(TFC) – There is really little dispute to what destructive potential we are facing, however, there does exist the possibility that a Trump Presidency can wield positive opportunities, either in advance of possible Trump administration actions and policies or of party and/or citizen movements in reaction or response to them. As we’ll note further, what we are experiencing in the current US political climate is the most extreme US administration to date. Trump, what he has indicated to us so far, will have far more extreme policies than far right George W Bush’s administration, one that brought us the wars of aggression, a torture doctrine, elite state spying and surveillance operations, and sharply reduced citizen rights and freedoms that gave way to militarized police policies. The Bush years also gave us an increase in the use of private military contractors (Blackwater) and increased covert special operations numbers. From what we have witnessed from Trumps’ administration so far, they are either reinstating them or moving beyond them.
On a populist candidacy, we watched as Obama waxed and waned as a US president that “had now been at war longer than Mr. Bush, or any other American president.” Which continued the increase in special operations deployed to more countries and continued America’s overseas wars and aggressions. Failing to alter the course of entrenched corporate power in the US government and power elite institutions. A fraudulent empire built on illusions and crushed dreams.
Enter Trump. A citizenry exasperated by the corruption of the wealthy capitalist elite that they saw in firm control of the halls of power in the US government. Trump, right or wrong, perceived by many as an outsider of US centralized power, a voice to many of those who felt shunned and marginalized. He spoke differently than current politicians; acted different, and worked to denounce the conventional and normalized power elite in Washington. Often the comment made by observers is that he “spoke his mind” and “is a regular American”. Amidst Trumps veracious and bombastic image, his ripe ignorance and elitist scorn for any opposition, and his seemingly unintelligible comments, contradictions and far right wing policies (or what few were actually attainable or real), he was able to harness a vast American popular sentiment in the US. That growing national unease is what both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both capitalized on in their elections. Riding on that populist message to the public, who for decades of economic instability, growing debt, widening income gaps, and virtually endless militarized foreign policies, have been looking for answers in a candidate politician who would provide balance and support for the poor and working class, someone who would fight for them. Trump filled that hope, and like an apt and savvy salesman, simply acted out the part.
Julian Assange noted in the Italian newspaper la Repubblica “Donald Trump is not a DC insider, he is part of the wealthy ruling elite of the United States, and he is gathering around him a spectrum of other rich people and several idiosyncratic personalities. They do not by themselves form an existing structure, so it is a weak structure which is displacing and destabilizing the pre-existing central power network within DC. It is a new patronage structure which will evolve rapidly, but at the moment its looseness means there are opportunities for change in the United States: change for the worse and change for the better.”
So where are the opportunities for change?
Democratic Party Reform
Clinton was a deeply compromised candidate. She is a Washington insider and an imbedded and leading actor for wealthy DC elite. Separated dramatically from the poor and working class, Clinton could not campaign on true financial reform and anti-austerity because she had always been viewed as one that is close and cooperative with big banking and the corporate elite – the very perpetrators of the austerity measures. Scores of disillusioned working class voters cast their support for Trump, simply because he wasn’t Clinton, who was the candidate that symbolized the established political elite in America, feeling betrayed and marginalized, Trump was viewed by many as the escape from this conventional political elite that governed US policy.
The institutions and elite hegemonic forces that have enjoyed wealth and opulence for years during America’s global pillaging have not been quiet and polite. Instead they are iconic forces that symbolize the essence of Western capitalism, brutal, predatory, and bludgeoning. The uber elite, proudly displaying their contempt and seriousness for burdening and maligning the populations they take so much from, were vocal in their confidence of a Clinton victory. Trump was laughed at by many, ridiculed in the media, never taken serious and elite participants, including some Hollywood elite like George Clooney, scoffed and laughed at a possible Trump presidency. The Democrats; obnoxious, arrogant, and incapable of changing course continue to blame everyone else but themselves for their devastating loss.
