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Solnit writes: "This crisis could be the death or the recovery of a more democratic, more inclusive, more generous America. Where we go from here is up to us."

'Taking action is the best cure for despair.' (photo: Barcroft Images/UPI)
'Taking action is the best cure for despair.' (photo: Barcroft Images/UPI)


Victories Against Trump Are Mounting. Here's How We Deal the Final Blow

By Rebecca Solnit, Guardian UK

19 June 17


The judiciary, legislative and media have all helped keep Trump in check. But it’s the residents of the United States whose response will matter most in the end

n this moment, populist intervention is everything, not as hate and attack but as an expression of popular will and power. Or as love, since we defend what we love. It is an extraordinary moment, an all-hands-on-deck emergency in which new groups and coalitions are emerging along with unforeseen capacities in many people who didn’t previously think they were activists. It is saturated with possibility, as well as with danger.

Of course there are also people residing in the US who love the dismantling of healthcare, education, environmental protection and the bill of rights, but they are an increasingly small minority. The most recent Gallup poll found nearly twice as many people – 60% disapprove of the president – than approve (36%).

The graph shows a growing chasm between the minority that approves and the rest of us, and nearly half the public likes the idea of impeachment. Republican approval of the direction the country is going fell an unprecedented 17% in a month, according to a new Gallup poll.

People who don’t like democracy and civil rights don’t think what the public thinks matters; that includes the Trump administration, which seems to have thought that power would be inherent in the presidency, rather than dependent on honoring relationships with institutions, allies, with rules and laws. What the public thinks matters, if we turn thoughts into actions.

The great conundrum of this crisis is that if people believe that they have the power to change this nation’s destiny, they will act; and if they don’t they won’t. Like many other prophecies, this one is self-fulfilling either way. I believe we have the capacity to limit the damage or even bring down the Trump administration through nonviolent resistance and good organizing, and I see extraordinary things happening in this moment.

We are off to a good start. After all this is an administration that has been stymied at almost every turn, unable to kill off Obamacare in its first five months, or build a wall on the Mexican border, or cancel sanctions against Russia, or pass almost any significant legislation, an administration harried by an investigation into its possible collusion to corrupt an election and serve a foreign power.

The resistance is an oft-used shorthand for all the forms of opposition, though many of them are institutions – the judiciary, the states, cities – that would probably not embrace the term. But they are opposing, overturning and interfering. In several cases this spring, state courts and the supreme court have ruled against gerrymandering and other forms of discrimination against voters of color and voting rights.

The ninth circuit court ruled against the travel ban this week, one of several interventions against it in the courts. And 17 state attorney generals filed an amicus brief with the supreme court against the ban. Maryland and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit this week accusing Trump of violating the emoluments clauses by accepting foreign income through his businesses, the subject of myriad lawsuits and complaints filed by Crew (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington).

On 12 June, a judge granted a temporary reprieve to Dreamer Jessica Colotl, whose deportation protection had been revoked. More than 2,000 mayors, governors, college presidents, and other leaders have signed a pledge “to declare that we will continue to support climate action to meet the Paris Agreement”.

Democrats in the legislative branch of government have been mocking Trump, from the proposed Covfefe Act (it’s an acronym for Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically For Engagement, but also a joke about a peculiar tweet of Trump’s including that word, or nonword) that would ban him from deleting tweets on the grounds that they’re presidential records, to Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer’s videotaped parody of Trump’s cabinet meeting in which all members dutifully praised him. (Writer JK Rowling called Trump out for his pettily vindictive response to killings in London. Even Smirmoff Vodka got a dig in with an ad that said “we’d be happy to talk about our ties to Russia under oath.”)

Senator Kamala Harris has gone after attorney general Jeff Sessions hard (despite male senators who keep trying to hush her up). Congresswoman Maxine Waters is demanding impeachment. And Congress is holding hearings about the Trump administration’s relationship with the Russian government and its coverups.

Last week fired FBI director James Comey ripped the president to shreds as a liar, a creep, and an incompetent manipulator of truth and staff, and since then things have gotten worse for the administration. The Russia scandal could contaminate Pence, as well as Trump, Jared Kushner and Sessions.

In the media, Rachel Maddow of liberal MSNBC has beat Fox to the number one spot in cable-news prime time. Fox is in disarray, with its star Bill O’Reilly forced out after a series of sexual-harrassment charges. Brilliant organizing by the Twitter-based group Sleeping Giants has pushed advertisers to abandon Sean Hannity’s show after the Fox host pushed conspiracy theories about the death of Seth Rich, despite Rich’s parents pleas to desist.

