This column originally appeared on USNewsBeat.com in 2017
Trumpism is a cancer. The best way to fight cancer is to starve the tumor.
I’ve long thought the most badass thing the Occupy movement could have done was to go suddenly, freakishly silent. Imagine the cameras and cops showing up first thing in the morning a month or so into the protest only to find a completely vacant Zuccotti park. Go completely underground, baffle ‘The Man’ Arlington Road-style and spook the hell out of him.
The first several weeks of Occupy Wall Street were incredibly cool. As a writer covering the protests I had a front row seat to a generational awakening that shook the establishment. As the movement grew, its inclusiveness caused it to fall in on itself and time allowed the ‘powers that be’ to launch a counterattack. And while some consider Occupy a failed movement, I contend it had deep and long-lasting impact.
If not for Occupy, there would be no Bernie Sanders. Slight hyperbole, I know, but bear with me. Of course Bernie Sanders has been around for decades shouting at the rain about the very things the initial Occupy movement stood for. But it was Occupy that gave the country a new language that focused our attention on the issue of inequality. Phrases like “we are the 99%” created a lasting impression on the American psyche and allowed for the rise of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren owe a great deal to the Occupy movement in this respect.
It’s easy to characterize Occupy as a flash-in-the-pan movement given the results of the most recent election. But the election was as much a rebuke of the so-called 1% as Bernie’s success in the Democratic primary. The rise of Trumpism and the populist wave that carried him into office was very much related to the unease felt in all quarters of the economy. The economic recovery has been steady by all top level indicators but suppressed wage growth has kept the American standard of living under a constant state of pressure. To this end, while Americans were generally pleased with Obama’s performance as a leader, we were prepared to throw the baby out with the bathwater when faced more of the same under a Clinton presidency.
Voting for Trump was like buying a lottery ticket… Hey, you never know.
Something else we’ll never know how Sanders would have fared in the general election, and at this point it doesn’t really matter because just seven months into the Trump era, the administration is coming apart at the seams.
The mass exodus of top aides and business leaders, combined with the fact that there are literally thousands of vacant positions remaining in key departments, is beginning to rip the executive branch to shreds. The President has abandoned his role as Commander in Chief (we are still at war) leaving our generals to fill the roles of military strategists, policymakers and diplomats. They’ve repeatedly been forced to walk back the President’s tweets and rambling aggression whenever he goes off script at a press conference. Leadership in both parties is fractured to an almost unrecoverable extent with GOP leaders quietly caucusing to figure out how to harness the potential of a two house majority with a madman behind the wheel in the Oval Office. Democratic leadership is no better off as they have yet to agree on a singular path forward and back into power.
Steve Bannon’s departure appears to be the beginning of the end. While odious and worthy of contempt, Bannon is no dummy. His ouster, whether self-imposed or delivered is a clear signal that anyone that matters in the White House has given up on strategy. Not that there ever was any. Trump, quite predictably, surrounded himself with unqualified sycophants. The amazing thing is that he found a way to alienate even them. What he’s left with now is a gaggle of children. Actual children. Stephen Miller, Hope Hicks, Jared Kushner, his own daughter — these are the people who are guiding the ship while the adults in the room such as Mattis, Tillerson and Kelly run interference with world leaders that Trump insults on a routine basis.
All of which brings me back to my original fantasy for the Occupy movement in today’s situation. With Bannon leaving and the media focused on the rise of white nationalism and the potential for violence to further spill into the streets, this is the precise moment of opportunity for progressives. And my advice is very much akin to Tina Fey’s “sheetcaking” movement.
Instead of reacting and taking action in the streets, it’s time to go quiet. Eerily quiet.
Here’s what happens next. It’s clear the Trump administration isn’t capable of acting responsibly. It will continue to flounder and the media will continue to fuss. He and his remaining minions will look for any and every possible event to ascribe blame to the left, or even to the right when it suits their momentary purpose. The media will continue to interview morons looking to re-litigate the legitimacy of Nazism.
The networks can’t believe their luck. “Our highest ratings since the Nuremberg Trials!” Charlatans. The only reason these nazi fuckapples are enjoying their 15 minutes of fame is because we’re giving it to them.
If members of the Press Corps had any courage, they would abandon White House briefings en masse, knowing that nothing of substance was going to come from them. But they won’t because they’re part of the problem. If elected democrats had any guts they would force everyone out of the DNC and get behind a progressive agenda. But they won’t because they take money from the same turds that fund the Republicans. That leaves activists on the left in the position to quietly influence the establishment and coerce it back into its right (left) mind so we can go back to fighting for universal healthcare, ending mass incarceration and protecting our planet.
Here’s why the Trump presidency is truly a wrap. He needs to get out now to protect what’s left of his business brand. If he leaves sooner than later, it’s actually possible because he can just point the finger and play the blame game while 30% of the country still thinks he’s smart. Where it truly all comes crashing down for Don John is when the Dow Jones (inevitably) drops the kids in the pool. It’s only a matter of time because that’s how economic cycles go. Once that happens, his business image is toast. DJT has to boogie before that happens if he’s going to have a chance to rebuild his fortune earning fees on the Russian lecture circuit. That’s why I believe he resigns before Congress even contemplates impeachment.
To facilitate his implosion, we need to act against our natural instincts to call him names and fan the flames. Bullies love to fight because it’s what they know. If we understand that Trump operates by the age old credo that no press is bad press, then we need to starve the beast.
- Step 1: Mass unfollow. Seriously, stop following him on Twitter. A loss of millions of followers would be more hurtful to him than the stock market tanking. Don’t show up to protest alt-right rallies. Let them walk in circles with tiki torches while you eat sheetcake. (Side benefit — you’ll sleep better.)
- Step 2: Game the media system. Mass follow twitter handles of really good people like Warren, Sanders and the Dalai Lama. Only repost articles from Democracy Now!, The New Yorker, TruthDig and the ACLU. Special note to Nielsen families: Stop watching the major networks. (Side benefit — you’ll sleep better.)
- Step 3: Harass elected democrats. Still wasting your time and breath calling Republicans in congress. You’re Charlie Brown’s teacher. Crush your local democratic officials into a more progressive agenda with emails and phone calls, not social media. (Side benefit — you’ll accomplish something.)
The first step will drive Trump batty and hasten his nervous breakdown. The second step will help us coalesce our ideas while supporting independent media. Step three helps prepare us all for the real battle ahead: Mike Pence, the 46th President of the United States.