Friday, 20 January 2017

#TheResistance Against Trump is Fabulous

"Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle." Martin Luther King.

Who thought in my lifetime that I'd have cause to join an interesting, thriving movement that aimed to protect Western society from going down the dark hole of oppression, bigotry and nepotism. A lot of my friends have asked me why I'm so aggrieved at the thought of Donald Trump entering the White House and occupying a position which the strongly principled, compassionate but politically compromised Barack Obama had taken with grace and goodwill. Trump is a man who never seems to learn from his mistakes. He can play a far more powerful hand than Obama because the Senate and Congress both have Republican majorities. Obama had many policy ideas but was filibustered and blocked at every opportunity by a hostile, selfish Republican party who pushed the falsehood of birtherism to try and delegitimise Obama's presidency. Now Trump cult followers are angry that respected, experienced journalists dare to question Trump's lack of tact on Twitter because let's face it, why on earth does he think he has the time to Tweetstorm satirical comedy shows (Saturday Night Live) and theatre companies than to come up with policies to unite the country, such as protecting the Affordable Care Act (ACA) from being decimated or respecting Obama's decision on Standing Rock where he promised to protect the Water Protectors from being maimed by over zealous police officers who care more about protecting an oil pipeline than their fellow citizens.

Trump hasn't shown much respect for tradition or rules- e.g. Trump has chosen to not show his tax returns because he just can't be bothered to do it and Trump didn't show respect for diplomacy whilst President Obama was still in office because he meddled in the Israel 2-state solution talks at the UN, publically undermining the US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power.  Trump loves the idea of putting on countless rallies to proclaim his "greatness" in the states that voted for him but at the same time does not have the bottle to answer questions from those who voted against him in states such as Colorado, Nevada or New York. Trump's attitude towards the mainstream media shows that he's unwilling to work to build bridges; he wants everyone to come over to his side before he deals with them rather than taking a more compassionate, realistic approach by going to them to ask why they still oppose his presidency or why they have to ask the questions they need to ask. Trump always seems to see criticism as a slur on his manhood and he'd rather throw a journalist out of a press meeting or mock them online or on TV than to address their criticism in a grown up manner. Trump's presidential qualities seem to be rather lacking but let's face it, when you choose to have Putain Putin who talks about Russia having the most "beautiful hookers" rather than order an investigation into the veracity of the intelligence gathered about possible attempts to delegitimise the US Election as a role model, you're not going to get a very open minded, compassionate answer.

The reasons why people in the US are still refusing to see Trump as an legitimate President are numerous; it's not just because of the reports coming from intelligence agencies about Trump's ties to Russia or the possibility Putin used paid trolls to influence angry voters to whip them up against Hillary Clinton and for Trump. So let's explore the other reasons why Trump might not be winning over progressives:

Trump's Attitude Towards Women: Feminist Resistance

Trump's blasé attitude towards sexual violence and assault is frustrating to see. There's been no attempt by Trump to try and show that he has changed his mindset when it comes to treating women less as sexual objects and more as intelligent, smart human beings. It takes more than hiring a bunch of female billionaires who have funded the GOP for years and have got a cabinet position in exchange for their funding. Bernie Sanders made an excellent point with regards to the Education Secretary choice Betsy DeVos: "Betsy DeVos, if you had not given $200 million to the Republican Party do you think you would be nominated to lead the Education Department?" (January 17th 2017). Pay to play nepotism seems rife in Trump's administration and it is concerning that 6 nominees come from Goldman Sachs, a bank that Trump had been disparaging of for funding Hillary Clinton's campaign.  Trump hasn't visited a domestic violence survivor shelter. Trump's not called for tougher prosecutions for those who commit sexual assault and rape on college campuses. Trump still calls his disgusting comments from the Access Hollywood Billy Bush interview "locker talk" even though he kind of fake-apologised to the nation to try and keep Republican evangelicals on his side. Who could support a President who thinks its ok to say that women should be "grabbed by the pussy"? Nancy O'Dell, the married woman referenced in the video was right when she said that objectification of women is wrong whether it comes from a President or a college freshman.

I heard the stories of  those 15  women who made historical sexual assault allegations against Trump, including Jessica Leeds in the early 1980's and Cathy Heller in 1997. I have to say I believed their accounts.The tone, the detail, the feeling of being afraid to expose a man who is more powerful than them because he threatens to sue them into silence all resonated with me. Now on the eve of Trump's inauguration another accusation of unwanted sexual advances has been made, this time by Summer Zervos, a former Apprentice contestant. Gloria Allred, a lawyer and wonderful advocate of women's rights in the US has filed a lawsuit against Trump for defamation and hopefully Summer will have the strength to withstand Trump's dirty tactics.

