Saturday, 12 November 2016

Healing Rhetoric Matters: My View on the Trump Victory, Brexit and Trump Protests.

"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." Abraham Lincoln.

The deed's done. Millions of hard working American working and middle class voters have gone to the polls and decided which candidate they want to represent them on the world stage for the next four years. Some of you may feel ecstatic and hopeful for the future, knowing that the policies your candidate has put forward on their national platform now have a slightly better chance of being acted upon. Others will feel despondent, let down by those peers and family members who voted contrary to them yet didn't say a word until after the vote had finished. Some will feel extremely concerned about the direction America is taking, whether it be a possible roll back on LGBTQIA rights, mass deportation programmes for illegal Latino immigrants or a cosying up to crooked regimes run by vile, egotistical dictators with no regard for international cooperation on human or environmental rights.
 It's a scary place to be in emotionally. Those who are on the losing side of the Presidential campaign, I get you. I wanted Hillary Clinton to win. Not because she was a woman but because she was a champion of human rights, a middle class girl who had made a success of her life by fighting for those less fortunate than herself. Yes the email "scandal" wasn't Hillary's finest honour but to be perfectly honest, I'd use a personal email server if I thought my confidential data was going to be kept more secure. Donald Drumpf has never truly been a champion of the people. Time and time again he failed to fulfill his charitable obligations, treated women shoddily and can't help to shoot his big ass mouth off to inflame tensions even further. If you look at his tweet reactions to the Trump protests, you see that his first response blamed the media for inciting hatred, which he claims is "unfair" and yet this morning he walks back on the tweet and praises them for expressing First Amendment rights. The SECOND tweet was the first one he should have sent out. Many protestors would have been sceptical of his true feelings but at least it was a civil attempt to try and acknowledge why protestors are so vocal about their feelings towards him. Trump has to learn he can't simply tweet what the hell he wants and not expect a backlash. It's a shame the protests have become violent in places; I certainly don't condone damage against property and burning flags doesn't really lead to any change in opinions and understanding from political opponents. Those on the far left are extremely angry about the outcome of the result and their fear is justified; Trump hasn't actively come out and said he'd defend the LGBTQIA Executive Actions carried out by President Obama or roll back on his threat towards leaving the Paris Climate Change Agreement. Those are the sorts of policies left wing activists care about. If some are scared about the prospect of seeing a reduction in their rights, do you really think that they're going to lie back and take it? Unfortunately for those on the Alt-Right, "Generation Snowflake" doesn't seem so "flakey" right now. However, that doesn't mean that activists have a green card to carry out mindless destruction for days on end. Remember the lessons learned from the Suffragettes. A breaking of a few windows and chaining themselves to the railings gave their movement much needed press exposure but it was the polite discussions and idea formation which led to the 19th Amendment. Protestors have to decide whether they want to carry on causing short-term disruption to areas with high Democratic party turnout or whether they want to commit themselves to a long term grassroots movement, a "political revolution" of the sort advocated by Bernie Sanders, to build up support for progressive ideas and policy platforms and then to move on and win Senate and Congress seats at the Midterm elections.

The Democratic party platform has now got to learn from Hillary's defeat. The party has to evolve. It has to become more representative of the people that choose to adopt the progressive ideas and policies that really drive change socially and economically. Many working class voters are receptive to the idea of single payer healthcare, a $15 an hour Living Wage and getting employers to offer mandatory maternity and paternity paid leave. Bernie pulled in thousands of people at his rallies because they wanted him to deliver these policies. When Bernie lost the nomination, many Millennials would have been put off voting for these policies because of Hillary's "crooked" media profile even though she adopted many of Bernie's policies in her own platform. I hope that the Dems will keep the HIV/AIDS Strategy and Autism Strategy on the backburner though; they were brilliant and showed Hillary could develop progressive ideas. It's now all about getting awareness of those ideas out into swing states and rural areas. I'm sure voters in Michigan, Ohio and North Carolina would back a candidate who stood for equality and diversity. It just needs to be the "right" one that can inspire them to turn out but also not be a "hope seller" as President Obama has been labelled (wrongly) by some left activists recently.

Perhaps not even Bernie or Elizabeth Warren are suitable to lead the Democratic movement when it finally emerges from its much needed transparent cocooning process. Donald Drumpf won because he pitched himself as a Washington "outsider" who promised to "Drain The Swamp" and crush political corruption (he didn't say whether this included Republican congressmen and senators who take lobbyist cash) . The ironic part of that "politically pure" image he presented to voters was that he isn't really an outsider at all. Drumpf is a billionaire (or multi-millionaire) businessman that was connected to Wall Street Bankers, fracking supporting, coal mining businessmen and most of all, the Washington Republican AND Democratic Elite. The Republican party has controlled the Senate and Congress for years, yet all they seem to do is be obstructive, moany about their 2nd Amendment rights and angry that they have to "pay out for poor people" just because they decided to become teachers instead of "Mr Brexit". I agree that individuals should have Self-Improvement as part of their core inner moral virtue system but what some Republicans don't understand (like UK Conservatives) is that sometimes people need a helping hand to get them on their feet, to get them into a position where they can provide for themselves and their family.

