The USA is about to become an oppressive dictatorship. Worse yet, there is next to nothing I can do about it.
Donald Trump has not even been inaugurated yet. and already the Republican-dominated Congress is laying the groundwork for automatically rubber-stamping every ridiculous and unconstitutional proposal he proffers. Women’s reproductive rights are going to be set back 50 years. The Muslim registry is back on the table. He’s threatening to use the courts against journalists and news outlets who write negative stories about him.
Writing in Forbes in 2014, Melik Kaylan opined on the new phenomenon of popularly-elected dictators.
“Let’s itemize the list of common attributes: media owned by the leader’s cronies; economy dominated by same; opposition politicians constantly harassed, prosecuted, or in danger of prosecution; state and religion hand in glove; judiciary pressured to comply with government’s diktat; independence of educational institutions relentlessly subverted; corruption ubiquitous in state institutions; free markets victimized by political expediency. And oh yes – almost invariably the country’s woes get blamed on sinister outside conspirators, usually the US.”
Replace “the US” with “Black Lives Matter,” or “Muslims,” or “Mexicans,” and you’ve got the very template on which Trump’s presidency is going to be based.
So what can I do about it?
Just leave? Even as you read these words, some conservative somewhere is likely formulating his or her response, which will undoubtedly include some variation of the phrase “so move to Somalia” or “there are planes out every day.” And while leaving the country holds a certain practical appeal, from a philosophical standpoint it blows. To put it simply, I was here first. Why should I leave just because some jerk wants to destroy the America I grew up in?
Imagine you’ve lived in the same neighborhood for 46 years. Then one day, a loudmouthed jerk moves in next door, starts throwing dog poop in your yard and threatens to burn down the whole neighborhood. Should you be the one to move?
Another suggestion bandied about, also by conservatives, is to “just get over it.” Which is stupid. Should the Germans who didn’t vote for Adolf Hitler have just “gotten over it”? Should the tens of millions of black South Africans have just “gotten over it” as one white, pro-Apartheid president after another was elected?
I could, of course, wait two years and send a message to Congress with my vote, and vote for Trump’s opponent in four years. But how much damage will have been done in that time? Adolf Hitler was popularly elected Chancellor of Germany in 1933; by 1935 Germany had already instituted oppressive policies against Jews, laying the groundwork for the Holocaust. Robert Mugabe was popularly elected Prime Minister of Zimbabwe in 1980; by 1982 his regime was already massacring civilians.
And while genocide may not be on Donald Trump’s mind (although the idea does not far-fetched; this is Donald Trump, after all), the erosion of your civil rights – especially if you’re a woman or a minority – most certainly is. All it takes is one Supreme Court appointment, and women’s reproductive rights will be set back 50 years – and as I write these words, there’s a vote-turning vacancy on the Supreme Court waiting to be filled. And regardless of who sits on the Supreme Court, any number of oppressive policies could be in place by 2018 when we elect a new Congress that will hopefully, mercifully, put some kinds of checks on Trump’s power.
Peaceful resistance is probably the best option, although I fear it will mean little or nothing. A couple of months ago, I wrote about how to resist a Trump presidency – attend peaceful protests, donate money to progressive and pro-Constitution causes like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom From Religion Foundation. But those acts of resistance are mere platitudes in the face of the unchecked power of the Trump regime. Beginning January 21, the USA as we know it is going to start hemorrhaging, and acts of peaceful resistance will be naught but a band-aid.
Of course, the last option is so ridiculous, so extreme, so destructive that it deserves no exposition. An armed uprising would benefit no one, would cost tens of thousands of lives, and leave the country in ruins. It is, and must remain, off the table.
At this point, the best the Trump resistance can hope for is that it expands beyond the 65 million Americans who didn’t vote for him, and maybe, just maybe, a handful of Republicans in Congress will get the message and not rubber-stamp every Trump dictate. That’s what the future of America has come down to; putting our hope in a handful of men and women risking political suicide to save the country from Donald Trump.
[Featured Image by Mark Makela/Getty Images]