What was the most important thing about what happened over Inauguration weekend? It was this: the renewed conviction on the part of many of us that we can win.
That’s what a half million people demonstrating in Washington, DC and 2 ½ million more demonstrating all over the country on the same day can do.
This is absolutely huge. Without question Trump and the Republicans wanted to get off to a fast start, look like they had it all together, keep us demoralized (as so many of us were when Trump was elected) and just keep rolling. Now, that isn’t happening.
Instead, led by a revitalized mass women’s movement, it is possible to see history recording Trump’s election as one of the last, if not the last, major electoral victories of those who want to move us backwards a half-century or more. Those who took part in the women’s marches all around the country the day after the inauguration clearly have no intention of letting that happen without a very big fight, and there are more of us than there are of them.
This was also the spirit on the day before in DC, the day of the inauguration, when disruptj20 successfully coordinated human nonviolent blockades at about half the entry points into the inauguration ceremony and parade. I was part of the Climate Justice contingent, 300 strong, which turned away thousands of people from the Red Gate, a main entrance into the ceremony, from 8 am until noon, because of the strength of our human wall (one of our creative chants: “You Wanted a Wall—You Got It!”).
Other walls were organized by Movement for Black Lives, Standing Rock Solidarity, Future is Feminist, Labor Justice, Queer Resistance, Communities Under Attack and other contingents.
There were no arrests at the Red Gate, and very few at other gates. The bulk of the 200 or so arrests that did happen inauguration day, and the window smashing, rock-throwing and other property destruction that took place which led to them, were for actions organized by groups which were not part of the organizing process of disruptj20.
After such a successful inauguration weekend of action, what next, how do we keep building the mass resistance movement to Trump and Trumpism?
-We need to strengthen our networks of communication and coordination. One way that could happen would be through the organizing of a second National People’s Summit, as took place in Chicago last June. Such a summit could establish an organized way for our resistance movement to engage in mutual support and solidarity, and periodic unity in action in the streets.
-It is critical, essential that we continue to take demonstrative mass action in the streets. One such action coming up in about three months is the People’s Climate March in DC, a follow-up action to the hundreds-of-thousands strong first PCM in September of 2014 in NYC. We should all help to build that, have it be similar in size, if not larger, than the Women’s March. We also need local and state and regional actions that are organically connected to critical issue campaigns against sexist policies, pipelines, police violence, deportations, Islamophobia, union busting, for $15 an hour and more.
-The use of nonviolent direct action must continue to grow. Done strategically and well, it underlines the urgency of an issue, puts the defenders of injustice on the defensive, challenges supporters to move from support to activism and builds the mass movement. It would be a very good thing to plan for several days of nonviolent direct action following the Peoples Climate March as a way of amplifying and deepening an understanding of the urgency of this fundamental threat to all life forms on the planet.
-On a day to day basis we need to organize pressure on government decision-makers through flooding their offices with calls, letters and visits, the filing of lawsuits, the exposures of corruption and illegality, and the taking of other action in response to the rollbacks that are coming from Trump and the Republicans. Organizers, lawyers, researchers, journalists, artists and others need to do their best work to make it very hard for them to succeed. We won’t be able to stop everything, but we can stop some things, while we use all of our battles to educate masses of people about what the right-wingers are really all about.
-Grassroots outreach and organizing is essential. We need to do that among progressive or more-reachable constituencies, as well as among white working-class people who voted for Trump. White anti-racists, in particular, have a responsibility to find ways to interact with white Trump supporters, both to support the legitimate economic or other grievances many of them have and to work with them on their racism and other negative ideas and practices.
-Finally, all of this should be seen as building towards significant progressive victories at all levels in the 2018 Congressional, state and local elections. Where there are Democratic Congresspeople who have poor progressive voting records, they should be challenged in Democratic primaries. The efforts of groups like Brand New Congress should be supported. The national Green Party should realize its national electoral strategy isn’t working. It needs a course correction. It should concentrate its energies and resources on running and supporting local independent candidates who have a decent chance of winning for city council, school board and other winnable races.
Is all of this ambitious? Yes, of course, but it’s by no means impossible. As we have seen with the Bernie campaign in 2015-2016, the Standing Rock occupation in 2016 and, now, the Women’s March of late 2016 and this month, there is something very positive happening in our country. With a spirit of searching-for-unity, appreciating the importance of the concept of a united front in this perilous and dangerous time, there is no question we can do it. If we dare to struggle, dare to act, dare to unite, we can win.
I really do believe that we can win.
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.