Nobody should be discriminated against based on their gender identity or sexuality. There are Independents who voted for Trump who are concerned that he may now roll back on Roe Vs Wade and Same Sex Marriage. They may keep deluding themselves into thinking Trump was an equal rights candidate disguised as a trashy divisive Alt-Right one but almost everything he said on the campaign trail seemed to be an affront against the left and progressives who fought hard to get Obama elected to put rights provisions in place. Obama may have had his faults, but he did more to advance LGBTQIA rights than any other US President. Some Trump supporters resented the provisions Obama put in place to support the legalisation of same sex marriage. Yet 14% of the LGBTQ community actually voted for Trump knowing the views of his VP, Mike Pence (who approves of gay conversion therapy and actively defunded HIV/AIDS organisations whilst Governor of Indiana). Those in the 14% category really now have a responsibility to openly reassure those LGBTQ young people who are fearful about their future why they shouldn't fear #DonTheCon. And no, it's not enough to cite him holding an upside down LGBTQ flag. They also want to know what YOU'LL be doing to help protect and support LGBTQ individuals and organisations during a Trump Presidency. And no, it's not enough just citing Peter Thiel as an example of Trump's benevolence and respect. That's because Thiel was a major financial backer of his during the Presidential campaign and he's being reward for his loyalty to the "dear leader". Also, is Trump going to hire trans people on his team? Or LGBTQ people of colour? Or a former illegal immigrant who worked hard to gain US Citizenship yet gets vilified by the Alt-Right even though they've paid more taxes than Drumpf? I'm not too sure about that, given the picks he's announced already. So whilst Trump doesn't really hire an entirely diverse transition team (4 are members of his own family are still directly connected with The Trump Foundation and Trump Organisation) it may be difficult to inspire trust and confidence in his leadership being an attempt to #DrainTheSwamp when it's just being replaced by a much more authoritarian, anti equality one. There are Protestors out on the streets to defend Hillary but there are also Bernie supporters and Green supporters who do not trust Trump to challenge corruption because he is an billionaire or he has negative views about environmental rights or doesn't really know what he truly believes in. Uncertainty breeds discontent and Brexit is not a model that Trump supporters should rely on if they're looking for change or unification. "Mr Brexit" is not the best peacemaker!

The link between Brexit and Trump's Victory as I see it:

Only a few months ago I myself was recovering from the shock of the Brexit referendum, when 52% of voters decided to exit stage right from the EU while I had voted enthusiastically and wholeheartedly to Remain. I am a Nordic-Green Left enthusiast despite being independent politically UK wise. So I believed that EU federalism could lead to greater co-operation on social issues that might have lead to better environmental protections and increased LGBTQIA rights in Eastern and Southern Europe. I supported the EU because the organisation did so some good and could have been reformed had it been given half the chance. I'm proud to say that my city, Lincoln, had the lowest Leave percentage in our county, Lincolnshire at 57%-43%, especially as I thought at one stage the city would vote for Brexit at 70 or even 75%. A few nights before the vote I had predicted correctly that the final tally would be close at 52% Leave to 48% Remain. The main reason was that I knew the Remain campaign had a platform which was an extremely tough sell to those working class voters who had felt let down by the political Establishment over the past decade or so. The level of change to them seemed horrifying but not in the policy areas that you find huge dissent towards in the US. LGBTQIA rights are pretty much accepted even by far-right conservative voters and working class voters in the UK tend to be more left-leaning or centrist anyways. For them it was all about protecting jobs, increasing trade and managing immigration levels sensibly-the sort of policy concepts you hear extremely vaguely from Donald Trump but not voiced particularly well. Some elements of the Leave campaign overly focussed on the disadvantages of immigration and used some poorly constructed rhetoric to whip up support for control measures based on slandering immigrants and refugees' moral character. It's my personal belief that many Leave voters were conned into blaming EU immigrants for most of Britain's political and social issues. Most of those voters wanted to "Take Back Control" of British finances without fully realising most economic budgetary decisions are taken by UK Parliament. Parliament has been sovereign on foreign policy and defence issues. We're still part of NATO, WTO and other organisations. I believe Brits should all take a look into the UK societal mirror and instead of immediately blaming the EU and immigrants (and Muslims) for most of Britain's problems without taking a long hard look at the politicians in this country and the decisions they already had control over, such as deciding over the funding of public services such as the NHS in areas which have seen immigration rise significantly over the past decade, such as Boston in Lincolnshire . "Take Back Control" seemed such a great idea at the time when voters were at the polls but with the Government making decisions such as Communities Secretary Sajid Javied granting horizontal fracking rights in Cuadrilla's Preston New Road site at Little Plumpton in Lancashire which overturned the local county council's fair decision. Equally the approval of the construction of a new nuclear power station Hinckley Point C which will end up increasing energy costs for the lowest paid in our economy and initial approval to build a new runaway at Heathrow Airport have angered many environmental campaigners and activists on the left. "Taking Back Control" hasn't been universal by any means.

