Victories against Trump are Mounting. Here’s How we Deal the Final Blow

Victories against Trump are Mounting. Here’s How we Deal the Final Blow

President Donald Trump

The judiciary, legislative and media have all helped keep Trump in check. But it’s the residents of the United States whose response will matter most in the end

Rebecca Solnit | The Guardian UK

In this moment, populist intervention is everything, not as hate and attack but as an expression of popular will and power. Or as love, since we defend what we love. It is an extraordinary moment, an all-hands-on-deck emergency in which new groups and coalitions are emerging along with unforeseen capacities in many people who didn’t previously think they were activists. It is saturated with possibility, as well as with danger.  

Of course there are also people resident in the USA who love the dismantling of health-care, education, environmental protection, and the bill of rights, but they are an increasingly small minority. The most recent Gallup poll found nearly twice as many people – 60% disapprove of the president – than approve (36%).

The statistics show a growing chasm between the minority that approves and the rest of us; and nearly half the public likes the idea of impeachment. Republican approval of the direction the country is going fell an unprecedented 17% in a month, according to a new Gallup poll.

People who don’t like democracy and civil rights don’t think what the public thinks matters; that includes the Trump administration which seems to have thought that power would be inherent in the presidency, rather than dependent on honoring relationships with institutions and allies, with rules and laws. What the public thinks matters, if we turn thoughts into actions.

The great conundrum of this crisis is that if people believe that they have the power to change this nation’s destiny, they will act; and if they don’t they won’t.

Like many other prophecies, this one is self-fulfilling either way. I believe we have the capacity to limit the damage or even bring down the Trump administration through nonviolent resistance and good organizing, and I see extraordinary things happening in this moment.

We are off to a good start. After all this is an administration that has been stymied at almost every turn, unable to kill off Obamacare in its first five months, or build a wall on the Mexican border, or cancel sanctions against Russia, or pass almost any significant legislation, an administration harried by an investigation into its possible collusion to corrupt an election and serve a foreign power.

The resistance is an oft-used shorthand for all forms of opposition, although many of them are institutions that would probably not embrace the term – the judiciary, the states, the cities. But they are opposing, overturning, and interfering.

In several cases this spring, state courts and the supreme court have ruled against gerrymandering and other forms of discrimination against voters of colour and voting rights.

The ninth circuit court ruled against the travel ban this week, one of several interventions against it in the courts. And 17 state attorney generals filed an amicus brief with the supreme court against the ban. Maryland and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit this week accusing Trump of violating the emoluments clauses by accepting foreign income through his businesses, the subject of myriad lawsuits and complaints filed by Crew (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington).

On 12 June, a judge granted a temporary reprieve to undocumented immigrant and paralegal, Dreamer Jessica Colotl, whose deportation protection had been revoked. More than 2,000 mayors, governors, college presidents, and other leaders have signed a pledge “to declare that we will continue to support climate action to meet the Paris Agreement”.

Democrats in the legislative branch of government have been mocking Trump,from the proposed Covfefe Act (it’s an acronym for Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically For Engagement, but also a joke about a peculiar tweet of Trump’s including that word, or nonword) that would ban him from deleting tweets on the grounds that they’re presidential records, to Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer’s videotaped parody of Trump’s cabinet meeting in which all members dutifully praised him. (Writer JK Rowling called Trump out for his pettily vindictive response to killings in London.)

Even Smirnoff Vodka got a dig in with an ad that said “we’d be happy to talk about our ties to Russia under oath.”

Senator Kamala Harris has gone after attorney general Jeff Sessions hard (despite male senators who keep trying to hush her up). Congresswoman Maxine Waters is demanding impeachment. And Congress is holding hearings about the Trump administration’s relationship with the Russian government and its coverups.

Last week fired FBI director James Comey ripped the president to shreds as a liar, a creep, and an incompetent manipulator of truth and staff, and since then things have gotten worse for the administration. The Russia scandal could contaminate Pence, as well as Trump, Jared Kushner, and Sessions.

