By Bruce A. Smith
Protest marches and rallies have sprung up across our nation in response to the election of Donald Trump. People are angry, and I am too. I applaud the protests and wish I had the means to join them.
Simply, Trump is not my president. His stated policies and views are not mine. He seeks to harm people I care about, such as gays and lesbians. Hence, I will work in every way I know to peacefully and legally oppose the implementation of his policies.
I want people to know that I do not support violence or rioting. So far, the protests have been peaceful. Most protesters have been behaving responsibly, and Trump supporters have had the good sense to stay away, thus keeping provocations to a minimum. But that could change quickly.
What I do support is peaceful, non-violent opposition to the Trump presidency. As models, I invoke the legacy of Gandhi, who overturned the power of the British Empire in 1947 to give India it’s independence. Similarly, Martin Luther King, Jr. and his non-violent approach to civil rights brought down the barriers of segregation and gave racial equality full legal standing.
Not only do I feel we must protest Trump and his bigotry, but more importantly I feel we must challenge Trump because he is dangerous. His stated policies will deny people needed healthcare, and that will kill and injure our people. Further, his intention to withdraw from international treaties will destabilize the world and cause geopolitical and economic turmoil. As a result, people will lose jobs and income. More lands will become unsafe.
Also, Trump says he wants to cancel the Paris climate accords, but as the global weather becomes increasingly volatile it will amplify the refugee crisis, threaten food supplies, and destroy coastal areas. Already, Miami Beach has had to build dikes, install pumping stations, and raise the mains roads three feet to beat the rising waters.
Nor can we fully predict what a Trump presidency will unleash from the wing nuts on the right. Will the Sons of Anarchy rule the highways? Will Alt-Right militias storm our streets looking for illegals? Will brown-skinned folks with head scarves be rounded up by ICE? Will guys like me get interred in some FEMA camp as a danger to Homeland Security. Remember Joe Stalin captured 30,000 dissidents in one-night during one of his purges in the 1930s, long before the advent of ubiquitous surveillance.
The current Democratic party leadership does not seem to appreciate the Trump threat. President Obama and Hillary Clinton are wrong in calling for an “open mind,” or encouraging us to work for Trump’s success. That casts a false blanket of calm over the impending calamity coming our way. We must prepare for very dark days.
I DO NOT and WILL NOT keep an “open mind.” I detest Donald Trump and will fight his presidency with everything I’ve got. Not only are Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama not speaking to me right now, many journalists are not either. Columnists at the New York Times, such as Nickolas Kristoff, want us to make the best of it. They claim that our democracy requires us to be good citizens and accept Trump as our president. I do not. I am fully committed to resistance.
In addition, I have had it with the people who elected Trump and champion his victory. Trump’s victory is the straw that has broken my soul’s back. For me, it goes back decades—Vietnam, Nixon, Kent State, “America Love it of Leave It” bumper stickers, Reagan and his October Surprise, W. Bush’s stupidity and the needless wars. Sarah Palin. And little things, like the absolute trashing of the Dixie Chicks for dissing W, even though the DCX were and are the best-selling female Country Music group.
Trump is just the latest version of conservative, repressive, hateful thinking that only lives to serve the interests of whites who have little imagination. Don’t have a good job? Then move to where the good jobs are. Or go back to school and get trained for a good job—but shut up and stop whining! The Rust Belt has been rusting for decades! Get on with life, please!
Trump is publicly proud that he has never read a book? Way to go, Bubba. I rebuke your steadfast ignorance, sir.
Am I condescending to the great masses of poor white workers who feel forgotten and left behind? Yup. But what have they done for me lately? Given me and my country—and culture—Duck Dynasty and Honey Boo-Boo? So, for that I should care about them? Remember, I have lived in the South, and worked there for many years. There are parts of me that love the South deeply. I have wept at Cajun music festivals. I love the bayous. I love New Orleans. I love the Great Smokies. I love Asheville, NC and hammered dulcimer music. I play a banjo and fiddle. I love southern-style smoked meats, and even started a business called Bruce’s Big Apple BBQ featuring smoked chicken. I know what “sweet tea” is. I’ve loved the “Kiss my Grits” attitude of Southerners.
