Activism After Trump

swampthing-bw“Organize or Die.”

Granted, this Union saying has been around for quite a while but never has it been more true than it is today. Sure, the election results sucked but when you think about what has been happening in America since the so-called Reagan Revolution with its trickle-down economics, elimination of mental health care, and massive increase of homelessness, where we find ourselves today has a certain perverted, twisted logic to it.

Trump didn’t come out of nowhere: His election is a manifestation of the neoliberal economic policies instituted under Ronald Regan’s administration, which has continued through every administration since then.

Government for the people, of the people, and by the people was never really factually accurate, but it was a pretty decent goal to shoot for. And it still is. The goal line may have just been moved way back again, but that doesn’t make our goal any less worthy nor our work to achieve that goal any less important.

The important thing for accountable community organizations is that we not freak out with the changing tides. Eight years ago when millions of us went into the streets on election day to celebrate Barack Obama being elected as America’s first African American (yes, he is American) President, homelessness and income inequality didn’t magically disappear. Now that America has elected a true blue neoliberal corporate president (who makes Reagan look almost human), we can dispel ourselves of any remaining expectations that OUR government will value the remnants of the New Deal or the Great Society, or clean air or inclusiveness. Forget public parks: They are now public/private partnerships; public schools have become charter schools; public health has become managed care; public housing has been mortgaged off as Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD). Based on early announcements of Trump’s cabin, this trend will accelerate.

And yet we have to hold firm to our convictions that a government must want those being governed to be healthy, educated, well housed, and well fed. These are human needs all people have and strive for, and certainly ALL People deserve. It’s called humanity, and people are called Human Beings. Really, when you think about it, what legitimate government wouldn’t want all the people being governed healthy, educated, fed and housed? What form of government wants millions of its people ignorant, jailed, hurting and unhoused, scared of each other and scared shitless of tomorrow? Is anyone that is not straight up fascist going to pledge their allegiance to a constitution expounding those ideals?

Of course not.

And yet, like it or not, that’s where we are.The question is: What are we going to do about it?

We are going to stay true to our beliefs and we are going to stay steadfast in our public education, our community organizing, our incredible artwork, our street theatre direct actions, and our celebration of love for our communities and for each other. Why wouldn’t we?

Fear and hate might (well I guess it did) get you an office in the White House and a whole bunch of fancy offices on Capitol Hill; it might get their corporate masters even greater profits through exploitation of people, land, air and sea, and it will definitely get them on Fox News.

What it will never get us is a country where ALL people really are equal, where humanity is a gift, and where the legacy we leave for future generations isn’t the cash in our bank account but the love in our hearts for the people we share this world with.

The inherent greed that is the cornerstone of neoliberal economics tells us that it is far more likely Trump is the beginning of the end of this reign of terror…. than that he is the beginning of it. Trust us when we say, we will be doing everything in our power to help make that true. 

Written by Paul Boden, Executive Director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project. Illustrated by Art Hazelwood.