“We are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country,” President Obama declared at the White House the day after election. Thursday, after an hour and a half chatting with his successor, Obama told Donald Trump that the current administration is going “to do everything we can to help you succeed—because if you succeed, then the country succeeds.”
We should not be rooting for his success. In fact, if Trump succeeds, our country—and our world—is fucked.
We are morally obligated to stymie his leadership and defeat his success at every juncture. His every move must be closely watched and challenged. The ACLU has the right idea: its homepage now features a picture of Trump and the message “See you in court.”
The U.S. does not need unity now. We need division. In Europe, the minority party is referred to as the Opposition. Its job is to block the majority party’s worst initiatives. In countries with repressive governments, the popular opposition is called the Resistance. It does all it can, from writing novels to acts of civil disobedience, in order to disrupt official business as usual and to offer another vision of politics, justice, and life.
We do not need unity now. We need division.
“We are not Democrats first or Republicans first,” said the president, whose legacy is about to be wiped out on January 20, 2017. “We are Americans first.” It was Barack Obama’s virtue—and also his biggest mistake—to insist on being an American, rather than a Democrat, first. He wasted his first term, when he had a Democratic majority, attempting bipartisanship with a party that would sooner piss on him than talk to him.
But Donald Trump is not an American first. “He has only one ideology,” his biographer Gwenda Blair told me last summer: “Win.” Trump pledges allegiance to no party, no god, no state. Not even his wives can count on his loyalty.
For their part, the Republicans have spent the past decade demonstrating that they are Republicans first and last: suppressing the vote, stripping criminal defendants of due process, undermining women’s right to abortion, perverting the “freedom of religion” to allow legal discrimination against queers. They defend one Constitutional clause only: the Second Amendment “right” to kill hundreds of people at once with assault weapons. They have virtually abolished workers’ globally recognized human right to organize.
Facism works best when the people cooperate.
The Republican Congress has executed an eight-year slow-motion coup d’état, refusing to govern or let the president govern. They are about to reshape the Supreme Court as a GOP field office. Each new announcement of an administration appointee makes it clearer that the president-elect, the Republican Congress, and their industry pals on K Street will set about decimating consumer protections, unions, civil rights, progressive taxation, and the national parks, not to mention a half century of global alliances and hard-won covenants to combat climate change. One prominent climate scientist told the Guardian: “A Trump presidency might be game over for the climate.” These people don’t give a fig about America, or for that matter, much of anything beyond their own money and power.
Fascism can operate through surveillance, intimidation, and violence, without the consent of the people. But it works best when the people cooperate. The media are already showing their willingness to do so. The day after the election, they were cheerfully covering Trump’s doings—where he is driving and speaking and meeting—and interviewing people on the street who want to give the guy a chance to show himself, as if we don’t already know who he is.
On a sleepless Thursday night (will I ever sleep again?), I turned on the late-night local TV news and caught the report of a second day of nationwide anti-Trump protests. The spin: The protesters are peeved that our team didn’t win, as if the election had been an intramural softball game. Meanwhile, from Day One of Trump’s America, tweets have been streaming out from Muslims, African Americans, women, Latinos and Latinas, and immigrants suffering random acts of violence and hate speech.
Our task is not to unite with but to divide the one-party government against itself, to disarm the brown shirts, and conquer Trump and Trumpism. The future depends on our vigilant, organized resistance.