Go local, indeed, activist. There is much too much to do there.
We all want to hang on to the resilience of our communities, particularly the most impoverished and exploited of them. The resilience that comes from standing up again and again on the face of brutality and the silence of the bystanders.
But, no, not everything will be OK. And, as we know, those on the bottom will be particularly not OK. People, our people, will suffer. People will lose their health insurance. We, we with good jobs and well-positioned will be OK, but we can only say that with a straight face if we don’t care about the rest.
Are elections just a means of harm reduction? Just avoid the worst…There is an argument to be made for that. I think I am with the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor:
I have another ethic. I’m with Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hannah Arendt, Rousseau, Montesquieu. I believe it’s a higher mode of being to participate in your own self-government.
Elections, particularly national ones, may just seem like an attempt at harm-reduction. We need to go local and build a firewall of service, protection and love around those this campaign has scapegoated and Republican and Trumpist policies will harm the most.
Remember also that many of us did not like Hillary Clinton and many of her policies all that much, if at all. But we could see how the other side was worse, a lot worse. If she had won, I would be writing right now about how we need to start yelling loud and early to make sure she remembers what she promised, before she got the usual amnesia induced by the White House’s air-conditioning system. But we got the literal worse evil and he is bringing company. So, there may not be all that much to talk about.
I am cautiously pessimistic. Don’t see any room for optimism anywhere. Even if our fears are not realized and he turns into a less than worse president, which we have to hope for, I guess, we cannot ignore the damage he already did and we are now witnessing every day.
We have to go local and work with organizations that protect immigrants, religious minorities – particularly Muslims at this point –, indigenous rights, labor rights, fight racial discrimination, police brutality and lack of real opportunity for blacks.
We need to create #OneMovement. We do not have time, nor the luxury of exquisite distinctions. As we can see, they managed to join every single one of them under one hateful banner. They have a long history of doing that: We had landless whites without even the right to vote, fighting a war for the rights of slave owners. We had unions divided by race, while down in the mines they were all one.
But we need to create #OneMovement for another reason. We need real, systemic change. We need to question the basic tenets of a system that keeps so many under so much stress and manages to make them believe it is their hungry neighbor who is doing it to them.
This means: We need every one of Trump’s voters. Or at least, those who share the working class with Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, LGBT people, women…you get my drift. And those who are not even able to make it to the working class. Yes, of course, many of them are still racist. But I don’t care about people’s hearts. I want to change policies in a way that people’s darkest feelings cannot affect others.
Think about it. You have heard them say: “Blacks are also racist against whites.” And we roll our eyes till the point of risking a detached retina. Why? Because even if we were personally bigoted, we could not affect the life opportunities of whites. We could not deny them jobs, housing, advancement, loans, education. We could not redline their neighborhoods, etc. As we know, racism is not individual bigotry, but a systemic structure of oppression with a clear aim at keeping a hierarchy of privilege…and, yes, it is economics, because as someone said: They didn’t bring us from Africa so that they can dislike us from nearby. They brought us in to use our labor for free.
Trump’s campaign was built on white male’s frailty, something that the left has been hard pressed to face down as needed. Yes, when you are accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression, but we need to say so. Clearly.
If they are racist or not is beside the point. Many of them are also hurting, and that is my point. They are also us. I said it long before the election, back in June when the media was making a mockery of the downtrodden among Trump’s supporters – somehow they did not paint Newt Gingrich or Giuliani or Christie with that broad broach, strangely enough. I said it then: Trump’s supporters are my (our) people. And if they don’t know it, we should.
Recent movements – #BlackLivesMatter, #Fightfor15, #StandingRock – have realized that is the system we need to overturn so that it really gives all an equal chance, and protects in and with dignity those who are at their most vulnerable.
Together should be our creed from here on out. The only thing we should keep from Clinton’s campaign is that: #StrongerTogether.
DISCLAIMER: These are my personal views and do not represent the opinions of my employer, or any other organization.