Breitbart has lost nearly 90% of its advertisers in another Sleeping Giants victory. Teen Vogue has become a feminist beacon, and other women’s magazines have developed superb political coverage. Newspapers, notably the revamped Washington Post, are doing a superb job investigating and exposing the administration.

The bombshell revelations that dropped one after another in May will long be remembered, perhaps as when the Trump administration fell too far to pick itself up. This month already Forbes exposed the Trump family for figuring out how to skim a profit off donations for children with cancer. USA today revealed that in the past year, “about 70% of buyers of Trump properties were limited liability companies – corporate entities that allow people to purchase property without revealing all of the owners’ names. That compares with about 4% of buyers in the two years before.”

Administrations around the world are figuring out how to work around the administration. The European Union and China are working on moving forward on addressing climate change, while cities and states throughout the USA have made their own commitment to honor the terms of the Paris climate agreement, despite Trump (whose pullout is symbolic, since it goes into effect after the next presidential election; many don’t expect him to serve out one term, let alone win another).

The environmental ministers of the Group of Seven nations are moving forward without EPA head and climate denier Scott Pruitt. The Guardian reported: “The greater ‘bang-for-buck’ resulted from plummeting prices for solar and wind power and led to new power deals in countries including Denmark, Egypt, India, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates all being priced well below fossil fuel or nuclear options.” Trump celebrated coal as part of his backward-looking agenda, but India is cancelling plans to build coal-power plants while South Korea is shutting them down.

Britain rejected Theresa May’s rightwing politics in an election she called that shifted power to Labour; it followed on the heels of centrist Emmanuel Macron’s victory over far-right Marine LePen. Angela Merkel and Macron have made it clear they are happy to assume the mantle of leadership the US has dropped. Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico, keeps trolling Trump online about the wall.

All of this is to say that there is tremendous opposition from many kinds of groups, institutions, and individuals, here and abroad. This doesn’t mean there isn’t suffering and loss. I’ve heard from great organizers who are heartbroken and exhausted; I know Muslims who are fearful; an undocumented woman whose father has been imprisoned by Ice. I am horrified by the defunding of programs to prevent Aids internationally, which could result in a million deaths. And the brutality is real.

I’ve also talked to everyday citizens who have become activists and longtime organizers who are doing extraordinary things, and who are exhilarated by the solidarity and the possibility – of what we have become together, and of what they themselves have become.

Taking action is the best cure for despair. I’ve listed a little of what officials in the judiciary and legislative branch are doing, the shifts in the media, the response overseas. But it’s the residents of the United States whose response will matter most in the end.

Civil society awoken and arisen is a power adequate to counter the power of an increasingly isolated, confused, frightened and bumbling administration.

Many are organizing now to change the direction of the country in the midterm elections. In Utah, Mormon women have organized in solidarity with undocumented families. Philadelphians are training to disrupt deportation raids on undocumented immigrants.

In Southern California, a Latino-Muslim alliance started a project called Taco Trucks at Every Mosque, timed to coincide with the holy month of Ramadan. The group Common Defense unites veterans and military families for civil rights and against the Trump agenda. Queer, trans and feminist groups have proliferated. Earlier this year, Muslims raised $100,000 to repair a Jewish cemetery in St Louis.

There are far more generous-hearted such project than I can list, strengthening ties far beyond tolerance, restating the case for environmental protection and social justice including feminism, trans rights, immigrant rights. And there is a level of engagement with electoral politics the likes of which I have never seen, pushing on legislation and pressuring politicians, supporting progressive candidates, including many people of color and women running for the first time.

First-time candidate Danica Roem, a transgender journalist, beat three other candidates to win a Democratic primary in Virginia and may beat a Republican homophobe for a seat in the state assembly. This activism needs to be sustained, and it needs to be strategic. It needs to address voting rights, and midterm elections, and it needs to remember all the powers and possibilities that lie in activism beyond electoral politics as well. So far so good.

Greenpeace USA executive director Annie Leonard told me that they don’t have to try to recruit or inform people anymore, that they can’t “answer the phones fast enough”; that people are showing up ready to try to change the world. She said everything groups like hers have been doing for decades “was all practice for this moment”.

