“You can either lie down, you can whimper, you can pull up in a ball, you can decide to move to Canada, or you can stand your ground and fight back and that’s what it’s about. This is how we’re going to have our voice heard … We are going to fight back. We are not turning this country over to what Donald Trump has sold. We are just not.” –Elizabeth Warren
Hatred of Donald Trump is a means, not an end. It is a symptom, not a solution — functionally impotent, unless translated to action.
No, Donald Trump is not an archetypal Republican bound by traditional partisan parameters. As such, progressives should be willing to, as Bernie Sanders stated, “keep an open mind to see what ideas Mr. Trump offers and when we can work together.”
But Trump is also not an archetypal politician bound by traditional parameters of respectable discourse. His carnival barker approach drove his campaign thoroughly into the theater of the bizarre, promoting positions which were at times absurd, and often frightening.
For progressives ripe with the dark energy of hatred for Donald Trump, the following are five issues on which opposition of Trump can be tangibly directed.
"So Obama's talking about all of this with the global warming and the—a lot of it's a hoax, it's a hoax. I mean, it's a money-making industry, okay? It's a hoax, a lot of it." – Donald Trump
Measured by platitudes, Barack Obama’s tenure as President has been extremely environmentally friendly, though, measured by actions, not so much. But he, at least, seemed required to humor the public.
Donald Trump has been moderated to no such restrictions. In addition to calling climate change a hoax many times, Trump has positioned himself as vigorously pro-coal and pro-fracking, a standpoint entrenched through the naming of oil company board member Rick Perry as Secretary of Energy. He has said he would remove the United States from international climate change agreements, and signaled his desire to “scrap” emission standards programs such as the Clean Power Plan. Additionally, he has threatened to “dismantle” the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); he is off to a good start, naming self-described “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda” Scott Pruitt as head of the agency.
It is likely that when Trump speaks of job creation, he is looking directly at the fossil fuel industry.
A sliver of hope perhaps exists in Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who reportedly said she would like to make climate change one of her “signature issues.”
Trump family allies or not, progressives must be prepared to oppose a Palin-esque “drill baby drill” approach, and encourage Trump’s job creation to prioritize green energy.
“I would bomb the shit out of 'em. I would just bomb those suckers. That's right.” – Donald Trump
For a man who built so much of his campaign on the condemnation of anti-Western groups across the world, Trump is unapologetically brash when it comes to the worst aspects of American empire.
Aside from advocating for large-scale bombing, Trump seems determined to antagonize countries like China and Iran, two countries he was recently reprimanded by for his provocations. On nuclear weapons, he has asked “why do we make them” if not intending to use them. He has supported torture, professing “we are going to have to do things that are unthinkable,” and proposed to use the infrastructure of the American surveillance state to catalog and surveil Muslim-Americans. It is perhaps indicative that Trump named a man called “Mad Dog” as his Secretary of Defense.
A recent worldwide study showed that the United States is viewed globally as “the greatest threat to peace in the world today.” What frustrates and frightens the global community is that America presents itself as the morally superior and benevolent world superpower while ignoring global laws, engaging in unilateral wars, jailing purported dissidents without due process, torturing enemies, and keeping its own population under surveillance.
There are few Republicans or Clinton-Democrats who will stand in the way of Trump’s America fully embracing the role of global tyrant. It is up to progressives to lead the opposition – the true ‘war on terror.’
The Supreme Court
“I am looking to appoint judges very much in the mold of Justice Scalia,” –Donald Trump
In 1988, Ronald Reagan appointed Anthony Kennedy to the Supreme Court. The importance of Justice Kennedy is that, despite being nominated by a Republican President, he has ruled in favor of gay marriage, and in defense of Roe v. Wade. This means that even if Trump, a man who has been pro-choice for most of his life, were to nominate someone “in the mold of” Antonin Scalia, these issues would not yet be under threat.
This is the good news.
Other than praying for the health of 83-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, there is something else progressives can do: Expand their perception of the Supreme Court.
While marriage equality and abortion are certainly important issues they are often used by Democrats as boogeymen to divert attention from other issues on which the Supreme Court is involved — issues like campaign finance, environmental regulation, and Native rights.
For example, while President Obama’s latest would-be appointee Merrick Garland is a staunch defender of marriage equality and abortion rights, he is also as corporate-friendly on most other issues as could be imagined.
When Trump, or the next President after him, endeavor to appoint new Supreme Court justices, progressives must be able to consider and critique the full scope of their positions.
"I will build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me — and I'll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words." – Donald Trump
During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump’s most preposterous pontifications and offensive obscenities came surrounding issues of immigration.
It was not simply his calls to build a wall along the Mexican border, or his professed desire to ban first Muslims, then people from “any nation that has been compromised by terrorism,” or even his call for a “deportation task force” to target “anyone who has entered the United States illegally.”
It is that his inflammatory relationship with these positions represents the proliferation of a climate of fear and scapegoating.
Certainly, there are discussions to be had on the ins and outs of border security, paths to citizenship, and the aggressiveness and expediency of vetting refugees. But they must be conversations which operate within a context of recognition of the United States as beautifully and powerfully unique as a result of its diversity.
If fear mongering against new immigrant groups was successful in American history — as was attempted toward the Irish, Italians, Germans, Chinese, Japanese, Indians, and so on — the country simply wouldn’t exist as it does.
“I think you’ll see, we have an amazing code, it will be simple, it will be easy, it’s fair – it’s graduated,” –Donald Trump
Donald Trump’s tax plan will lower taxes for everybody. Of course, the term “everybody” in this case is more manipulative tool than universal truth – similar to trade deals which are advertised as “job creators,” while leaving out that it will be low-paying service jobs created, but high-paying, benefit-laden jobs lost.
Examinations of Trump’s tax plan suggest that not only will nearly half the benefits go to the top 1 percent — lowering the corporate tax from 35 percent to 15 percent and the tax rate on top earners from 40 percent to 33 percent — but, due to changes in exemptions and deductions, many low-income families will actually end up paying more tax.
Trump’s tax plan is, unfortunately, little more than a return to the discredited and disproven trickle down economics, sometimes described, perhaps more aptly, as ‘bull and sparrow’ economics – namely, if there is not enough food for everyone, feed the bull and the sparrow can eat its shit.
In a time when economic inequality is arguably the prevalent issue facing the United States, Donald Trump’s tax plan would effectively tell most Americans to eat shit.
The Gift of Trump
Consider for a moment the presidency of Barack Obama. Oil production increased 80 percent, the surveillance state was expanded, millions of undocumented people were deported, Guantanamo Bay continued to operate, and Obama became the first President to be at war for every minute of two terms.
And yet, President Obama largely received a pass on these and other issues from liberals and self-defined progressives due to his persona as the great progressive hope.
The thing is — sometimes people need a villain to spur them to action. This may be the gift of Trump.
Hatred of Donald Trump can and must be directed towards tangible policy opposition, rather than ‘fist shaking at cloud’ platitudes.
Like any great entertainer, Donald Trump provides plenty to work with.