The opportunity before the party members now is whether or not they will acknowledge these failed policies and how their steadfast support for the Clinton campaign was an erroneous strategic error. While another DNC candidate, Bernie Sanders, who was viewed by most clear indications to do much better against Trump in the election, was removed from the race by a coordinated effort involving the DNC managers and the Clinton team. We’ll never know how well Bernie Sanders, if given the opportunity to campaign against Trump, would have done. Sanders campaigned on tangible and concrete issues, social security and medicare, and Sanders is still taking Trump to task on these issues.
The Clinton campaign after losing the election maintained, “that this election was stolen by Russia”, or “it was racism that allowed Donald Trump to win”; also stating that the DNC hacks or FBI announcements stole or persuaded voters, show how immensely disconnected they are as to why Trump prevailed. The lasting strategy so far has been to clutch to a Russian conspiracy and screaming “liar” every time Trump does and says something. This isn’t a strategy for reconstruction nor is it effective against a Trump administration that appears, so far, to have a thought out and consistent strategy of it’s own.
There is opportunity for the DNC, one of which is to work towards bringing back citizen support and returning to “the peoples” party, which is solely up to them and their candidate. Trump defeating Clinton, showed how definitively the Democrats failed, they need to admit that their betrayal of the working and middle class which is what triggered a national revolt that resulted in electing Trump. Those who refuse to see this and continue to push the party in its failed status quo will only contribute to the continued demise and sickly death of the DNC party. If the course is not changed, more Brexit type events will occur and more Trump ideologues will permeate the political landscape.
Corporate media played a decisive role in providing Trump an efficient platform to show off and perform for the stage of electoral politics in America. Past elections saw candidates’ battle for and pay huge sums of money for airtime and publicity to use in their race to appeal to voters; Trump gained much of his exposure for free.
According to a New York Times article released in March 2016, Trump was outspent by his rivals spending merely $10 million on bought media publicity, where Clinton was almost three times his spending at $28 million. Jeb Bush spent $82 million and completely overshadowed Trump. Yet when looking at bought vs free media, Trump received $1.8 billion – with a ‘B’. In the age of influence where media holds sway on the public mind, sporting event style commentaries and fast paced and image-laden spectacles beleaguered public thought and consciousness – Trump was imprinted into the electoral sphere on a level maybe never witnessed before.
State and party media outlets and their journalists played an integral part in supporting both the DNC and RNC candidates and operate most effectively when maintaining the lowest levels of critical analysis. Media relied on Trump to act as he always had, ratings poured in.
As both Trump and Clinton made mendacious and noxious claims throughout their campaigns, journalists gleeful parroted and echoed their statements, with rarely a second glimpse of the truthfulness of the claims or the accuracy of their statements. Outlets essentially became propaganda houses for their chosen candidates and those journalists effectively became stenographers. Chris Hedges writes, “There are established journalists who have spent their entire careers repackaging press releases or attending official briefings or press conferences”.
A 2016 Pew Research Poll shows how little people trust local and national news networks. The poll also showed that social media garners even “less trust than either”.
How will corporate news in America react? Will they realign themselves to return to being stewards of news and current events, or will they continue to stay aligned with state and party narratives and bitterly defend them?
“Fake news”, the ambiguous and vague description of articles, outlets, stories, and headlines that are orchestrated, either intentionally or otherwise, to affect political discourse is the symptom of the landscape of failed corporate journalism. Never are these facets identified specifically as misinformation, lies, sensationalism, or disinformation or propaganda. Rather the purpose is to maintain vagueness, which serves the institutions perfectly. With that, they are able to assassinate and marginalize any and all criticism that is levied against the current power structure, including the media. What is extremely worrisome is that the mainstream corporate media houses, and their journalists, who work so hard at denouncing “fake news”, are the very ones carrying it out.
This course desperately needs to change. The latest casualties in this have been the two Washington Post stories centered on “fake news” media outlet allegations and Russian hacking of America’s electrical grid. The seriousness of these allegations have the greatest implications, yet when exposed to be absolutely fraudulent and false in practically every way, the articles remain posted – not retracted – and neither editors’ notes are attached to disavow the content or a counter article is posted to explain the “errors”.