People like to predict the future, often a dismal future, but the future is not written. It is ours to write. In this moment of utter turmoil, civil society must be the counter to a rogue administration, one whose victory is a surprise equaled by its myriad defeats ever since.

A crisis, says one dictionary, is “the point in the progress of a disease when a change takes place which is decisive of recovery or death; also, any marked or sudden change of symptoms, etc.” This crisis could be the death or the recovery of a more democratic, more inclusive, more generous America. Where we go from here is up to us.


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-16 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-06-19 17:11
This is just an empty pep talk. There's nothing of substance that the left or the democratic socialists could take to heart. She mentions only empty things.

1. "n this moment, populist intervention is everything," -- Trump's people could say this, too. Remember the "deplorables." They claimed populism, too.

2. "The bombshell revelations that dropped one after another in May" -- so far the score is perfect -- zero evidence for any one of these bombshells. 100% fake news.

3. "Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer’s videotaped parody of Trump’s cabinet meeting" -- next thing you know, he'll be on Saturday Night live. Yeah, that's real resistance.


I can't go on. This nonsense makes me "mildly nauseated."

Why no mention of Bernie Sanders. He's actually building a base of people who will vote for democratic socialist candidates in 2018 and 2020. Why is the democratic party establishment ignoring Sanders and continuing with the empty rhetoric that lost the election for Hillary. I'm amazed that this essay did not say "we're better together" or some other such Hillary drivel.
 
 
+1 # economagic 2017-06-20 09:23
"Why no mention of Bernie Sanders. He's actually building a base of people who will vote for democratic socialist candidates in 2018 and 2020. Why is the democratic party establishment ignoring Sanders and continuing with the empty rhetoric that lost the election for Hillary."

Between this and your other comment down the page, I cannot figure out whether you think the Democratic party will play a significant role in any rejuvenation of democracy this country, or whether you think Sanders will somehow suddenly announce the existence of a new party with 50 million members.
 
 
+1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-06-20 19:05
I actually don't know which way things will go. The DNC and party leaders like the Clinton's and Podestas don't want anything to do with Sanders. At the same time, Sanders has been saying he'll be a loyal democrat.

The Clinton/DNC has been losing elections since Bill Clinton's triangulation in the early 90s. The democratic party is much bigger in terms of members than the republican party, but it loses elections. I has now lost control of the Senate. Its tactics appeared to be deliberate failure. But they keep saying they have a winning strategy.

I know one thing, attacking and trying to impeach Trump will lose at the polls in 2018 and 2020.
 
 
0 # Time Traveller 2017-06-21 03:37
Rodion, you are positive proof that the CIA and KGB / GRU use the SAME "constructive chaos" playbook that serves all oligarchs so well!
 
 
+18 # Wise woman 2017-06-19 23:36
This is a truly an inspirational article. Thanks to Rebecca Solnit for giving us facts and figures about what is happening outside our own little bubbles. It is exciting to realize that hope is on the horizon and the light at the end of the tunnel brighter. I will sleep much better tonight.
 
 
+22 # LionMousePudding 2017-06-20 01:31
Thank you Ms Solnit. The most intelligent optimistic writing I have read for a very, very long time.

I gotta say, "A Taco Truck at Every Mosque" is just the right hilarious but righteous tone we need!!
 
 
-2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-06-20 04:54
Cheerleading for the "final blow" against Trump is symptomatic of a new and mistaken move on the part of the Democratic party leadership. Norman Soloman discusses it very well in "Behind the Media Surge Against Bernie Sanders," now on Counterpunch. The countdown to Trump impeachment is also a way to freeze Sanders and his movement out of the news, just as he is not cited as a "victory" here.

Solomon writes,


"It would be a mistake to think that the Times story was only the result of bias inflamed by the grisly shooting spree. A few days earlier, the newspaper had front-paged another “news” story hostile to grassroots political forces aligned with Bernie — a de facto editorial masquerading as news coverage, headlined: “Democrats in Split-Screen: The Base Wants It All. The Party Wants to Win.”

In a bizarre disconnect from electoral reality, the article portrayed a party establishment that had lost election after election, including a cataclysmic loss to Trump, as being about winning. And the article portrayed the party’s activist base as interfering with the establishment’s winning ways."


So the party leadership has decided to freeze out Our Revolution and the populism of Sanders. The astro-turf DNC and Soros funded "Resistance Summer" will be celebrated as winning.

What blindness. The Demos are in their death-throes -- again.
 
