Anderson Unite against Fascism 4
There is no need for melodrama or giving up.
Psychologists inform us that values clarification makes one happier, healthier, and more successful in everything from exam-taking to courtship. I will do what I can in future posts. We need to get serious about restoring American values of liberty, equality, solidarity, and democracy.
Three things to remember:
–Trump will not be a functioning president. He has made it clear, and “his” cabinet picks make it clearer, that he will be put out to pasture while Ryan, McConnell, and big oil, especially the Koch brothers, run the country. So don’t bother going after him.
–There IS hope. Hitler succeeded because of “good Germans,” as Daniel Goldhagen reminds us. But Pinochet in Chile got constant protests and duly got thrown out in a few years, and even, ultimately, brought to justice, though he died before anything could really be done.
–The bad guys will start right away. Via their ALEC project, the Kochs have shown what they will do: go for voter suppression, go after labor unions, go after all environmental protection and other restrictions on immoral business. Be prepared.
Recent posts (even by Bill Moyers—shame) express total despair. I have now participated actively in a lot of political fights, starting with the takedown of Joseph McCarthy and his gang in the 1950s, going on through reforming the University of California in the 1960s, then protesting the Vietnam war in the 1960s and 1970s, and then on to environmental struggles. McCarthy went down in flames, the Vietnam war was ended by protests and mercilessly honest reporting, civil rights bills and environmental protection acts got passed, and many other good changes have happened. Most well-planned, doggedly persistent fights for the good actually win. Loss is due to giving up too easily. Robert Reich identifies four syndromes: normalizing, outrage-numbness, cynicism, and giving up (AlterNet, Dec. 20, 2016, http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/robert-reich-4-signs-you-may-have-lost-your-will-fight-coming-tyranny-trump).
Loss also comes from having too broad and vague an agenda—something people can’t relate to. Supporting “capitalism” or “socialism,” in this day and age when those words are defined any which way, won’t work. We have to be specific.
The civil rights struggle is perhaps the most relevant, if only because many of the same people—the same individuals—that are backing Trump now were leaders of the anti-civil-rights forces, or were coming of age under them. Jerry Falwell, for instance, was a vocal opponent of civil rights. Guns, attack dogs, tear gas, water cannons, and the whole force the south could muster was thrown against the civil rights activists.
Another very relevant case was the labor movement. From the 1870s and even earlier, workers fought bosses for minimal pay and rights. Labor largely lost until the 1930s, but the workers kept up the fight, against incredible odds and with many martyrdoms. “ Solidarity forever” was the watchword, and almost 100% of the variance as far as success went, though having a clear and not too unreachable agenda (the eight-hour day, for instance) was also important. It really is time to revive the old song “Solidarity forever.”
So, what we need is, first, a lot of activists who know exactly what we’re in for: fighting over the long term, against a full-scale, merciless fascist movement. The Trump Republicans have shown their hand in voter suppression and gerrymandering, in the savage coup in North Carolina, and in their determined fight to end not only Obamacare but also Medicare and Medicaid—steps that would lead to the deaths of millions of Americans. Clearly, these people will stop at nothing and are fully able to kill.
On the other hand, all polls agree that the vast majority of Americans, including most Republicans, are not on board with this. Trump ran an extremist campaign, and has picked the most extreme right-wingers in the United States for his cabinet. Jeff Sessions, for instance, was regarded as to the right of any other senator. Betsy DeVos is the most visible of the extreme critics of public education—those that want to eliminate it completely. It is probably safe to say that only a few Republicans actually want to eliminate public education entirely. If we stand up to this, Republicans will rally round.
We have to have an actual platform, or at least solid ideas of what we want, and it has to be based on saving America—maintaining democracy and freedom, stopping and reversing the rapid trend toward inequality not only in wealth but also before the law. We have to get back to demanding real public education, medical care available to all, voting rights for all adult citizens, protection of life and liberty, and other obvious matters on which there is broad agreement. The Republicans are expert at finding highly controversial issues and exploiting them, and the Democrats fall into the trap, with the result that one blue-collar worker said plaintively that “Hillary seemed more concerned with bathrooms than with jobs.” She wasn’t really, but I can see where the perception came from. We have to get back to basics, including jobs.