In the media, Rachel Maddow of liberal MSNBC has beat Fox to the number one spot in cable-news prime time. Fox is in disarray, with its star Bill O’Reilly forced out after a series of sexual-harrassment charges. Brilliant organizing by the Twitter-based group Sleeping Giants has pushed advertisers to abandon Sean Hannity’s show after the Fox host pushed conspiracy theories about the death of Seth Rich, despite Rich’s parents pleas to desist.

Breitbart has lost nearly 90% of its advertisers in another Sleeping Giants victory. Teen Vogue has become a feminist beacon, and other women’s magazines have developed superb political coverage. Newspapers, notably the revamped Washington Post, are doing a superb job investigating and exposing the administration.

The bombshell revelations that dropped one after another in May will long be remembered, perhaps as when the Trump administration fell too far to pick itself up. This month already Forbes exposed the Trump family for figuring out how to skim a profit off donations for children with cancer. USA today revealed that in the past year, “about 70% of buyers of Trump properties were limited liability companies – corporate entities that allow people to purchase property without revealing all of the owners’ names. That compares with about 4% of buyers in the two years before.”

Administrations around the world are figuring out how to work around the administration. The European Union and China are working on moving forward on addressing climate change, while cities and states throughout the USA have made their own commitment to honor the terms of the Paris climate agreement, despite Trump (whose pullout is symbolic, since it goes into effect after the next presidential election; many don’t expect him to serve out one term, let alone win another).

The environmental ministers of the Group of Seven nations are moving forward without EPA head and climate denier Scott Pruitt. The Guardian reported: “The greater ‘bang-for-buck’ resulted from plummeting prices for solar and wind power and led to new power deals in countries including Denmark, Egypt, India, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates all being priced well below fossil fuel or nuclear options.”

Trump celebrated coal as part of his backward-looking agenda, but India is cancelling plans to build coal-power plants while South Korea is shutting them down.

Britain rejected Theresa May’s rightwing politics in an election she called that shifted power to Labour; it followed on the heels of centrist Emmanuel Macron’s victory over far-right Marine LePen. Angela Merkel and Macron have made it clear they are happy to assume the mantle of leadership the USA has dropped. Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico, keeps trolling Trump online about the wall.

All of this is to say that there is tremendous opposition from many kinds of groups, institutions, and individuals, here and abroad. This doesn’t mean there isn’t suffering and loss. I’ve heard from great organizers who are heartbroken and exhausted; I know Muslims who are fearful; an undocumented woman whose father has been imprisoned by ICE. I am horrified by the defunding of programs to prevent AIDS internationally, which could result in a million deaths. And the brutality is real.

I’ve also talked to everyday citizens who have become activists and longtime organizers who are doing extraordinary things, and who are exhilarated by the solidarity and the possibility – of what we have become together, and of what they themselves have become.

Taking action is the best cure for despair. I’ve listed a little of what officials in the judiciary and legislative branch are doing, the shifts in the media, the response overseas. But it’s the residents of the United States of America whose response will matter most in the end.

Civil society awoken and arisen is a power adequate to counter the power of an increasingly isolated, confused, frightened and bumbling administration.

Many are organizing now to change the direction of the country in the midterm elections. In Utah, Mormon women have organized in solidarity with undocumented families. Philadelphians are training to disrupt deportation raids on undocumented immigrants.

In Southern California, a Latino-Muslim alliance started a project called Taco Trucks at Every Mosque, timed to coincide with the holy month of Ramadan. The group Common Defense unites veterans and military families for civil rights and against the Trump agenda. Queer, trans, and feminist groups have proliferated. Earlier this year, Muslims raised $100,000 to repair a Jewish cemetery in St Louis.

There are far more such generous-hearted projects than I can list, strengthening ties far beyond tolerance, restating the case for environmental protection and social justice including feminism, transgender rights, and immigrant rights. And there is a level of engagement with electoral politics the likes of which I have never seen, pushing on legislation and pressuring politicians, supporting progressive candidates, including many people of colour and women running for the first time.