The errors though are the Post’s, and so efficiently portray the very dangerous and explosive effect of abusing and administering “fake news”. While the articles assassinate and smear very professional and legitimate media outlets and ensured, dutifully, that false narratives are exacerbated and maintained, they also continue the very real danger of continuing the sad legacy make more and more Americans weary and distrustful of mainstream journalism – it is ensuring its death spiral.
Whether a series of journalistic blunders and mistakes or an intentional fabrication, maybe even a combination of both. The Post uses the headlines and incredibly dishonest and deceitful stories to be available for click bait and advertising income. This product selling and incredibly sad display of journalistic ethics tells the story of everything wrong with corporate media and how efficient it is in building and shaping the political forum and citizens understanding of it – shaping opinions and shaping policies.
The framework for change in media is not pleading with tech giants like Twitter and Facebook to administer final judgment on what is “fake news” and censoring and curtailing it. Journalistic standards must be upheld, on all levels – mainstream or alternative. The common ground is that the rising tides benefit all ships when journalism standards are upheld and maintained.
Press rights and freedoms are, and have been, under threat from US power. During the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, a CBC photojournalist was barred entry into the US. The invasive threat and intimidation from border agents can serve as sober reflection as to what power can be exerted in impeding press access and freedoms. Especially when unfavorable views will are examined and published by domestic and foreign journalists.
Currently faced with a hostile White House and a Press Secretary that has stated blatant lies, most recently regarding Trumps inauguration crowd size, access journalism is faced with a choice. Either silently acquiesce an aggressive and totalitarian White House and simply “report the WH statements”, which has been the traditional role of access journalists. Or to treat the new Trump Administration accordingly, print critical columns and refuse to act as though the White House is altruistic and truthful in its statements and fact check and give citizens a more truthful view of events. This may be one of the best things to happen to journalism in along time.
Independent alternative and dissident media is also upon an opportunity as a result of a hostile Trump administration and a “war on media”. More listeners and readers will search for new and better outlets that can print critical analysis on current events. The latest tragedies where mainstream outlets failed to provide accurate and truthful coverage deepens the distrust citizens already have with corporate media. Accurate and adversarial journalism is essential in winning this war in bringing accountability to powerful institutions.
Perhaps it is possible for us to see a resurgence in organizing and rallying to fend off the amassing danger that Trump is presenting as POTUS. Currently, he is surrounding himself with a slew of elite corporatists and military men. The “draining of the swamp” may have simply meant, in Trump terms, the drawing of a new political elite, and as we noted earlier from Julian Assange a “wealthy ruling elite of the United States [….] displacing and destabilizing the pre-existing central power network within DC.” Already we are seeing a new Republican congress move towards protecting their structure, an attempt to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics was ditched amidst widespread public outrage.
From the open bigots and racists, to the far right war hawks and militarists, this is the potential Trump administration. Contrasting to the latest Republican administration, George W Bush’s, the policy positions are remarkable in their similarities and alarming in their destructive intentions. No one chosen yet by Trump has been in any way a moderate, on any issue. The disparity we see in relation to official policy and public opinion is vast.
Electoral reform must look to significant changes that increase the access for citizens to vote. Creating better opportunities for people to vote and to exercise their ability to weigh influence in shaping either party vying for a place in government or the policies and actions of government while in place. Few penalties are levied when citizens are manipulated deliberately and their ability to vote is damaged. Ensuring the accurateness of the voting process and when corruption or manipulation is discovered, penalties are imposed. Major changes are needed to ensure that class power – wealth and economic leveraging – and it’s ability to inflict influence on public opinion, be minimized. Ensuring government representative actions are held accountable are also greatly needed. A protest vote, and for the public to have an even more decisive role in shaping a government, a “non-confidence” vote would make a huge difference in the publics ability to shape their future.
