Friday, December 2, 2016

The Fight Never Ends

I read, with some bemusement and a lot of frustration, an article asserting that President Obama "permanently" protected Planned Parenthood by executive action. It's interesting to me that this piece was written prior to the election, but only went viral after Trump's win, now that sane people are rightly horrified at the coming erosion of rights in the foreseeable future and looking for some reassurance. The unstated assumption is that Clinton would be elected and continue the executive action. Now that Trump is president, he can and likely will rescind the executive action -- if he can stop jerking himself off long enough on his victory tour to actually govern, which hopefully is beyond his capacity.

So the idea that Obama has done anything "permanently" with an incoming Republican government is foolish. But beyond that, I get the feeling that my generation (Millennials, or as we'd call ourselves, 90s Kidz!!) lulled ourselves into a sense of complacency. For many of us, President Obama was the first President we voted for, the first time we were really politically aware. After galloping forward on gay rights, racial awareness and more for eight years, the idea that we could turn backward so dramatically was unthinkable. And the idea of Trump becoming president was basically an apocalyptic fantasy. So, we got comfortable. We stopped shouting. We ignored our racist family, we rolled our eyes and kept our mouth shut about our sexist coworkers. We ignored the oppressive laws being passed in our cities and states because, don't worry, Obama will protect us from anything truly terrible. Our progress was often slower than we'd like, but at least it was solidified.

Flash forward to President-Elect Donald Trump. But actually, put him aside. This isn't really about him. Yes, he's abhorrent and dangerous in a hundred different ways that a generic Republican isn't. But even a generic Republican threatens gay rights. Even a generic Republican  threatens reproductive rights. Even a generic Republican threatens to undo the already meager work we've done to beat back climate change. If victory on these issues is utterly dependent on electing a Democratic president in perpetuity, it's not a real victory at all.

While Trump is particularly awful, the idea that any of our progress, ever, is "permanent" is hopelessly naive. For all the "gummint moves slowly on purpose!" nonsense were fed, you'd better goddamn believe the GOP can move quickly now that they've got a majority. We're only ever one election away from undoing decades of social progress via laws and Supreme Court nominations. We're only two or three elections away from plunging into a fascist, racist, Handmaid's Tale-style hellscape. If you consider that hyperbolic, consider that our next president is THE standard bearer for literal Nazis.

Most of the people reading this are going to be both frightened and emboldened by this election. Good. Chase that feeling. Use it to fuel your activism in politics, social justice, charity. But don't let it fade at the first sign of success. Donald Trump is set to enact a ton of disastrous changes. And then, sometime after--maybe 2018, maybe 2020, maybe later--the Democrats will have a great resurgence and you'll feel your worry and fear start to dissipate. Don't let it. Hold on to it. Don't live in a constant of trauma--enjoy the world, enjoy art, music, family--but don't ever forget that we're mere votes away from a hard turn toward nationalistic theocracy.


Fascists and morons alike call us social justice warriors. Wear it as a badge of honor, but realize that the war is never over.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Will I "Give Trump a Chance?" Sure. Here It Is.

Over the weekend, liberal and conservative pundits alike were falling over themselves to implore us to give President-Elect a chance. A chance to do what, exactly, is terrifying to think about. But let's assume the best. Let's say we do give Mr. Trump a chance to prove himself. What would that look like?

Here's a list of actions Trump could take before his oath of office to prove that he's serious about governing as a president for all the people. Note that this is not all-inclusive, and there are still pages of policy proposals that I'd vociferously oppose him. These are just the issues that go above-and-beyond mere political disagreement.

  • Validate the ongoing protests with something like, "I respect their right to organize and their passion for our country's future. I am their president too, and I hope to earn their trust in the coming years."
  • Confirm that his stupid fucking wall was a pipe dream, and that any border enforcement will be much more reasonable.
  • Repudiate his running mate and confirm that LGBT rights will be protected in a Trump administration.
  • Revoke his promise to ban and/or register Muslims on the basis of their religion or nationality. Confirm that, while we will "extreme vet" anyone who enters regardless of origin, everybody who wants to come here will have the opportunity no matter their race or religion.
  • Unequivocally condemn the acts of violence and hatred against Jews, Muslims, women, gays and racial minorities that have occurred since his election.
  • Confirm that the US will remain a staunch ally to NATO, and that a Trump administration will categorically oppose the use of nuclear weapons.
  • Promise that, under a Trump administration, torture of enemy combatants will never occur.
  • Promise that not a single person will lose health coverage as a result of ACA change or repeal.
  • Assure us that he will accept the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server and apologize for the abhorrent threat to jail her.
  • Apologize for demonizing journalists and ensure an open a free press.
  • Follow up on his campaign promise to disallow lobbyists in a Trump White House.
  • Take back his call for a nationwide stop-and-frisk.
Why, as an opponent of Trump and everything he stands for, am I comfortable giving him this chance, especially given that most of them are highly reasonable requests that every other Republican candidate would have no issue fulfilling? Because he'll never accomplish a single line of it. In fact, he's already gone against several of them. He told hate criminals to "stop it," but only along with the caveat that he didn't think any of it was actually happening. He condemned the protests against him before offering a milquetoast walkback. He's already hired several lobbyists on his transition team and defended the move because 'gradual steps are needed.' And worst of all, he's hired Steve Bannon, a literal white supremacist, to be his chief adviser.

In the first seven days since the election, he's already proved himself to be every bit as vile as his campaign. As far as I'm concerned, we've already given Trump his chance. Fascists don't get a second one.

Friday, November 11, 2016

White Liberals Need to Listen -- But Not to Other White People

Over the past few days, I've been hearing two sentiments repeated among my liberal friends -- most of them white.

"I'm disappointed. I knew there were racists and xenophobes. I just never thought it was a majority."

and

"We should have listened more to the other side."

The people espousing these ideas mean well, and I envy their optimism. Truly. I do not intend to condescend. My pessimism is not a virtue. Faith in humanity is never a bad thing.

But the frustration is that we have been told, time and time again, about this doom, this cataclysm, this sleeping giant of horrific xenophobia that exists outside of any single man. And many of us chose not to listen. It was not Trump's fanatical brownshirts that we failed to listen to. It was people of color who have been warning for months, years about the vile, seedy underbelly of white America.

When people of color said Black Lives Matter, at once the most innocuous and the most radical statement one could imagine, we nodded and threw up our thumbs. And when our friends and neighbors said, "no no, ALL lives matter," we sighed and shook our heads and walked away. We called it by its cute little euphemism, white privilege, and failed to see it for what it was: white supremacy.

People of color told us America continues to thrive on an ever-present system of racism. We vociferously agreed, yes, goddamn that fucking system, man! The system sucks! But people are good, in general! People are kind, people are generous, people love their neighbors.

The system is people. It's not a nebulous, amorphous blob of artifacts from the Jim Crow era. It's individuals making bigoted comments to their white coworkers. It's individuals ignoring it because they don't want to make waves. It's individuals making the choice every single day to engage in white supremacy even at a micro level.

When Ruth Bader Fucking Ginsberg, progressive champion and hero of civil rights, called Colin Kaepernick stupid and disrespectful because he doesn't want to celebrate a country that is literally murdering his brothers and sisters, we should have seen a problem.

White pundits and politicians, all of whom promised Donald Trump would never take the White House, are telling us that this election is about economic anxiety, even though the median Trump voter makes nearly twenty thousand dollars more than the median Clinton voter.

People of color, who are the only reason Trump failed to win the popular vote, are telling us this election was about something else entirely.

I don't have the solution for electoral success going forward. But I know the first step. Listen.