1. The old slogan, “All for One and One for All,” seems like a good response to Trump’s declaration on immigration, plus public actions everywhere – big city and small town.
2. In his Atlantic article, David Frum writes,
“Those citizens who fantasize about defying tyranny from within fortified compounds have never understood how liberty is actually threatened in a modern bureaucratic state: not by diktat and violence, but by the slow, demoralizing process of corruption and deceit. And the way that liberty must be defended is not with amateur firearms, but with an unwearying insistence upon the honesty, integrity, and professionalism of American institutions and those who lead them.” (David Frum’s Atlantic article, “Constructing Autocracy.”)
This strikes me as a pretty astute observation. Trump’s style of governance surely has other features, including and especially repressive ones, as demonstrated in yesterday’s announcement of his draconian immigration policy (if you can call something that shouldn’t be part of our discourse, not to mention the government’s practice, a policy). But just as surely we can expect him to use the power, purse strings, and prestige of the state to win and reward friends and buy off, divide, and silence opponents.
Corruption can take many forms ranging from small concessions and favors to big handouts and payoffs. In a modern state, the granting of political advantage on one or another thing can bring enormous financial as well as political rewards. Of course, it doesn’t come out of a generous spirit of the giver. The expectation is that the recipients will reciprocate with their support or, at least, temper their criticism.
This isn’t a new phenomenon. Nor is it peculiar to right wing governments. But the Trump administration will raise corruption to an altogether new level and scale. It, along with fake news, vilification of the press and other opponents, islamophobia and immigrant bashing, unapologetic racism and sexism, white nationalism, truth and science denial, and more, will be alpha and omega of its mode of rule.
3. We are in a defensive posture at this moment. So here’s my question: does the RESISTANCE to Trump’s rhetoric and actions give enough lift to an alternative program and vision of a society that accents community, economic security, equality, sustainability, and peace? From my experience, which is limited, I would say NO.
I realize that it is easier said than done, given the relentless authoritarianism of this administration. Every day (or hour), it seems, something new is coming from Trump’s mouth or his acolytes. But, if I am right, its difficulty cannot be reason to sidestep this conundrum. On its solution rests to no small degree our ability to cut into the legion of Trump supporters – not to mention expand the resistance to people sympathetic to our message, but still inactive.
4. Some people ask if we should retire the term “progressive wing” of the Democratic Party. Not in my opinion. It captures the breadth of the reforming/transforming/renovating impulse in today’s Democratic Party better than either the social justice left or the Sander’s movement that also operate within the Party’s elastic orbit.
That said. I’m not stuck on any one word (and even if I were, it wouldn’t matter much anyway). The larger issue in my view is to do nothing to narrow down the scope of people and organizations that favor a non-sectarian turn of the Democratic Party in a progressive direction and a sustained focus on its organizational renewal, especially in the Midwest.
5. The analytical efforts to scale down the impact of hateful ideologies in the political calculus of white workers in the name of working class partisanship and a very dubious understanding of marxism are misguided. This defense obscures, and even worse, conceals an overarching political challenge – to turn the politics of equality, justice, solidarity, mutuality, and human decency into the common sense of white workers at a moment when someone occupies the White House who uniquely and proudly spews ideologies of hate, division, violence, and oppression.
6. Bravo for the New England Patriot players who declared that they said they will not visit the White House for the traditional meeting that championship teams have with the president. It takes courage, especially when the team owner, coach, and quarterback are such avid supporters of the new president. We should all draw inspiration from their example of defiance as we continue to oppose the megalomaniac who sits in White House.
7. The defenders of 1990s Clintonian neoliberal policies are far fewer these days and the wind isn’t at their back, but lots of polemics on the left haven’t caught up with this shift.