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Fuck Trump and the Donkey He Rode in On


Donald Trump is no joke. He is not a fool. He is not a buffoon. He is not a mere provocateur. Calling Trump stupid misses the point. Calling him obscene grazes the surface.

Donald Trump’s campaign was a bird choking in a coal mine. His presidency threatens to collapse bedrooms, living rooms, communities, our nation, and even our world. Trump’s presence will aggravate, depress, denigrate, sicken, and oppress millions every hour from now until he and Pence, and all the rest are an awful memory. Their backwash of negation, diminishment, and hate is already fierce.

To continually take in the daily reality we face, to endure the resulting mental and emotional distress and to then act coherently will be very difficult. It will often seem easier, more self affirming, and less painful to make believe Trump is bad but not too bad, abnormal but not too abnormal.

It will often feel gentler for one’s own self and one’s own agenda to dismiss Trump as another Nixon, Bush, Clinton, or Obama – but not another Mussolini, much less Hitler. It will often feel more civil to call him bearable, to wring our hands and turn off our ears and eyes to the choking sounds and putrid odors emanating from Trump’s acts, and to assume civility’s return.

It will often feel less painful and more “mature” to minimize and regularize, to protest now and then, but without persistent urgency, and to live our lives trying not to contribute to the madness but also without trying to win positive change and link the many sources of opposition to produce a real movement.

It will often feel less personally disruptive to passively travel the easy road to hell than to face reality and powerfully and unrelentingly fight back.

Some will feel I am exaggerating. Let’s spend a moment on that. It should not require more.

Bad things are commonplace. Indeed, we have long been frogs slowly boiling. Now, however, and this may be the one mistake for his own agenda that Trump is making, Trump is turning up the burners as high as he can. Examine his Cabinet appointments and his words. Strip away the now nearly eliminated rhetoric meant to obscure outrageous policy and to attract depressed, angry, and disenfranchised supporters, but not, of course, to sincerely aid them in the slightest. What’s left? What’s flaunted in our faces?

Trump wants to disenfranchize and infantilize but not lynch pretty much all non whites in the U.S. He wants to pedestalize, kitchenize, grope, and brutalize, but not rape all women in the U.S. He wants to deunionize, traumatize, robotize, and penurize, but not starve every working class non professional in the U.S. He wants to stunt science, stifle history, transcend civility and Trump truth. Most deadly of all, Trump wants to burn every last fossil fuel and deny every last shred of ecological sanity.

Trump wants to rewrite “This land is your land” to become “This land is Trump’s land.” He doesn’t care if we all sing. He cares only that he is in the saddle and we are being ridden.

Again, am I exaggerating? Is this American paranoia or Amerikkkan Fascism. Not either, yet. But are we vigorously slip sliding in the latter direction? Yes, we are. Not the population, the government.

What must we see to realize what dangers lurk? Does Trump have to goosestep? Maybe next month. Does his cabinet have to burn books in public squares? The month after.

We are not slip sliding to hell because the whole population took leave of its senses. They didn’t. Nor because Trump’s voters, in the main, took leave of their humanity. They didn’t. We are slip sliding to hell because a perfect storm of Democratic Party system-defending and change-decrying hubris, plus progressive and radical danger-denying strategic inflexibility, plus disenfranchised change-desiring worker mis-voting, plus ignorant popular racist and sexist preening, plus limitless mainstream media profit pursuing, plus social media attention demolishing madness, plus likely also a lot of electoral corruption and voter suppression, led to a voting calamity that handed trifecta power to a bunch of historically and ideologically off the chart thugs and their Party partners.

Trump isn’t hiding or sugarcoating his agenda. When Trump said during the campaign that he could get away with anything, he meant, look, I am a massive bully and this country has no idea how to deal with the likes of me. I know I got less than a quarter of eligible voters. I know that only a fraction even among those who voted for me really want me to do what I really want to do. I know that only a handful even of that small fraction clearly understand what it will mean if I get to do what I want, and still favor it. But so what? That is my genius. I marshaled nothing into everything. I am in the Oval Office. My allies stand with me. Every meeting I attend, one opinion will dominate – mine. Let’s go!