Social and class activism
In the past groups have had to organize and rally under even worse climates and environments. It is entirely possibly, in the current extreme atmosphere in the US, to see various groups begin a new and tremendously important campaign to fight a Trump administration. Recalling yet another George W Bush parallel to Trump, upon inauguration thousands staged public demonstrations protesting a fraudulent Bush election 16 years ago, at that time receiving little media coverage. What we have started to see already have been protests and public displays of dissent and disobedience, many chanting and using the slogan “not my president”, it’s expected that more protests and public demonstrations will occur. After the inauguration the Women’s Day Marches showed a tour de force of social activism and rallying, millions showed up and voiced concern over women’s reproductive rights, climate change, racial justice, indigenous rights, etc. Marchers old and young met on city streets across the US and the world in solidarity, hearing each other’s messages. This is an educational empowerment, and here is the silver lining to recent events, and receiving better media coverage.
Can they increase and culminate, joining with other social activist groups? Can it articulate and craft a clear message to initiate action?
To make moves in these and many other directions for accountable public office must surely be realized in their importance in the wake of a now realized Trump administration. The rising tides of political and social extremism may prompt an opposing response. A renewed vigor in activist and civil right groups pushing back against the right-wing extremism that has managed to firmly entrench itself into American culture.
Recent events have sparked the creation of various groups, most notably Occupy and Black Lives Matter. A resurgence in class and social activism in response to the unilateral and conventional actions of the corporate and banking elite. Bailouts for US banks directly responsible for the 2008 financial crash spurred the Occupy protests, seeing thousands of citizens in various cities come together in protest. The austerity measures accosting US citizens pick up the tab for massive criminal mismanagement and financial capitalist gambling. BLM garnering attention in response to a massive disproportional wave of deaths of mostly young black men by US police forces, often with no tangible or meaningful justice attached to the crimes.
These two groups serve as palpable examples of the inequality facing US citizens. With Trump now firmly in the White House and the names and faces being associated with what may very well compile his administration, the future looks bleak for the continued hopes of progressive avenues in the social and economic climate, and what little progress that had been made under the Obama regime.
In the wake of what can be postulated by a Trump administration, increased destabilization and increased threats and acts of violence and class warfare. There exists an opportunity that, as I see what promises of unification can offer citizens, that these activist groups come together and strive for a unified and partnered set of goals and changes.
A splintered and fractured set of groups can easily be dismantled and attacked by government forces. We saw that exemplified with COINTEL PRO against the Black Panthers, the Occupy movement and still with BLM. This strategic policy of disinformation and police and state intelligence aggression that has goals to disrupt and agitate dissident groups continues. The opportunity that exists is one of unity, and when two or more groups join together to support each other’s goals, the effectiveness that is derided from that strategy is that state actors need to readjust and act differently in the face of that. Continued action and re-education to draw an institutional homogeny within these social activist circles has the potential benefit of citizen power and unity.
BLM, Muslim activism, Jewish activism, Occupy, LGBT activism, environmental activism, nuclear nonproliferation activism, union and workers rights activism, privacy and security (encompassing internet freedom and security) activism, native rights activism, legal and constitutional rights activism, and many more; while on the outside can look very separated, but really have much to gain from a united front. The challenge that exists is one of reform and education in the face of such scrupulous and aggressive strategies from state and corporate actors and institutions. Success can very well be formulated and maintained based on how well these groups can solidify themselves in the public mind and conscious. Working with long term strategies that instill these messages and imprint them more soundly and with greater levity, while simultaneously holding to some of the more acute concerns – life and death issues concerning individuals and nations.
We saw examples of how effective unity with different groups can be with Jewish activism within the Civil Right movement. Joining forces with Black leaders, the Jewish American community saw how important it was for equal rights for “all citizens”. Bolstering Dr. Martin Luther Kings movement, and in 1963 Dr. King delivered a powerful and inspiring speech during the march on Washington. Rabbi Joachim Prinz also spoke that day, a Holocaust survivor and steadfast supporter of the Civil Rights Movement. He said, “The time, I believe, has come to work together – for it is not enough to hope together, and it is not enough to pray together, to work together that this children’s oath, pronounced every morning from Maine to California, from North to South, may become. a glorious, unshakeable reality in a morally renewed and united America.”
