The man behind the curtain is not Donald J. Trump. In a novel twist on the theme our very own wizard of Id is standing out in front of it waving his arms about and pointing in wildly divergent directions misdirecting both the media and the public and God knows we are easily distracted. I once had a conversation with a good girlfriend about a man whom I was dating and she offered this very sage advice. “Never listen to anything a man says, he will tell you what he thinks you want to hear. Watch how his feet move: If you are thirsty does he bring you water. if you are cold does he find a way to warm you?” Smart cookie that gal.
Mr. Trump’s antics are familiar to anyone who has studied the rise of a Totalitarian regime. It is not his words that we must heed. it is his actions that we must monitor and deter when they threaten our laws and institutions. His refusal to receive intelligence briefings is really all you need to know. He has no intention of, and does not care to lead this country. His cabinet picks are either incompetent, inexperienced or downright insane. This is deliberate. The chaos created by this collection of half-wits is intended to distract you while he makes deals with foreign governments to fast-track his developments there. His children, that merry band of pickpockets are ready to pounce, Ivanka has been already present in meetings with heads of state from whom they wish to profit. Divestiture? They are betting you will be too busy hand-wringing over the appointment of a Jeff Sessions or a Sarah Palin to note the complete and utter ridiculousness of this proposal. He is a showman alternately entrancing and berating us. He is the master of the shiny object, the slight of hand, the belligerent tweet. This is why you cannot sleep at night. This is why I cannot sleep at night. Trust your gut. This is not good. This is every bit as bad as you think it is.
In “Nothing is True and Everything is Possible” a brilliant account of life inside the heart of the new Russia, Peter Pomerantsev describes the following scene. He sits in a taxi which is not really a taxi, but just a car with some rogue driver on whom he has rolled the dice for a ride. They wait and wait in a tangle of traffic so snarled that the city of Moscow has crawled to a halt. A large black car whizzes by in a lane reserved for the super wealthy who have a pass which allows them to glide past the ordinary citizens ensnared by a lack of infrastructure and investment. They live in a society which is entirely corrupt and dominated by the uber-wealthy and it is in this context that the driver turns to the author and says the following: ” Don’t worry my brother, we will clean the streets of all the filth, all the darkies, the Muslims and their dirty money and Holy Russia will rise again.” This book is not a novel.
The Putin formula is very simple really. Break down all the institutions of government. Imprison anyone who objects to this. Offer your cronies free reign to plunder the nation’s resources (get ready to defend our national parks). Enrich yourself until you are one of the wealthiest men in the world. Use this money to buy up every single media outlet in the nation. Use said outlets to promote the idea that the struggles of your citizens are the direct result of the “other.” “Immigrants.” “Darkies.” Muslims and Jews of course. Always the Jews. Worked for Putin, why not Trump? Because this is our America and this will not stand.
Mr. Trump puts on a great show, but he is simply there to distract you from some of the dark powers that brought him to this place in history. It will be our job to contain the intent of avowed white nationalists like Steve Bannon, a man whose former employer is devoted to the widespread dissemination of bigotry, false news and hate speech. This is the America we now face. The Russians hacked our institutions to promote this guy. He is not so much Putin’s puppet as his future partner in crime. Why does Trump want to back away from our NATO allies? So Putin can invade Eastern Europe with impunity. There is a reason the European Union just voted to greatly increase their military resources. The president-elect of the United States has signaled that he adores old Vladimir and intends to hang them out to dry. The whole world is having trouble sleeping at night. Many people are shaking their heads, wringing their hands and wondering how to react and where to respond. The following are some ideas of what you can do to prevent the full-scale corruption of our ideals and be a beacon of light in the coming gloom.
Protest. Preferably at well-planned, well-lit events with police permits and the cooperation of the local authorities. There is safety in numbers.
Combust and hit the streets shouting. They want you to do this. They will seed your group with violent elements or commit violence in your name in order to gain a license to hurt and arrest you.
Protest Mr. Trump’s policies and while you are at it those being put forth by Paul Ryan. Do organize and oppose all attempts to take away our freedoms and destroy the fabric of our communities. This includes dismantling public education, Medicare and Social Security as they will plunge many in your community into poverty with no hope of ever climbing out.
Protest Mr. Trump himself, just because he exists. This will turn it into a personality contest when what matters is not what he says, (which is impossible to take seriously in any way) but what he does. Protest policies not people. Don’t stand outside of hate rallies or neo-Nazi events and this includes Mr. Trump’s appearances in your town. They want you to do this, so that they can label you hooligans and accuse you of being traitors to your country. He will have his supporters attack you and they will hurt you and then blame you for it. He has already done this at his rallies during the election. That was only the beginning.