 
0 # Time Traveller 2017-06-21 03:53
Rodion, you remember Stalin using Red Army punishment battalions to clear German minefields by marching them across them at machine gun point.

In fact, I think you can EMPATHIZE with them, since I think you are being coerced into this endless pro Russian trolling. Or being paid enough to make the hassle and intellectual embarrassment tolerable.

At best, you are performing a rear guard action with your army in retreat and the Trump / Russia cabal in utter disarray. Like all cowards, Trump will double cross you in the end.
 
 
+3 # librarian1984 2017-06-21 07:48
For all the mythology of Democrats being the more intelligent voters, it's become obvious that they are as entrenched, as irrational, as bubble-bound, as any GOPers.

I am very close to being on the autism scale. Not quite there but close. A bad aspect of that is difficulty socializing and reading the emotions of others, but the flip side is that my thinking, more detached from emotion than most, is fairly rational, and what has always struck me is how very irrational most people are, even though it hurts them financially, personally ... and politically.

The Ossoff loss should be a clear message to the DP but I fear it will not. And based on the red votes you get, the problem lies not just with the politicians.
 
 
+19 # Woratnac 2017-06-20 05:02
Rebecca Solnit is always such a breath of fresh air! Both her intellect and her spirit infuse her writing, which is invariably an antidote for the run-of-the-mill dismal and grim analyses of the ways Trump and his cohorts are destroying the planet. "Don't mourn, organize!" should still be the watchword for all of us in the midst of the worst dangers ever to confront our species. (The existence of climate change and the threat of nuclear annihilation are what makes Trump so terrifying.)
 
 
-35 # LandLady 2017-06-20 05:06
Donald Trump was legally elected President of the U.S. To my knowledge he has not done anything illegal. Sorry if some people don't like him, but we have a Constitutional way to impeach Presidents who HAVE broken a law. Meanwhile maybe find another hobby?
 
 
+8 # economagic 2017-06-20 09:20
"To my knowledge he has not done anything illegal."

Uh, on what planet have you been spending most of your time lately, and where are you getting your "Infowarmation" ? I've lost count of his attempted actions that courts have struck down in just five months.
 
 
+1 # lfeuille 2017-06-20 17:44
Exactly. This was either pure propaganda or breathtakingly ignorant.
 
 
+33 # HStone 2017-06-20 05:38
This has been the great power of Trump, to awaken a disillusioned but sleeping country.

Obama couldn't do it. W couldn't do it. Bill Clinton couldn't do it, and Hillary couldn't have done it.

This is our chance to restore integrity to our country.
 
 
+2 # librarian1984 2017-06-21 07:51
If only we had some to impart.

What integrity? Are you seeing a different DP than I am? I was optimistic in this regard a few months ago, but based on the flailing and rabid focus on Russia and impeachment, I become less convinced every day.
 
 
+2 # LionMousePudding 2017-06-22 02:35
It may be our chance. But if we count on the Democrats they will squander that chance every time they have it. They just don't care. They simply prefer a Republican, who will protect their personal status quo; to an actual Progressive, who wants to improve lives in this country.

RIP Democratic Party. Can we FAST make another party?
 
 
+15 # warrior woman 2017-06-20 06:31
A very strong list of accomplishments . My ultimate fear is control of the courts.
 
 
+13 # EternalTruth 2017-06-20 08:12
The question is what all these people will do once tRump is gone. Will they resist the next bomb-dropping, climate destroying, big-bank-loving mainstream candidate, or will they stick their heads back in the ground and be happy that the Orange Monster is gone?
 
 
+6 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2017-06-20 14:28
Quoting EternalTruth:
The question is what all these people will do once tRump is gone... will they stick their heads back in the ground and be happy that the Orange Monster is gone?
Yes they will UNLESS they can be convinced that it's not Trump but the current Republican Party that is the real problem. Trump isn't following HIS political ideals. He is just pandering to the crap that has been in the Republican platform for decades. The Republican Party has been bought - lock, stock and barrel - by a cabal of unsavory actors who want to overthrow the US gov't and remake it to THEIR liking. Destroying Trump is just cutting off one head of the Hydra. Almost pointless.

Americans need to realize that the Republican Party of 2017 is an abomination. It is not Ike's party. It is not Goldwater's party. It is a hegemony of the John Birch Society, the Ku Klux Klan and every other fascist, racist, plutocratic nightmare the US has ever known.
 