Existential threats – nuclear annihilation and catastrophic climate change
The two immense threats facing what affects us are nuclear weapons attacks by state forces, as well as the threat of terrorist “dirty bombs” due to mismanaged or stolen materials and devices; and irrevocable climate catastrophe and destruction. The possibility of ending all human life on this planet should not be understated or ignored.
An impending Trump Presidency, not hyperbole or an unwarranted concern, now massively exacerbates the threats imposed by these elements. Trump has called for the US to “greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world has come to it’s senses regarding nukes”. What he means by “greatly strengthen[ing] and expand[ing] its [US] nuclear capability” isn’t precisely defined (taken from his Twitter), however it appears under reasonable consideration that increased nuclear armament buildup and expansion may look a lot like what both Bush – who had taken considerable steps to achieve, as well as Clinton before him have accomplished – a massive increase in nuclear weapons (which seems to those observing, as complete lunacy). During both of those administrations there was significant work towards US hegemony of strategic nuclear capabilities globally as well as working towards space “ownership”. The unfolding consequences are potentially disastrous for obvious reasons.
Violations of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as well as various UN resolutions and US/Soviet agreements dictated much of US intentions and actions concerning its view of legitimate nuclear strategies – utilizing nuclear weapons as first strike strategies, which NATO reserves. The US lead by Obama most recently has not altered course significantly. Currently, the US is spending trillions on a nuclear modernization program to update the US arsenal. This program is especially concerning as the modernization will transform the US nuclear arsenal to increased development of smaller “tactical” weapons – making the use of them easier to justify and therefore lowering the threshold limits for unleashing them.
What we do know from Trumps’ tweet concerning whether “the world has come to its senses regarding nukes” is that they have – as those that would be affected by nuclear weapons attacks, public opinion has been fairly consistent regarding that threat – that it is a grave and severe threat. On October 27, 2016 UN member states voted to start negotiations to ban nuclear weapons, despite strong opposition from nuclear state members and their allies. The list of incidences that has spanned the years since nuclear weapon inception has shown how very close we have been to nuclear weapons being released in error or unintentionally, and in a few noteworthy cases it has been thwarted by officers’ disobedience to protocol. The risks are high and the doomsday clock has just moved to two and a half minutes to midnight, the closest it has been since the Cold War.
Trump’s position isn’t very different at all from conventional US policy. However what is different is his dramatic public bravado. Trump visibly increases the need for very real and public discussions concerning such a grave and existential threat. The opportunity now exists to shine a very clear and public light on US nuclear operational capacity and strategy – which includes how weapons are released and what safeguards are in place to reduce the risk of accidental assault. A Presidents choice to release a nuclear payload and assault other nation states either as a first strike or response is relatively easy, how will Trump react to the various pressures of Presidency?
Attached to this severe threat is climate catastrophe, one that Trump has addressed symbolically by naming Scott Pruitt to EPA Administrator. Pruitt who is close to the fossil fuels industry has also called the EPA “unlawful and overreaching” according to an Oliver Milman Guardian article. Milman also wrote that Pruitt “ has cast doubt on the overwhelming scientific evidence that human activity is causing the planet to warm. “That debate is far from settled,” he said in May. “Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.”
Of course, Pruitt is far from correct, and his position is starkly opposite what the EPA is designed for, rather his position is predictably in line with energy corporations. Trump’s message here with Pruitt’s appointment should be alarming and indicative of what can be discerned as his true motives. Latest actions by the Trump administration are orders to delete climate change webpages from the EPA website. Obviously, these are extreme and aggressive policy directions.
A New York Times article writes, “Two-thirds of Americans support the United States joining a binding international agreement to curb growth of greenhouse gas emissions, but a slim majority of Republicans remain opposed”. Here we see how efficiently public opinion is dismissed.
These two dangers are without a doubt the most extreme and decisive threats to human survival. They are ones that affect not just US citizens, but the very reach and breath of US policies determining nuclear weapons and industry that can so heavily affect people globally, should be thought-provoking and important to address publically. Resistance and a call to arms in order to address these issues may be the most urgent. What marginal progress we saw from Obama regarding climate change and US nuclear policy, one can reasonably assume that Trump will reverse and continue towards policies and actions that threaten and amplify instability in the world.
