Trump’s electoral college victory and the Republican victory retaining control of the House and Senate were a huge shock. It helps that Hillary won the popular vote, possibly by a couple million or more votes by the time they’re all counted, but that doesn’t change the stark reality of our situation. It’s bad.
It reminded me of a couple other times in my life that something similarly terrible has happened. The first was the re-election of Richard Nixon in 1972 by a huge margin over peace candidate George McGovern. The other was the 9-11-01 terrorist attacks and the militaristic and repressive responses of Bush/Cheney.
In Nixon’s case, things turned around relatively quickly. 1 year and 7 months after he was sworn in for a second term, the exposure by the Washington Post of his administration’s role in the Watergate Hotel burglary led to his resignation. He did so because the pressure for his impeachment was growing rapidly, and his support among the people had fallen to about 25% in the polls.
In the case of 9-11-01, things didn’t start to turn until the Congressional election of 2006 when the Democrats surprisingly took control of both the House and the Senate, presaging Obama’s Presidential victory in 2008.
Which will it be for Trump? Will one or more of his many past sexual attacks on women blow up in his face somehow? Could the exposures about Trump University, or other dishonest and deceitful business practices, do so? Will the fact that he is a much more in-the-spotlight situation as a sitting President lead to him being brought to justice for at least one of the things for which he should be prosecuted?
Or will we have to wait until two years from now and the 2018 elections to try to do what the Democrats did in 2006?
If the latter is going to happen, Bernie Sanders and the movement which came together around his Presidential candidacy must move quickly to assert leadership in action to oppose Trump and Trumpism. I will be very surprised if that doesn’t happen soon, on Bernie’s part, in collaboration with others who played leading roles in his campaign.
Bernie is very popular in the US right now. According to http://www.motherjones.com on October 25th, “As of this writing, he is the most popular politician in America. His favorable ratings are two points higher than those of President Barack Obama (who is currently enjoying his highest numbers in 45 months). They are 10 points higher than Hillary Clinton’s. They are 19 points higher than those of both Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.”
It’s reasonable to think that a Bernie Sanders vs. Donald Trump race would have yielded different results. I remember that http://www.realclearpolitics.com, in the spring of this year, publicized polls which compared Trump vs. Clinton and Trump vs. Sanders. For many weeks, consistently, Sanders did better, much better, beating Trump by as much as 10% higher than Clinton in the polling.
Sanders doesn’t have an email or Clinton Foundation issue to dog him. He isn’t the kind of polarizing figure that Hillary has become, partly for her and her husband’s actions and policies, and partly because the Republicans and ultra-right have been demonizing her for decades. Sanders is a happily married family man with lots of children and grandchildren, kind of like a grumpy old uncle. And most importantly, he has a 30-year track record of saying and advocating for the same things, many of which are popular both with progressives and a decent percentage of Trump’s base of white workers and white middle-class people.
But progressive activists definitely shouldn’t sit around waiting for the Bernie movement to give leadership. Without question, Bernie is not going to be leading what we also need right now: visible, massive, in-the-streets actions. We need more nonviolent direct actions, especially mass actions, and we need to integrate into our people’s movement the kind of spiritual/moral way of being that we saw within the Southern-based civil rights movement of the 60’s and are seeing right now among Indigenous people at Standing Rock.
Indeed, there are major actions happening around the country in solidarity with Standing Rock next week, on November 15. This is the perfect time for us to show our strength in action on an extremely timely issue.
We need an independent, in-the-streets and in-the-voting-booth, power to the people movement, using a mix of tactics, coming together and working together, supporting each other, basing our actions on love, showing the world that we are going to righteously oppose all the many retrograde and unjust, sexist, racist and pro-the-1% actions that Trump and the ultra-right will be undertaking.
Each of us individually needs to do what we need to do to recover from this punch to the gut. Long walks in a park or in the woods, time in deep meditation, quality time with loved ones, time with children, time making a connection to the Great Spirit—whatever we need to do we need to do it, now and throughout our lives.
At this sad, difficult, upsetting, angering time, we need to deepen our powers of resilience and help others do the same. We need each other. We need to work and act together in a healthy and loving, if critical, way. We need to keep the faith, because so many life forms, living and not yet born, are counting on us to do so. May the memory of our activist ancestors who faced much harder obstacles than most of us do today give us strength and courage.
Ted Glick has been a progressive activist and organizer since 1968. Past writings and other information can be found at http://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on twitter at http://twitter.com/jtglick.