If Trump in power doesn’t scare you, if it doesn’t cause you to feel you have to do anything within your means to help impede, stop, and then transcend his brand of inhumanity for yourself, for your kids and for their kids, for all of society and indeed for all the world, then you have either turned your mind off hoping to navigate calamity without suffering its clammy tentacles, or your mind was turned off long ago, and in either case you need to wake up and hear the bird warning us: do something, do something, he will beat the crap out of you.

I suspect that even more than understandably wanting to go to sleep so as to dream in peace and wake up when the nightmare ends, not knowing what to do is what can now slow, stop, and deaden anti Trump resistance which is, at the moment, most certainly very alive and growing impressively.

So what can we do?

Preventing roll back entails preventing or reversing racist, misogynist, and even fascist appointments. Bemoaning Bannon, decrying Giuliani, or even weeping over Sessions is all warranted – but preventing or reversing them is essential.

Preventing rollback also means preventing treaty breaking, law canceling, and policy imposing that interfere with hard won past victories. But how?

The first steps are already occurring, though many more people need to become involved. Promising signs stretch from high school students walking out of classes, to Broadway play audiences booing the Vice President, from diverse marches and rallies occurring and larger ones being planned, to NBA teams boycotting Trump hotels.

But beyond current creative outpourings, Democrats in Congress and across the country will have to oppose Trump’s appointments and agenda. Some will do so of their own accord. Sanders and Warren are prime examples. But others will join the battle only if they feel they must do so to retain a semblance of credibility. They will join only to sidestep and try to co-opt a wave of steadily growing public dissent. Accosting Senators and Representatives in their offices in Washington, at home in their communities, and universally in print as well showing them massive marches and demonstrations that will keep growing if they don’t block Trump, can only help.

What else can spur ever more sustainable dissent? At the high income end, perhaps boycotting Trump products, and hotels – as some NBA teams are already doing, or making statements at symphony concerts and Broadway shows can directly impact him. Even if not, such acts will certainly help galvanize the broader public and other politicians. Expressing dissent, carefully and militantly but without recriminations of Trump supporters who ought to be joining the dissent will be critical. Writing letters to editors or friends, blog posts, articles, comments, and even wearing anti Trump t-shirts – and anything else that makes visible and tries to enlarge public anger at what has happened – can help. Creative outreach with video testimonials is another option, and serious rather than profit seeking journalism, is essential.

But what about moving beyond dissent to resistance and beyond resistance to wining a new world?

Trump wants to escalate deportations. A resistance response might organize sanctuaries at the city or state level or seek sanctuaries more locally at churches and perhaps universities or even by private homeowners offering to harbor prospective deportees to protect them. A slogan might be some clever variant of “if you take them, you have to take us, and none of us are going without a fight.” Imagine priests, local politicians, workmates, schoolmates, teachers, and perhaps even some employers saying and meaning that.

We could demand that friendly churches or campus centers provide housing and protection for potential deportees. We could guard such venues by gatherings of hundreds or even thousands of supporters taking shifts outside to block access. During the days and nights of the sanctuaries, we could hold teach ins and cultural events and otherwise use the experiences to build support, develop trust, and even enjoy the experience.

One of the dividing lines between temporary protest and resistance that persists and constantly goes forward will be serious solidarity. Will women outraged at sexism, blacks and Latinos outraged at racism, working class folks outraged at anti labor legislation and still more denigration, plus plain old citizens of every kind outraged at war and at insane policies threatening ecological stability, each operate independently? Or will they entwine in mutual support?

In response to white supremacist Cabinet and West Wing appointees, why not make their views incredibly visible and oppose their appointments, but also positively propose progressives who would be better in their post, and say clearly why they would be better. Why not create a shadow government. This would probably require Sanders to become its President, but, following that, it could populate itself throughout, and take stands on every major issue as each arises, to contrast clearly to Trump and also organize and fight for better outcomes.

In response to enlarged spending proposals for military and police why not show better ways to spend the funds? Why not demand positive changes in police budgeting, legal structure, and seek community oversight and control?

We could rally at and demand the use of military bases to build low income housing funded by Pentagon budgets. We could earmark the first houses built to the soldiers who worked on them. We could welcome police into neighborhood and even household meetings to discuss how to create safer communities and avoid racist policing. We could go to military bases and police stations too, and organize. Leaving these alone, to proceed wherever they will without trying to communicate and without offering better alternatives for the employees and for society, is a surefire way to aid Trump.

