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Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it. Karl Marx, Theses on Feuerbach
Progress is not a straight line, there’s going to be moments in any given part of the world where things are terrible. But, having said all that, I think things are going to work out. Barack Obama on Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown: Vietnam, September, 2016
Some history experts say the American Revolution was really the nation’s first civil war. The revolution divided many families. Perhaps the most famous example was the family of Benjamin Franklin. Ben Franklin signed the Declaration of Independence. His son William was governor of the colony of New Jersey. He supported the king. Political disagreement about the war tore apart this father and son for the rest of their lives. The Making of a Nation, Rich Kleinfeldt and Rich Feldman
A light goes on in my head. Are we having a revolution? Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign was about starting a revolution. Now we have it, the revolution, but not the one Sanders wanted. Underneath the noise of the Russian collusion investigation, sexual abuse revelations, Congressional failures, and the escalation of the various arguments that divide right and left, a quiet Revolution is slowly but relentlessly moving forward, Trompudo’s Revolution. It’s real. It’s undeniable. And, it’s chilling for those who are on the other side.
What does this revolution look like? It affects pretty much everything. Here is how Andrew Sullivan describes the current situation in a recent post:
The past week was another watershed, it seems to me, in the rising power of Donald Trump. Flake is quitting; Corker is retiring; McCain is mortal. Sasse, Murkowski, Collins, and Paul remain, but the odds are mounting against them. A new slew of Bannonite candidates is emerging from under various rocks and crannies to take their places. The Trump propaganda machine was given a chance to turn the Russia story into a Clinton scandal – lowering even further the possibility of impeachment – and gleefully took it. The FBI is the next target for a barrage of hostile propaganda, since it might expose the Supreme Leader. Mueller is being daily savaged in the right wing press. Outside Washington, Trump’s targets are faltering. The NFL is reeling; a Gold Star widow is attacked; Obamacare is at risk of being sabotaged to death; the EPA is castrated.
The Congress is paralyzed, reduced entirely to staffing the judiciary with the far right; it can pass no significant legislation and reach no compromise on anything, without Trump undermining it. The bureaucracy is shell-shocked and demoralized; the State Department is a wasteland; the press has sunk even further into public disdain. The police are increasingly seen either as incapable of error, or morally suspect. The essential civilian control of the military has been weakened, with an embittered general’s honor now deployed as a way to play political defense in front of the press corps. “My generals”, as the president calls them, as if they swear loyalty to him and not to the Constitution. The Republican candidate for the Senate from Alabama, Roy Moore, believes that there should be a religious test for public office. As Ben Sasse blurted out yesterday: “It feels like this party I’m a member of has gone post-Constitutional.”
It sounds ominous and it is. Let’s consider what has happened since the election.
We can start with the courts since Trompudo points to his appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court as his signature achievement.
In the weeks before Donald J. Trump took office, lawyers joining his administration gathered at a law firm near the Capitol, where Donald F. McGahn II, the soon-to-be White House counsel, filled a white board with a secret battle plan to fill the federal appeals courts with young and deeply conservative judges. New York Times
Not only is the battle plan moving forward, it is moving forward quickly and efficiently. In some cases, nominees have little or no experience. The only thing that matters is the nominee’s ideological positions on matters of importance to the President and his supporters.
Brett J. Talley, President Trump’s nominee to be a federal judge in Alabama, has never tried a case, was unanimously rated “not qualified” by the American Bar Assn.’s judicial rating committee, has practiced law for only three years and, as a blogger last year, displayed a degree of partisanship unusual for a judicial nominee, denouncing “Hillary Rotten Clinton” and pledging support for the National Rifle Assn. … On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee, on a party-line vote, approved him for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench. Los Angeles Times
And remember, these are LIFE appointments. Americans look to the courts for justice and to interpret the laws of the land according to the Constitution. Inevitably the judges who make these decisions will be influenced by their own personal opinions no matter how hard they try to remain impartial. Stacking the courts with conservative judges will have long term impacts on our lives as citizens.
