The resistance starts now

November 10, 2016

If you're like us, you woke up this morning with an awful feeling in the pit of your stomach at the prospect of living through a Trump presidency. But throughout the day, there were so many expressions of the determination to resist the billionaire president-elect and his reactionary agenda--from passionate statements of opposition on the Internet, to the walkouts by students from Berkeley, California, to New York City, to the hastily called demonstrations that gathered huge numbers of angry people in the evening in cities around the country.

That spirit was the polar opposite of the miserable conciliations of Hillary Clinton when she said in her concession speech: "We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transition of power. We don't just respect that; we cherish it."

In this feature, we collect the thoughts of contributors and readers that were diametrically opposed to Clinton's, as they shared them on social media and elsewhere on Election Night and the day after--including Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Jesse Hagopian, Dave Zirin, Lance Selfa, Elizabeth Schulte, Behzad Raghian and Jen Roesch.

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
Author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation

I'M PRETTY stunned and have been since last night. I expected Hillary Clinton to win simply because I assumed she would get more votes than the openly racist, sexual predator she was running against. But in my opinion, Clinton was never a real alternative.

The emergence of Occupy, Black Lives Matter and 12 million votes for an open socialist was the canary in the coalmine--the status quo can no longer be presented as the answer to the crises imploding across this country. You cannot glibly campaign on the slogan that "America is already great" when for so many, it is not. You cannot patronize people with banal promises to create "ladders of opportunities" when millions of people are drowning in debt, uncertainty and bitterness.

My observation is not intended to dismiss the undeniable reality of racism, xenophobia, hatred and misogyny at the heart of the Trump candidacy. But to reduce the election outcome only to that misses, I think, a deeper issue. There is intense political polarization in this country--the right found an outlet while the Democratic Party buried Sanders and put forward a candidate that embodied the political establishment--the very phenomenon people were revolting against.

Protesters stand up against Donald Trump's bigotry and hate
Protesters stand up against Donald Trump's bigotry and hate

Some on the left have talked at length about the desperate need to build and organize an alternative that offers more than "we are not Republicans." The Democratic Party has arrogantly believed that this alone would always be enough, and we are paying the price for it.

How much longer can we afford to continue to delay the work of organizing a real alternative to the two-party disaster that is on full display today? It's not an abstraction--it has to be rooted in the real-life organizing that will be necessary to take on Trump and Trumpism.

We can take heart that we are not starting this process from scratch. We can build on the Black Lives Matter movement. We can continue to organize against Dakota Access Pipeline. But we must also connect those struggles to a movement to defend Arabs and Muslims from the existing and coming attacks; to new protests against deportations and the attacks on Latinos and other immigrants; and to the existing struggles for public education and a living wage in cities across the country.

There is much to build on, but much more to accomplish. Fundamentally, these struggles have to be organized on the basis of solidarity and the understanding that all of our fates are linked together--and that the oppression of one is the oppression of all. Trump's victory is a disaster, but we have no other choice.

Jesse Hagopian
Seattle high school teacher and editor of More Than a Score: The New Uprising Against High-Stakes Testing

AT MY son's school this morning, his teacher wore her Black Lives Matter shirt and gathered all the second-graders and the families who were there to tell everyone that the school would be a safe place that would take care of everyone.

She had the students talk about how they were feeling. What a wonderful teacher. This means so much to us and so many of the kids.

One Muslim girl didn't find out about the election until she got to school, and after she hung up her backpack, she then fell to the ground, pounding her fists into it.

It is so important that we work to make our schools places that overtly reject misogyny, racism, Islamophobia, homophobia and all the hate that Trump stands for. Today it feels even more urgent that we transform our schools into sites of resistance.

Dave Zirin
Nation columnist and author of Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics and Promise of Sports

DONALD TRUMP as president-elect: It sucks. People are crying at my wife's job. There is a guy on my corner offering free hugs.

Please, everyone be good to yourself. Take a walk. Take that free hug. Drink a lot of water.

