Anti-Trump protests broke out last night in various cities:
From New England to heartland cities like Kansas City and along the West Coast, demonstrators bore flags and effigies of the president-elect, disrupting traffic and declaring that they refused to accept Trump’s victory.
Flames lit up the night sky in California cities Wednesday as thousands of protesters burned a giant papier-mache Trump head in Los Angeles and started fires in Oakland intersections.
…Chicago resident Michael Burke said he believes the president-elect will “divide the country and stir up hatred.” He added there was a constitutional duty not to accept that outcome [“‘Not My President’: Trump Denounced in Protests Across America,” Ap via Politico, 2016.11.10].
A youngish group armed with signs occupied the federal courthouse steps in Sioux Falls after business hours yesterday to protest the incoming Führer’s targeting of various scapegoatable groups.
A neighbor who supported my failed Senate campaign tells me he plans to fly his flag upside-down on Veterans Day.
A friend and friend of the blog writes that he is “tired. Tired of beating my head against the wall. Tired of progressives treated like second class citizens. Tired of making no progress in this very red state.” He plans to buy his first handgun to deal with the chaos he sees coming.
I know their feelings. Similar thoughts have popped into my head, including the thought that maybe I need to buy a gun.
I have rejected that latter thought. I won’t buy a gun. I’m saving my money to deal with a Trump economic downturn (the businesses he run go bankrupt; why should we not expect the same of a country he runs?). If chaos is coming , there are still many other practical items we can invest in that will provide more utility—canned goods, seeds and garden tools, sturdy boots and winter clothes…. I just can’t place my faith in a gun, which symbolizes the breakdown of faith in civil institutions.
I still believe the First Amendment protects our freedoms far better than the Second. The street protestors and flag inverters are exercising their First Amendment rights (though not when they break windows and block traffic), and they are right to vow to fight a sexist, racist, fascist President. Protests are an important part of effective resistance to the Trump Reich. Protests (as well as the constitutionally irrelevant but politically meaningful popular vote) signal to political leaders that they can resist the Führer and still win their state and local elections.
But those protests must have a practical political component. When the kids get home from the busy street corners, they must then check their e-mail and their Facebook Events pages to make sure they don’t miss the voter registration drive next week. They must pay attention to Congress and their state legislatures and lobby against the egregious curtailments of civil liberties and health insurance that will come from Trumpist leaders. And they must make clear to every good anti-fascist from Senator Bernie Sanders (he is now the leader of the Democratic Party, right?) on down that we have their backs and will not just vote for them in 2018 but call and knock and fundraise and bring ten friends to the polls to ensure that we stage a Coffee Party electoral revolt in 2018 that dwarfs the Tea Party backlash that wrested Congress from Democrats in 2010.
(Quick check: how many of you protestors voted for Democratic Legislative candidates Tuesday? How many of you can name your Democratic Legislative candidates?)
Our protests against Trump’s fascism must not be mere show or catharsis. We must back those protests with the practical, tedious, media-invisible work of organizing, campaigning, and winning at the ballot box the next time around, and the next time….
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At least the street protestors are not withdrawing from politics. Withdrawal is tempting—I can envision getting away from daily public writing and instead focusing on finally writing novels. But then I think of the dismay I felt every time I knocked on a door during this year’s campaign and got some cranky neighbor who said, “We don’t do any politics!”
Disengagement is how the extremists win. Decent people disengage before the dedicated troublemakers do, leaving the troublemakers an open field.
As long as we live in a community, we do politics. That’s just the price we pay, as surely as taxes and politeness.
I can’t take an action that, if done by everyone, would lead to the collapse of the system. If everyone stays engaged, there may be more arguments, but democracy continues. If everyone withdraws permanently, democracy does not continue.
Politics can be a darned dirty chore, and this year, for decent citizens, it’s got darned little reward. We have bills to pay, kids to love, yards to rake, bodies to keep in shape, good books to read… we can’t be marching all the time.
But I will keep finding time to march. I won’t make anyone march with me… but I will welcome those who can help in any way, even if it’s no more than a quiet vote, or a ring of the tip jar, or a commentless click of the Share button. With your support, I will keep blogging, providing encouragement, advice, and healthy debate to help good liberals, progressives, and other patriots fight the fascism that invades the White House on January 20, 2017.