By Norman Solomon
A lot of U.S citizens are now talking about leaving the country. Canada, Europe and New Zealand are popular scenarios. Moving abroad might be an individual solution. But the social solution is to stay and put up a fight.
The most right-wing U.S. government in our lifetimes will soon have its executive and legislative branches under reactionary control, with major ripple effects on the judiciary. All the fixings for a dystopian future will be on the table.
In a realistic light, the outlook is awfully grim. No wonder a huge number of people in the United States are struggling with mixtures of grief, anger, frustration, fear.
If Donald Trump and major forces backing him get their way, the conditions described by Frederick Douglass — still all too prevalent now — will worsen in the years ahead: “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”
As James Baldwin wrote, “People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.”
Those quotes from Douglass and Baldwin are in a book of paintings by Robert Shetterly, Americans Who Tell the Truth. Another portrait in the collection appears under these words from Helen Keller: “When one comes to think of it, there are no such things as divine, immutable, or inalienable rights. Rights are things we get when we are strong enough to make good our claim on them.”
That statement from Keller aptly describes our current predicament and possibilities. The impending Trump presidency is a direct threat to basic human rights. To make good our claim on those rights will require that we become “strong enough,” individually and collectively.
Gaining such strength will require that we provide much more support for independent progressive institutions — the array of organizations that can serve as collective bulwarks against the momentum of systemic greed, bigotry, massive violence, economic exploitation and environmental destruction.
We’re now being flung into a new era that will intensify many of the oppressive aspects of the U.S. governmental apparatus and political economy. An ongoing imperative will be to mitigate serious-to-catastrophic damage in many realms. We need a united front — against the very real threat of severe repression that could morph into some form of fascism.
At this highly precarious time, progressives certainly don’t need the tempests of factional disputes and ideological battles. And we certainly don’t need the kind of reflexive capitulation that so often comes from the upper reaches of the Democratic Party. We’re at the start of a protracted crisis that could become cataclysmic. We need progressive unity and unrelenting determination.
Only with eyes wide open do we have a real chance to understand clearly and organize effectively against the Trump regime. Failure to put up a fight should be unthinkable.
Norman Solomon is co-founder of the online activist group RootsAction.org. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He is the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.