What helps me in times like this is to write, and I have four thoughts on what went down:

1. Always in these discussions, let's start with Howard Zinn, who said, "It matters less who is sitting in the White House. It matters who is sitting in." If you believed that Hillary Clinton was going to deliver this progressive agenda independent of struggle, you would have been terribly disappointed. Our tasks are, in many respects, exactly what they were: to fight for what we believe in as progressives, as radicals and as socialists.

2. The Republican Party won this election precisely because they are such a hot mess and the Democratic Party is not. The Republicans had "the privilege of backwardness." They were such a disorganized clusterfuck that they nominated a racist, sexist nativist who railed against every trade deal and against the corruption of Washington, D.C.

The party of "family values" nominated an epic scumbag. The party of "the troops" nominated someone who didn't know what a "gold star family" was and mocked POW John McCain. The party of free trade nominated someone who thinks trade deals should be burned. And they were aghast but had no mechanism to stop him.

What Trump saw--either instinctively or not--was that the fundamental dynamic of this election is that eight years of Obama have produced massive gains for Wall Street and massively little trickle down to the rest of this country. There was anger, and anyone willing to amplify that anger toward Wall Street, toward immigrants, toward women, toward "the Blacks" would go far.

3. Hillary Clinton could not credibly make that argument because she ran on being "third-term Obama," and also because quite simply, she doesn't believe it. She is the senator of Goldman Sachs.

And here is where we get to the tragedy of this election, and people aren't going to want to hear it, but it's the truth. The Democrats had the antidote for Trump in their back pocket: Bernie Sanders. Bernie would have crushed Trump. Crushed. He would have crushed Trump because his message would have been the same anti-establishment, anti-Wall Street energy, but without the bigotry.

If he had run, all those rural areas that came out for Trump in massive numbers would have split the way they were split in 2008 when--frustrated with Washington--they voted for another outsider named Barack Obama. But the Democratic Party establishment crushed Bernie for having the temerity to challenge Hillary. That's on them.

4. Yes, so much of Trump's win was animated by sexism, racism, bigotry, even a love of fascism, and we are all feeling that. The KKK is happy, and that is devastating. But if we are talking about all 60 million Trump voters, it's simply more complicated than to say they're all bigots.

There is an expression going around that everyone who is a bigot voted for Trump, but not everyone who voted for Trump was a bigot. I agree with that, and I want to share something about my best friend on earth.

Best friends since we were six. Wife is Black. Has a biracial daughter. Obama voter. He moved out of New York City to live in Central Florida. He marched every year in the Labor Day parade with his union parents, and he fought the cops after Abner Louima was brutalized by New York's finest.

He voted for Donald Trump. He didn't do it because he liked Trump. He did it because partly he is isolated. He also, alone and trying to figure out this political situation by himself, found Hillary Clinton and the Clinton family so unrepentantly disgusting that voting Trump was his version of lesser evilism.

I'm horrified that he pulled the lever for that dime-store fascist. But I also will continue to talk to him and frankly empathize with why he found the Clinton family so utterly remote from his life, and why he--an enthusiastic Obama voter in 2008--found himself feeling so left behind.

That's on me for letting him get that isolated. It's on us to turn this situation around, and we don't have to wait four years. That starts today. (Okay, maybe tomorrow.)

Lance Selfa
Author of The Democrats: A Critical History

TO PROCESS the disaster that took place on November 8, it's helpful to look at some of the major facts about the election.

The first thing to note is that Hillary Clinton actually won more votes than Donald Trump--around 200,000 as of the end of Wednesday. When you include the votes for third-party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, it's clear that more people voted against Trump than for him.

But of course, the Electoral College--that relic of the 18th century slave power--put Trump in the White House. For the second time in the last five national elections, the person who received the most votes didn't become president. So much for the "world's greatest democracy"!

While the votes are still being tallied, it's clear that the overall turnout declined from 2012, when about 129 million people voted. The number in 2016 is likely to be around 123 million. In fact, it appears that both Clinton and Trump are going to wind up with about the same, or fewer, votes than the losers of the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections received.