As I see it, the order of importance now is:
First, unite against hate. As long as hatred is the real and basic issue, we have to make it the real issue. This means no more hate within our side. Keep debates civil and don’t automatically reject Trump voters or any other people. If we start a hate thread, the right will always be better positioned to take advantage of it. We have only solidarity to plead. Look at the long, bitter struggles of labor and labor unions. Management tried everything to divide and conquer, and when they could divide they did indeed conquer.
Second, recognize the level and depth of the threat, especially the way that cynical and evil people are deliberately whipping up the hate to get votes and support for their side and to divide our side.
Third, stop ignoring working-class and rural whites. We can’t win without them. We have to find out how to get them back on board, and reverse their steady shift to the Republicans over the last 60 years. And they are hurting; the counties that went most heavily for Trump are the ones facing epidemics of substance abuse (especially opiates and meth), obesity, and diabetes. They are the areas left ruined by job exporting, industrial decline, ripping off all raw resources and leaving nothing to replace them in the local economy, and Republican policies in general.
Fourth, do everything possible to maintain solidarity, including steady advocacy for civil rights and equality before the law.
Fifth, support legitimate media! Subscribe to a (real) newspaper, support networks that carry real news, support websites that carry real news and expose lies. The honest media are our best hope, and, if the Trump regime is consistent with other fascist regimes, will be the first target. The first and hardest battle will be to maintain civil rights and access to truth. Trump will surely attempt to follow the examples of Hitler, Putin, Erdogan and others, and shut down “hostile” media, i.e. those that report truth. He will certainly intimidate the media; he is already trying to. He will probably try to kill reporters. Our side has to stand firm for equal rights for all and for free media. Firm advocacy and support for all relevant organizations is absolutely necessary. Observe the rapidly escalating repression of the press in Russia and Turkey, with more and more murdering and imprisonment of reporters. Observe similar repression and murder in many other countries. The legitimate media are are first line of defense, and thus the first to be targeted. By the same token, avoid and call out the lying media that exist only to serve evil rulers: Fox News, Breitbart, and the like. If you are stuck with Fox News (e.g. in the lounge waiting for your car to get fixed), ask the place to turn it off, and explain.
Sixth, join the major civil rights groups and send them money when possible. In the end, they are probably our next best hope. The two most stalwart and persistently rights-defending groups in the US are the ACLU, Amnesty International, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. There are other worthy organizations. Similarly for the environment, where the Sierra Club clearly has the best track record. Natural Resources Defense Council has also done a consistently fine job. Beware of “astroturf organizations” (phony grassroots organizations) and don’t waste money on hopeful startups too small to do anything. Check.
Seventh, hold Republicans’ feet to the fire. Stop using euphemisms. This is fascism and hatred, not politics as usual. The extreme and pervasive anti-Jewish hate speech of Trump, Bannon, and others makes clear the fascist roots of it all; it isn’t “white nationalism” or “populism.” Confront that. Force every Republican in Congress to defend or cut loose the anti-Jewish hatred of people like Bannon. Stop crediting the Republicans with wanting “small government”; they are instituting tyranny. (Look at voter suppression, the crushing of women’s reproductive rights and other rights, and indeed almost everything the Republicans currently favor.) Stop saying they want the “free market”; they want subsidies and government/giant firm cronyism and even fusion (that’s what fascism is). Stop crediting them with wanting to help the poor or the working people or the sick; they want to hold those groups down or cut them adrift. They know perfectly well that their plans to “help” actually harm. We have hundreds of years of evidence on the effects of lowering wages, breaking unions, and eliminating public health care. Democrats and ordinary Republican voters may be fooled, but no congressperson or cabinet member could possibly be under the illusion that such measures do anything but harm. If they seriously try to repeal Medicare and Medicaid, call them mass murderers. If they eliminate regulations on banking and finance, tell them they know perfectly well that that leads to depression. And so on down the list.
