Well, that was an interesting week.
Interesting in the sense of the old Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.”
Which in fact is neither Chinese, nor a curse. The phrase first surfaced in a letter to the brother of former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, and was later made familiar in a speech by Robert Kennedy.
In an ironic sense then, this quotation of “false news” perfectly suits the global diplomatic turmoil that runs awash in the wake of Donald Trump’s Dreadnought ship-of-state.
It’s hard to tell, however, whether there is a devious, clandestine hand in charge on the bridge, or whether this is really the shit-show, bumper-boat fiasco, that it appears to be.
With a flurry of executive orders, Trump and his gang has set the media, Democrats, and all other opposition riding “madly off in all directions”, as Stephen Leacock once wrote. The cumulative effect has scattered the focus of critics, and split the opposition into special-interest groups, each clamouring in rage over different issues, which seem to change by the hour.
In fact, there were at least 17 controversial initiatives pushed forward by the Trump White House last week. What were they?
- A move to roll back Obamacare.
- Gag orders for the National Parks Service, Environmental Protection Agency, Dept. of Agriculture, and Dept. of Health and Human Services.
- Deleting the Spanish version of the official White House page and … for good measure….
- Deleting pages on Civil Rights, climate change, and LBGT rights.
- Ignored federal laws to hire Jared Kushner as a Senior White House Advisor. Kushner is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka.
- Pulled the U.S. out of the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement, which security analysts say will result in growing Chinese dominance throughout Asia.
- Trump ordered an investigation into voter fraud alleged to have occurred during the same election campaign that installed him as President. ( Not even Aaron Sorkin, could make this stuff up.)
- He cut international funding to Non Government Organizations that support abortion.
- Reversed bans on two major pipeline projects. ( Trump had money invested in Energy Transfer Partners, the builders of the Dakota Access Pipeline, but sold his shares just over a month ago.)
- He suspended the federal refugee program, and put an indefinite ban on Syrian immigrants.
- Then he banned residents of seven, predominantly Muslim nations from entering the United States. ( He did not, however, include in the ban the three Muslim nations where he has business interests, and which combined, are responsible for every death inflicted upon American citizens on U.S. soil, by foreign terrorists.)
- He renewed an initiative to re-open CIA black sites around the world, and reinstitute torture as an acceptable means of interrogation.
- Put into motion financial backing to build a $20-Billion dollar wall along the U.S. Mexican border, then told Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to cancel his planned visit to the White House, unless he agreed to pay for it. Nieto, cancelled immediately.
- Trump then threatened a 20 percent tariff on Mexican goods entering the U.S., if Mexico did not agree to pay for the wall.
- For good measure the President promised to publish a weekly list of crimes committed by immigrants in the United States.
- He then laid the groundwork for massive deportations.
- Stripped federal funding from cities that promised sanctuary to illegal immigrants in the country.
As if that wasn’t enough to keep opponents off-guard, the President also announced that he will NEVER voluntarily release his personal tax records, and then hired a team of professional “cheerleaders” to applaud his corrosive speech to members of the national intelligence community, gathered in front of a memorial wall for CIA operatives killed while serving the U.S.
Then, he kicked off his second week in office, by firing the Attorney General who ordered Justice Department lawyers NOT to defend the President’s executive order on immigration and refugees, questioning its constitutional legality.
It gives the impression that the President and his administration have ADHD, but just the opposite is true. The effort, is very deliberate.
Whether it be an attack on Obamacare, abortion rights, immigrants, or the truth, the Trump administration has employed the Helter-Skelter method of delivering political policy. That is, throw enough shit in every direction, and some of it is bound to stick.
The advantage of this, as I’ve suggested, is that there is so much to object to, and rail against, that it tends to diffuse any focussed opposition.
It’s the kind of tactic employed by lawyers in a tough case. They bury the opposition in reams of files, paperwork, and endless legal filings and motions, to distract, deflect and derail their opponents. To delay any concerted action, until it’s too late to be effective.
This was the strategy employed to bring down the Occupy movement. Involve so many different interests that the resulting cacophony of protest can be dismissed as rabble-rousing by dysfunctional opponents who don’t know, specifically, what they want.
Or put more simply, divide and conquer.
If every special interest group insists that its own particular priority must take precedence over every other issue it becomes a war of competing factions, and not a war on Trump and his administration.
To avoid this, it’s time for all opponents to step back, and carefully consider a strategy that, in the end, will succeed in derailing the agenda as a whole. Or to put it another way; torpedo Trump’s Dreadnought.
The best and most effective way to do this, is not to panic nor proceed pell mell into the fray. This is going to take time, patience, and planning. Registering objections through marching and protest isn’t a bad thing, but its impact is fleeting. It will be nigh impossible to maintain a steady stream of active demonstrations for the next four years. Still, there’s no harm in trying.
A better way for Americans to object, perhaps, is to contact Republican congressmen and women directly, and threaten their security. Tell them that not only will you take your own vote elsewhere, but you will do your best to bring as many votes with you, as possible. (Here’s a list to help you find them.)
More urgently, target the 435 congressional members, and 33 Senators, who are facing re-election bids in the 2018 mid-term elections. This, will be the toughest task of all both for Democrats, and for any other voter who can no longer support the Trump agenda. Only eight Republican senators face a bid for re-election, while 23 Democratic senators, and two independents are also on the line. In the House, the margin is: Republicans 241 / Democrats 194.
Many of those Democrats are representing districts in which Trump prevailed by double-digit margins, and need all the support they can get. Here’s a link, for those who wish to join the Resistance.
The current, simmering ground-swell of social media opposition is also helpful, and can be used to further organize Anti-Trump voter registration, campaign volunteers, marches, demonstrations, letter writing and phone initiatives, fund raising, and sustained campaigns of opposition and vocal criticism. That’s where we, as Canadians, can offer support and help, to our neighbours, and best friends. As we’ve discovered in the last few months, Tweets and posts can be powerful tools in shaping public opinion, so organizing them into a coherent dissenting voice, may be a worthwhile endeavour.
You may be asking why a white, 61 year old Canadian, seems to be so worked up over the American electoral process, in which I play no part? The answer, is because the elephant we sleep beside is stampeding in a direction that may cause great harm to my country, may family, and most of the world. The least I can do — is send up a warning shout.