We need to find worthy goals and effective ways to fight for them that appeal to every crucial constituency, and that polarize none away from progressive participation, even as we steadfastly and specifically oppose Trump’s every racist, sexist, and classist move.

Once momentum grows and a degree of coherence, clarity, and inter issue solidarity emerges, we could build grassroots neighborhood and workplace assemblies.

But what about organization? If for the next four years we only have sometimes linked but often disconnected campaigns about all manner of separate issues but overwhelmingly aimed only at preventing reaction, at best we will reinstate the status quo we had before Trump won – which was nothing great, obviously. So why not establish at least one overarching, multi issue, multi tactic organization to not only fight against reaction but also propose and try to win elements of positive program and vision?

And if we do try to create that, wouldn’t it be better that the new organization implements powerful new means to welcome and enhance diversity, to celebrate and practice collective self management, and to chastise and structurally guard against sectarian, short term, and too narrow organizing?

18 Comments

  1. avatar
    Elizabeth Ellis November 30, 2016 3:19 pm 

    For those interested in coming together to make a change, I joined the Party of Reason and Progress, which is growing in numbers Nationwide, and outside of the United States, created in direct response to Trump’s victory.
    http://partyofreasonandprogress.org/

  2. george patterson November 26, 2016 4:56 am 

    Thanks Michael for your impassioned proposals. I’m sending this around, including Democrats Abroad, Philippines so that we can implement them, educate and mobilize people , and achieve victory!!!! It is imperative that we do so immediately and maximize our momentum.

  3. avatar
    A. Kolahi November 22, 2016 7:14 pm 

    Thank you for this! I don’t see why the so-called ‘alt-right’, Breitbart and the likes should have a monopoly on angry, emotional articles 🙂

  4. Tom Johnson November 22, 2016 6:33 pm 

    Michael:

    What a great piece!!! The title really sets the tone. Now is the time to apply the energy of righteous anger, and you do it so well here with many positive and clear-eyed suggestions — not about what we need to do, but what we can do. Thanks for the long and useful list.

    More importantly, you get to what, in my opinion, is the central and most difficult question: “So why not establish at least one overarching, multi issue, multi tactic organization to not only fight against reaction but also propose and try to win elements of positive program and vision?”

    Why indeed? I think you and many others have raised this question in multiple ways, but I don’t think that it can ever be answered in any way other than the doing of it.

    That would start, in my opinion, of issuing a general call to try to form such an organization/coalition, hold a congress, and go from there. But before the call is issued it would need some parameters.

    The greatest danger it seems to me, is that only the usual suspects could show up. The call has to be general enough that it gets beyond the usual suspects and the organizational apparatus itself would have to be highly democratic, geographically dispersed and recognize the realities of gender, race and class in the creation of such a vehicle. Ad it has to be resourced.

    No small things any of these.

    Thanks for your anger. Hope you don’t put it back in the bottle.

    Tom Johnson

    • avatar
      James November 22, 2016 10:05 pm 

      There was a huge call five or so years ago or longer. There was much prep work done. ReImagining Society elicited hundreds of essays from activists all around the world. Then surveys done to see if people would be interested in a new org, an international of sorts, to which many thousands seemed to answer in the affirmative. The thought was that when it was set up thousands would join, tens of thousands. They didn’t. Testimonials were written that this was what was needed to unify and connect the left. But it seemed maybe it was a somehow a flawed idea perhaps not the right time, maybe not the right way as most people, including those who wrote testimonials didn’t show up for the party or the long haul. Maybe most were too busy involved in their own groups, orgs, movements “over there”, somewhere else, working isolated from others as was implied by Cynthia Peters.

      So what is the right way? Just doing it doesn’t help much. The left has been just doing shit for eons and the Wobblies were all about one big union.

      How do you connect the thousands of movements and groups already existing now? How do you get more people not involved to get involved in ways that don’t see them isolated inside already existing groups or orgs with their own agendas, focus and energy? How do you get the inexperienced others feeling that they dan change things at all and to what? How do you traverse the, in places, rugged and impenetrable and diverse terrain of political and economic thought that so often divides the left and its movements?

