The 11 biggest victories against Trump by the resistance | Rebecca Solnit


We are in the midst of a host of battles over the fate of the nation and the earth, and the outcome is in no small part up to us. We can win if we try

It has been a grueling year for people who care about human rights, climate change, and whatever remains of value in federal institutions from the judiciary to the diplomatic corps. This is a terrible, terrible era, one in which tremendous harm is being done to many people, to the planet and to the federal government.

It is also a time in which, through the heroic work of people all over the country and the world, the regime has been exposed, thwarted and rebuked. Thats worth remembering as we face a horrific tax bill and the end of net neutrality.

This year of conflicts demonstrates that sometimes when we fight we win, and we have enormous fights ahead of us. The Trump administration is unstable for many reasons, from the erratic behaviour of the president to the Mueller investigation. Civil society has tremendous influence over what becomes of it, and of us.

Its time to take stock of some of the encouraging phenomena that emerged from this grim year. So I made a list.

New resistance leaders are emerging

Many people found new roles in resistance, and powerful ones, including Amy Siskind with her weekly list of signs of creeping authoritarianism, Sarah Kendzior with her expertise on authoritarianism, and organizers of more than 6,000 chapters of Indivisible and other grassroots groups focused on engaging voters and winning elections.

Many others amplified their work on climate or racial justice or voting rights and connected it to the broad resistance. These times are useful in helping us see the common ground of all our ideals by seeing that the Trump administration, like its Republican predecessors and colleagues, opposes all of them. The same people who deny climate change promulgate racism, attack womens rights, immigrant rights, etc.

The failure of the Muslim ban

The Muslim ban was struck down by the courts, repeatedly. Trumps own tweets helped make the case that they were motivated by unlawful discrimination, not public safety, and the passionate, spontaneous airport actions a week into the regime demonstrated that there would be resistance, and it would matter.

Healthcare reform was defeated

Healthcare reform died on the vine, but terrified and infuriated a lot of people along the way, who got active on the issue and terrified their Republican representatives back.

Voter suppression is on the agenda

Significant attention was finally brought to the important issue of racist voter suppression, gerrymandering, and other violations of voter rights that have given the Republican minority an electoral advantage. Many lawsuits going after state laws and regulations are under way. This is a battle that matters immensely: its about the basic rights of people of color to participate in shaping the nation. Its about race and racism.

Too many liberal and left journalists spent the past year telling a story about the swing states focused on Clintons weaknesses. Too few told the story of how many people particularly black people in those states were prevented from voting. Until everyone knows it, its worth repeating that had everyone had equal voting rights, we would have had a dramatically different election.

The White House is in meltdown

Weve seen numerous dramatic resignations/firings in the chaotic White House. Business Insider reports: Since late July, senior level officials such as former communications director Anthony Scaramucci, chief strategist Steve Bannon, chief of staff Reince Priebus, and press secretary Sean Spicer departed the White House. Others have included Trumps longtime body guard Keith Schiller, the director of Oval Office operations, and Sebastian Gorka, an adviser known for his cable news hits defending the administration.

Anthony
Anthony Scaramucci didnt last long. Photograph: Ariel Schalit/AP

Tom Price, the health and human services secretary, stepped down after a scandal about his squandering a million dollars of government money on private jets. And, of course, Michael Flynn was fired earlier this year, too (more on him below).

The Russia investigation is gathering steam

The administration is under investigation for some very serious crimes that may discredit the whole regime and incriminate, even incarcerate, some of them, including Trump family members and perhaps Trump himself.

Mueller is doing a thorough but swift job. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI on Friday; Paul Manafort and his right-hand man are wearing ankle bracelets; the collusion of Trumps campaign adviser George Papadopoulos was revealed as he incriminated many others in the campaign, including several still in the administration; Carter Page sang like a (drunk) canary. Theres lots more to come.

Many analysts say that such investigations start with the small fry, working their way from the periphery toward the center. Theyre coming for the Trump family. Stay tuned. And be prepared for an uprising if the Republicans try to stop it.

The Russia business that so many insisted on denying through last winter is undeniable dont buy the idea that its just intelligence agencies promulgating it. The depth of this story has been exposed by superb journalistic work by many news outlets, including the Guardian; by leaked documents, including the extraordinary stuff exposed by the NSA whistleblower Reality Winner last spring; by politicians across the spectrum, from Maxine Waters to Lindsey Graham; by congressional investigations, and now by Muellers work the indictments he handed down told us a lot.

Russian interference in European votes, including the Brexit referendum, is now surfacing as well, thanks to journalists in many countries.

Julia Ioffe in the Atlantic recently broke a story about Julian Assanges Twitter correspondence with Donald Trump Jr. Assange was doing his damnedest as anyone whos been paying attention the last 18 months already knew to help Trump succeed, but now we get to read about it directly.

With every revelation, the case for the presidents own complicity grows stronger. Ioffe reports that Assange told Trump Jr last fall: Strongly suggest your dad tweets this link if he mentions us. Then, 15 minutes later, Trump senior did: Very little pick-up by the dishonest media of incredible information provided by WikiLeaks. So dishonest! Rigged system!

