In the chaos of this moment, it seems likely that Joe Biden is just pushing his way into the presidency and that he is sure to win the referendum, Donald Trumps Mussolini-like behavior and election night false claim regardless of victory. Somehow it all reminds me of another moment in my life.
Back in October 2016, my friends and I were often discussing the challenges progressives would face if the candidate we were likely to win actually entered the Oval Office. There were so many issues to worry about back then. The Democratic candidate was an avid booster of the US armed forces and believed in projecting American power through its military presence around the world. Then there was this long record promoting harsh criminal laws as well the disturbing conversation about “the kinds of children called superpredators – no conscience, no empathy.”
In 2016, the country was already marked by deep economic inequality. While Hillary Clinton promised We did not believe “well-paying jobs” for those struggling to stay housed and buy groceries. We’d heard the same promises so many times before, and yet the federal minimum wage stayed where it was since 2009 at $ 7.25 an hour. Would a Clinton presidency really make a difference for the working people? Not if we hadn’t pushed them – and hard.
The candidate we were concerned about was never Donald Trump, but Hillary Clinton. And the challenge we had to face was to move these fundamental centrists a few notches to the left. We pondered how we could organize ourselves to create a new government that would shift government spending from foreign wars to human needs at home and abroad. We wondered how the people of this country could finally secure the “peace dividend” that we had been promised in the immediate post-Cold War era when her husband Bill became president. In those first (and, as it turned out, only) Clinton years we got what is called welfare reform instead, the consequences of which are still felt today as layoffs Drive millions into poverty.
We doubted Hillary Clinton’s commitment to addressing most of our other problems as well: mass and police violence, structural racism, economic inequality, and most importantly (although some of us were just beginning to realize this) the climate emergency. In fact, people like us nationwide were preparing to spend a day or two celebrating the election of the first female president and then opposing many of her expected guidelines. In the peace and justice movements, in organized work, in organizations at the community level, in the two-year-old Black lives count Movement people were ready to roll.
And then the unthinkable happened. The woman we might have liked to hate lost that election, and the white-supremacist, women-hating monster we would loathe entered the Oval Office.
For the past four years, progressives have largely struggled to hold on to what we achieved during the Barack Obama presidency: an imperfect health plan that nonetheless reassured millions of Americans for the first time; a signature on the Paris Climate Agreement and another on one Six Nations Agreement stop Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons; expanded environmental Protection for public land; the opportunity for recipients of DACA status (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) to continue working and studying in the USA.
For the same four years we have struggled to maintain our tarnished ability to be indignant in the face of continual attacks on common decency and human dignity. There is no need here to recite the catalog of horrors that Donald Trump and his spineless Republican lackeys have visited in this country and in the world. Suffice it to say that like Alice we lived in Looked at more closelyWe run as hard as we can just to stand still. The Red Queen of this fantasy world watches a panting Alice she has to come out of: “A slow kind of country! Well here you see it takes all you can do to stay in the same place. If you want to get anywhere else, you have to run at least twice as fast! ”
It wasn’t just a need to run faster than full speed just to keep up with what made Trump World as much as Looking-Glass Land. Just like in Lewis Carroll’s fictional world, reality has been turned upside down in the US. When new Covid 19 infections reached an all time high of more than 100,000 in a single day and the cumulative death toll exceeded 230,000kept the President in the mirror insist that “we’re going around the corner” (and a surprising number of Americans seemed to believe him). He neglected to mention that around this corner a coronaviral bus is coming straight at us and accelerates as soon as it comes. In a year as an NPR reported“Almost every fourth household has experienced food insecurity,” Trump boasted time and again about the stock market and Americans remember how good their 401 (k) were – as if most people even had such retirement accounts.
Trump World, Biden Nation or something better?
After four years, November 2016 seems like a lifetime ago. The United States of 2020 is a very different place, devastated and more hopeful at the same time than we were just four years ago. On the one hand pandemic unemployment met womenEspecially women with skin color who are much tougher than men and who drive millions of people out of the workforce, many of them permanently. On the other hand, we saw the birth of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, who has donated millions of dollars to working-class women to help tackle workplace harassment. In a few years, physical and psychological attacks on women will no longer be a recognized norm in the workplace. The harassment certainly continues every day, but the collective view of the country has changed.
Black and Latin American communities still face daily confrontations with police forces who act more like occupying armies than public servants. The role of the police in enforcing white supremacy has not changed in most of the country. Nonetheless, the efforts of the Black Lives Matter movement and the hundreds of thousands of people demonstrating in cities across the country this summer changed the conversation about the police in ways no one expected four years ago. Suddenly the mainstream media is talking about more than body cameras and awareness training. In June 2020 The New York Times ran a statement entitled “Yes, we mean literally abolishing the police” from Miramne Kaba, an organizer who works against the criminalization of people of color. Something like that was unthinkable four years ago.