While these figures may not take the sting out of Tuesday's result, they illustrate just how thin a "mandate" Trump can claim. Not only did he lose the popular vote, but neither he nor Clinton measured up to recent elections in motivating people to get to the polls.

Within 24 hours of calling out Trump as a racist, misogynist and lover of dictators, leading Democrats, from President Obama to Bernie Sanders, were issuing statements about how they were willing to work with Trump because, as Obama said, "We're all on the same team."

If anyone needed further proof of the utter uselessness of the Democratic Party as an opposition, this was certainly it.

In 2009, after two "wave" elections that handed Democrats control of both the legislative and executive branches of the government, the Republicans were reduced to 178 House members and 41 senators. But the GOP refused to vote for any of Obama's initiatives--on the contrary, they very quickly took the offensive, particularly in opposing Obama's health care law.

In the new Congress of 2017, the Democratic minority will have 194 representatives and, along with the two independents who caucus with them, 48 senators. So if the Democrats want to oppose Trump's agenda, they're in a better position to do so than Republicans were in 2009.

Keep this in mind when you hear Democratic politicians lament their plight and tell you that the only thing you can do is to elect more of them.

Elizabeth Schulte
Socialist Worker staff writer

AS THE election result came rolling in last night and the realization that Trump was going to win set in, it didn't matter how closely you've been following the election--it was a terrible, sinking feeling.

It was an election between two hugely unpopular candidates, and earlier this year, I remember saying that if Clinton kept up the way she was going--offering little to her supporters and riding on the fact that she wasn't Trump--she might actually lose. But when the Trump campaign hit another new low among so many with the definitive evidence of sexual abuse, it looked like he might be a dead in the water.

Then there was last night.

The political "experts" on TV counting off the numbers on the big red and blue maps--the ones who were projecting that Hillary Clinton would pull it out in the end--suddenly seemed perplexed. They started talking about the fact that there were two Americas--and one of them was deeply dissatisfied with the status quo.

"The Democratic Party is going to have to start thinking about workers," said one pundit.

It's pretty amazing--the Democratic Party ignores the concerns of American workers for decades, and now they're shocked by dissatisfaction with the status quo? Let's be honest--no one needs to tell the Democratic Party establishment that workers are dissatisfied. It just assumed they had nowhere else to go, so the party apparatus didn't care.

Today, I heard an NPR reporter ask a Michigan politician why workers in the state had deserted the Democrats--didn't they remember that the Obama administration bailed out the auto industry and saved all those jobs? But the workers themselves know that while the auto industry bosses got their bailout in 2009, for workers, it came with strings attached--gutting union contracts and work rules, and instituting two-tiered wages.

The Democrats showed once again whose side they were on--auto bosses, not auto workers.

But there's something else about Michigan that worth mentioning--during the primaries in March, Bernie Sanders won about 23 percent of the vote, about as much as Trump. Sanders' campaign tapped into an opening for something to the left of the Democratic Party status quo, but the Democrats smothered that campaign, and Sanders helped them do it when he threw his support behind Clinton.

People are fed up with the status quo and looking for solutions. Many are looking to the left-wing solutions, but others may look to the right. The right had a voice in Trump, but Clinton never intended her voice to be for the other side. Now the politicians are telling us it's time for both sides to come together--that's not true. We need to keep organizing our side to defeat Trumpism in days to come.

When I watched his speech last night, all I could think of is where I was in March when Trump tried to march in my hometown of Chicago. I was outside with hundreds of other people--Black, white, immigrant, Arab, Asian, Muslim--all together to protest his message of hate. He never gave that speech that day--he has to turn tail and leave.

I'm keeping that resistance in mind for the days and months ahead.

Behzad Raghian

I VOTED for Jill Stein today. I am a person of color, of the Middle East variety. I don't feel safe in America and haven't for most of my adult life. It didn't matter if a Republican or a Democrat sat in the White House. Bombs continued to be dropped by both parties in the Middle East for most of my life.