If the public was not significantly aware of the threats they faced as a result of these two issues, they definitely should be now. The opportunity to review these in contrast to Trump and his administration can hopefully shed valuable light on the veracity of the discussions. Both deserve massive policy changes, elimination of nuclear weapons and stockpiles, and a much more urgent national direction concerning climate change and its impending effects for global catastrophe.
War on Terror analysis
Following the US invasion into Iraq, perhaps one of the most aggressive acts in American history, one can now see how easy it was for a rogue administration to coerce and persuade an emotional public to wage war with no justifiable pretext. Utilizing a jingoistic and frenzied media, the US managed to create an unchallenged narrative that drove public support for an illegal invasion and immoral act of aggression on another nation state. What few dissenting voices managed to break through the cacophony of echoes reverberating in the chorus for war, they were minimized, marginalized, and ignored.
The demonstration of tactical ease for the Bush administration to ferment and boil the publics support for war in Iraq, what would Trump be able to foster? How will Trump react to a room full of US Generals demanding action in response, or perhaps a US first strike, to a foreign or domestic perceived threat? Will he be able to withstand an arsenal of combat experience and devotion to militarized responses? Will he be able to navigate an alternate diplomatic response rather than resorting to the ease of waging invasions, occupations, or “surgical strikes”? It looks unlikely.
Upon his second day in office, drone strikes killed alleged Al Qaeda members in Yemen. Trump’s comments on nonintervention and a promise to “destroy ISIS” as well as the US and Saudi Arabia funding an illegal war in Yemen, in addition to special operations forces operating in the region, raises all kinds of questions about sovereignty, legal basis for “suspected militants” and a civilian death toll that continues to mount.
With the historical analysis in front of us, we can be sure that the navigation for any administration isn’t always easy, and a Trump administration will be no different. Obama’s legacy has been one of loosening the thresholds for war while simultaneously promoting a false peace and vigilantly waging covert wars. He has been one of many US presidents that have waged wars without Congressional approval – will Trump continue this policy? What can be done to curtail these executive abilities and powers?
As Obama exited the White House, he had the illustrious distinction to have been “at war with Whistleblowers”. His administration persecuted more whistleblowers than any previous administration. Obama had also managed the most secretive and demonstrably shadowy administration. A very real opportunity with a Trump presidency will be for the public to receive increased leaks to the press and whistleblowing organizations, like Wikileaks, to occur.
The FOIA lawsuit that saw the release of Hilary Clinton’s emails from her private server while serving as Secretary of State were insightful into the inner workings of how Clinton carried out her role as Secretary of State, and her connections to the centralized political and business interests within DC power structure. Jason Leopold, the reporter who launched the FOIA request, was also the originator in a number of other FOIA-related stories, which he is currently suing the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for failure to comply with FIOA requests seeking records pertaining to Russian interference during the US election.
Journalists filing FOIA requests for documents and information would often be met by political and bureaucratic resistance leading these reporters, or their news organizations, to launch lawsuits to force the release of those requested documents. This process often times showing the tenuous and shadowy nature that has come to signify the US government and its various institutions. Propped up behind secrets and “national security”, it moves behind the curtain avoiding public light. Obama had set a gold standard when it came to repressing and hiding information. When leaks or documents became disclosed to the public, often-massive reprisals would occur. More whistleblowers and activists have been prosecuted than ever before by Obama, while at the same time leaving other leakers, like General David Petraeus, virtually untouched, exemplifying a two-tiered justice system. Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and others had been the center of the “yes we can” administration in its fight to protect its interests and programs; torture, illegal spying, its militarism, and its policing policies all rendered in shadow and away from public scrutiny. Obama’s latest announcement of commuting Manning’s sentence is definitely a positive step forward in one of the last days of his Presidency.
