The world-wide women’s marches on January 21 were historic and offer a message of hope, strength and courage. Citizens are passionately mobilized with a widespread sense that President Trump is simply unacceptable. A continuation of this mobilization has the potential to remove Trump from office and destabilize the current political establishment. Trump and his advisors are newcomers to Washington and are relatively weak. This combined with Trump’s brittleness, narcissism and short attention span could result in his personal collapse, but this would not end the Republican domination of the executive and administrative branches of government.
Rush Hour Resistance hopes to sustain and build on the current mobilization by encouraging citizens to make politics part of their daily lives. After Pearl Harbor, Americans readily mobilized, sacrificed and united around a common enemy. There is a reservoir of goodwill and positive energy in our country which has been sorely eroded in recent years but nonetheless remains. The United States of America is the greatest experiment in multi-cultural diversity in the history of the planet and has gradually evolved to a more egalitarian society, until now. The world is watching to see how we respond to this crisis.
The urgent and grave threat posed by catastrophic climate change creates a demanding time line for change. We do not have time to build slowly and carefully from below. We do not have time to wait for the next electoral cycle. The election of Donald Trump was a psychological shock, a surreal wake-up call, but may create opportunity for political change that otherwise might not have happened. It is unclear that any Democratic president would have had the motivation and popular support to make the changes necessary to impact climate change. This crisis may well be an opportunity.
The mechanisms of political change are not an exact science but most often radical change comes from below. Frequently, masses gather in the streets to a point where a country becomes ungovernable and the necessity of change appears inevitable. Over the past century, peaceful revolution has successfully transferred power many times.
The situation is very fluid: institutions that have helped maintain the stability of this county are under attack from both the right and the left. Some of the institutions, such as the media, are essential to the healthy governing of democracy and must be protected. Mass demonstrations are often suppressed by police and/or the military and it is unclear if these institutions would side with Trump. And strangely, we hope that the FBI/CIA can uncover Trump’s involvement with Putin and the possibility that he was compromised (blackmailed) by Russia’s intelligence and thus has committed treason.
We must be prepared to meet counter-protesters and Trump supporters on the streets. Finding common ground around the legitimate criticisms of Democratic neo-liberalism and recognizing the importance of creating jobs by bringing the manufacturing sector back is crucial. At the same time, we must work to dispel the myths that climate change is a hoax or that it is necessary to rebuild the military to counter manufactured threats. Racist, misogynist, homophobic and ethno-phobic comments must be denounced. Of course, such comments are often made with the threat of violence and while Rush Hour Resistance promotes peaceful change, it also encourages participants to protect themselves. One way to do this is to organize into smaller affinity and support groups to watch each other’s back.
Irony and drama infuse the current moment. We must defeat one threat only to face another. The mobilization and energy necessary to defeat the first threat, Trump, can create the necessary momentum to overcome the greater threat, climate change. With determination, courage and intelligence, just maybe we can win a viable future for ourselves and our children.