The Republicans have unveiled plans to defund Violence Against Women grants, which just makes me even more suspicious of Trump. He's clearly not on the side of those who have been raped or sexually assaulted whether by a stranger, a friend or family member. That's very shocking to me. In a world where Rape Culture is rampant on university college campuses, especially against women, how can a President not want to help those who survive such attacks and allow them to recover without having to worry about having the money to pay for psychotherapy sessions?

On top of that, Trump seems to be very ambivalent towards the preservation of Pro Choice rights. Progressives are concerned that the GOP will try and overturn Roe Vs Wade to allow abortion laws to be made at a state level. That could mean millions of women in Republican states being able to get an abortion legally and safely. With the Republicans also announcing their plans to defund Planned Parenthood which helps to carry out abortions safely as well as providing contraception, family planning advice and cancer care, no wonder some women feel their rights are under attack. It's imperative that I stand with those wanting to defend Pro Choice Rights and to continue to lambast the GOP for their lack of understanding about compassionate Christian values. Being a compassionate Christian means allowing women to have power over their own bodies. If they want contraception, they should have access to it. If a woman needs to have an abortion as a result of being raped or because it might harm their own heath, they should have access to appropriate facilities to do this. Conservatives in America (and Northern Ireland) don't agree with this but we progressives do. That's one particular reason why progressives have joined the Resistance against Donald Trump and why there will be a Women's March on Washington DC on January 21st. There's also marches planned in London, Paris, Oslo, Stockholm, Berlin all against Trump. A powerful message is going to be sent to Trump: You won't get another chance to disrespect women and we're watching your every move.

LGBTQIA Resistance:

Trump has a very cold attitude towards improving the rights of LGBTQIA Americans. He's shown that he has no awareness of the progressive policies that Hillary and the Democratic party were going to introduce in relation to improving LGBTQIA rights. Trump won't bring in an Equality Act and he hasn't said whether he's going to honour Obama's Executive Orders such as prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in federal housing schemes. Trump's shown no desire to end conversion therapies for LGBTQIA children in all states, suggested no improvements to the Better Than Bullying Plan and won't pass a Safe Schools Improvement Act or a Student Non-Discrimination Act to protect schoolchildren from being systematically bullied by homophobes and transphobes masquerading as legitimate followers of Jesus Christ. I'm a Lutheran Christian and I cannot condone any attempt to make it OK to shame LGBTQIA people because it is part of "religious freedom" to do so. Trump doesn't care about improving rights for non-binary people by allowing them to change their gender markers on passport documentation. Trump sees LGBTQIA issues as too "niche" for him to deal with at a national level, instead leaving it to states to decide whether they're compassionate enough to offer gender neutral bathrooms rather than force trans and non-binary people to use the bathroom of their gender. It's rather funny- me, my brother, my Mum and Dad all use the same bathroom at home and my Mum never says I can't use it. Why should there be such a fearful attitude to gender neutral bathrooms in public?

Hillary's HIV/AIDS Strategy would have been wonderful to see implemented in the US. Unfortunately Trump doesn't seem interested in helping AIDS patients get better access to treatment. He has shown no preference for capping monthly and out-of-pocket expenses for patients to $250. Trump hasn't shown willingness to support HIV/AIDS research programmes or to get rid of the Criminalisation Laws. I can't see Trump or Melania or Ivanka doing a PR campaign to raise awareness of PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) medication to increase uptake especially amongst those populations at greatest risk of infection - transgender people and black men who have sex with men. How sad. So you can see why there are many in the LGBTQIA community who remain sceptical of Trump. That's even without considering any attempt by House Republicans to repeal Same Sex Marriage nationwide. There's still a fear that Trump will consider this so it's vital that LGBTQIA Democrats, Greens and Independents keep a very close eye on what goes on in the House of Representatives. Any attempt to repeal SSM, to reduce rights for transgender people to serve openly in the military or allow LGBTQIA people to be dismissed unfairly from work.