“It is despairing. Ending the world, ending all mammalian life. This is bad stuff … There’s nothing that I see out there that gives me any ground for optimism,” he (Jerry Brown) went on. Still, he promised action: “I’m extremely excited about doing something about it.” Politico
National Geographic is maintaining a list of actions since the election that roll back Obama-era policies that aimed to curb climate change and limit environmental pollution including those that limit federal funding for science and the environment. The lost is substantial. President Trump has made no secret of his desire to roll back environmental regulations and change the playing field in favor of the fossil-fuel industry. Not only that, “his administration’s actions over its first six months have followed that lead, including what many scientists say is a full-fledged battle against research and facts.” CNN
It’s not just environmental regulations that are being rolled back. If you want to know why the stock market is rising to levels never before seen relative to economic reality, look no further than the fact that Trump is “presiding over the most withering, devastating, and trenchant attack on the American administrative state this nation has ever known.” The Guardian
President Trump is keeping his promise to untie the hands of business to do anything to anyone anywhere anytime with no restriction at all. It’s good for business and as Calvin Coolidge said “What’s good for business is good for America.”
Trump’s Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, has earned the distinction of becoming Trump’s “most hated cabinet secretary,” and that’s quite a statement considering the low opinion of so many of the others. Money is being redirected and rules are being changed to undermine America’s public school system in favor of private, often Christian, schools. There is no disputing that the educational system in America is broken. But, turning our backs on science and reason in favor of the revelations in the Bible is unlikely to improve the competitive skills of our students relative to the rest of the world.
We could go on to race relations, trade, immigration, nuclear proliferation, partisan division, foreign relations and U. S. leadership abroad, trade, the free Press, the Republican Party itself and, of all things, professional sports including the NFL, the NBA, and even mom and apple pie if you consider the fight he picked recently with the wife of La David Johnson—wherever we look Trump is steadily and efficiently changing everything. It’s a revolution pure and simple, Trompudo’s Revolution.
Let’s not kid ourselves. His supporters love him for it. He has a solid hold on his base. The other sixty percent of American citizens who have reservations or disagree are slapped in the face and told to follow the Bible prescription to turn the other cheek. Maybe they should. It’s one tactic to consider. I wrote a blog awhile back where I advocated as much. (Calm Down and Shut Up: The Politics of Lao Tzu). But, given the magnitude of what’s happening, given the light that just went on in my head, there is no way forward that I can see now other than to resist. And, if it breaks up families and friends like it did for Benjamin Franklin, so be it.
Some say Trompudo has just 35% or so of the population behind him. Can a minority really start a revolution? They can if the majority quietly goes along.
No one knows for sure how many Americans remained loyal to Great Britain. The Massachusetts political leader, John Adams, thought about thirty-three percent of the colonists supported independence, thirty-three percent supported Britain, and thirty-three percent supported neither side. Most history experts today think that about twenty percent of the colonists supported Britain. They say the others were neutral or supported whichever side seemed to be winning. The Making of a Nation
Like him or not, Trompudo will go down in history as one of our most consequential Presidents even if he fails to win another term or is booted out before the end of his first. If you let him. And therein lies the rub. What to do?
What could change this? Maybe a recession – although Trump would probably blame that on the Fed or some other target. Maybe a catastrophe, such as a nuclear conflict in Korea. Maybe, such a massive and impregnable revelation from the Mueller investigation it shakes even the base out of its trance. But the only reliable and sane solution is a massive mobilization of the anti-Trump majority at the polls next year … We have close to 60 percent of the country with us. We have to mobilize every single one. Or the abyss will open wider. Andrew Sullivan: What the Trump Abyss Looks Like
“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there,” said the Cheshire Cat to Alice. If you think we’re headed in the wrong direction, we need a new destination and a game plan to get us there.
Start with yourself. Find ways to align your own lifestyle with what you think is most important. Should you switch to solar power? Can you do other things to lower your carbon footprint? Could you change your consumption in a way that benefits the environment? A recent edition of Bill Weir’s The Wonder List on Peru highlights how illicit gold mining is turning parts of the Amazon into a wasteland. He suggests that we consider consuming only gold that is mined using environmentally safe methods? He uses blood diamonds as an example. Almost every product you consume can be scrutinized this way. It isn’t easy nor is it a fast or perfect solution but it is a beginning. Many cannot afford the time or extra money such a careful scrutiny requires, but some can. Can you? Will it make a big difference? That depends. You decide.
This is an old tactic. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. California under Governor Brown has refused to cooperate with many of the recent changes imposed by the Trump administration. People have stood in front of tanks, tied themselves under trains, chained themselves to bulldozers and more to resist and stand up for their beliefs. It takes a special kind of person, one willing to die, to do such things. And often it fails in the long run. But not always.
