Anderson Unite against Fascism 5
The only good that can come of the Trump administration would be forcing Americans of the left, center, and traditional right to get together, reaffirm classic values, and fight these fascists down. That would, however, be a monumentally good thing. It happened in the Depression. It could happen now. Only lack of will prevents it!
The Republicans hit the ground running as soon as Congress reconvened, before Trump’s inauguration. They are using Trump’s flamboyant rabble-rousing to distract people and the media from the real agenda: a blitzkrieg to repeal not only Obamacare but also Medicare and Medicaid, and a total attack on all environmental protection, from national monuments to pollution laws. They will also immediately try to dismantle all protection for LGBTQ people, and go after civil rights in general. They have already passed a bill to value all federal lands and properties at zero (sic), so they can be given away to any private entity with “no cost” to the taxpayers. Of course the federal lands are actually worth literally trillions of dollars as real estate and for use.
Recent events make it seem uncomfortably likely that the Republicans are actually planning to shut down democracy and install a genuinely autocratic regime. The success of voter suppression, without which they would not have won the presidency, may have emboldened them. Attempts to block taking office by the Democratic governor-elect of North Carolina were followed by rushing through Cabinet appointments on the day that Obama gave his farewell address. The Republicans attempted to shut down the independent House ethics investigative body. Republicans have shut down videotaping in Congress. They have threatened Planned Parenthood workers at local and national levels. They have threatened widespread use of the dangerously ill-defined label “terrorist organization”; there is nothing to keep them from labeling the Sierra Club or Planned Parenthood as terrorist organizations. (One recalls that about ten years ago one George W. Bush appointee semi-seriously referred to the National Education Association as a terrorist organization.) A “REINS” act proposes to make Congress vote on all federal regulations, even blocking poisonous substances in the food supply. Several other moves indicate a direct program of undermining standard democratic (small-d) institutions.
We—the rest of us, from radicals to conservatives—can deal with this only by having a clear vision of the alternative and a united front. Time for Sanders and Clinton partisans to get over it. Time for any real conservatives left in the US—that is, people who actually want small government, patriotism, and individual responsibility—to join with liberals against big government used to crush the weak, treason masquerading as cooperation (with Russia especially), and refusal to take any responsibility or face any accountability. Many factors lost the election for Clinton, but certainly one of the biggest was the failure of Sanders and Clinton partisans to unite, while the Republicans, after much initial resistance to Trump, united solidly and enthusiastically behind him.
The Republican party appears to be permanently changed, to fascist rather than conservative, and thus much more popular with a certain share of the voters. The elitist conservatism of the old GOP is gone, replaced by broad-appeal fascism pioneered by George Wallace, Orval Faubus, and other anti-desegregation activists. This will be very much harder to beat than the old conservatism.
The biggest problem, clearly, is hatred. Pervasive hate and the ability of the far right to whip it up was the issue in the election and is the most important issue now. As I have said before in these postings, “progressives’” hatred for everyone they don’t agree with is no improvement over Trumpist hatred of minorities. We can’t afford it any more.
So, for values clarification, the first values to list are tolerance and valuing diversity. Tolerance does NOT mean tolerance for intolerance—it means tolerance for other kinds of people and other general views of the world. To paraphrase FDR, the only thing we have to hate is hate itself.
This brings us immediately to the next virtue—maybe not the most important in the great scheme of things, but the make-or-break one right now: Solidarity. Mutual aid, mutual support, mutual empowerment and strengthening.
Once that is done, we can move on to what I would call the three C’s—caring, compassion, and considerateness—and the three R’s: Respect, reasonableness, responsibility. Those last three alone would fix the US’ problems if applied consistently.
Then we go on to the classic Enlightenment virtues: liberty, equality, fairness, justice as fairness, and civil behavior in civil society. Never mind that the Enlightenment wsa financed by slavery—I know that. The point is that much of its content was explicitly directed against slavery and class discrimination. No one in the history of the world had opposed slavery in general until 18th-century religious thinkers, largely Quakers, did so. Fairness has to mean serious attention to disadvantaged groups, not just even-handed treatment of all.
Several studies confirm the obvious point that racism and sexism account for much more of the Trump vote than any economic factors do (Lopez 2017). In general, traditioinal Republicans and also racist and sexist former Democrats voted for Trump.
Simple tips from Michael Shermer (2017) on changing wrong views: “1. Keep emotions out of the exchange, 2 discuss, don’t attack…, 3 listen carefully and try to articulate the other position acurately, 4 show respect, 5 acknowledge that you understand why someone might hold that opinion and 6 try to show how changing facts does not necessarily mean changing worldviews.”
An anonymous teacher calling herself “bkamr” (2017) writes from Kentucky about the desperation and pain in this heaviest of Trump-voting areas. She points out, among other things, that no Democrats—not even the state legislator from the area—ever come near the place to help. People desperately need the services that even the poor get in cities. She explains the self-destructive anger born of hopelessness.
The effects of Republican policies will unfold progressively. The first round will be voter suppession, right-to-work laws, and eleimination of minimum wage, equal protection of LGBTQ and minority persons, and elimination of worker protection. These will have an immediate effect on politics and the economy. Fairly soon, reduction or elimination of ACA, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps, and other programs will devastate the consumer economy and thus the total economy. This will probably lead to crackdown and autocracy. More slow to show themselves will be the effets of legalizing any and all pollution, removing wildlife and wildlands protection, shutting down government-backed scientific research, and devastating education. This will lead in a generation to a country heavily polluted, without science or quality education, and with literacy rates around 50% among the young.
Rex Tillotson, Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, not only deals heavily with the Russians, but was head of ExxonMobil during its long period of denying there was any link between human action and greenhouse gases, while its own internal memos showed it knew perfectly well about the links, and decisions made under Tillotson were clearly based on knowing that the world would warm. Many deal with issues like the rapid decrease of ice in the Arctic Ocean, and similar global-warming issues. Yet, through it all, ExxonMobil funded organizations denying climate change and attacking legitmate science (Wasserman 2017).
Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for Attorney General, has a long record of racism, opposition to civil rights and to civil rights laws, and connection with extreme right-wing white-supremacist organizations. Full details of his personal closeness to Stephen Bannon, Trump’s openly neo-Nazi head of staff, are reported by Baker (207). The two have expressed mutual admiration on many occasions, and Sessions has granted several exclusive interviews and other favors to Breitbart’s, later Bannon’s, Breitbart News. These have involved expectable enthusiasm for Breitbart’s racist and anti-feminist reporting.
Baker, Marge. 2017. “Jeff Sessions’ Relationship with Breitbart, ‘The Platform’ for the Alt-Right, Should Be Disqualifying.” Huffington Post, Jan. 4, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marge-baker/jeff-sessions-relationshi_b_13941372.html
“bkamr.” 2017. “Why Are People Surprised When a Dysfunctional Community Votes Against Their Self-interest?” Daily Kos, Jan. 1. http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/1/1/1616174/-Why-are-people-surprised-that-a-dysfunctional-community-could-vote-against-their-self-interests?detail=facebook
Lopez, German. 2017. “Study: Racism and Sexism Predict Support for Trump Much More than Economic Dissatisfaction.” Vox, Jan. 4, http://www.vox.com/identities/2017/1/4/14160956/trump-racism-sexism-economy-study
Shermer, Michael. 2017. “When Facts Backfire.” Scientific American, Jan., 69.
Wasserman, Lee. 2017. “Exxon First, Earth Second.” Los Angeles Times, Jan. 3, A11.