What Happens Now with a President-Elect Trump?
Posted by Al Giordano - November 9, 2016 at 11:26 am
NOTE: The words “President-Elect Donald Trump” are not the ones I had expected to be typing this morning, and as it is for a great many in the US and around the world, the shock has not worn off me by morning. But six days ago I did write this essay looking ahead at what the consequences of a Trump election could be and sent it to subscribers of my newsletter, supporters of the Fund for Authentic Journalism. I’ll have more to say soon but I’ll share these first thoughts with a wider public now. – Al Giordano
November 3, 2016: Apologies in advance for such a stress-inducing headline, but let’s talk about the 900 pound orangutan in the room: What if we wake up on Wednesday to Donald J. Trump as president elect of the United States of America?
Since everyone is on pins and needles about it, let’s have this conversation.
The first thing: Life as we knew it and expected it to unfold will never be the same. American fascism will have arrived and the worst, most violent elements in society will feel emboldened to harm everyone they consider as “the other” with impunity. The burning of the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Greenville, Mississippi this week by Trump supporters is merely the opening salvo. The internal conflict within the FBI in public view right now will afflict every police agency, federal, state and local, as openly authoritarian elements attempt to seize control. Hate crimes will rise against women, people of color and the LGBT communities precisely as law enforcement turns a blind eye to much of it. Look for entire new demographic groups to be targeted, too: Those 20 million who newly have health care, many of whom had preexisting conditions, people living with disabilities and others will be added to the list of national scapegoats. The attempt to repeal Obamacare will be a literal death sentence for many of us.
Those of us who have lived in countries under authoritarian rule have spent recent months having our own conversation about what is happening in the USA. We do it in whispers because most of you will not believe us no matter how loudly we shout about what a Trump election would bring down the ‘pike. We shake our heads and feel a great wave of pity for most Americans who have no idea what tyranny really looks or feels like. Tyranny – contrary to popular myth – is asymmetric. It hits from all sides, crevices, nooks and crannies, from the dark places, the shadows. The figurehead’s power above merely provides it cover. It has the same paramilitary logic of what was endured in Latin America’s dirty wars and the dictatorships across the sea that gave rise to the Arab Spring. When Donald J. Trump praises strongmen leaders across the globe he is giving his “tell” of how he would govern – with a clenched fist.
Worse, the response from that part of America that defines itself as “the left” (I am speaking of the white and academic “left” since so few organized people of color are foolish enough to claim an already discredited mantle) is totally unequipped to address it yet they will attempt once again to place themselves at the vanguard of resistance without any lived experience leading an actual resistance, much less winning one. Senator Sanders’ “Our Revolution” PAC will seek to fundraise off every injustice as aggressively as it has over the Native American resistance to the pipeline in the Dakotas. The remnants of “Occupy” now under a thousand new names will call for demonstrations without guidelines, training or discipline and that in the name of “diversity of tactics” allow any asshole who wants to call himself “Black Bloc” to don ski masks and toss trash cans through store windows. President Trump is gonna love those demonstrations because it will allow him to sell all kinds of repression to his base. White men will vault to the front of these groups saying, “follow me!” Yet they have not a clue as to how a real movement is built or won. They feel entitled to it anyway. It will be more of the same attempts to re-center whiteness and maleness with the cheerleading of Jacobin magazine, some writers at The Nation, Democracy Now and Reddit dudebro forums.
The election of Trump will mark the exact moment of failure of manhood in America. The only possible new leadership will have to come from women, especially women of color, who already live in Trump’s America and have more experience navigating such a world, far more than we guys can learn in the short time we’ll have to build an authentic resistance. Mexican-American and Muslim-American women will be the first hit and instead of letting the dudebro aspirants set the tone it will be up to all of us to follow those women into battle instead.
The only authentic resistance to the policies of a Trump presidency will make nonviolence its watchword, and unapologetically so. To participate, you’re going to have to get training in nonviolent civil resistance. I’m not speaking of the “express trainings” by dudebro groups like “Democracy Spring” with fawning celebrity dilettantes like Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, but, rather, sessions that last a minimum of eight hours or, ideally, an entire weekend or more and are led and organized by women of experience at it and especially women of color.
Many of these will have to take place in Mexico, which will take on a special role as a Trump-free zone with the support of the general population. Learning Spanish would be a real good idea for any American who really wants to chase dictatorship back down its rabbit hole.
The resistance will not be led by the Green or Libertarian Parties, “Occupy” activists or any similar fringe: Their brands of “leadership” are what got us into this mess in the first place.
The revolution will be authentically multi-racial, a true partnership, women-led and nonviolent or there will be no chance of success at all.
Finally, we’re going to have to say goodbye to some former “allies” who spent this election dragging down the one woman who stood in the way of a Trump presidency. I can say, for example, that the School of Authentic Journalism we hold in Mexico won’t ever be inviting any of them down: that would disrespect our Mexican hosts whose families will bear the biggest brunt of an America under Trump. (Thankfully, out of five hundred to whom we have given scholarships over the past thirteen years, only three have jumped that shark, and one just loudly recanted, begging people to disregard every asinine thing he’s written over the past year about this election! That happened today.)
Me? I’m ready to play an auxiliary role in a women and women of color-led resistance to a Trump’s America. They’re the only reason we have a candidate with a chance of defeating him on Tuesday. They’ve saved America once already this year. It’s time for us boys to start taking orders instead of barking them while wagging our finger at the gals. And it’s the only possible guarantee against Trumpism infecting the movement against his policies. Real men – like President Obama – will know just how to play that supportive role. He’ll be doing it from an organizing academy out of the coming Obama Museum in Chicago – and win or lose this election I expect to see y’all there, too.
If you’re reading these words and thinking, “Gee, Al makes it sound so much fun, maybe we need a Trump regime to kick our asses!” Nope. Millions of lives will be ruined, many ended prematurely. One of them might be yours. People you love will be crushed under it. This scenario is the most un-fun thing imaginable. And the chances of success will be greatly stacked against us. The American people are not prepared to be soldiers in a nonviolent war to reclaim the country. It would take decades, probably generations, to turn back the tide. In the meantime, there will only be pain and suffering.
Americans have it pretty damn good today. That’s why people from all the other lands want to come and live and work in it. Don’t blow it, America, out of a misguided and purely academic theory that things have to get worse before they can get better. That’s children’s talk. And history has never happened that way.
If you don’t like the truths I’ve just thrown at you, there are still four days of phone banking, door knocking, data entry and driving people to the polls left to make for a different and better reality, one in which fascist law enforcement agents don’t run amok and where black churches and Muslim and Jewish and Spanish language temples don’t get regularly burned to the ground. I can think of no clearer imagery to visualize what a Trump presidency would be like. Forewarned is forearmed. Vote. The country – and world – you live in will be decided on Tuesday.
(The newsletter, Al Giordano's América, goes to donors of $70 or more to The Fund for Authentic Journalism during the calendar year in which the donation is made.)