First-time candidate Danica Roem, a transgender journalist, beat three other candidates to win a Democratic primary in Virginia and may beat a Republican homophobe for a seat in the state assembly. This activism needs to be sustained, and it needs to be strategic. It needs to address voting rights, and midterm elections, and it needs to remember all the powers and possibilities that lie in activism beyond electoral politics as well. So far so good.

Greenpeace USA executive director Annie Leonard told me that they don’t have to try to recruit or inform people anymore, that they can’t “answer the phones fast enough”; that people are showing up ready to try to change the world. She said everything groups like hers have been doing for decades “was all practice for this moment”.

People like to predict the future, often a dismal future, but the future is not written. It is ours to write. In this moment of utter turmoil, civil society must be the counter to a rogue administration, one whose victory is a surprise equaled by its myriad defeats ever since.

A crisis, says one dictionary, is “the point in the progress of a disease when a change takes place which is decisive of recovery or death; also, any marked or sudden change of symptoms, etc.”

This crisis could be the death or the recovery of a more democratic, more inclusive, more generous United States of America. Where we go from here is up to us.

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  • Clyde Duncan  On June 22, 2017 at 11:04 am

    The New Wave


    Uri Avnery

    WHEN I was young, there was a joke: “There is no one like you – and that’s a good thing!”

    The joke applies now to Donald Trump. He is unique. That’s good, indeed.

    But is he unique? As a world-wide phenomenon, or at least in the Western world, is he without parallel?

    As a character, Trump is indeed unique. It is extremely difficult to imagine any other Western country electing somebody like that as its supreme leader. But beyond his particular personality, is Trump unique?

    BEFORE THE USA election, something happened in Britain. The Brexit vote.

    The British people, one of the most reasonable on earth, voted democratically to leave the European Union.

    That was not a reasonable decision. To be blunt, it was idiotic.

    The European Union is one of the greatest inventions of mankind. After many centuries of internal warfare, including two world wars, with uncounted millions of casualties, good sense at long last prevailed. Europe became one. First economically, then, slowly, mentally and politically.

    England, and later Britain, was involved in many of these wars. As a great naval power and a world-wide empire, it profited from them. Its traditional policy was to instigate conflicts and to support the weaker against the stronger.

    These days are, alas, gone. The Empire (including Palestine) is but a memory.

    Britain is now a mid-ranking power, like Germany and France. It cannot stand alone. But it has decided to.

    Why, for God’s sake? No one knows for sure. Probably it was a passing mood. A fit of pique. A longing for the good old days, when Britannia ruled the waves and built Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land. (Nothing very green and pleasant about the real Jerusalem.)

    Many seem to believe that if there had been a second round, the British would have reversed themselves. But the British do not believe in second rounds.

    ANYHOW, THE “Brexit” vote was considered a sharp turn to the Right. And right after, there was the American vote for Trump.

    Trump is a Rightist. A very rightist Rightist. Between him and the right wall there is nothing, except, perhaps, his Vice. (Vice in both meanings of the word.)

    Taken together, the British and the American votes seemed to portend a world-wide wave of rightist victories. In many countries, rightists and outright fascists were flexing their muscles, confident of success.

    Marine Le Pen was scenting victory, and her equivalents in many countries, from Holland to Hungary, hoped for the same.

    History has known such political waves before. There was the wave started by Benito Mussolini after World War I, who took the old Roman fasces and transformed them into an international term.

    There was the Communist wave after World War II, which took over half the globe, from Berlin to Shanghai.

    So now it was the great right-wing wave, that was about to submerge the world.
    And then something quite different happened.

    NOTHING SEEMED as stable as the political system of France, with its old established parties, led by a class of old experienced party hacks.

    And there – lo and behold – appears a nobody, a practically unknown non-politician, who with a wave of the hand clears the entire chessboard. Socialists, fascists and everybody in between are swept to the floor.

