Many readers will remember the sickening feeling that began to sink in while the results of the 2016 American presidential election were coming in, nearly a year ago. Many will also recall vividly the great exhilaration we felt while attending the massive worldwide Resistance demonstrations, collectively known as the Women’s March, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration. We, and the things we stood for—inclusiveness, equal opportunity and brother/sisterhood—were the wave of the future, and we would prevail!
9 months later
Now, we’ve lived through nine months with Donald Trump as the U.S. President. There isn’t much exhilaration lately, as day by day, week by week, we watch him roll back environmental regulations, lead us down a slippery slope towards potential nuclear war, and behave like a boor towards the very population and wider world a U.S. President is supposed to be a role model for.
Yes, there’s still a Resistance movement, but where are its teeth? The cowardice of the Republican-dominant Congress makes it hard to do much against Trump. Yes, there’s now a special counsel, Robert Mueller, investigating crimes that Trump and others may have committed during the campaign and since. However, Trump seems to refuse to be limited by anything but his own arrogant will, and no one would be particularly surprised if he were to fire Mueller before it’s all over.
On the plus side, many American journalists have found their voices on op-ed pages and TV, as well as in the investigative reporting that has brought irregularities to light and has done an heroic job of keeping the one-dimensional atmosphere of authoritarianism at bay. Finally now, a few Republican Senators are speaking out, as well.
But no one knows where we’re headed. Chris Hedges, one of the best-known writers on the Left, believes that only a true Gandhi-like mass movement in America will shake us loose—not only from Trump, but also from the corporate 1 percent, whom Hedges believes owned the politicians of both major parties even before Trump.
I’ve put a good deal of faith in the information Mueller is gathering, but I have no idea whether it will ultimately carry the day in dealings with a man who will stop at nothing.
Swimming in energy
Back in January, people were saying, “He won’t last six months.” Energy for opposition was abundant. I personally began the post-inauguration period by posting my outrage loudly, clearly and frequently on my Facebook page and elsewhere. I shared many articles from The New York Times, The Manchester Guardian and other journalistic venues. To these, I added my own “sound-bite” posts and short essays. I wrote and phoned Congressional representatives.
I also wrote two dialogues with my “inner Trump” that appeared in The Mindful Word. I wrote them because someone had suggested that I might be projecting my own negativity, my Jungian shadow, onto Trump. Through these explorations, it became clear to me that I do have an inner Trump. I acted it out in high school, when I wasn’t averse to public demonstrations of pique in my quest to be a Big Man on Campus. After that, I encountered enough suffering in life to stop me from believing myself to be the only one who matters, although I recognize the necessity of continued vigilance to guard against such attitudes creeping back in.
A recent change of behaviour
I’ve noticed that recently, my public expressions of outrage at Trump’s continued sowing of chaos have been more sporadic. I turn to the op-ed page of The New York Times and see the latest columns by the people whose continued commitment and clarity I admire so. Yet, I no longer read many of them all the way through.
The best way I can counter Trump is to live my life authentically and happily.
The reason for this isn’t that I’ve pulled back from my own outrage, but that it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere! Preaching to the choir is fine, but something in me now goes through periods of feeling that the best way I can counter Trump is to live my life authentically and happily—to write poetry, enjoy Nature, laugh, joke, dance, play music and serve the children I work with in my job.
I sometimes find myself unable to get up the head of steam necessary to write or even read something articulate, if I feel that there’s no steam engine connected to it!
I recently initiated a Facebook discussion about this matter, which reminds me a bit of the Hippie/New Left disparity in the 1960s. In order to encapsulate a thought in the 140-character space that goes out in big, attention-getting type with a coloured background, I compressed a lot of nuances into this:
Should a person who wants to spread Love and Harmony just IGNORE the US Presidency & not post about it so as to “be positive”?
Feedback and the way forward
I received predictable blowback from many people, who asserted passionately that without continued protest, slavery would never have ended, labour movements would never have gained any power for workers and many other progressive measures that Americans have enjoyed the protection of would never have become realities.
I hear truth in such assertions. In fact, that’s what has galvanized me to write this article. (At the very least, it’s preaching to a bigger choir!) How to most effectively oppose Donald Trump, and to rouse the energies of millions upon millions of Americans and their counterparts in other countries, who see madness in any course but the political recognition of the Oneness of all—my personal definition of progressivism—are open-ended questions.
But we must answer them—soon!
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