1. Paul Krugman is spot on in his oped in NYT, including on the overarching importance of electing a Democratic Congress in 2018. For some this may seem like a mundane task, far less sexy than a full scale assault on the foundations of a society that subordinates everything to profit making. But, given the dangers facing the country and the present balance of forces in Washington. it is an absolutely necessary one. It will give us leverage that we don’t presently have to more effectively fight Trump and Trumpism.
Admittedly, we won’t be out of the woods and at the door step of a new society in the event that Democrats regain control of Congress, but we will be better positioned to prevent the worst from happening as well as more favorably situated to effect a more fundamental turn later on.
If we have learned anything in the past two weeks of presidential saber — “fire and fury” — rattling and invocations about the “very fine people” that terrorized Charlottesvillle, including turning a car into a murder weapon, it should be, it seems to me, that in the near term everything should be subordinated to weakening and ultimately ousting Trump from the White House. Socialism may be the new talk of the town — although I think this is exaggerated — but our desire for an egalitarian and democratic society shouldn’t take our attention from the utter urgency of our full participation in 2018 elections. We ignore this arena of struggle at our and the country’s peril.
2. Just thinking — I have no idea what is being talked about in leadership circles of the broad democratic coalition opposing Trump and Trumpism. And I’m sure no one is going to solicit my opinion. But for the record here it is — I think that this is an auspicious moment to bring a million people or more people back to Washington.
Such a massive turnout would be a punctuation point on a turn of events last week that has greatly de-legitimitized Trump and the entire white supremacist, anti-democratic right wing/alt right movement.
Not to do so amounts to a failure to appreciate that the difference between victory or defeat against a menacing in many cases turns on seizing those moments when your foe is on the run and relentlessly pressing your advantage — not spending too much time enjoying the elixir of victory.
And while a wave of local actions in recent days go in this direction, it still seems to me that they don’t have the same power as a nationwide march not only to reach and underscore to tens of millions that the emperor Trump has no clothes nor claim to continue in office, but also to prevent him and his team from regrouping and regaining the initiative.
Time to march on Washington imho.
3. What we do and how we do it should largely pivot on how it contributes to the building of a much larger movement that can decisively defeat Trump and right wing extremism (the alt right in its various iterations is a subset of this larger political bloc) and throw the country on a different political trajectory that lifts up full and substantive equality, economic security, environmental sustainability, robust democracy, and peace and cooperation.
The choice of tactics, therefore, isn’t a matter of what I might think is cool or not cool or what strikes or doesn’t strike my fancy. MLK, who spent his too short adult life resisting concentrated white supremacist judicial and extra judicial power and terror, embraced tactics that would at once activate people who were sitting on the sidelines, neutralize and divide his opponents, exert pressure on government leaders to do the right thing, retain the high moral ground, and extend and unify a larger coalition of diverse people and organizations.
He didn’t approach tactics narrowly or abstractly. His political lens and tactical acumen were wide angled, flexible, concrete, and strategic. We should learn from his example.
4. The struggle against right wing authoritarianism and fascism shouldn’t be reduced to fighting the alt right’s hooligans in the streets. The danger from the right goes far beyond this gang. Indeed, it reaches into the main citadels of state and class power — the Trump White House in the first place.
Nor should physical and direct confrontations against white supremacists and fascists be considered the preferred, or even a good, method of struggle. Such confrontations are easily exploited by Trump and the right wing media to make a case for “moral equivalency” or worse to shift blame to our side, while demagogically appealing for “law and order.” Our aim, after all, is to win far larger numbers of people to anti-authoritarian, anti-fascist consciousness and action. And, to the degree that some methods of struggle do that, they should be encouraged; to the degree they don’t, they should be challenged.
Finally, no anti-fascist movement no matter how militant and righteous it presents itself — and I’m thinking about atifa here — should be given a proprietary claim on this terrain of struggle. Atifa is part of the mix, but nothing more. Their actions shouldn’t be off limits from critical examination and comment from others in the wider coalition. Nor should they substitute for the actions of other people’s organizations — many of whom have conducted themselves in an exemplary manner since Trump’s election.
5. An overarching challenge, as I see it, is to give tens of millions of Americans who are sympathetic to the struggle against white supremacy, or even many who are not quite sure what they think, but aren’t hard core racists, the compelling arguments – a new common sense — to speak to their neighbors, family members, and coworkers in a way that convinces them in their heart as well as their mind of the righteousness of this struggle.
6. Many people on the left speak of the “base” of the Democratic Party as if it is of one mind, anxiously awaiting its marching orders from candidates who are ready to rumble. But is this the case? I ask this question because, as a block captain for Citizen Action in my neighborhood, my experience going door-to-door — small sample as it is — suggests to me that the base of the Democratic Party isn’t uniform in its thinking, nor is it chomping at the bit to fight the power. Many people feel overwhelmed, or nearly so, by the pressures and pulls of everyday life. If this is the case, the mobilization of the “base” for the midterm elections will far less simple than some would have us believe.