The power of protest

Time to get our hands dirty opposing Trump’s plutocratic administration

On Friday (Jan. 20), Donald Trump will be inaugurated with the lowest approval rating of any incoming president in at least the last 40 years during a ceremony that more than 50 House Democrats have pledged to boycott following the president-elect’s controversial comments about civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis—and pretty much everything he’s said and done on his journey to the White House.

Meanwhile, throughout the country, from the West Coast to the Eastern seaboard, protests are planned for the day of and day after his swearing-in outside of the U.S. Capitol. In Washington, D.C., alone, officials from the National Park Service, the agency that grants protest permits, say the response is unprecedented. Unsurprisingly, most of those headed to our nation’s capital are there in opposition to a Trump presidency.

Then there’s the international discord. Demonstrations planned in 32 other countries bring the grand total of Trump inauguration protesters to an estimated million-plus.

The North State’s favorite college town is ahead of the curve when it comes to opposing a Trump administration. By Saturday, in Chico alone, there will have been five anti-Trump protests since the general election. Well done, Chicoans.

It’s safe to say that Donald Trump is the most polarizing president-elect in modern American history. There’s a lot to protest, of course. This is a man who likes to talk out of both sides of his mouth, so nobody knows what he’s planning to do about health care for the nation’s poor and middle class—those who have to worry about the consequences of losing insurance when Congress repeals Obamacare.

Social Security is at stake, too. On the campaign trail, Trump said point blank that he wouldn’t cut it, nor would he cut Medicaid or Medicare. We haven’t heard him echoing that pledge since the election, though, so we don’t know whether he’ll stand by senior citizens, the poor and disabled people or if he’s going to side with the high-ranking Republicans who want to dismantle those safety nets through privatization and voucher schemes.

We also must prepare to protest cuts to public-school funding. Trump’s pick for education secretary, multibillionaire Betsy DeVos, is not only wholly unqualified for the post, as was demonstrated earlier this week during her Senate confirmation hearing, but she is also a corporatist who has spent more than a decade attempting to undermine public education by, among other things, lobbying for taxpayer funding of private schools, including religious institutions, under the moniker of “school choice.” Get ready for that term to resurface in a big way.

Of course, we know how Trump feels about addressing global warming. He’s said it’s a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. Trump’s already assured the fossil-fuel industries that he plans to dismantle Environmental Protection Agency regulations. That message came through loud and clear when he announced climate change contrarian Scott Pruitt as his pick for EPA administrator. Pruitt has a history of joining some of the biggest polluters in the world in efforts to block clean air and water rules.

Speaking of polluters, Exxon Mobile CEO Rex Tillerson, a man with no military or government experience, is Trump’s pick for secretary of state, the person who’s fourth in line to the presidency. Tillerson has strong ties to Russia and Vladimir Putin through his business interests. His potential conflicts of interest are many and, like most of Trump’s other nominees, Tillerson has not been fully vetted by the Office of Government Ethics.

Trump’s forthcoming presidency is a plutocratic dream and American nightmare. The best way to combat what it represents is to protest, organize and prepare for an inevitable revolution, whatever form that takes. Don’t underestimate the power of protest. Think of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Betty Friedan, Harvey Milk and other civil liberties activists who got their hands dirty. So, on Friday or Saturday—or any day, for that matter—join a demonstration and speak truth to power. The real work begins now.