Guns are being bought at the moment of the Trumpian pandemic have increased in a country that is by far the best in the world when it comes to armed citizens. Yet young people – often led by young women – have roused themselves to passionate and organized actions to get guns off the streets of Trump Land. After a gunman shot dead Emma Gonzalez’s school in Parkland, Fla., She famously announced, “We’re calling BS” in response to adult claims that changing gun laws was unnecessary and impossible. She led the March for our lifewho took millions on the streets in this country to denounce the inaction of politicians against gun violence.
While Donald Trump took the US out of the Paris climate agreement, 17-year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg crossed the Atlantic on a climate-neutral sailing ship to address the United Nationsand demand from the adult world “How dare you?” Leave it to your children to save an increasingly warming planet:
You stole my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. The people suffer. People die. Entire ecosystems collapse. We are at the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and a fairy tale of eternal economic growth. How dare you!
“How dare you?” is a question that I ask myself every time as a teacher I stand in front of a classroom of students who are more afraid of the future every semester and more determined to do better than the present.
Public attention is a strange animal. Color communities have known for endless years that the police can kill them with impunity, and it’s not like people haven’t said this in decades. But when such incidents made it into the largely white mainstream media, they were routinely treated as isolated events – the actions of some bad apples – and never as evidence of a systemic problem. Suddenly, in May 2020, with the release of a hideous video After the eight-minute murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, systematic police violence against blacks became a legitimate topic of mainstream discussion.
The boys were at the forefront of the response to Floyd’s murder and demands for systemic change that followed. This June in my city of San Francisco, where the police have killed In recent years, at least five unarmed black people planned and led tens of thousands of demonstrators in a peaceful march against police violence.
Now that the election season has reached its protracted crescendo, so much work remains to be done. With the pandemic spiraling out of control, it is time to demand concerted federal action, even from this malevolent president in history. There is no waiting for inauguration day, no matter who takes the oath of office on January 20th. Many thousands more will die by then.
And isn’t it time we turned our attention to the millions who have lost their jobs and who may also lose their homes when the emergency eviction ordinances expire? Isn’t it time for a real Congressional response to hunger, not by propping up emergency food distribution systems like food pantries, but by putting dollars in the hands of desperate Americans so they can buy their own groceries? Congress must also act in the event of a housing emergency. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Temporary interruption of the evacuation of residential buildings to prevent the further spread of Covid-19” only lasts until December 31st and does not apply to tenants who do not have a rental agreement or a written rental agreement. Even if Donald Trump is still in the White House earlier in the year, it is crucial that it be extended in both time and time. And now the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell has said that he will not have a new economic calculation until January.
Another important issue that deserves attention is the call by Congress to increase federal funding for state and local governments, which are so often important economic drivers for their regions. Not only did the Trump administration and McConnell abandon states and cities and let them face the pandemic itself when a deep recession slashed tax revenues, they handled their genuine and desperate calls for help in mere Democratic Party campaign rhetoric.
“In short, there is still a lot to do”
My favorite scene in Gillo Pontecorvo’s classic 1966 film The battle of Algiers takes place at night on a roof in the Arab quarter of this city. Ali La Pointe, a passionate recruit for the National Liberation Front (NLF) fighting to drive the French colonizers out of Algeria, speaks to Ben M’Hidi, a senior NLF official. Ali is unhappy that the movement called a general strike to demonstrate its power and reach the United Nations. He rejects the seven-day restriction on the use of firearms. “Acts of violence do not win wars,” Ben M’Hidi told Ali. “After all, people have to act themselves.”
For the past four years, Donald Trump has waged war on the people of this country, and indeed on the people of the world. He attacked so many of us Children with a migration background at the US border to everyone who tries to breathe Choked fire States of California, Oregon, Washington and most recently Colorado. He allowed them 230,000 Americans dying in a pandemic that could have been controlled and plunged millions into poverty, to name a few of his “war crimes”. After all, people have to act themselves.
On this dark roof, Ben M’Hidi continues his conversation with La Pointe in eerie silence. “You know, Ali,” he says. “It’s hard enough to start a revolution, harder enough to keep it going, and hardest to win.” He pauses and then continues: “But only after that, when we have won, the real difficulties begin. In short, there is still a lot to do.”
It’s hard enough to vote out a mirror president. But only when we have won, whether now or in four years, will the real work begin. Indeed, there is still much to be done.