I don't get the luxury of voting for a lesser evil and feeling good about it. I vote for the politics of what I want, not what I'm afraid of. My vote counts because it was motivated by an aspirational goal of a better society of what we are capable of, rather than a society based on what the powerful and elite want. Nothing will ever change until we accept this radical fact. Reject fear and embrace a better vision of a world worth fighting for.

A comment from the Facebook page tonight helps to understand why Clinton lost:

If Trump wins, the DNC and Democratic Party have no one other than themselves to blame. As a Sanders supporter, I was called a Berniebro. Told I was lazy and only wanted free things. That I wasn't a real Democrat. That you all didn't need my vote. Hillary Clinton continuously dismissed progressives and our concerns to the point of choosing a pro Wall Street neoliberal as her running mate. In the end, your fear, the way you have conducted yourselves this year, is being reflected on the map tonight.

Jen Roesch
Socialist Worker contributor and member of the International Socialist Organization

WHILE MILLIONS of people were reeling in shock and horror on the day after election--and tens of thousands of people were taking to the streets in protests--the Democratic Party was headed in another direction. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren and the rest of the establishment came out with statements indicating that they've moved on to figuring out how to rule alongside a Trump administration.

But for those of us who will pay the price for this debacle, moving on isn't a choice.

While the Democrats fueled fear of Trump for the most cynical reasons during the election campaign, we do need to face the reality of an emboldened far right. All over the country today, teachers were the first responders--helping children express their fears and doing their best to assure them that we will stand to protect our most vulnerable.

But if we're going to fight the resurgent right, we need clarity about how this could have happened, and it won't be found among the political or media mainstream.

The opening wave of think pieces all tended to arrive at the same simple answer: Election 2016 was decided by uneducated white racist voters, including white women happy to elect a misogynist. People like us who are rightly disgusted by Trump are led to believe that the 60 million people who voted for him are so different from us that we couldn't possibly understand what, other than bigotry, motivated them.

Of course, there are some contrary facts: A majority of union households, people of color and those making under $50,000 went for Clinton, and a large base of Trump's support came from the middle class. Nonetheless, a significant number of white workers and union households did vote for Trump--particularly in the Midwestern Rust Belt states which the election turned on.

Here, we have to understand two things. The first is a depth of despair fed by an economic and social crisis, the scale of which is hard to grasp. Millions of people feel, rightly, that they have been thrown on the scrap heap and left to die alone.

Equally important, there is bitterness at a political establishment that presided over this situation. In the swing states a significant number of counties that went for Trump on Tuesday had gone to Barack Obama in 2008. People voted for hope and change back then--hopes that have been shattered. After Bernie Sanders lost his campaign and endorsed Clinton, Trump was free to exploit the elemental anger at these conditions without a challenge from the left.

Wisconsin illustrates all the dynamics. Some 49 percent of voters there think the U.S. lost jobs to free trade, and they went for Trump by a 2-to-1 margin. But 58 percent think immigrants do more to help the economy than hurt it, and nearly two-thirds of them went for Clinton.

Imagine if someone was talking about why jobs really were lost, along with a plan to get them back--and was defending immigrants. We'd be looking at a different picture.

It's worth remembering that Wisconsin is the state where workers occupied the Capitol building less than six years before to fight an assault on public-sector unions. That was a festival of solidarity and self-activity--a prelude to the Occupy movement in 2011, which itself exposed and gave left-wing expression to the class anger in society.

When union leaders and Democrats led workers away from the occupation and into a failed electoral challenge, the resulting defeat smashed the unions. The anti-labor attack spread to another of Clinton's shocking losses: Michigan, once a citadel of union power, where Republicans recently passed an anti-union right-to-work law.

If Wisconsin was one place along the way of Trump's unexpected path to victory, it isn't because there's something irredeemably backward about its working class. The real answers are the bitter fruit of lost battles, disappointed hopes and the failure to build a left-wing alternative.

There is an urgent need for that alternative--and understanding that the soil from which Trump grew is just as fertile for our side is an indispensable starting point.

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