    The new man is Emmanuel Macron. (Emmanuel is a good Hebrew name, meaning “God with us”.) He is very young for a president (39), very good looking, very inexperienced, except for a short stint as an economic minister. He is also a staunch supporter of the European Union.

    A quirk, party functionaries comforted themselves. It will not last. But then came the French parliamentary elections, and the flood became a tsunami. An almost unprecedented result: already in the first round Macron’s new party gained an astounding majority, which will surely grow in the second round.

    EVERYBODY NEEDED to think again. Macron was obviously the very opposite of the New Rightist Wave. Not only about European unity, but about almost everything else. A man of the center, he is more left than right. A modest person, compared to the American Trump. A progressive, compared to the British May.

    Ah, Theresa May.

    What got into her? Put in power after the Brexit vote, with a comfortable majority, she was restless. Seems she wanted to prove that she could get an even larger majority just by herself. These things happen to politicians. So she called for new elections.

    Even poor me, with my limited experience, could have told her that this was a mistake. For some reason, people don’t like untimely elections. It’s like a curse of the Gods. You call, you lose.

    May lost her majority. There was no obvious coalition partner in sight. So she is compelled to court the most obnoxious right wingers: the Northern Irish protestants, compared to whom Trump is a progressive: no rights for gays, no abortions, no nothing. Poor May.

    Who was the big winner? The most unlikely of unlikely persons: Jeremy Corbyn, (Another one with a good Hebrew first name. Jeremy was a major Biblical prophet.)

    Corbyn is as unlikely a near-winner as you get them: ultra-left, ultra-everything.

    Many members of his own party detest him. But he almost won the elections. In any case, he made it impossible for Theresa May to rule effectively.

    Corbyn’s achievement brings to mind again that something very similar happened in the USA elections within the Democratic Party. While the official candidate Hillary Clinton aroused widespread antipathy in her own party, a most unlikely alternative candidate stirred a wave of admiration and enthusiasm:

    Bernie Sanders.

    Not the most promising candidate: 78 years old, a senator for 10 years. Yet he was feted like a newcomer, a man half his age. If he had been the candidate of his party, there is little doubt that he would be President today. (Even poor Hillary got a majority of the popular vote.)

    SO DO all these victories and near-victories have something in common? Do they add up to a “wave”?

    On first sight, no. Neither did the Left win (Trump, Brexit) nor did the right (Macron, Corbyn, Sanders).

    So there is nothing in common?

    Oh yes, there is. It is the rebellion against the establishment.

    All these people who won, or almost won, had this in common: they smashed the established parties. Trump won despite the Republicans, Sanders fought against the Democratic establishment, Corbyn against the Labour bosses, Macron against all. The Brexit vote was, first of all, against the entire British establishment.

    So that is the New Wave? Out with the establishment, whoever it is.
    AND IN Israel?

    We are not yet there. We are always late. The last national movement in Europe.

    The last new state. The last colonial empire. But we always get there in the end.

    Half of Israel, almost the entire Left and Center, is clinically dead. The Labor party, which for 40 years held power almost single-handedly, is a sorry ruin.

    The right-wing, split into four competing parties, tries to impose a near-fascist agenda on all walks of life. I just hope that something will happen before their final success.

    We need a principled leader like Corbyn or Sanders. A young and idealistic person like Macron.

    Somebody who will smash all the existing occupation-era parties and start right from the beginning.

    To adapt Macron’s slogan: Forward, Israel!

  • Clyde Duncan  On June 22, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    Donald Trump was right when he likened himself to BREXIT – both are Complete Messes

    As the latest EU talks have shown, the arrogance and incompetence surrounding both are staggering

    Max Benwell | Independent UK

    You’ve got to give Donald Trump credit – he may throw a lot of baseless ideas at the wall, but every so often he gets it right. It just takes time!

    Before he became President, Trump tweeted “They will soon be calling me MR. BREXIT!”

    This was in August, and it didn’t really catch on; people preferred to call him other things, such as “monster”, “psychopath”, and “mad king”.

