We have survived the first 4 days of the Trump presidency. That puts us 0.27% of the way through this national nightmare.
It’s hard to imagine a more comically incompetent first 4 days of a presidency. Going nuts over the crowd size, creating an entire meme about “Alternative Facts” that will survive the Trump presidency, pushing lies so open that even Chris Wallace is calling them out, this is disastrous. In part, what is so scary here is that were Trump even marginally competent or had the emotional maturity of a standard adult, he could quietly push through anything, which of course exactly what will happen if Pence ever takes over. I know that there are several articles trying to figure out what this all means and at least some of those have made a coherent case that it’s an intentional attack on the press in order to sow so much mistrust among his supporters that he will be able to tell them literally anything later and they will believe it over the evil media. And maybe that is true. But it seems like a pretty stupid strategy to me. It might work for some people and it might even work for a reelection campaign in 2020 in terms of getting his supporters to vote, but the American people aren’t that stupid and even media hacks like Chuck Todd have some limits in what they will swallow. If Trump wants to spend the next 4 years talking about crowd size, plagiarized birthday cakes, and tiny hands, we can do that. Doesn’t seem ideal for him though.
None of this course will matter for that Maverick John McCain, who will vote for whatever Trump wants and whoever Trump nominates.
Like others, I am still thinking through what the big rallies on Saturday means and how to build upon them. I think Kenzo Shibata makes a critical point here in that they got hundreds of thousands of people who had never been to a rally before to come out to a rally. Not only is that a motivated public, but if they realized that rallies and protest and resistance can be fun, they will be more likely to come out again. And despite a bunch of whining by people uncomfortable with protest that instead of rallies people should vote or that instead of rallying, those very people should have voted, what that short-sighted analysis misses is that a) probably well over 90 percent of the people who came out to protest on Saturday did vote for Hillary Clinton and b) if you want to get people involved in politics, you have to reach them somehow and a rally or mass meeting is the perfect place to reach them. Very few people are going to volunteer out of nowhere for political work. They need to be asked. These actions give information, collect phone numbers, and build connections between those already active and those who might become active. And that’s critical. The protest movement can build on the ballot box and the ballot box can build on the protest movement. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.
In any case, tomorrow I start teaching a labor history course for the first time in 9 years, so it will give me the chance to teach 30 students not only about the rise and fall of workplace power, but also the deep connections between work and race. A key theme of the course is why white workers vote their white interests over their class interests. I would have talked about this anyway. Now it is front and center. Even going to have them read Sam Gompers’ horrible pamphlet Meat vs. Rice, about the evils of Chinese immigration. Why try to hide that this has been absolutely critical to all of American history. No romanticizing labor history in my courses. Hard analysis is the goal. We’ll see how it goes.
That’s a tiny piece of my resistance to Trump in any case.