It is time for us to do some soul searching. Never before in my lifetime have I seen this large and this passionate international, as well as national, response to US policies. Yet, we who call ourselves progressives are not united. Instead, there is constant bickering and denunciation.
Whether or not people were active during Obama’s reign of terror, Trump is offering us a great opportunity to organize and resist, not protest, but resist. We have to stop looking back and asking, “Where were you when . . . ?” The question should be, “What can I do to help move those who are now active into more than an anti Trump stance to one where they recognize that it’s the system that spawns these assholes that must be changed rather than merely one individual?”
With no guarantees of success, this is a great opportunity to mobilize those who have already taken to the streets. Are some Hillary diehards? Of course. Are others hardcore Democrats? Of course. Is Soros involved in some of the actions? Very likely. But we must think of the tens of thousands with no affiliation with the above and who are acting out of anger and fear regarding what is happening in this country and where Trump is leading us.
We have to accept that to be effective, we must go where the people are . . . and they have been activated now. Let’s stop looking back and using that as a rationale for doing nothing but complaining.
Larry Holmes, first secretary of Workers World Party, stated very effectively, “Our politics must be ambitious and offensive, we must advance new ideas, because if we don’t do it, who will? The capitalist crisis is responsible for Trump. The neo-liberal bourgeoisie has collapsed politically, because here and internationally they have been the manager of this huge assault on the workers and oppressed.”
I would go one step further than Larry, it is the capitalist system that breeds the Trumps, the Clintons, the Obamas, etc. To attack any one of them is to not understand that another is waiting in the wings to carry on the fulfillment of the capitalist agenda of world dominance. If we successfully protest against the Trump administration and he is impeached, we then get Mike Pence. He will work towards the same goals as Trump in a reserved, pleasant way without the bombast. We will all be so relieved that Trump is gone, that it is likely our protests will stop. What really has been gained?
This phenomenon was recently played out with the election of Barack Obama. The people were so happy to be past the Bush regime that Obama offered us a breath of fresh air. He offered us hope and a sense that things will change. After all, something significant did change, we now had our first black president. We projected onto him our own hopes not realizing that he was merely another in a line of many leaders who were beholden to the ruling class. He accomplished much for the ruling class and successfully immobilized the progressives for eight years, as did Bill Clinton for his eight years.
As long as we accept functioning under the capitalist umbrella, the most we will accomplish by our protests are Band-Aids placed on the hemorrhaging. Therefore, we must help move the people beyond protest to a state of rebellion. Again, let me reference statements made by Larry Holmes: “Many of the people who are waking up can be radicalized—if we reach out to them, if we try, if we talk about it among ourselves and say this doesn’t work, but this does. We don’t want to be isolated. We want to be with the militants, but we also want to be where the struggle is, whether that’s coming from the unions or one of these other mass movements.
“The objective of that movement is not to separate itself from the masses, but to influence the masses, to go into the mass movements and influence those movements, though we will reserve the right to take action ourselves to push protest into resistance.”
The protests have historically been limited to walking around with posters, sometimes singing freedom songs, or writing and signing petitions, calling your congressman, etc. There are times the protesters effect some alteration or change but business goes on as usual. Resistance, on the other hand, includes dramatic action which informs the powers that be that business will not continue as usual and that we intend to make the people ungovernable. That includes letting the Democratic Party know that it will not be allowed to co-opt the movement. As Larry Holmes has rightfully suggested, “The Democratic Party is the graveyard of movements.”
While we engage in bickering, arguing, and denouncing, the Democrats are already moving in to fill the void we are leaving. The anger some of us have been expressing, that these demonstrations and protests are controlled by the Democratic Party, will be realized very quickly by that same Democratic Party unless we join with those who are protesting and make our presence felt by sharing with them our message.
Many of those who are now protesting are young men and women, many probably active politically for the first time. They need to be nurtured and supported and if it is not us, it will be Charles Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, or Corey Booker. Their message to the angry and frightened people will, once again, be vote for the Democrats in the next election and we will save the day.
If we are really serious about a people’s movement to make significant change in our political, economic, and social lives, instead of whining and complaining, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get out there where the people are. The people are in motion now and we cannot afford to waste this opportunity sitting at our computers posting angry messages asking where were they when . . . ?
Dave Alpert has masters degrees in social work, educational administration, and psychology. He spent his career working with troubled inner city adolescents.