“We’re fighting,” (Jerry Brown) added. “The game is over in Washington for the moment … But not in the world.” … Later, at the Vatican, he put it this way: “You should despair, but that won’t help. So be optimistic, and do whatever you can.” Politico: Jerry Brown, President of the Independent Republic of California
Noncooperation includes legal action against laws you consider illegal and wrong. Several states sued the Trump Administration over the travel ban and won.
Organize, Mobilize, Vote
Recent elections in Virginia, New Jersey, Maine, Colorado and elsewhere prove that what has been changed can be changed back. But, this sometimes requires making compromises. Andrew Sullivan summarizes what is possible:
Where I was wrong was on turnout. The extraordinary Republican vote in rural areas in 2016 just couldn’t replicate itself a year later, while the Democratic base was on fire. Trump woke up the GOP base in 2016; but he has roused the Democratic base just as powerfully in 2017. We’re seeing the usual backlash against an incumbent president, but with special intensity.
Demographically, the only real shift outside of turnout was in white votes. Clinton won blacks and Hispanics by 88 and 65 percent, respectively. Northam’s compatible numbers were 87 and 67 — barely distinguishable. But Clinton won only 35 percent of the white vote, while Northam won 42 percent. Part of this was the evaporation of third-party votes — curse you, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein! But a big part was turnout. There was a huge Democratic surge, particularly in North Virginia, where the voter margins for the Democrats soared over 2013.
Another huge factor: a big jump in the youth vote. The under-30s turnout in the Virginia governor’s race in 2009 was 17 percent; in 2013, it was 24 percent; this week it was 34 percent. And as young turnout surged, it became progressively more Democratic. In 2013, the under-30s split 45–40 percent for the Democrats; in 2016, in the presidential race, it was 54–36; last week it was 69–30. The third-party vote among the young also collapsed: from 15 percent in 2013 to one percent last Tuesday. I draw a couple of inferences from this: Trump’s extraordinary success among older voters in 2016 has produced a backlash among younger voters in 2017, who are far less complacent than they were last year and ever-more repulsed by Trump’s racist reactionism. And the younger generation has learned one thing from 2016: Voting for your ideal candidate is less important than voting for the candidate that can effectively halt the advance of the far right. Better late than never, I suppose — and Charlottesville may have helped concentrate their minds.
The so-called Millennials may hold the key. An article in as the Atlantic: The Liberal Millennial Revolution points to a way forward:
Young people treat electoral politics the way they treat Hollywood movies: They only show up for the blockbusters. But the math of democracy is unyielding. If you want a revolution, you have to vote for it. Not just every four years. Not just for cool candidates. Not just for political outsiders unsullied by the soot of experience. If young people want a liberal revolution, they have to vote again and again and again, in local elections, midterm elections, and presidential contests. To change the country, America’s young revolutionaries have to do something truly revolutionary: They have to convince their friends to vote like old people.
Okay. I know what you’re thinking. I’m just an old, lonely blogger with an audience of a few dozen like-minded people. I’m also retired without the constraint of going to work every day and raising a family. Some of you are way busier than I am so how can you do anything? Why bother?
“Human civilization is on the chopping block,” Brown told an auditorium full of lawmakers and students this week in Stuttgart, his voice rising almost to a yell. “We have to wake up the world. We have to wake up Europe, wake up America, wake up the whole world to realize that we have a common destiny. ”Politico: Jerry Brown, President of the Independent Republic of California
It’s for you to decide. The other side is relentless. Trompudo’s Revolution will not self destruct. At least, I would not bet on it. Andrew Sullivan warns: “do not underestimate the stamina of the psychologically unwell. They will exhaust you long before they will ever exhaust themselves.” Think about it.
Today I’ve officially joined the counterrevolution. Yea, I’m going to go on living my life. I’m not going to put every ounce of my energy into making the change. But I’ve chosen my side and I’m going to do what I can, when I can, how I can. That’s all anyone can be expected to do. I’m no Christian but I like to quote Christians when I think they’re right and sometimes they are.
“Evil may so shape events that Caesar will occupy a palace and Christ a cross,” Dr. King wrote, “but that same Christ will rise up and split history into A.D. and B.C., so that even the life of Caesar must be dated by his name. Yes, ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’” Martin Luther King
The light went on and I’m not letting it burn out. Damn the Trompudos and full speed ahead.