    As Brexit progresses however, it is becoming more and more Trumpian in its nature. The further the UK Government edges us away from the EU, Brexit has begun to share an increasing number of qualities with the President. Which is to say, both are a complete mess.

    The start of Brexit talks this week has been a good example. David Davis has been in full “Art of the Deal” mode ever since he became Brexit Secretary. And like Trump he has managed to embody a startling mix of arrogance and incompetence.

    Last year he said that Britain’s first talks would be with “not Brussels, but Berlin”, giving priority to a UK-German trade deal. This was before he discovered that you can’t strike a trade deal with a single EU country, as the union works in this thing called “unison”.

    With the chance to redeem himself on the continental stage this week, Davis demanded free trade to be at the top of the agenda. The EU said no, to which he bravely fired back “Ok then”.

    Asked afterwards if the weakness of his negotiating position had been exposed, Davis said: “It’s not when it starts but how it finishes that matters”, which is one way of saying, “Yes, I have been owned”.

    Trump and Brexiteers also share a common love for deregulation. So far the USA President has rolled back a whole raft of Obama-era regulations on the environment, working conditions, the financial sector and Cuba relations.

    We’re yet to see what will happen, but the Telegraph has launched a campaign called “Cut the EU Red Tape”. Iain Duncan Smith has also called on Theresa May to “whittle away” current rules, while leading Leavers like Boris Johnson railed against EU regulations during the campaign.

    Meanwhile, trade unions are warning Theresa May over eroding worker’s rights, and environmentalists fear protections won’t be enforced after we leave the EU.

    Michael Gove’s appointment as Environment Secretary has also caused alarm, after he called for wildlife protections to be slashed.

    Like Trump, those in charge of Brexit also seem to think they can succeed despite everything being stacked up against them. Trump is facing a huge uphill struggle, facing several investigations into his campaign, and a growing resistance to his presidency. So far, he has failed to produce any major legislative achievement.

    In the UK, the task of making Brexit succeed is similarly Sisyphean. In the best of circumstances, it would be hard for a government to get a good deal. In reality, the situation is farcical.

    To recap: the government is trying to negotiate with the EU without a Parliamentary majority, after losing it in a snap election it didn’t need to call. And a week and a half after the election, it still hasn’t managed to strike a deal with the DUP. DUP won 10-seats in the recent elections.

    It has also taken the unprecedented step of delaying the Queen’s Speech, and is starting to fall behind Labour in some polls. After her botched response to the Grenfell Tower fire, May’s popularity with the public has plummeted, while Corbyn’s has surged.

    Meanwhile, Britain hasn’t negotiated a trade deal on its own for four decades, and three months ago had the lowest number of civil servants since the 1940s.

    If you haven’t started screaming into a pillow as yet, then there’s also this: because May called the snap general election in April after triggering Article 50 a couple weeks before, the UK has lost almost three months of its two-year negotiating period.

    It’s incredible to think how, even without any of this, we’d still be facing the possibility of a bad deal. It’s mind-boggling.

    Yet May doesn’t appear to be concerned. Like someone who has just jumped out of a plane without a parachute and given a thumbs up, she’s acting as if her sudden public decline isn’t happening.

    What makes all of this particularly sad is that all of this is happening partly because voters were lied to. And not just small lies, but full-on post-truth lies.

    Many people voted for Brexit after being promised things like £350m for the NHS, immediately reduced immigration, cheaper food and no more bendy bananas (which worked on at least one person).

    None of these are ever going to happen, and Leavers have admitted as much.

    But this didn’t stop these lies becoming central messages of the campaign.

    Sound familiar?

    As Ukip donor Arron Banks has said “The remain campaign featured fact, fact, fact, fact, fact. It just doesn’t work. You have got to connect with people emotionally. It’s the Trump success story.”

    So yes, Trump was right about being Mister Brexit. And as talks get underway, he may continue to be proven right. Although if it stays on the same path, he may come to regret it.

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