Indignation and anguish against Trump from thousands of young school students, as they walk out of classes and militancy mounts
Yesterday thousands of high school students all across the country went on strike and walked out of school to express their indignation and anguish of the election of a president they characterized as a 'racist', 'fascist' bully. Meanwhile, for a week, tens of thousands of Americans have been pouring into the streets every day in dozens of cities under the slogan 'Not our president!' (50,000 in New York on Saturday).
The crowds here are mostly young (with a good sprinkling of old radicals like me) and in majority female. From the first night, we had the feeling that these were not one-off protests, but the beginning of something. By the next day we were chanting things like 'We will not let hatred win/This is where the work begins', 'Trump escucha/Estamos a la lucha!' (Listen, Trump/We’re out here fighting!) and 'Don’t Mourn, Organize!' the famous last words of the Wobbly organizer Joe Hill, shot in Utah in1915.
The same defiance was expressed on the very morning after the election by the editorialist of the venerable liberal weekly, The Nation, under the heading 'Welcome to the struggle!'
History will judge this country—our leaders, our media-entertainment complex, ourselves, and our fellow citizens—harshly for electing Donald Trump. But if we withdraw into our private grief and abandon those who, this morning, feel most threatened by the result—Muslim Americans, Hispanic Americans, LGBTQ Americans, women, inner-city youth—history will never forgive us. Instead, we have to stand up, and fight back. And to realize that we are not without resources, and advantages, and potential leaders, in that fight…It is time to summon everyday massive nonviolent civil disobedience on a scale not seen in this country for decades.
The demonstrators are perfectly justified in shouting 'Trump is not our president'. The ballots have not all been counted yet, but it is clear that Hillary Clinton received at least two million more popular votes than Donald Trump, who is 'president-elect' to day only by the grace of the reactionary Electoral College, created by the 18th century Federalists to keep 'the mob' from taking over by direct voting. In 2000, when Bush II was 'elected' by a similar cheat, it was treated as a big scandal. Today, it has been normalized in the media, who don’t interview the four million voters who have already signed a petition demanding that the popular vote be considered definitive.
In any case, the real 'winner' of the election was well-justified popular disgust with both candidates. Half the voters abstained, and the minority parties totaled 5%.
Now in their second week, the 'Not our president!' demonstrations were at first largely ignored by the mainstream media, which picked up on Trump’s tweet complaining about 'Professional militants incited by the media. Very unfair!'. Similarly, there was radio silence around the hundreds of incidents of racist and homophobic violence, verbal and physical, coming from the 'white power' wing of Trump’s supporters (whom Trump still refuses to disavow). Nor did we hear much from the teachers around the country, who have to contend with terrified children who wonder when they or their parents are going to be deported.
On the contrary, the elites of both of the political parties responsible for this anti-democratic disaster immediately closed ranks. Obama invited Trump to the White House to assure him that 'We are now going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed, for if you succeed the country will succeed as well'. Thanks to Obama, and with both houses and soon the Supreme Court packed with right-wing Republicans, Trump will have no trouble succeeding… Succeeding in criminalizing immigrants, persecuting Muslims, gutting the Affordable Care Act, pulling the U.S. out of international climate agreements, lowering taxes even more for billionaires, trashing the environment, increasing security and surveillance on every level, encouraging police violence against minorities and building more private prisons.
And the Democrats? The DNC, responsible for the Trump catastrophe, is closing its neo-liberal ranks to keep the Bernie populists out of the leadership. Meanwhile, Obama is sending clear signals that he will not use the two remaining months of his mandate to follow through on his commitments to lower emissions, lock in progressive treaties, protect immigrants, promote social and racial justice etc. On the contrary, he is committing himself to prepare a 'seamless transition' for Trump, just as he did in 2008 in favor of Bush II, by appointing Bush’s Defense and Treasury secretaries to his cabinet and maintaining his domestic and foreign policies.
Indeed, Obama, who really did have an electoral mandate, has kept none of his promises. Our Democratic Teflon president saved Wall Street at the expense of Main Street, deported two million immigrants (Trump himself is threatening to deport 'only' three million), sabotaged the international climate talks, encouraged fracking and huge gas-guzzling cars, supported right-wing coups (Honduras), escalated Bush’s mid-east wars, and initiated new ones (Libya, Yemen) – all of this with almost no protest on the part of labor, the environmental movement, the peace movement, and even the racial justice movement (which focused on local issues).
If there is one positive result of the Trump disaster it is this: his election as at last unchained the popular opposition movements, which after a week of spontaneous protests seems to be getting organized for the long haul. We sure will need it. Stay tuned.