Fresh Ideas: Principled resistance in wake of Trump win
November 16, 2016
After I uncurled from the ball I'd curled into on hearing the news Donald Trump had been elected president, I thought about what I might do for the next four dark years.
Anyone who reads this column knows that climate change is my issue. I've written about it often enough. Now we've elected as our president a man who denies the reality of human-caused climate change. And we've given him a House and Senate who will do his bidding.
By electing Donald Trump we've set the work of averting catastrophic climate change back by at least four years. And these are the most important years — the closing window of time we have left to take strong action to avert climate change. By the time we realize what a mistake we made in electing Trump, that window of opportunity will be shut, and we will be the way to climate catastrophe. So none of us, even those who voted for Trump, will win this one. As my colleagues at Climate Central said, "Physics doesn't really care who was elected."
So yeah, climate change is "my" issue and I'm sad and scared. But then I read a Facebook post from an Asian-American friend. She said, "Does anyone else feel less welcome then before?"
And this, from a teacher friend in Reno, who tells of "a teenager who comes to my classroom and breaks down in tears because she is bisexual, she is brown-skinned, and she is scared because she has already been bullied and attacked by teenagers emboldened by the rhetoric of the last 15 months from the Trump and Republican campaigns."
So yes, there's the setback, perhaps permanent, in averting catastrophic climate change. But at this moment, people — children — are being persecuted. What do we do?
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Donald Trump represents a kind of thinking unfortunately isn't new to this country. But resistance to the brutal society he promises us isn't new either. Americans have a long and honorable tradition of principled resistance. Resistance to injustice and inequality, resistance to environmental degradation, resistance to violence and oppression.
Let us remember our forbearers. The men and women of the movement to abolish slavery. The civil rights movement. The struggle of the United Farmworkers. The battle for women's suffrage. The members of hundreds of different tribes who right now are putting their bodies on the line at Standing Rock to resist the Dakota Access Pipeline that threatens to foul the water of the Missouri River.
Would those brave and dedicated men and women want us to sit around and feel sorry for ourselves for four years? I don't think so.
But what can we do specifically? Regarding climate, we can ask Mark Amodei to live up to his promise. Last month, after repeated visits from persuasive members of the Carson City branch of the Citizens' Climate Lobby, he agreed to join the bipartisan Climate Caucus in the House of Representatives. Will he stay there, now "his guy," the climate denier, is in charge? He needs to hear from us.
Nevada was a bright spot in the election. Both the State Assembly and the Senate flipped to a Democratic majority. With a governor who's interested in making Nevada a clean energy leader and progressive legislators who want to do the same, we have a real chance for passing an aggressive clean-energy policy in this session — if we go down to the legislature and tell them that's what we want.
Then there are the organizations who are going to hang in there — groups working on reproductive rights and women's heath, the environment, civil liberties, organizing marginalized communities. If you're on their mailing lists, they're probably already asking you for more money. But they're asking you for money because we're up against those who have a lot more than we do. So give them money for Pete's sake! Volunteer. Give them your time. They're fighting the good fight.
We can make our homes, our churches, our school district, our city, and our hearts sanctuary for the many people who will be persecuted because of their religion, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, their political beliefs. We can say, "Not in our town!"
What truly breaks my heart is how by electing Trump we have betrayed our children. Protests have continued for days in cities throughout the country — including Reno and Las Vegas. I looked at pictures of those protesters and they all looked like my kids and their friends. They know what kind of world we have handed to them by handing them Trump. Those young faces looked desperate, determined — and brave.
A young man I know said, "But I didn't want to do this! I just want to live my life."
We all just want to live our lives but now the world we live in is the one we've been handed by the 2016 election. As my favorite poet and war resister William Stafford wrote in the poem "For My Young Friends Who are Afraid,"
"What you fear
Will not go away: it will take you into
Yourself and bless you and keep you.
That's the world, and we all live here."
Plenty of opportunities for principled, nonviolent resistance will arise in the next four years. We will be calm, determined, disciplined and relentless. We might be afraid, we might be angry, but we're not going to let our anger harden into hatred (the mistake, I think, of Trump supporters). We're going to get up every morning and do what we can because we know, as Dr. Martin Luther King said, "The arc of history is long but it bends towards justice."
Anne Macquarie blogs about clean energy and climate change in Nevada at nevadanscleanenergy.org.