Eighth, all the usual things: Protest unendingly and noisily. Phone and write your representatives. Write everybody. Never let a lie get past; challenge, then carefully, soberly explain. Above all, NEVER let a hateful statement or act go unchallenged, whether it’s from right or left. Even if it’s strangers in a store.
That will take some accommodation by the urban intellectuals that currently dominate the party. The problems will not be solved by the current mix of snobbism (“rednecks,” “poor white trash”) and Big Government as the answer to everything. We will have to think very seriously of what would actually turn it around for America’s neglected and left-behind groups, both white (whatever that means) and nonwhite. We need to maintain environmental regulations, but simplify them and involve local people much more in decisions.
We need to double down on going after offshoring of jobs and above all of profits. Designating headquarters overseas when the actual operations are all or mostly in the US, using numbered bank accounts to hoard vast wealth, escaping all taxation, and similar abuses simply have to be stopped. Trump is right that offshoring jobs has to be discouraged.
We need to get people to stop seeing American politics as a negative-sum game, in which “my” group hurts itself just to do worse damage to “their” group. This is clearest and worst in race and gender politics, but it is pretty general, unfortunately. Obama did an amazing, though far from perfect, job of bringing us together to work together to build. Trump, Sanders, and Clinton unfortunately ran quite divisive campaigns; Trump made no pretense otherwise. We can’t win that way and we can’t afford it.
A horrible foretaste of the US under conservatives is provided by Guatemala and El Salvador. The CIA installed dictators trained at the School of the Americas, the CIA’s secret school for autocratic rulers. The leading ones were Efrain Rios Montt in Guatemala, who was responsible for a genocide that claimed 200,000 innocent lives, and Roberto d’Aubuisson in El Salvador, responsible for politicide that killed several tens of thousands. A subsequent coup in Honduras in 2009 has added it to the club. Since these regimes were installed, constant repression and countless further deaths have led to stalled economies with extreme poverty and unemployment, and domination of society by drug gangs, which now rule El Salvador almost totally. This is the result of regimes installed by American conservatives and faithfully carrying out American conservative policies, including repression, closing of quality public education, repression of private education as well, reducing health care to the bare minimum, pulling back on law enforcement and civil society, and above all allowing giant multinational firms a free hand. Environmental and economic collapse have ecome irreversible.
Clinton ran far worse than Obama did in 2012. Trump also ran worse than Romney in most places. The World Almanac for 2017 gives county-by-county totals, making research easy. For a random example, Shawnee County, Kansas, returned 33,074 votes for Clinton, 35,260 for Trump, as opposed to 36,975 and 97,782 for Obama and Romney respectively. Leslie County, KY, one of the most pro-Trump counties in the US, returned 400 and 4,015 vs. 433 and 4,439. (This county, with which I am quite familiar, is one of the poorest in the US, with extremely high unemployment, mortality, and substance abuse rates.) The state of Mississippi ran 457,569/668,987 vs. 562,949/710,748 (reflecting a tendency of Black voters—almost the only Democrats in the state—to stay home in 2016). Of course there was much voter suppression. The shift in Wisconsin was about 300,000 total, and that is exactly the estimated number of votrs forced off the rolls by Scott Walker’s fascist policies. In Michigan, the Clinton shortfall almost exactly equaled the mysteriously missing or misrecorded votes from Detroit.
Sometimes, however, Trump picked up many votes that must earlier have gone to Obama. To pick a random but typical county, Buchanan County, Iowa, reported 3,966 votes for Clinton, 5504 for Trump, vs. in 2012 5,911 for Obama and 4450 for Romney. This was a very typical pattern across the northern midwest—the Rust Belt and especially its rural environs. Even Minnesota, which Clinton carried handily, had voted far more strongly for Obama. It seems more than unlikely that all these Trump voters were racist, since so many had gone for Obama only four years earlier. A few urban areas reported more votes for Clinton than Obama, but the increase reflects population increase fairly accurately.
