The Struggle We Face
We devote this issue of Mass Dissent to an unhappy topic – our new president and his team. All of us can go back and forth between thinking, “he’s just another Republican”, and “my god, fascism is about to arrive”. Both have elements of truth. Trump is, in many ways, just another Republican, a bad version of Reagan, if you look at his cabinet choices and most of his initiatives so far. An Attorney General who supports more incarceration but not voting rights; an EPA chief who is captive to the oil and gas industry and has spent much of his career suing the EPA; head of HHS who has distinguished himself by the number of times he has attempted to “repeal” Obama Care; a secretary of education with no fidelity to (or understanding of) public education; a nominee for Labor who was a serial violator of labor laws; and the classic Republican initiatives of cutting taxes and regulations. But, if this isn’t bad enough, there is a much darker side — a president who will say anything, even things demonstrably false, so long as they feed his ego (i.e., the margin of his victory, the size of his adoring crowds) or demonize others (immigrants, the media, the courts). The vision (driven, it seems, by Steve Bannon, whose philosophy is a disturbing brew of nationalism and a religiosity that cannot tolerate Islam) is typical of “strong men” and antithetical to democracy – “believe me,” Trump says, “believe whatever I say,” and hate those who disagree (think Putin).
We at the Guild must do what we have always done, but even harder now. Fight, struggle, oppose, and educate. Demonstrations are important, they mobilize the opposition and show the larger public that many, many people are committed to opposing Trump. We will train legal observers, support and protect demonstrators and represent them in court—and we will march with them. We will work on and support progressive initiatives, and, as we always have, network with and support activists in their undertakings. And we must work as well on education, on showing that Trump’s supposedly populist vision, his supposed commitment to jobs and disdain of elites, is as thin as his skin, a pretense for a man whose only real interest is self-interest and power.
This issue of Mass Dissent explores some of what has happened with the new administration so far. Jennifer Berkshire writes about a telling exemplar of the new administration’s cabinet appointments, Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, informing us that behind the seemingly (and misleading) “ditzy” exterior is an anti-democratic, reactionary core ideology. Ragini Shah writes on the new administration’s immigration policy, with an important lesson for us – these reactionary policies build, in fact, on reactionary policies long in place that we have to fight. Last, some positive news: David Kelston’s article on what the courts have done so far, and Urszula Masny-Latos’s piece on how, using our own work as guidance, we can resist and fight.
– David Kelston & Makis Antzoulatos