By Bill Adams
This is intended as a proposal – a working document – as part of the conversation in the overall strategy in fighting the destructive policies and actions threatened by a Trump presidency. Brevity and specificity are both necessary for political clarity yet are somewhat antagonistic. Thus, efforts to make the document more complete should be equally met with efforts to make it shorter and more to the point.
WHEREAS, The ability of the Earth to sustain life is at a critical juncture in time. We are confronted with environmental collapse and an enormous increase in military conflict and instability. We also face increasing inequality, exclusion, poverty, and suffering. The election of Donald Trump as President of the U.S. – particularly the ideas he has postulated or he embodies – puts the nation and world at great risk.
WHEREAS, Nothing can communicate the depth of conviction to principles and ideas more than the exercise of the First Amendment rights of assembly, political speech, and petition of government. Such action is not antagonistic to democratic elections. Rather it is a necessary part thereof, particularly to communicate urgency and importance.
WHEREAS, More than at any time since the Vietnam war, protest is an imperative and urgent part of democracy. The Earth’s ability to sustain life will depend on what we as a nation and as a planet do in the next few years. Sustained protest is necessary to catalyze action on certain principles and policies on which the majority of the people of our nation agree. The term of Trump’s presidency is uniquely suited for the amplified messaging and the barometer of feeling that protest provides, for at least two reasons:
First, the situation is urgent. We find ourselves at a critical juncture in world history. Earth’s ability to sustain life is collapsing even faster than scientists predicted. Additionally, forty years of “trickle down” economic policies, free trade agreements, and financial deregulation have fraudulently eliminated the gains and security of the productive class for the profit of the parasitic class. We have yet to recover from the financial disaster of 2008 and cannot withstand financial deregulation leading to another financial collapse.
Second, the weight of post-election analyses indicate that President-elect Trump’s election was attributable primarily to the dissatisfaction of the working class with political elites and insiders due to income stagnation and job loss. His election was a rejection of the status quo.
However, he did not win the popular vote. He received even fewer votes for his vaguely described ideas. Thus, there is no political “mandate” or democratic endorsement of his ideas. There is only a mandate for change from the status quo. Yet many of the policies and personnel President-elect Trump has signaled he will employ in his administration are in direct contradiction to the reasons for his election and the popular will of the people.
WHEREAS, This manifesto is neither an aspersion on the character of President-elect Trump nor presumes any actions or ideology on his or his supporters part. Such a strategy would be alienating and self-defeating. Indeed, it is recognized that, while many found his communications and actions offensive and injurious, to some his ‘unfiltered’ manner demonstrated authenticity and his election was a rebuke to polite and duplicitous pillorying of working people. Accordingly, protest should be focused on issues and policies such that President-elect Trump may embrace the principles enunciated herein and communicated via protest. If he so chooses, he can be a champion of the people.
WHEREAS, The very hallmarks of civilization in our nation are in decline – from shelter to healthcare to education to economic opportunity to racial and civil equality to world and domestic peace. We are at the precipice of no return. The nation and the world cannot withstand another U.S. administration that embraces the policies of our destruction.
NOW THEREFORE, We the people declare that we are at a critical moment in time in which we must communicate – via peaceful but sustained and highly visible protest – the depth of our commitment to certain basic principles:
We cannot “make America great again” by moving backwards. It’s not time to heed calls for unity behind this presidential choice or “give him a chance” to allow him to implement already failed policies when so much is at stake.
It’s not time to give climate change denial “a chance” as the Earth’s ability to sustain life is collapsing.
It’s not time to give military aggression and renouncement of alliances or treaties on nuclear arms reduction “a chance.”
It’s not time to give the continued brutalization of people of color in our law enforcement or criminal justice system “a chance.”
It’s not time to give trickle down economics or deregulation of the financial industry another “chance.”
It’s not time to embrace policies that limit shelter or medical treatment to the economically privileged, or calibrate economic privilege to birth or race.
It’s not time to retrace policies of discrimination, exclusion, and scapegoating; nor to pause advancement on healing, inclusion, and equality.
It’s not time to appoint and empower people associated with these failed policies;
Making “America great again” must mean retaking the lead in advancing human rights, equality, environmental protection, and education. Much of what made this country great in prior decades was not a matter of having reached an optimum state of civilization, but rather a matter of its steady march toward greater civilization. In recent decades, this march has stopped and reversed.
If President-elect Trump moves forward rather than backward, he may yet unite our nation. He defied all expectations in gaining the presidency – we pray that he defies negative expectations in governing.
Until then, we must and will be in the streets, the parks, the plazas, the civic buildings, and the arts – loud and visible as never before, demanding that we move forward not backward.
Bill Adams is a local lawyer. He also founded and edits a multi-author urban planning and architecture blog – UrbDeZine. He and his wife Saam were ground level participants in Occupy Wall Street in Zucotti Park in October 2011 as well as San Diego’s own Occupy in the Civic Center. They were also ardent supporters of Bernie Sanders’s run for the Democratic presidential nomination. Bill acquired his activism relatively late in life, which he attributes in part (but does not fully understand) to marrying the granddaughter of Long Beach civil rights and labor activist Ernest McBride. They believe that there is a simmering major movement which has previously surfaced, interrupted only by short term setbacks, in the Anti-globalism and IMF protests, Occupy movement, and Bernie Sanders rallies. They believe it will come into full bloom with protests during the Trump presidency.