The funny thing is that in the US, voters are perfectly willing to "blame Washington" for societal ills without understanding the impact of economic decisions that are taken at a state level. The Republicans have been implementing their own agendas in the states which they control- e.g. the hurtful HB2 against transgender bathroom rights in North Carolina and have obstructed Obama during his second term as I've mentioned above. I believe voters have been conned into voting for an illusory sort of change that will never really help solve societal and economic issues. All the US Election and Brexit vote has done is embolden the Alt-Right media journo wackos and  given Trump and British UKIPPers an ego boost and carte blanche to try and destroy progressive policies that help working class citizens. Immigrants are NOT to blame for EVERYTHING that has gone wrong during the first 16 years of the 21st century. It's time for politicians on all sides to take ownership of the failures that have resulted from their policies and start taking working class voters' views into account. These include those of the Trump protestors!

What needs to happen next:
  1. Trump needs to address protestors directly, either through the giving of a keynote speech addressing the politics of hate speech and protecting rights in a Democratic state-e.g. California or Virginia or actually going out from his golden Trump Tower in New York and speaking to the protestors out on the street. He could even invite them to his boardroom and do an interview or video conference so they can air their views in a safe but constructive way.
  2. Trump needs to stop tweeting in a confusing, reactionary and often contradictory manner. Platitudes after a blame tweet are not going to help quell fears expressed by protestors Perhaps Trump needs to "Delete His Account" or get social media pros in to handle it that can increase positive PR exposure amongst Democrats, Greens and Independents.
  3. Protestors need to ensure their messages are consistent, that they know what they are marching about so when they get interviewed by journalists, they can get a message across that can be understood by most Americans and International viewers. Chant #NotMyPresident and #BuildBridgesNotWalls all you like but be prepared to explain reasons for this in a sentient way.Use the protest as a way of building grassroots social networks. Go for a coffee or for a taco break, talk about why each of you has decided to attend the protest and what you intend to achieve as a result. Exchange mobile numbers, KIK, Skype, email, Facebook or Twitter Handles and keep the conversation going when you get home. Write blogposts and articles explaining why you attended the protest(s) in the first place. Don't be afraid to express your political and social issues and the hopes and fears you have for the future. Share these with your contacts and encourage them to engage in debate with you if they disagree. Let them see why peaceful protests against Trump are legitimate. Break down the stereotypes being perpetuated by the MSM and Conservative/Alt-Right media outlets and commentators. Also, try and avoid the urge to damage property and bait police officers. It will only help to fuel the stereotyping!
  4. Journalists and creatives sympathetic to the protestors' cause should get out into the crowd and help tell protestors to tell their stories free from political bias. The stereotypes need to be debunked. Be prepared to share articles and blogposts when you can. Create satirical posters that question Trump and his supporters' tactics. Don't be afraid to show that you have an open and enquiring mind, though!
  5. Democrats need to go and have a chat with friends and family members who voted for Trump so they can hear the reasons which swayed them at the ballot box. Don't blame them necessarily for Trump creating a divisive narrative because of his poor choice of words. Explain why you're as a Democrat still support the policy platforms of the Democratic party, especially social ones relating to the LGBTQIA community. I'm sure you'd find common support for the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and Autism Strategy that can be talked about further as Election 2020 beckons forth.
  6. Follow Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren and other key members of the DNC to see how the policy platform will develop over the next year. Get involved with the discussion and tell them via social media/blogposts what they need to do to gain your vote at the Midterm election to try and turn the Senate Democratic blue again and reduce Trump's power.
  7. NeverTrump folks can donate to Planned Parenthood/Stonewall/local LGBTQIA youth charities or anti bullying or racism charities. Let them know you support the work they are doing and volunteer your time in your local area if you can.
  8. Become ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) members. They stand against bigotry and hate and have already stated that they will pursue Trump through the courts where he has cases pending. As of today, Trump has 75 cases pending. Several relate to the shoddy Trump University with the biggest Low V Trump University starts on the 28th November in San Diego. Members of Mr Trump's golf club in Jupiter, Florida who are suing him for $2.4 million  for taking dues and fees while blocking them from gaining admission to the club. More evidence of #DonTheCon's mentality that shouldn't be ignored.
  9. Finally, remember that we should all try and LoveTrumpsHate.  Rise above the Alt-Right troll baiting by using civility as your main tactic. Michelle Obama's words still ring true even when you are peacefully protesting- "When they go Low, we go High". Express yourselves in all kinds of ways but make sure you do so with an open mind, open heart and act with compassion.