Why Resistance Is Futile
Protesting everything isn’t the solution to Trump.
Many Star Trek fans will recognize the title phrase of this piece. Whether you know the mantra of the Borg or not your first thought as a disillusioned pissed off progressive is to resist what you’re about to read.
Hear me out.
We all know who Donald Trump is. He’s an unaware, egotistical, misogynistic, narcissistic, bombastic bully. Not even his supporters deny that. And there’s the possibility that he may have committed treason by corroborating with the Russian government to undercut American democracy and to push the electorate in his favor — or arguably against his opponent — enough to further depress her already lagging popularity.
Put that aside.
Or at least put it to the FBI and CIA. Who we all hope will follow the facts and arrive at a conclusion that allows us to depose Trump.
But until then we’re stuck with him — and who knows for how long. And even if he does go we would still be stuck with Mike Pence as well as the Republican controlled Congress.
Which begs the argument that we must not resist — we must instead engage.
Every election cycle this country swings back and forth between a swooning love fest for their candidate/savior to abhorrence and hate of the opposition. I would argue that progressives are guilty more so than conservatives. Many conservatives don’t love Trump and while they foisted him on us they are quickly falling out of the honeymoon phase. Let’s hope they hurry up.
I would argue that progressives extreme stance has prevented us from holding politicians accountable — both those who we’ve supported and those who we do not.
Our blind support for Pres. Obama and the inability to attack him in public without fear of tarnishing his brand — led to a strict political adherence that failed to call out the president. This led us to turning a blind eye toward his massive deportations, his passive efforts to address police brutality and discrimination without being seen as less than a white president and his inability to put wages and job creation forefront in his administration — to the point where a trade deal became more of a priority than closing the wage gap and restoring the wealth loss by the financial crisis. Not Wall Street’s wealth — but that of retirees and foreclosed homeowners.
Now we’re doing the same with Trump — less we be seen as co-conspirators to a racist, misogynist president — we’ve decided to not engage around the policy unless we’re in complete opposition and to ignore the rest.
This is lazy democracy — it also let’s Trump off the hook by being able to say that those people over there are the typical partisans that hate me. The same way that Obama was able to claim that criticism of him undermined his brand and helped Republicans. Pish posh.
This lazy democracy is letting Trump get away with a different kind of murder. Not just the murder where he’s possibly usurping democracy by playing footsy with Russians, cutting deals that continue to benefit his business, and causing national security firestorms by tweeting.
I’m talking about the quiet murder and suffocation of the actual agenda that he ran and won on. Trump made lots of promises some of them caustic and discriminatory — like his effort to build a wall, deport Mexicans and ban Muslims. Those are promises he’s actively trying to keep.
But he also made promises around things that many of us can get behind. He said he wants health care for all, he said he would prevent corporations from sending jobs overseas, he said he would not let Wall Street get away with murder, he said he would bring jobs back, his daughter Ivanka said her father would provide quality child care, he was against the Iraq war, and he campaigned against cutting Social Security benefits.
While the haze of Michael Flynn and what’s his name Nunes clouds our eyes — we are missing a real opportunity to actively hold Trump accountable in a way that doesn’t make us partisan — it makes us American — it also forces him to confront his much celebrated white working class base and actually deliver on something other than issues that trigger divisions around age old racial fault lines.
By calling Trump out we also ensure that whoever comes next — whether Pence or Elizabeth Warren — will know that the people’s agenda is the people’s agenda.
One could also argue that because Trump has broken all conventional norms of politics — so should we. Now is the time for all the ideas that progressives have been told aren’t pragmatic, aren’t feasible or don’t have enough votes. Since none of that matters — and we’re dealing with a president who is throwing ideas on the wall like spaghetti let’s also get in the game and propose universal health care, criminal justice reform, a $15 minimum wage.
While many resist or move to Canada or disengage — the country will continue to run — budgets will be drafted and resources will be allocated.
While I rarely quote Sheryl Sandberg when it comes to the out of touch advise about what women should do — I have to agree that now is the time to lean all the way in.
If Trump has taught us one thing it’s that anything is possible. If he’s taught us anything else it’s that resistance is fun but disengaging is dangerous.
And that while Trump may get away with treason for a while — he can’t get away with not fulfilling his promises to the real people who count. The American people. That’s only if we let him.