Overall, rural areas, especially in the Appalachians and Plains (where many counties went over 10-1 for Trump), reported lopsided wins for Trump; many urban areas reported lopsided wins for Clinton (Berkely, CA, reported 3% for Trump—even Jill Stein got more). In Oregon, Multnomah County (Portland) went 4-1 for Clinton (and both candidates got fewer votes than Obama and Romney, respectively, got in 2012); Harney County, in the remote ranching east, more than 4-1 for Trump. There is an extreme split in the US. The Democrats will never win again unless they reverse the rapid swing of rural and small-town areas away from them.
However, Trump most certainly lost the total vote. The final count was 62,979,879 for him, 65,854,954 for Clinton, and several million for others, totaling 74,074,037 against him.
In recent developments: Trump’s designated national security advisor and a right-wing conspiracy theorist, recently met with Heinz-Christian Strache, head of Austria’s neo-Nazi Freedom Party (Baumann 2016). That party was founded just after WWII by Nazis, and has maintained its openly fascist agenda since.
The final count shows Clinton got 2,864,974 more votes than Trump, and that’s without rechecking states like Florida and Michigan.
This may be of interest—data from World Almanac:
Clinton won more votes than Obama, Trump more than Romney:
FL, IA, NV, TX—basically only states with large population increases, except for Iowa.
Clinton more than Obama, Trump less than Romney:
Clinton less than Obama, Trump more than Romney
AL, AR, CT, DL, HI, IN, KY, LA, MN, MI, MN, MO, NB, NH, NJ, NY, NC, ND, OH, PA, RI, SD, TN, VT, WV, WY—note this includes most of the old Democratic strongholds, which should absolutely terrify Democrats. Even New York and Vermont.
Clinton less than Obama, Trump less than Romney
AK (quite huge difference), AZ (also huge but possibly not all votes counted when World Almanac published), CA (but not all votes had been counted when the World Almanac was published), CO, DC, ID, IL, KS, MD, MS, MT, NM, OK, SC, UT (huge drop from Romney to Trump vote because of the popularity of McMillan and Johnson), VA, WA, WI. Note many of these are solid Red states, where disgust for Trump was widespread, but also several Democrat strongholds.
Texas’ maternal mortality rate increased from around 17-18 to 33 per 100,000 births as a result of defunding pregnancy clinics as part of a war on abortion and birth control. Most of the clinics providing pregnancy clinics in the state were forced to close. Nationwide, not counting California (which reduced its rate) or Texas, the US rate increased from 18.8 to 23.8 from 2000 to 2014. Texas shared in the national rate, around 18, until 2010, after which it closed the clinics and the maternal mortality rate soared. Texas now has the highest rate in the developed world, comparable to some African states (Redden 2016). By contrast, Iceland has had no maternal mortalities for decades. Rates across Scandinavia are around 1 to 3.
The openly fascist hatemongering Breitbart News is the subject of a long and charitable article in the Los Angeles Times, Dec. 26, 2016 (Ng 2016). The spokespersons for the service are quoted extensively; critiques of the service are briefly noted. Ironically, the service nests in Westwood, arguably the most liberal part of the most liberal urban area in the US.
Baumann, Nick. 2016. “Trump’s National Security Adviser Met with Head of Party Founded by Nazis.” Huffington Post, Dec. 20, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-flynn-freedom-party-nazis_us_5859367ee4b08debb78af7c2
Ng, David. 2016. “Inside Breitbart’s Westside LA Headquarters, They’ve Got Plans for Global Expansion.” Los Angeles Times, Dec. 26, http://www.latimes.com/business/hollywood/la-fi-ct-breitbart-news-20161116-story.html
Redden, Molly. 2016. “Texas Has Highest Maternal Mortality Rate in Developed World, Study Finds.” The Guardian, Aug. 20, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/aug/20/texas-maternal-mortality-rate-health-clinics-funding
World Almanac and Book of Facts. 2017. New York: World Almanac Books.