The worst case scenario is upon us. The unthinkable has happened. The event that was scoffed at and dismissed and barely entertained by the media and the political establishment alike has come to pass.
But the world hasn’t ended, at least not yet. A lot of damage is going to be done to the world and the country in the next few years, but so long as the left in general and the Democratic party in particular take the right steps in resisting the new administration, much of this debacle can be halted and in time, reversed.
This is my seven point plan to resist the Trump administration on every front, and lay the groundwork for a counter attack that will stop something like this from happening again.
Step 1: Learn from the blunders of 2016. The year leading up to Trump’s election was characterized by catastrophic strategic mistakes on the part of the Democrats. 2016 should have been the year that the Republicans and their shrinking voter base were buried for good. instead, the exact opposite happened. The Democrats, rather than voting for a candidate who ran an issues based campaign and who had massive populist appeal, decided to nominate a candidate with no populist appeal, who ran an identity based campaign that alienated huge swaths of americans, including key elements of the the demographic (women) that her campaign was designed to secure.
That absolutely cannot happen again. The old democratic leaders of the Obama years need to be left behind in favor of candidates who speak to the issues americans actually care about, and have records as advocates on those issues. We can afford no more compromised, establishment candidates in elections to come. We must answer right wing populism with left wing populism.
Step 2: Focus on concrete, definable issues, not ideological or imagined ones. As we speak, Donald Trump is loudly and proudly violating the Constitution of United States. Police have arrested reporters purely because they reported on anti Trump demonstrations. The White House issued declarations making it illegal for government agencies to share their findings with the very tax payers who are funding those agencies. Green card and dual citizenship holding people are being barred from entering the country. His administration is engaging boldly and openly in illegal activity that is already, and will undoubtedly continue to be, laying the groundwork for his impeachment.
These are the things Democratic leaders need to focus on in their criticisms of Trump. We don’t need to decry the involvement of Russian hackers in the 2016 election. We don’t need to lament Trump’s antics on Twitter. We don’t need to make the political resistance to Trump center around his sexism, or his racism, or his unsettlingly public attraction to his own daughter. Troubling though all of those things are, they are not measurable, legal, political sticking points that can be used to stop his plans from moving forward. They are esoteric, ideological, moral issues that are clearly not capable of compelling voters to stand up to this man, as the 2016 election made starkly clear.
Step 3: Drop the feel good platitudes, and get angry. If there is one thing that this past election proved beyond a shadow of a doubt, it is that love does not, in fact, trump hate. Hate and fear are extremely effective motivators both for driving people to vote and for spreading awareness of key issues, and the data proves this. If we are going to stop Trump and the Republicans, we need to stop telling ourselves that everything is going to be okay. Everything is absolutely not going to be okay, unless we fight tooth and nail to make it so. Unless we get angry. Unless we allow ourselves to truly hate the people that are trampling on our democracy, that are dismantling everything that made this country great. We need to motivate ourselves to get involved in the most consistent, realest way possible, and we need to give no quarter now that the fight has begun.
Step 4: When they go low, we need to go even lower. Refusal to lower ourselves to the moral and tactical level of our enemies is the central reason that President Obama failed so severely in getting a progress agenda moving during his eight years in office. He had the same majority that Trump now shares for his first two years, and in one week Trump has already done more damage to progressivism than Obama did to conservatism in his entire eight year term as president.
That’s because Obama didn’t want to damage conservatism. Obama, bless his heart, wanted to work with conservatives and meet them halfway. He wanted to genuinely heal this country’s cultural and philosophical divide. He refused to accept the fact that these people had no interest at all in working with him. These people are the kind of people who will deny health insurance to millions of their own constituents rather than lose any political face or give up an ounce of their power.
Democratic legislators need to take a leaf out of their opponent’s tactical book. They need to obstruct Trump on every single issue they can, just as the republicans did to Obama. They need to stop concerning themselves with the moral or ethical cost of such behavior. They need to dig in, and in two years when the Senate (god willing) returns to the democrats, they need to do everything they can to bring Trump’s machine to a grinding halt. By giving even a little bit of ground, by allowing anything palatable that Trump proposes through the legislature, they run the risk of this man winning re election, which is an outcome too dire to even contemplate.
Step 5: Speaking of midterms, we need to start voting in them. Americans have embarrassingly low voter turnout when compared to other democratic countries, and turnout drops to lower and lower numbers every rung down towards local government you go. Congressional elections have comparatively low turnout despite the fact that they are arguably the most important elections that occur in this country, and in two years when a huge swath of our legislature is up for grabs, we absolutely need to show up and vote out our incumbents. The only way that there is even a sliver of hope to reverse the damage Trump will inevitably do is if we vote out the Republican legislature. This is arguably the most important step on this list.
Step 6: Don’t just sign that petition. Don’t just go to to that march. Call. Calling legislators is far and away the most effective way for constituents to actually get the attention of their representatives, and the best way that we can get our legislators to follow step 4 on this list is to call them and tell them to do so. It’s as simple as that.
Step 7: Avoid infighting. Unity is absolutely essential in going forward. The only way we can stop Trump is if we spend our energy standing together fighting him, rather than breaking into factions and fighting amongst each other. This problem has plagued the Left since time immemorial, and it’s one of the major contributing factors in why Hillary Clinton lost.
Sanders voters can blame people who voted for a candidate as unprecedentedly unpopular as Clinton in the primary. Clinton voters can blame Sanders voters who didn’t show up for her in the general. People of color can blame white people for allowing privilege to dictate their vote. Women can blame men for the same thing. The list goes on.
All of these points are valid, and all of them are completely counterproductive right now. Everyone who has something to lose in Trump’s america needs to stop arguing over who has the most to lose, and start preventing that loss in its entirety. We need to stand up for each other, and protect one another from the loss of our rights, no matter what intersection we might meet at.
Black, white, Muslim, secular, female, male, gay, trans. This country belongs to all of us, and only by standing firmly together and fighting as one can we take it back from the fascists who, even as I type this, are enacting a political agenda designed to take away the rights of millions of American citizens.
United we stand, divided we fall.