      None of the above are new problems nor all that require thinking about, but it’s not as if the left has been successful at solving them in the past. Someone said once that activists just have to do shit, it’s that simple. Well, activists have been doing shit for centuries and here we are, 2016, Trump has been put on the throne, Tony Blair is thinking of making a come back, Syriza got beaten up, countries are putting up bigger and bigger walls to keep outsiders out, and apparently time appears to be running out, and “we” are still trying to solve the seemingly unsolvable – entwining in mutual support.

      All Michael’s suggestions may be great but they don’t necessarily solve mutual entwining problem. So we are left with this,

      “But what about organization? If for the next four years we only have sometimes linked but often disconnected campaigns about all manner of separate issues but overwhelmingly aimed only at preventing reaction, at best we will reinstate the status quo we had before Trump won – which was nothing great, obviously. So why not establish at least one overarching, multi issue, multi tactic organization to not only fight against reaction but also propose and try to win elements of positive program and vision?”

      Which to me, sounds no different than what was attempted perhaps over a hundred years ago by the wobblies and perhaps more recently by the establishment of a kind of Internationale the remnants of which can be found at the IOPS website. An org once described to me by a good friend as a horrible kind of liberal moralism, with “don’t impinge” above the door? A big yuck to him. So how to bridge those gaps and differences when trying to find worthy goals, and shared positive program. It so often seems when it gets down to the nitty gritty the left’s lofty aims fall apart.

      That’s the wall. And it’s huge and pretty much vertical and with little to grab onto in order to climb. The inexperienced don’t work out routes to climb it. Experienced climbers do that. They traverse the thing, scale it, rappel down to search out ways in order to help those who want to climb it, to show them a way up. Some will try heading up with no aid but most will require safety gear. There will be leaders and those needed to help the less certain along the way, but if the experienced, those who know the ropes, hardened activists who can hold back their over the top rage and emotion most of the time, cannot get together and show that a mutual entwining is possible, that sectarian bullshit can be overcome, then the less experienced, the uncertain, the less knowledgable, will more than likely be dissuaded from involving themselves and just watch from the sidelines, thinking, “you see, it can’t be done. Back to work.”

      So I guess you just get out there and do shit and then hope for the best. What’s new?

  5. avatar
    Jerry Fresia November 22, 2016 2:32 pm 

    I like the title and the emotion is appropriate.

    Now….given that HRC won the popular vote and given that half the population in addition to the establishment of both parties believes
    that what is happening is not normal and threatens our way of life – and given that electors meet December 19 – and given that there is precedent (1836) for “faithless” electors to abstain or vote contrary to how the population of their state voted, technically at least, we still have a chance to prevent Trump from ever reaching the White House.

    How to pressure electors ought to be up for discussion. Nadar has been talking about getting 1,000 people in each congressional district (700,000) to begin making demands across the board. How about doing the same with regard to electors?

  6. avatar
    Antonio Carty November 21, 2016 8:08 pm 

    I’m glad you have expressed how you think and feel Michael! Of course it is good we keep our spirits up & heads constructive, not blindly mad & just raging, but certainly awake!
    With Hitler for a dangerous while the convenient reaction of other powers in Germany and around the world was to begin to normalise his danger & tyranny, this later became known to history as the mistake of ‘Appeasement’.
    I agree, Trumps effective weakness is how clearly he is going to act as the Mad King of his doomed Titanic. This at least makes a definite trumpet call for all of us frogs, who have slowly being cooking anyway! We must not divide & let him conquer, his powerful danger can be a uniting catalyst, an unmistakeable alarm call to provoke us all to wake up. To find & share our constructive thoughts and hopeful spirits. Where possible take action, protest, refuse to obey, show & give support to all who oppose him and his appointees actions.
    The massive infrastructure construction projects cynically & strategically blocked I think by your congress during Obama will now be allowed & this will give jobs to many. Will it be jobs for whites especially like Trump’s father’s housing was done? Will this further consolidate his support? Perhaps organising construction unions will make it better & fairer for workers & not so like a feudal lords pork barrels & vote gaining personal charity of trump.
    I also thought Noam Chomsky’s speech in Barcelona on our refugee Earth’s true history & how all the disasters facing our world especially for the most vulnerable refugees in danger in it now ect. should unite us all, was one of the most important & inspiring things I’ve read recently.
    We needed to wake up collectively and this most doomed and dangerous of recent tyrants ‘elected’ is the real echo of a destructive character in us all we needed to wake up to. To face him down in ourselves & overcoming fear regain the heart & wits of a real collective democracy over our endangered planet & those who think they can hold all our hope’s and potentials of a good future together in their pocket.