Donald Trump can perhaps yield some opportunity where government employees would become emboldened to resist and dissent and leak government data and documentation to serve the public good. Hopefully, this can spark debate, discussion and bring to light past administrations and political actors actions while in office. With Trump’s ascension to Presidency, the urgency and importance of government transparency laws have never been as important and the government watchdogs that provide the public with an inside look at the halls of power are now more endangered than ever before. The signals that Obama had given were one of harsh retribution and steadfast and relentless pursuit of convictions and harsh sentences for whistleblowers, yet with stark contrast, retreating to light and drastically minimal sentences for Generals and officials committing leak offenses.
A resurgence in adversarial investigative journalism and increased FOIA releases will be extremely important. Having major media outlets and independent outlets move aggressively towards pushing for increased FOIA presence and publishing FOIA documents and their stories will have a very positive long-term effect even beyond a Trump administration.
The latest moves by “resistance” and “rogue” members of US federal workers, real or not, have launched alternate Twitter accounts. Scientists from NASA and the EPA, as well as CDC, and the National Parks Service have tweeted climate change facts in defiance to Trumps gag orders to bar agency personnel from speaking to the press and public through social media.
Trump employs an extreme arrogance and a dangerous reactionary reflex that bodes serious considerations for high office. His administration, though, seems by all accounts, calculating and driven in their agenda. They employ effective tactics and appear to have perhaps long-term strategies; qualities their political rivals do not and have not used effectively up to this point. This is a serious and challenging problem for not only Trumps opponents, floundering and lost, but also a public who is looking for a way to counter him and his policies. To write Trump off as simply a ‘buffoon’ loses sight that he is very capable of capitalizing on the moments when opportunities arise. Skilled in appealing to emotional language, and part of a team who did what it took to win and take possession of the highest office in the US government, these are grave warnings and unparalleled lessons that authoritarianism can arrive swiftly and seemingly without notice if one isn’t paying attention.
Trump, thanks to past administrations – most notably Obama’s, has available to him a vast array of elite domestic surveillance abilities. Trump’s thin skin and his inability to resist from retaliating to criticism show a high degree of possibility of abuse of those powers. Whistleblowers, leaks and a vigilant and aggressive media will be needed to combat these types of abuses. A J Edgar Hoover style FBI, a return to a new COINTEL PRO, and a President with secret lists of dissidents and enemies, is summoning the worst thoughts of US style authoritarianists. Abusive militarized police with state of the art surveillance powers accompanied by an aggressive and sadistic administration begets a cocktail of rapid state abuse of power. Evidence has been shown through released official documents, is that past governments have covertly attacked their perceived enemies ruthlessly and illegally before, the chance Trump will not enact similar strategies certainly appears low.
No matter what reactions and strategies are constructed to combat Trump, they must not underestimate how skilled and expert his strategies actually are. Blindly jumping from incident to incident and utilizing emotional reactionary tactics against him will not be successful, not in the short term nor in the long term. Mobilization of strengthened action groups and fostering real resistance groups will require long term thought out strategies. As noted above the Democrat party must do some real mending of its’ popular support base, the working class and poor, and actually carrying out their demands. To be seen as the cohorts in supporting the goals and wishes of the big corporate and coastal elites, will only continue to erode their base – thusly ensuring their irrelevance. New parties and independents must use this as emboldening opportunity to gather support and work with other parties and political action groups build new and real options for voters.
Citizen and social activist groups now have great opportunity to gather momentum to champion not only their vested goals and issues, but also others. Coupling diverse groups not only strengthens individual groups but many others working together – strength in unity. Various social issues all intersect and affect multiple groups, the time and opportunity is right in using this moment to gain attention through peaceful protest and peaceful civil disobedience. Human and civil right lawyers, activists, journalists, and citizen action groups will need to find a co-operative strategy that will require mobilization and action.
Though much looks bleak in face of continued Trump assaults on civil liberties and human rights, there is opportunity, a lot of opportunity. While Trump positions his billionaire oligarchy into place and government agencies with their own power structures that are vying for position or survival, this is the time for opportunity to strike. Taking advantage of these moments is paramount.