And lets be clear: earlier this month, Trump didnt say he supports Putins denials about infiltrating the election because hes naive or gullible. He did so because if he acknowledges Putin is guilty, then he acknowledges he gained the presidency illegitimately.

Trump
Trump and Putin: firm friends? Photograph: Mikhail Klimentyev/AFP/Getty Images

The enormous role of Silicon Valley in cooperating and creating the vulnerabilities and capacities to hack the election are now being exposed: the capacity for harm of Facebook, Twitter, Cambridge Analytica, etc is finally being reckoned with. The industrys own spin about how lovely and high minded and inclusive it is: were done with that propaganda, and thats a good thing.

Remember that virtually everything the Putin regime is said to have done in the 2016 election was made possible by the internet: hacking voter rolls, pushing fake news, using armies of bots and trolls to shape opinion, hacking Democrats and offering the results to Trump team members. Its not good to have powerful enemies; its good to know who and what they are.

The climate movement is rising

The global climate movement remains strong, technological innovations making renewables more effective and affordable continue, the low price of oil hamstrings some oil projects and expansions, campaigns targeting sites from German coal mines to Canadian pipelines continue to be strong, and most countries continue to respect the Paris climate agreement.

Despite all those reports that Trump withdrew us, the United States cannot withdraw from Paris until the day after the next presidential election, in 2020, as Rebecca Leber reported in Mother Jones last week. The administration has not been able to redirect the world away from addressing climate (though its also true that we need far stronger measures and we need them soon).

The Republican party is in crisis

Though stories about the Democrats being in disarray are forever being recycled, its worth noting that the Republicans are in a slow boil. There are loud condemnations of Trump from Jeff Flake and John McCain, among other prominent party members, and a whole wing of old-school conservatives, including the pundits at places like Commentary and the National Review, routinely condemn the administration.

There are lot of reports that privately, many elected Republicans are squirming about their miserable choice between going along with Trump versus the dangers of dissenting. They are constantly facing crises over whether to support or distance themselves from people like Roy Moore and policies that may make them unelectable next time around.

The healthcare battle this spring was a great example of that. Angry constituencies greeted and in many cases chased away or frightened from showing up their Republican congressmen this spring. And healthcare reform (we have to stop letting them call this stuff reform) tanked.

Progressives are seeing electoral victories

The elections last month in Virginia and across the country showed that there are real possibilities of a backlash against this rightwing extremism. Eight trans people, along with many women, people of color, members of the Democratic Socialists of America and other progressives who want a US for all of us won office.

Danica
Danica Roem, the first openly transgender candidate elected, won in Virginia. Photograph: Jahi Chikwendiu/AP

Philadelphia elected as its new district attorney a Black Lives Matter supporter and death penalty opponent who has sued the citys police department 75 times. A lot of people who were poised to explain why the Democrats were total losers had to eat their editorials, and though the Democrats arent the revolution, they are the currently available alternative to the Republicans.

The border wall is doomed

The border wall is probably never ever going to happen (except that hundreds of miles of wall were built up already in recent decades). The idea Trump pushed during his campaign that Mexico was going to pay for it was something only suckers would believe, and its quietly taken a hike since the election.

Trumps popularity is tanking

No president has ever polled anywhere near as low as Trump at this point in his presidency. He has a diehard base that he caters to, and the more he does, the more he alienates the rest of the public. Its as though hes building up an army of support, but in doing so he also fortifies the army of resistance. To paraphrase George W Bush long ago, hes a divider, not a uniter.

After a long series of legislative defeats and stalemates, Trump is going after a radical transformation of the nations tax structure. It will take a lot to resist it, and the resistance should begin by noting that once again, this is the agenda of a party serving corporations and the super-rich and screwing the rest of us over in the process.

This list of our successes and their defeats does not mean you can sit back in the sunshine and trust that it will all turn out in the end. It means that resistance active, engaged, informed, creative, dedicated, energetic resistance works, and we need lots more of it.

Its too soon for despair, though not for grief. Grief and hope can coexist: grief for who and what has already been harmed, hope for preventing more harm. Remembering what we have accomplished and how ferociously engaged people are in this moment is knowing that the outcomes of many pending conflicts are entirely up in the air, and that we are powerful enough to determine some of them. That power of civil society has hardly yet been exercised.

Engagement means understanding that you can work with some parts and campaigns of the Democratic party as it exists without sharing the limited vision of its leadership. From the newly elected Danica Roem to the longtime congresswoman Maxine Waters, the party contains people whose commitments are more radical than those leaders. For those of us in places where our representatives are not out to destroy everything we love and believe in, it means engagement beyond opposition.

Work both inside and outside electoral politics matters, as do campaigns to transform the party into something more progressive and more accountable now being undertaken by many magnificent young organizers. Insiders and outsiders both have roles that matter.

Independent activists on issues like abortion or immigrant rights can define the debate and raise the issues before decisions are made inside the political system. We are in the midst of a host of battles over the fate of the nation and the earth, and the outcome is in no small part up to us. The results over the past year show that sometimes we win, if we try.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/02/biggest-victories-trump-resistance