Think of his appearances and those of any and all hate groups from the Nazis to the KKK to the “Alt-right” (white nationalists) as an opportunity to create counter-rallies that promote peaceful solutions and condemn the violent nature of his rhetoric and his followers. Entice musicians to play free concerts and speakers to represent solutions and action steps that people appalled by these gatherings can take. Get as many members of the community especially those in the targeted groups to join in this effort. Remember they want you on the streets crying revolution so that it can be said that you incited the chaos. This whole plan of his is reliant on the smoke screen of chaos. Do not give him this cover.
Take the threat of “fake news” and propaganda seriously. This has been used to great effect by totalitarian regimes since the beginning of time. We live in an era where large corporations own huge empires within the news and entertainment industries. I know local news anchors whose stations have been bought by some of these and ordered to deliver manufactured accounts of both local and national events. If something sounds suspicious, call the parent company and complain. Call one of the larger cable news outlets and ask them to investigate and refute this false reporting. Call out CNN, FOX and MSNBC when you feel that they are reporting in an un-balanced way or obscuring an opposing view-point.
Subscribe to one of the major newspapers. The New York Times, Boston Globe, Washington Post, Miami Herald or the Wall Street Journal. If you can afford it, subscribe to more than one. It is not expensive to do so online and journalism will need our support in the coming years. Twitter and Facebook are aggregators of a very unreliable sort. You will want to know the news from credible sources.
Decide that you hate anyone that voted a different way or disagrees with you in some others. We will need broad coalitions going forward. When I hear liberals talk about how much they hate “Repugnicans” it is the sound of a nation dividing. There are plenty of moderates on both sides of the aisle quite afraid of what could be accomplished during Mr. Trump’s reign.
Stay in touch with friends and family members who support Trump and gently point out when a news item is fake or a conspiracy theory untrue. Many of his followers actually believed that Hillary had an FBI agent who illegally inserted himself into the election, the very much alive James Comey killed. Yes, based on no evidence, in spite of him being quite clearly not dead, they believe that Hillary had him killed. Bought it hook line and sinker. The kid who created the meme was being sarcastic and yet they believed it. If you love your country you will help them understand that this is not the truth.
Keep trying to decide who is at fault. We are all at fault. This is not the time for further divisions within the Democratic party. Blaming Bernie or Clinton or third-party candidates is a waste of time. We are facing foreign interventions into our elections. Trust me, you do not want to live in Putin’s America or White Supremacist Steve Bannon’s America either. Anyone who joins you in this sentiment should be considered an ally. Period.
Get out of your lane. If you are a nice group of white ladies who lunch, invite a speaker from the “Black Lives Matter” movement to address your group. Connect with the Human Rights Campaign, Voto Latino, the Humane Society, Planned Parenthood or an Environmental org. There are lots of people in your town organizing around a vulnerable population, set of rights or an issue that matters to them. Whatever lane you are in and this includes those of you in groups which are being targeted, reach beyond your issues and out to those who are organizing in another lane. it is important to build a network that can be relied upon in case of emergency. Be prepared to protect one another.
Give up on the electoral process. States and cities have rights and powers and can use them to block the most disastrous policies he has threatened to put forward. Work like hell to achieve a majority of your city council seats and state representatives. And for the love of God your Governor! Pour your heart into this. There is a difference between the two parties. One that is about to make itself even more apparent than the easily drawn contrast between the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Local elections matter.
Join. Find the nearest Democratic club, join it and attend meetings regularly. Familiarize yourself with when the next election cycle will take place, who is on the ballot and what you can do to get the right person elected. If you are in a safe state with no upcoming elections, actively pursue the support of a Democratic club in a sister city who needs help and share your resources with them.
Abandon social media or take it too seriously. Find a balance there, limit yourself to a certain number of minutes twice a day. The other side used it very effectively as an organizing tool during this election. We can do the same in the future. Try to be patient with some of the people who voted for him, they will boomerang back when they figure out the direction he really wants to take us. Stay open.
Support the organizations who are dedicated to defending your rights. The American Civil Liberties Union, the Anti-Defamation League, the Southern Poverty Law Center are great places to start. Add these to whatever issue oriented groups you already support. Consider joining The Liberal Gun Club or Americans for Responsible Solutions — both strongly support the second amendment while believing that there are common sense solutions to gun violence in America. The right to bear arms was never under threat from Obama or Clinton, but, could very well become an issue during Mr. Trump’s tenure. We must defend it while advocating for reasonable changes to our gun laws.
Use the following words. Hate. Outrage. Stupid. in response to Mr. Trump or his supporters. He is advocating hate, we must advocate the opposite. Period. I know you are frightened and angry, but now is the time to strengthen your resolve to meet this challenge with a loving heart firm resistance.
Remember that this election was not a mandate. There are more of us. Our institutions are strong. They think you are dumb. You are not dumb. You’ve go this. Go.