“A little rebellion now and then is a good thing.”
The country has gone mad with Trump fever. For or against Trump, both sides have narrowed the scope of their thought to one man. To his base he is the god-king, standing on the future corpses of his enemies. To his enemies, he is a tyrant the likes of whom our world has never seen, worthy of resistance. Thus was born the resistance movement. Marches all across the country, started by a wide variety of people on the left side of our political spectrum, from corporate Democrats like Tom Perez all the way through progressives like Bernie Sanders right through to the violent anarchists of Antifa have been all the rage. From the women’s marches, peaceful and emotional, to the violence that has been erupting at protests from Berkeley all the way to Hamburg have been in response to Donald Trump’s inauguration, and good for the protesters who were mostly peaceful (although the counterproductive and ridiculous inclusion of the “black block” Antifa protesters ruins much of the goodwill people have for these protests). I am never against political unrest or civil disobedience in response to a threat from the government, but I want to be sure we all understand what we are protesting and why. A coherent message is essential to conducting an effective protest.
The left is mobilizing in a way that hasn’t happened in my lifetime and perhaps hasn’t since the days of union reform and FDR. Forty percent of Democrats reported a desire to become more involved in politics after Trump’s inauguration according to The Washington Post. Progressives are mobilizing to primary mealy-mouthed corporate Democrats to try to push the country left, much like the Tea Party did for the right starting in 2009. This is an extremely positive development for anyone who is concerned with the seemingly inexorable rightward drift of the country’s political parties. As progressive policies like single payer health care, a higher minimum wage, and an end to war gain popularity among voters our politicians, especially the Democratic establishment, are digging in their heels and fighting those policies tooth and nail for their financial benefactors.
Tom Perez, Nancy Pelosi, and the rest of the corporate Democrats refuse to support single payer health care despite the fact that 60% of Americans are in favor of government run universal healthcare (Pew). Hillary Clinton herself declared that it would never come to pass, while she simultaneously pushed for a no-fly zone over Syria and an escalation of hostilities there. These Democrats, flying in the face of the most popular politician in the country, are pushing traditionally Republican ideas because they take traditional Republican corporate handouts to do so.
The disgusting bastardization of the democratic party, the very reason Bernie Sanders won’t join their little club, is propelled forward by what Noam Chomsky calls manufactured consent by corporate media. The media, supposedly the fourth estate, the watchdogs of the powerful, have become the lapdogs of war. The Washington Post, remember, in 2003 stated on its front page in no uncertain terms that it was “inconceivable” that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction. Just a few weeks ago The New York Times declared that coalition forces had “liberated” Mosul and had won a victory there. Mosul, once a city of more than a million, is a burnt out shell with a population of a few thousand destitute homeless people with nowhere to go. It should be the responsibility of the NY Times to report the ridiculousness of the entire operation in the middle east, not throw our crazed military a parade for destroying people’s homes for oil. There are no victories to be won. Indeed, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees stated point blank that there was “no end in sight” for refugees in the city. But war means ratings, and our media wants ratings above all else.
That brings us back to the resistance movement. Do we understand what we are resisting? Trump has mobilized an entire segment of American society to protest one man. There is, however, a glaring contradiction in this protest. Trump didn’t explode the US prison population, pass NAFTA, gut welfare, or pass Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Bill Clinton did those things. Trump didn’t start an endless war, pass the Patriot Act, build an illegal prison on foreign soil, or any of the other atrocities Bush committed. Trump also didn’t expand two wars to seven, prosecute more journalists than all previous presidents combined, suspend Habeus Corpus by signing the NDAA, sell cluster bombs (a war crime) to Saudi Arabia to use on the poorest countries on earth, allow surveillance of civilians by the NSA, or expand drone strike campaigns. That is all part of Obama’s legacy. The US has more than 800 military bases around the world. We spend more money on our military than the next 6 countries combined, all of which are our allies. Our military is responsible for the deaths of more than a million civilians in the middle east in a war that has lasted 16 years so far and has destroyed the infrastructure of half a dozen countries. Our intelligence agencies have toppled dozens of democratically elected foreign leaders around the world over the last several decades, most often replacing them with oppressive dictators that the CIA can control.
Trump is an insufferable idiot. He is dangerous and he has no business being our president, but there is an advantage to having Trump in office. He puts an ugly face on the very things our government has been doing my entire lifetime. He said he would torture foreign fighters and their families. That was a disgusting thing to say, but our military has been torturing people in other countries for years. The CIA uses torture as a matter of policy and has been doing so since their inception. He is mobilizing the left to protest the things he says he wants to do, things our government has already been doing. Over the last eight years two million immigrants have been deported, more than in any eight year period in American History. Is Trump’s wall really such a departure from the policies already in place?
Trump has been unable to get funding for his wall, his travel ban was overturned, the senate has announced that they, in fact, will not be repealing the ACA, and a cease fire has been declared in Syria after six years of war. Trump is too incompetent to enact any of his desired racist and terrible policy ideas. The country is not behind him, Washington hates him, and his own party is increasingly unwilling to back him. I am not saying he should not be protested. In fact, the more people speak out against him the more unable he will be to accomplish anything at all. What is being lost in these protest marches, however, is that getting rid of Trump will do nothing to slow the fascist tendencies of our government. If we only protest Trump we may lose sight of the fact that Democrats hold less than a third of state legislatures and governorships. Republicans also hold both houses, the Executive Branch, and the supreme court. While Democrats are admittedly corrupt and have very little in the way of discernible values, having an entirely republican government is the beginning of a terrifying right wing authoritarian rabbit hole.
The resistance should focus on our entire corrupt governmental system. Trump is a lightening rod for left wing protesters, and that lightning rod is allowing the rest of the government to continue to further take away our rights, deregulate our financial sector, and allow the rampant runaway train of pure capitalism to take our wealth and put it into the hands of a small group of extremely wealthy people. Our government already behaves in an extremely fascist manner, but with pretty and eloquent figureheads like Barack Obama, they have been able to put the left to sleep while they destroy the world. Trump is not the fascist authoritarian that is going to upset our system. Rather he is an obvious symptom of our already fascist system. If we remove Trump without fixing our system we are opening the door to yet another authoritarian madman, and the next one might not be an idiot.