The election of Donald Trump as the President of the United States left many across the left, even veterans of many years, shocked and stunned. Expecting the triumph of the deeply unpopular, status quo neo-liberal candidate Hillary Clinton, the result came in with an electoral college victory for the reviled, narcissistic, right-wing candidate Donald Trump running on a platform of white nationalism and anti-status quo populism. In these moments it’s easy to feel powerless, to let rage simply pour out in whatever outlet it can find, but as radicals and those who believe in revolutionary social change, it’s important to look ahead and analyze the new political moment we find ourselves in.
These short comments and reflections gathered the day after the election are from individuals and not particular organizations. We hope they bring hope in the struggles that lay ahead of us. #BuildMovementsNotElections #DontMournResist
We Are Not Powerless
By Tariq Khan
I am shocked. My prediction of an easy Clinton victory was quite wrong. Neo-liberal rainbow capitalism was not stronger than patriarchal white supremacist populism. The electoral system has proven incapable of stopping fascism, which means we have to do it ourselves through organizing. We are not powerless. We can still fight.
Tariq is a father, teacher, grad student, and organizer in Central Illinois with Black Rose.
Trump: Socialism or Barbarism
By Jackie Brown
In the battle between barbarism or socialism it seems as though humanity keeps choosing barbarism. First Brexit, now the rise of Trump. I just wonder how long white ppl will keep fucking over the rest of us. While I understand the frustration with neoliberalism and the system but what Trump supporters don’t seem to understand is that their candidate is just as much a neo-liberal as the rest. As far as the white working class goes I can’t help but feel sick and disgusted. Someone needs to organize them but it can’t and won’t be me. I’m gonna work on defending my community since they have chosen to viciously attack us all.
Don’t Turn On Each Other
By Arun Gupta
Folks, don’t turn on each other. A Trump victory is not the fault of a tiny disorganized left or an even more disorganized and ineffective Green Party. This is entirely the fault of a Democratic Party slavishly devoted to Wall Street, Obama’s timidity, the Clintons’ venality and corruption.
The entire ruling class — Wall Street, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, mainstream media, celebrities, intelligentsia, foreign policy establishment–threw their full weight against Trump and it looks like he beat them all. This is not the responsibility of the left. But the responsibility of the left is to think deeply and carefully about how to organize, how to defend communities and movements who will bear the brutality of Trumpism, and how to actually build principled and radical mass movements that can win instead of clinging to tired dogmas.
Arun is an independent radical journalist for numerous publications who has written and reported extensively on the 2016 election.
Marches Will Come And Go
By Librado Montero
Reflecting on street protests that broke out in Los Angeles with the news of Trump’s victory: Last night was a reaction to what’s coming in the next 4 years. As powerful as last night was, we need to push for long-term struggle. Marching without a definitive reason can be therapeutic for some but we need to constantly ask ourselves, how is this bringing power back to our communities? How does what we’re doing get us closer to our goal of combating fascism?
For those who have been doing organizing work longer, be patient with those who are just now beginning their path toward fighting for a new world. We didn’t know everything when we came to our first action so we have to be the ones to teach each other where we messed up and how we gained victories, what works and what doesn’t.
If you are a tenant, organize your apartment building and join a tenants union. If you are a worker, organize your workplace and form a worker led union. Join mass organizations and organize your community. But please join something.
Marches are good for bringing people together but if we do not direct this energy to long term power building, these marches will come and go.
Librado is a member of Black Rose LA.
The Best Thing We Can Do
By Alex Rosales
When we analyze exactly why people voted the way they did, we understand that legitimate frustrations and feelings of alienation run very deep, especially among marginalized working class communities. The so called “rust-belt” states that historically provided the Democrats with a “Blue Firewall” have been penetrated because of neo-liberal trade policies that have widened the gulf between rich and poor and have contributed to the deindustrialization of their communities- exactly the kind of policies that HRC has continuously supported throughout her career. There is absolutely no way anyone can honestly and seriously blame third party voters (and even then one will see that the Libertarian candidate pulled more from Trump than Clinton than the Greens did from Clinton). The D’s decided that a pro-establishment candidate with deep corporate ties was somehow an answer to those frustrations. The fact that Wall Street is lamenting an apparent Clinton loss is really a reflection of where most of the financial aristocracy’s alliances lied; the very people that have wrought economic misery for millions.
The best thing we can do is protect each other through autonomous organization and focus on exercising popular pressure for progressive changes that are still possible in local and state levels. Mass movements have been successful even under the most red-baiting conservative administrations in the US (think Nixon). Love still Trumps hate, regardless.
