Editorial

The Time Has Come to Rise Up

In just his first 10 days in office, Trump has managed to move the US toward a fascist state, endangering the lives of most of its citizens. How this occurred? Weren’t the Democrats supposed to resist every policy of Trump’s, much as the Republicans did during the Obama administration? For that matter, where are the sane, responsible Republicans who so vociferously expressed their dislike for Trump during the election cycle? It was baffling to see them do nothing as Trump signed yet another asinine executive order banning Muslims from 7 countries, an edict that belongs somewhere in the Dark Ages.

There were 20 Republican neo-Nazi legislators (let’s call a spade a spade) who supported this decision, almost on par with the 20 reasonable Republicans who stood against it. Yet 251 Republicans and, more unbelievably, 31 Democrats were silent or had no position. As President John F. Kennedy once said, quoting Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” I guess we have very few good men (and women) in Congress.

Not even Elizabeth Warren, the Great Democratic Hope, had the courage to vote against the confirmation of Ben Carson, someone who is racist, anti-LGBT, and completely unqualified to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development. That one should have been a no-brainer. How can we now be sure Warren will stand up for the people when she has to make a tough decision? Furthermore, 14 Senate Democrats voted to confirm torture-lover Mike Pompeo for CIA director. It boggles the mind.

Then there’s Cory Booker, who, with 12 other Democrats voted against the Klobuchar/Sanders amendment allowing Americans to get more affordable drugs from Canada. The reason he and 12 other Democrats voted this way is so obvious that it’s almost laughable. Seven of the Democrats who voted against it, including Booker, were the top recipients of contributions from the pharmaceutical industry.

It’s not a case of “picking one’s battles.” Every bad decision Trump makes is a battle that must be fought every… single… time. It is important from Trump’s first days in office to serve notice that we will not stand for a single one of his bone-headed decisions. Since our elected officials do not seem to be doing it, it’s now up to us. We are no longer asleep.

Many people voted reluctantly for Trump in the belief that the checks and balances built into the Constitution would put a restraint on Trump’s ignorant decisions and because they knew a Clinton presidency would have continued the same neoliberal policies toxic to struggling Americans that would have embroiled us in more wars, including a nuclear war with Russia. But the notion of checks and balances seems to have gone out the window, as the entire Congress appears to be completely ineffective and out of touch with the needs of their constituents (if they even care at all) when it comes to being an effective force for resistance to an autocratic regime.

There is no doubt that at some point Trump will be removed from office. His actions in his first few days as President are one of a person certifiably insane. And I mean that literally. According to an article in U.S. News, John D. Gartner, a psychotherapist who taught psychiatric residents at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, said “Donald Trump is dangerously mentally ill and temperamentally incapable of being president.” Gartner says Trump suffers from malignant narcissism, an incurable disease. This mental illness includes “anti-social behavior, sadism, aggressiveness, paranoia and grandiosity. Trump's personality disorder (which includes hypomania) is also displayed through a lack of impulse control and empathy and "a feeling that people ... don't recognize their greatness.”

Not only is he insane, Trump is also completely incompetent and unfit to hold the office of local dog-catcher, let alone President. He’s been issuing edicts as if he were Emperor, most of which are illegal and need to be revised or rescinded, as was his recent executive order barring Muslims.

Even when Trump is no longer president, however, our country will still be a mess. A major reason why Trump was elected in the first place is because of the serious problems the US has, from income inequality to lack of universal health care, crushing student loan debt and destruction of the environment due to big oil’s insistence on propping up a dying fossil fuel industry.

Pence is no friend of the American people either. Although he is sane and has political competence, that very competence will ensure he can enact and continue current policies that funnel the wealth Americans produce from the poor and middle class who produce it to the wealthy who neither need it nor produce it.

The time has come to show up en masse in the streets and in government offices from the smallest town halls to the halls of Congress to give notice to these useless politicians that they are going to be replaced with people who are willing and able to do the job we hired them for — not the job the corporations paid them for.