But that only goes so far, and does not excuse or alleviate their destructive behaviors, like dismantling Obamacare, banning Muslims from our country, or accepting endless deprivation. When I lived in Nashville I grew to detest being asked if I was a Christian on job applications or in social gatherings. I ached in pain when I was told that my storytelling gigs in after-school programs were funded by the federal government because the State of Tennessee or the City of Nashville didn’t care about the kids because they were African-Americans. I shuddered realizing that Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama were always going to score last in national rankings for academic achievement.
“Well, at least we made the top fifty,” I used to joke with my Nashvillian neighbors when test scores for students were published in local newspapers. But my love of the South’s gutsy authenticity and its music helped me hang in despite all their mishigas.
But now I turn my back on the South, Rednecks, and the blind stupidity of the so-called Biblical World View. I will never, ever go to Dixie. I have begun removing country music tunes from my web stream. I can’t stand anything that reminds me of Trump and the ugliness of southern thinking.
To “keep an open mind” is to be naive. Trump is dangerous in his own right and the Republicans make him exceptionally potent since they have control of everything in government. As a result, people will die as their health and social benefits are withdrawn. Many will be injured in the days to come as food stamps allotments are reduced and then terminated. Subsidies for medications will be tougher to maintain as federal contributions are diminished. Canceling the federal “Extended Medicaid” plan implemented under Obamacare will increase the deaths of the sick on those roles by 10% per year, according to governmental estimates released during the Obamacare congressional discussions and reported in the New York Times.
Everyone who voted for Trump has to realize that the blood of these people will be on their hands. I know that is difficult to accept, and many will accuse me of gross journalistic negligence. But how is it not true? American will get sicker and die faster because they can’t get the healthcare that they have been getting under Obama. Other programs are at risk as well as social welfare as a national priority is discounted by the Trumpers.
Personally, I feel very threatened, as I depend on many governmental benefits. For me and forty percent of all Americans my age, our social security check is the only income we have. With my benefit I pay the rent, phone, and utilities, and have a little left over for other necessities. My healthcare is paid by Medicare and Medicaid. For those not 65 years of age and savvy to the terminology of federal health programs, all Americans over 65 get Medicare, which covers most hospital bills, but leaves open the question of payment for doctors and medications. For me, those bills are paid for by Medicaid, which is a state-run but federally financed health program for poor people. As part of that program my meds are subsidized. My co-pay is $1.20 per prescription. In addition, I can get free Paratransit rides to my doctor’s appointments, and a ride three-times-a-month to the grocery store where I can spend my $90 per month food stamp allotment. I am very grateful for all of these benefits, and I thank every American taxpayer for keeping me alive, healthy, and fed.
But, I also have personal concerns about the international impacts of Trump’s foreign policy, as I have family at risk in Europe. I understand that Trump wants to pull out of NATO, which will destabilize the whole continent. Specifically, it will put the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia at risk because they have ethnic Russians living within their borders, just like the Crimea, and they can feel the hot breath of Vladimir Putin breathing down their necks. As a result, NATO has sent in thousands of Rapid-Reaction-type troops to these countries. The ground forces come from Poland, France and Germany, with Americans pledging medical and logistical support. But if Trump pulls the US out, will the NATO forces be forced to withdraw as well? Where will that leave my many cousins who live in Lithuania, who just a few years ago broke free of the Russian yoke they’ve endured since WW II. Will Trump abandon my family? It appears he will. If my relatives are tortured or killed in a resistance effort against Putin, who do I hold responsible? The Trump supporter proudly wearing his “Make America Great Again” hat? I will.
For those of you who say that you had a constitutional right to vote for Trump and were simply exercising it, I say you still need to take responsibility for what your vote will trigger. I do not approve, accept, or tolerate your actions. If my family members are killed by Russian forces in Lithuanian, or people I care about here in America die from a lack of medical care or attacks by white power thugs, I will expect an apology from you, and I will seek it, too. You don’t get a free ride from me.
So, I applaud fellow journalists like Charles M. Blow in the New York Times who is openly declaring that he stands with the resistance against Trump. I applaud film maker Michael Moore who calls Trump a fascist. I applaud journalist Andrew Sullivan who calls Trump a tyrant. I applaud news-comedian Bill Maher who said two nights ago on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show that we should be prepared that Trump might refuse to relinquish his office at the end of his term and could declare himself president-for-life. “Fascists like him don’t like to let go of their power,” Maher said.
We must stand up to Trump. We must be ready for every form of demagoguery that he might present.
Count me as part of the resistance.