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  WINDY CITY TIMES

VIEWS The Trump era: Where do we go from here?
by Nadine Smith
2016-12-20

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We are in a dangerous moment right now in this gap between the election and inauguration day. It is a dangerous moment because it has a lulling effect.

The TV still works, the ebb and flow of daily life continues and President Obama remains a comforting presence in the White House. Things look the same and the wheels have not come entirely off the wagon … yet. This calm before the storm can trick us into indulging in magical thinking:

"It won't be that bad. He met with Al Gore and that actor who loves the environment, right? America is still essentially the same. Besides, there really isn't much we can do or someone somewhere would have done it."

Not true.

The unsettling preview of a Trump presidency his cabinet picks have provided is nothing compared to the brutal reality of it actually arriving next month. He and his fact-free administration will act as though they have a mandate ( from God if not the voters ). He has surrounded himself with white-power fanatics, Christian Dominionists, and other zealots who believe they are anointed by God to reclaim America for white Christian families headed by godly men with obedient wives.

Do not believe they are incompetent to execute their plans because they are "in over their heads." They have no intention of playing by rules of law or custom. It will be 100 days of shock and awe. They intend to break as much as they can and leave us scrambling from one fire to the next.

They hope to goad us into violence. They want to fight us on that field. In addition to an assault on free speech, they will deepen the call to mob violence among their supporters as an arm of enforcing their politics and policies. They will cultivate racial and religious division. Violence of any sort allows them to restrict, inflame, instill fear and divide.

In the face of that, you will be heartbroken by the willingness to fall in line of some folks you thought would fight back. Some of the people whose anti-Trump posts you have shared before and since the election will change their tone and renounce their critiques when the power dynamic recalibrates their personal risk/reward formula.

And as much as I loathe what they may unleash domestically, the greatest danger is entrusting a nuclear arsenal to an insecure, unstable, thin-skinned liar who thrills at hurting people he thinks have slighted him. That racists and Russian handlers may guide his trigger finger is all the more catastrophic. The stakes are higher than ever for all of us, for our children and grandchildren and our planet.

So, what must we do?:

—Remember the majority of voters rejected Trump.

—Confront bigotry every single time.

—Engage in mass public resistance.

—Leverage economic pressure.

—Crowd-source a safety net.

—Commit to non-cooperation.

—Build community.

Remember the majority of voters rejected Trump.

Hillary Clinton received more votes than President Obama did in 2012. Beyond that, third-party candidates garnered a larger than usual slice. Trump will assume office with the lowest approval rating in history. It is important to remember and remind each other of this fact.

Confront bigotry, every time.

First and foremost we cannot give an inch to those who feel empowered to unleash hate violence toward immigrants, religious or racial minorities, women, the disabled, etc. … In every city, we need people who will denounce the act publicly, clean up the graffiti, sweep up the broken glass, go to the hospital, write letters to the editor, sit with the family ... whatever it takes to say this is not acceptable and you are not alone.

They seek to isolate and divide and make us fear each other. We have to have a strategy that becomes a habit to counter that. Otherwise, the stories we share of hate violence serve to instill terror, not resolve. Do it even when you are tired or you've had a rough day and think you've done enough. Be visible as a person committed to standing up to bigotry and street harassment and violence. @SafetyPinBlue is one campaign and there are others. The point is it will become harder to stand up and you must cultivate courage.

Engage in mass public resistance.

Yes, march on DC, not just once. But march on the state capital, too. Show up like never before to press local elected leaders to oppose monstrous policies. We need to have an American Uprising that signals to the world this is an aberration that will not stand.

Leverage our economic clout.

Boycotts brought down Apartheid and Jim Crow. Those of us who reject Trump have enormous economic clout and we are damned fools if we don't use it right now. Don't give money to those who are organizing to take away your liberty, your rights, your safety and that of your neighbors. This is an area our organizations need to show more leadership on and we as individuals must have the discipline make our message clear.

The EPA may gut environmental policies but we can punish those who continue to endanger our planet and we can reward green innovators.

They may repeal hard-fought civil-rights protections but we can refuse to buy from retailers and producers who discriminate.

Crowd-source a safety net.

We will need to look out for each other. If they proceed with their plans, the government will abandon its duty "to provide for the general welfare" of the people. Vital services will be cut. Healthcare gutted. Children will go to school hungry with no meal made available. We can't replace an entire government infrastructure but we have resources. Volunteer and donate to organizations that provide food, shelter and healthcare to those in need. Grow food. Share more.

We will need to look out for each other.

Commit to non-cooperation with evil.

Don't help. Challenge. Oppose. Resist. Speak up. Go on strike. Gum up the works in ways public and private. Don't help oil the machinery of fascism.

Build community.

Who brought Trump to power?

Third party spoilers?

Bernie Bro hubris?

Hillary campaign smugness?

White identity politics?

A protest vote gone awry?

Voter suppression?

Russian interference?

Okay, so here we are. It isn't that the answer doesn't matter, it just matters less than what we do now.

Somehow, we have to find common ground with enough people who don't believe America is a white male Christian nation of subservient wives and incurious children where you should be thankful for a below-subsistence wage at a company that is free to pollute your air and water and burn the planet while insisting your taxes pay for the cleanup. So we need to find that common ground and make the personal political. As many as 30 million Americans may lose all or part of their healthcare if Obamacare is truly repealed.

We need to form deeper alliances beyond left and right politics with the army of people, including many who voted for Trump but are about to get hit. "I told you so" is not a strategy and indulging in schadenfreude will doom us all.

And building community is also about building the community of friends and mentors and nourishing yourself with art and music and joy and love. Be there for fellow resisters. Hug, laugh, strategize, commiserate. Be kind. Don't spiral into despair.

It is easy to become the frog, slowly boiled a degree at a time as we are pressured to accept as normal what ought to be unthinkable.

Each of these strategies could be a post in and of itself. Turning them from an outline into action will require us to work and brainstorm together. I hope you will join in this conversation.

Nadine Smith is the co-founder and CEO of Equality Florida, the state's largest organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. A former award-winning journalist turned organizer, Nadine was one of four national co-chairs of the 1993 March on Washington.

She was part of the historic oval office meeting between then-President Clinton, the first such meeting between a sitting president and gay community leaders. She is a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Florida Advisory Committee, a Florida Chamber Foundation Trustee, and served on President Obama's National Finance Committee. She lives in St. Petersburg with her wife, Andrea, and son, Logan.


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