  7. avatar
    Colin Stuart November 21, 2016 6:07 pm 

    Thanks Michael. We are in North America, Turtle Island, and those of us living in the north of it, colonially called Canada, need to get out of our complacent liberal and neoliberal bubble. If we don’t act soon, and with you in the U.S., Trump will certainly puncture that bubble for us and it will be brutal. I take some hope from the experience and courage of Indigenous Peoples and allies gathered and building community in Standing Rock.

  8. mike sheck November 21, 2016 2:24 pm 

    Read the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Compare the grievances listed therein to the situation today. Do you believe that people have the right to sever the bonds with a government which no longer represents them? Can you spot Guantanamo Bay? Can you you spot legal and regulatory repression? Can you spot out of control militarization? Can you identify dictatorial designs? READ THE DAMN THING! The erosion of individual liberty is the ONLY issue on which citizens of every political persuasion currently agree. That’s your answer. That’s your movement. That’s your revolution.

  9. Barry Wood November 21, 2016 1:07 pm 

    To galvanize your proposals and take them forward, needs the joint efforts of people like: Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein, Kshama Sawant, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Jeremy Corbin, Chris’ Hedges…….

    • avatar
      Michael Albert November 21, 2016 3:12 pm 

      Such help would be very very helpful, I agree. But the bigger issue, I think, is what lesser known people now begin to do…what we all do.

  10. avatar
    Jerry Fresia November 21, 2016 12:54 pm 

    Thanks Michael; I’m sending this around.

    • avatar
      Michael Albert November 21, 2016 3:28 pm 

      Jerry and Michael,

      Thank you. I will admit I got some advice that this piece was just too aggressive and emotional, even over the top, urging that I should take a breathe, and then rewrite it to make it more useful.

      My feeling is different. I and others have written sober, careful, and often comprehensively argued pieces from the primary season right through now with way too little impact. Our warnings about the election did not resonate. That’s at least in part on us. Our assessments after it did not. That’s at least in part on us. And so on.

      I have begun feeling one reason may be that we, or now I will speak for only myself, I, have been writing what I think but not displaying so well what I feel. This piece, I hope, does both. Whether it will be more effective or not, I just don’t know. So I decided to ignore various friends’ advice and go ahead with it, title and all….

      • avatar
        James November 21, 2016 7:57 pm 

        What!? That was too aggressive, emotional and over the top to be useful!? That you should take a breath!?Seriously?

        • avatar
          James November 21, 2016 9:48 pm 

          It’s funny really, the first half of your essay may be directly related to present circumstances, circumstances that have the “left” doing precusely what you said they would have to do if Trump got in, while the second half is really your manifesto. Something you have been saying and writing anout for decades. Strategy connected to strong coherent vision. Now the “left” has to beat its way through all this other shit, new barriers, just to get back to where it was before, lurching and grasping for much the same as you suggest now.

          “One of the dividing lines between temporary protest and resistance that persists and constantly goes forward will be serious solidarity. Will women outraged at sexism, blacks and Latinos outraged at racism, working class folks outraged at anti labor legislation and still more denigration, plus plain old citizens of every kind outraged at war and at insane policies threatening ecological stability, each operate independently? Or will they entwine in mutual support?”

          The above has always been the real fight. A “left” operating independently without serious solidarity and shared program, program the drives change and more change towards a better way (vision) or one entwined in mutual support.

      • Elizabeth Marxsen November 21, 2016 9:57 pm 

        I, for one, was so happy when I read the byline on this. You, the most sober analytical, soul. The bright side is the left is re-energized in a way that never would have happened under Clinton. Lets make this the beginning of a sorely needed swing to the left in this country.

        • Michael Albert November 22, 2016 3:18 am 

          Elizabeth, I appreciate that you liked it. I would have been the exact same me, though, with Clinton in office – but trying to generate positive gains, not having to try to ward off disastrous reversals. This essay is my mood pretty much all the time. But some moments may – I am not sure – benefit more from its visibility and others not.

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