The government is prepared. They have been militarizing the police for years, knowing at some point the pitchforks are coming for them. It may seem hopeless when we consider confronting the military power of the government we are opposing. But we must remember that it is OUR government. The government that is meant to work for us, not vice versa. Every member of the US Armed Forces takes an oath, stating that they will “support and defend the Constitution of the United States  against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” No matter how militarized the police, we also should remember most of the police and military are common people like you and me and are not likely to harm fellow Americans to defend a tyrannical government.

WE are the ones with the power. When we stand together, united, there is nothing we cannot accomplish with peaceful civil resistance. And it doesn’t even require the majority of the population in order to change things. You might be surprised to learn that not a single prolonged, peaceful revolt required more than 3.5% of the population to be successful.

According to researcher, author and educator Erica Chenoweth, a specialist in civil resistance, it takes active and sustained resistance from only 3.5% of the population for a revolution to succeed. That equates to only about 11 million Americans in a country of around 320 million.

Chenoweth said “From 1900 to 2006, nonviolent campaigns worldwide were twice as likely to succeed outright as violent insurgencies. And there’s more. This trend has been increasing over time—in the last fifty years civil resistance has become increasingly frequent and effective, whereas violent insurgencies have become increasingly rare and unsuccessful. This is true even in extremely repressive, authoritarian conditions where we might expect nonviolent resistance to fail.”

Chenoweth added, “I’ll bet some of you are thinking, ‘Is she insane? I watch the news, and I see protestors getting shot at in the streets all the time!’ Sometimes crackdowns do happen. But even in these cases, nonviolent campaigns outperformed violent ones by two-to-one. When security forces beat up, arrest, or even shoot unarmed activists, there is, indeed, safety in numbers.” And those onlookers who are ambivalent are far more likely to side with the unarmed peaceful protestors than those attacking them. The peaceful resistance at Standing Rock is just such an example. Chenoweth noted that “nonviolent civil resistance campaigns are 10 times more likely to usher in democratic institutions than violent ones.”

There are a number of effective strategies we can use to ensure the government listens to us. One of them is not, however, refusing to pay Federal taxes. Because our Federal taxes do not fund spending, we cannot “starve” the government of money. The government is the creator of the dollar, so it can produce as many dollars as it needs to pay for whatever it wants. The basic principles of Modern Monetary Theory are important for all Americans to understand, because it is the basis for every single issue we are currently facing in the US and if we (and our Congresspeople) understand how it works, we can solve our nation’s problems.

Some effective strategies include general strikes and boycotts. What the corporate oligarchs rely on to keep money in their pockets is the hard work of the American people. If we don’t work, there is no production of saleable goods and services, and their corporations are in serious danger of collapse.

Understandably, not everyone can participate in a general strike in a country where there are as yet no social safety nets like there are in a country like France. Most Americans are, for all intents and purposes, enslaved to their jobs. This must change. But for now, those who cannot participate for fear of losing a job can at least support those who do have the ability to strike.

Consider the jobless, for example. Just think, if all the jobless got out in the streets to protest, that would amount to more than twice the number of people who would be necessary to effect real change, according to the 3.5% rule, given the real unemployment rate as of December 2016 was 9.2%.

That, combined with as many people as possible participating in a series of regular general strikes until our demands for justice, health care, education, clean energy and more are met. And there is strength in numbers. If everyone in a company walks off the job, it’s highly unlikely the employer will fire everyone. This is what has historically made labor unions so powerful.

Look at the effect of the thousands of people who gathered at airports around the nation to protest the detention of incoming Muslims. Its success was practically immediate. Judges across the country put a temporary stay on Trump’s executive order, which, with continued pressure, will hopefully become permanent.

There will always be some among us who care nothing for anyone but themselves; who want to selfishly hoard the wealth produced by their fellow citizens and who think people of a different religion, nationality or sex are lesser than they are. But the rest of us, the majority of Americans, are good people who were raised to believe that, as our Constitution states, “all men are created equal” — that it’s important to care for one another, particularly for those who have less than we do. It’s simply a matter of ethics: you either have them or you don’t. It’s up to us to root out the rot at the core of our government and replace it with new growth that benefits the people and the planet.

As Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote almost 200 years ago:

"Rise, like lions after slumber

In unvanquishable number!

Shake your chains to earth like dew

Which in sleep had fallen on you:

Ye are many—they are few!"

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