Environmental Resistance:

Trump seems to be a climate change denier. If you look at his tweets, he blames the Chinese Government for perpetuating a climate change hoax . The problem for Trump is that there is pretty much a scientific consensus which says that climate change is real, mostly man-made and action needs to be taken to protect our planet from being destroyed. Who wants to see animal species made extinct, water supplies shrink and dissent and poverty increase as a result of increases in the world's temperature? Trump should have committed himself to honouring the Paris Agreement on Climate Change but nope, he simply cannot allow himself to do it. Trump doesn't want to commit to cutting green house emissions by 30% as Hillary had wanted to do. Trump doesn't want to get rid of lead poisoning during his term or to ban drilling in the Artic. Trump wants to keep the Keystone XL pipeline going and more than likely wants to make the Dakota Pipeline project a reality again (seeing as he has a vested interest in the project). Trump doesn't like solar panel projects because he thinks they take jobs from coal miners, even though coal mining adds to the greenhouse effect because of an increase in carbon dioxide levels.  Instead Trump nominates a man (Scott Pruitt) to run the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who wants to see it shut down because it limits industrialisation and fossil fuel mining. Pruitt is attorney general of Oklahoma and an ally of the state's oil and gas industry who filed 14 lawsuits against the EPA because of it's "activist agenda".
Yet it's rather funny than when question by Democrat senators today, Pruitt finally admitted climate change was real, and that Carbon Dioxide levels needed to be monitored by the EPA, something Trump can't bring himself to do unequivocally. Nonetheless, when you nominate a saboteur to run a government department, don't be surprised to see tens of thousands of Green voters and activists rally against Trump.

Disability Rights Resistance:

Perhaps saddest of all for me is that neither Trump nor the new First Lady, Melania have shown much interest in improving the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in the US. Autistic children deserve to have all the help and support they need to lead full, happy lives. Hillary had a specific plan to help autistic people across the US because she realised that they had their issues addressed in the past. Trump doesn't care about extending insurance cover for autistic people so they don't have to worry about access to services, whether they be provided through private insurance schemes or government healthcare plans. Trump didn't bother to think about introducing an Autism Works Initiative which would have guaranteed a post-graduate plan for every autistic student. Trump hasn't talked about investing in autism research programmes and encouraging early screening at public schools so that help can be given sooner.  I'm sorry if such social policies seem too "niche" to implement but those who voted for Hillary really cared about them and if Trump wanted to gain a shred of credit from them, he would have come up at least with some proposals to help Autistic students and workers. He didn't. That's one major reason why a progressive such as myself cannot support a man like Donald Trump or his equivalent in UK, the UKIP/Conservative party.

Conclusion:

As you can see, resistance to Trump's presidency isn't just based on the usual lines trotted out by Trump supporters. Depending on the decisions that Trump and the GOP make in the next two years with relation to LGBTQIA issues, disability issues, environmental issues and economic ones, there could be a massive exodus in support for the GOP at the Midterm elections. That means Senate and Congress seats up for grabs that could dent or wipe out the GOP's majority. It's vital that a generation of Millennials opposed to Trump's policy platform are brave enough to speak out against him. That doesn't mean just writing blogposts, putting up drawings, attending marches and Tweetstorming Trump's account. There's a need for Millennials to get actively involved in Politics at a local, state and federal level. If you feel you can't run yourself, encourage and empower a friend, neighbour, colleague or local community hero to do it. Consider offering support using your best skills. Candidates need great graphic designers to do their posters and leaflets, great orators to help craft their speeches, idealists to help come up with new ideas and technophiles to help run social media accounts. The fabulousness behind the Resistance is the fact that many are capable of becoming actively involved and making that difference between winning or losing an election. Now is not the time to cower and capitulate. The Alt-Right journos, trolls and politicians want us progressives to give up because they crave having absolute power but remember there are issues that they never bother to talk about. "Niche" social issues need to be discussed alongside major ones. If we decide not to talk about them, further progress will not be made. That's why, even from these hallowed foreign shores, I can't help but want to be a part of the Resistance. Alt-Right nationalists don't want us progressives/liberals/anyone considered left wing to collaborate with each other to come up with great ideas because they despise globalism/internationalism. Yet the ironic fact is that they do the same thing to empower their base of support. Brexiteers work with Trumpers to bolster their confidence. Why can't us progressives do the same and more often?

Trump wants deference and capitulation. The reaction shown by those who oppose him in the US and around the world shows that he's just not going to get what he wants. That's how it should be. Trump can try and limit the power of the mainstream media by banning press journalists from the White House but that'll only encourage new journalists to come out and ask the difficult questions that he seems so reluctant to answer. The more authoritarian traits Trump displays, the more resistance people will show. Trumputain will soon realise the irony of playing the Rolling Stones' song he loves so much because yes, Trump, sometimes "You Can't Always Get What We Want."