaigns that lead to real change.
What’s promising here, building on the Bernie Sanders campaign, Black Lives Matter, Occupy and other movements, is the rise of young people and the sheer size of the protests even before Trump has entered the Oval Office. What’s needed is not just shouting, but some serious monkey-wrenching: national strikes, filibusters, congressional sit-ins and more. Think big and think strategic; think blocking Trump, not just opposing him.
Protest and pragmatism: Rather than split off into sub-groups based on tactics, progressives and liberals and lefties need to stick together even as we engage in approaches ranging from the radical to the pragmatic. We need to articulate a larger vision and push radical protest as well as pragmatic strategic harm-reduction campaigns. Think both/and.
Defense and offense: Two months before Trump takes over the White House, we are already fighting defensive battles for people’s lives – defending the rights and dignity of women, immigrants, LGBT people and Black and Brown people to exist and live with full rights and respect. There will soon be innumerable defensive battles, from cabinet and Supreme Court appointments to the likely gutting of social welfare and environmental protections to war.
Demonstrators march in protest of President-elect Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric outside the Trump International Hotel and Tower at Columbus Circle in Manhattan, Nov. 13, 2016. – Photo: Yana Paskova, New York Times
All of this will be urgent and necessary, yet progressive movements must also maintain a proactive positive vision and push that wherever possible, at state and local levels, and building international solidarity with movements around the world fighting for economic justice, equal rights and sustainability.
Two parties, one movement: Let’s face it – we’re never going to all agree on whether to reform or take over the Democratic Party or build a new independent third party or join – or re-fashion the Green Party. So let’s build an independent unified movement for progressive values and principles with an “inside-outside” strategy that is versatile and mobile and that can remain independent while pushing for reforms such as a progressive new DNC chair – like Keith Ellison, who is supported by Bernie – promoting new candidates via Brand New Congress and Our Revolution, and other independent progressive movements.
Democratic Party overhaul: It’s time for a radical new direction by the Democrats, to think progressive and bold, be the party that offers solutions to poor and working-class people. Now is not the time to fixate on the Greens’ vote counts in swing states or micro-factors in the Clinton campaign – the bottom line is the DNC and Clinton failed to offer a compelling vision or candidate who could galvanize mass support.
Bernie’s remarkable campaign shows us the best path forward for a far improved and more relevant and successful Democratic Party – which at best is only one part of any solution to the Trump nightmare. It’s wake-up time. Time to build progressive populist rebellion and movements in and out of electoral politics. It’s already happening. Let’s feed and fuel it forward. The push for Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison as DNC chair is one promising start.
Progressive unity: Even as movements and strategies vary and approaches when it comes to the Democratic Party differ, progressives across the country can unify around a larger agenda, much of it put forth by Bernie Sanders’s powerful campaign, Black Lives Matter, the Fight for $15, and environmental and climate justice movements, organized labor and others.
We must continue the coalition-building begun during the Sanders campaign, such as the People’s Summit in Chicago, which brought together hundreds of movements from around the country to articulate a common agenda. This united movement can take shape in various ways, from protests to campaigns.
Support independent media and journalism: Now more than ever, independent and alternative media will be vital to getting out stories and voices not otherwise heard – and spreading these stories far beyond our echo chambers. Investigative reporting and analysis will be essential ingredients of public education and mobilization. Do what you can to support and share local and national alternative media outlets far and wide.
Vision for 2018 – and 2020: Trump may have corralled white working-class voters, but to keep them he must deliver results. Unemployment – at least the official rate – is 4.9 percent and given historical trends is likely to rise, not fall in coming years. A year and a half from now, as mid-term elections loom, many Trump voters will likely ask – what has Trump done to improve my life?
Trump-Pence are already surrounding themselves with Washington insiders, lobbyists and the super-rich. Trump’s faux populist con game will be revealed, leaving the door wide open for a progressive populist uprising, already kindled and fired by Bernie Sanders’s remarkable campaign. By 2018, sadly, millions will likely be suffering higher unemployment, wage stagnation, less healthcare access, greater personal debt and mounting frustration. This will be the seed-bed for a progressive populist uprising, if we organize, coalesce and make it so.
These are scary times, but we cannot afford to sink in despair and division. Now, more than ever, is the time to rally our spirits, come together, build up progressive movements across the country, educate and support one another in these hard times, and create a meaningful and relevant populist alternative to Trump’s dreary trickle-down cul-de-sac.
Trump’s path is a one-way road to hell. Let’s make ours a round-trip ticket to survival, justice and a sustainable future.
Christopher D. Cook is an award-winning journalist and author of “Diet for a Dead Planet: Big Business and the Coming Food Crisis.” Cook has written for Harper’s, The Economist, Mother Jones, The Christian Science Monitor and elsewhere. See more of his work at www.christopherdcook.com. This story is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. It first appeared on Common Dreams.