Alex lives in Miami and is active in housing struggles and Miami Black Rose.
Righteous Anger, Mindful Anger
By Kristina Khan
To white folks that are angry today: We are allowed to have feelings. (Especially my queer and womyn friends. <3) But…
We are NOT allowed to throw our feelings around like we matter more than anyone else.
We are NOT allowed to blame anyone but our own lack of white anti-racist organizing. For that is what this is – the result of depending on a vote… the expectation that positive change will happen from the ballot box… the internal denial that white supremacy exists at all.
Many white supremacists and neo-nazis are well organized. I hope it’s clear now that they aren’t a fringe group but were merely waiting for an opportunity like this to reach white people in a way that we did not. People of color keep telling us that white supremacists are everywhere – we failed to listen.
People of color, immigrants, Muslims, and queer folks deserve to put their feelings up for all the world to see. They deserve to keep them hidden, too, if they choose. Will we listen? And will we take the time to show up – organized – against white supremacy?
Our anger can be righteous and no doubt it can burn in a way that helps support our comrades of color destroy white supremacy. But unorganized and selfish, our anger could hurt a lot of people that are in pain today. I ask that we be mindful of the space we take up today, and practice that mindfulness in the coming days and weeks. And then maybe we can better do this work of accountability.
Kristina is a radical birth worker, mother of three young children and active with Black Rose in Central Illinois.
We Need To Act Quickly
Walking into my son’s soccer practice, all the Mexican immigrant dads are staring at their phones watching election returns. I better check mine. My mom has left me a message on my phone – she was so upset by the results she left her friends election party. The Trump wave is hitting and it’s scary.
My Facebook post asserting that a Clinton win was a given now looks foolish. I approach the dads and give a corny short speech (unlike my kids I don’t speak Spanish) about how I got their backs and we’ll fight Trump in the streets if we have to. They kinda smile and smirk at me but at the end of practice the group of them comes by and shakes my hand.
Things are moving very fast. The polls were wrong and our isolation from mostly rural and suburban white communities caused us to miss much of the groundswell. Mainstream capitalism will not protect us from fascism. There are immediate dangers that we need to prepare for: Emboldened racists and police, immigrant communities targeted by ICE and Homeland Security, roll back of women’s and LGBT rights.
We need to act quickly and boldly to prevent a culture of defeat and disempowerment from taking hold – while at the same time drawing out the lessons from this election. The Democratic Party is a grave yard of social movements. Our strength will be in the streets, schools and workplaces – not the ballot boxes beholden to a system of corruption and containment.
It May Seem Insurmountable, But We Hold the Power
By T. Nicholas
My heart goes out to all those saddened by this result. Real challenges lay ahead and I don’t want to diminish that. There are some reasons to still hold on to hope as it’s always darkest just before the dawn.
In my teenage years I lost all faith in humanity and settled into a self-satisfied cynicism, that is until the Bush presidency. The endless stream of brutality that flooded the news shook me to my core. I was lucky that where I lived this was joined by a vibrant protest movement that spread across the whole country woke me from my political slumber. It literally changed my life making me chose to dedicate myself to humanity in my work and most of my free time. Those challenges and struggles transformed the way I saw the world and my place in it.
It is too easy to feel overwhelmed by the weight of the present, even when a better future is so near. Slavery seemed invincible and natural not very long ago. All parties supported it and the world economy was dependent on it. The abolition of slavery was a distant dream of radicals who had no sway in a system built on systematic violence. But slavery was defeated, destroying the political parties that upheld it. Slavery’s fall came on the heels of Southern victories in the years leading up to the final conflicts, but they defeated a pro-slavery Supreme Court and smashed business-as-usual. But it wasn’t Lincoln and the Republicans who did it – they supported maintaining slavery into the war even in attempts to keep the union – it was the radical abolitionists and slave communities that used their power to protest, disrupt, and literally attack the system that maintained slavery.
They won by burning the flag, attacking military outposts, waging a general strike in the South, and scorning the constitution as a covenant with death and compact with hell. The victorious Union Army sang “John Brown’s Body” marching into the concentration camps of Southern Slavery. The defeat of slavery led to a cascade of changes, including the rise of the US labor movement, and permanently altered the landscape of American power. It is a poignant lesson in our time. It may seem insurmountable, but we hold the power. The mirage of stability and control by the masters of war can vanish in a moment with the strength of mass movements that no one had anticipated and which those in power had sought to suppress. Today is another day, a hard one, in the long arc of the cause of human freedom.
T Nicholas is a nurse living in California and active in various worker struggles.