 
+3 # EternalTruth 2017-06-20 22:53
Ha! When I said, "the next bomb-dropping, climate destroying, big-bank-loving mainstream candidate," I was actually assuming it would be a Democrat.
 
 
+5 # librarian1984 2017-06-21 08:36
The 'resistance' is already fatigued, more shallow and being co-opted. I sound like some cartoon hippie but it's true: TPTB manipulate us in every way possible and there is little question no pols are fighting for US. About the best we can hope for anymore is that they will just not hurt us. Oh please don't decimate my kids' schools anymore. Oh please don't let our food and water be more toxic. Oh please betray us just a little more slowly than the other guys.

I really don't get why any Democrat would be against Sanders' economic message. OK so he's not a quinoa-eating PC-spouting indigenous transgender co-parenting tribalistic neovegan.

But he IS authentic. He's practical. He's honest. And he wants to fight for US. How has anyone convinced the left that's not a good thing?

Sanders is an FDR Democrat. People snip that he's not a 'real' Democrat. He's the ONLY Democrat left! A lone gladiator, fighting his own damned party. Like Tron. The most popular politician in DC but the party treats him like he has the plague. WHY?

The way forward is clear. The DP has lost four special elections -- establishment candidates financed up the wazoo ;-) and underfunded progressives*. Strategically, what is the next logical step?

FUND PROGRESSIVES! Progressives worked for Ossoff, more than I liked. How about the establishment support the progressives for a while -- and let's see what happens.

*the people with a winning an economic message
 
 
-2 # Saberoff 2017-06-20 10:46
Propaganda.

You, and your readers-a-flutt er, will come to nothing, not, no... As usual, as use, as us, as...

The king is dead. Long live the king.
 
 
+1 # lfeuille 2017-06-20 17:48
That MSNBC is beating FOX is not really a sign of a better informed populace. Instead of one kind of propaganda they are getting another - Russiagate 24/7.
 
 
+8 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-06-21 06:56
I just can't help seeing this article as a celebration on the decks of the Titanic.

"Hooray for the Democrats; they are winning everything! We really do feel good about ourselves! Oh, what a pretty ice sculpture! Maybe God made it for us to see! Another sign of our victory over the bad man Trump."

Here's a sober discussion of just where the democrats are. Ted Rall predicts the Dems will lose big in 2018 and 2020. Their frontrunners now are Cory Booker and Terry McAuliff -- the favorites of the Clinton faction.

"Despite leading the party to defeat, the centrist-Third Way-DLC-Hillary Clinton wing of the party still runs the DNC and the state apparatuses. They’ve never made nice with Bernie Sanders or his leftist-progres sives — the party’s base and its most committed ideologues — after repeatedly insulting and marginalizing them during the campaign. To the contrary, they’re still at it."


Until the Demo party can free itself from the Third Way Clintons, it will continue to lose.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/06/21/democrats-want-to-lose-the-2020-election/

As much as anyone, I believe that we need a strong Democratic party that represents ordinary Americans. The republicans will always be the party of big business and the rich. That's what it was created to be. But the Dems need to be the party of FDR and American socialism. That's how they win. Forget Trump and take care of the home base. That's how you win.
 
 
+8 # librarian1984 2017-06-21 10:42
I was amazed to hear multiple pundits this morning saying that the lesson from Ossoff's loss is that the Dems can't move too far left!!

Ossoff was against single payer. He was against tax increases on the wealthy. He raised four times what the GOP did .. and lost.

The DP invested in this race for two reasons: they saw Trump won by one point and thought that made it vulnerable. They were wrong. Running against Trump is not enough. Secondly, they wanted the centrist to win so they could say that's how we go forward .. but he lost.

The Dems are twisting like pretzels to maintain their cushy status quo. But if the neoliberals are not willing to promise voters anything to vote FOR they should get out of the way ... because progressives DO have a good economic message, a Marshall Plan for the middle class. THAT's what we need.

The establishment could adopt this message. More senators are calling for single payer. Economic populism. That is the winning strategy.

Please, DP. Figure this out. Follow Sanders' agenda.
 
 
+2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-06-22 06:59
librarian -- interesting comments. Yes, the media will make sure that the democratic party remains in the conservative hands of the Clintons. Or that "left" means only identity politics, as in the defense of LBGTQ rights and the like.

The great irony is that if the Demo party moved way to the left it would win back control of the Washington regime.
 

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