What We’re Reading & Actions To Take After the Election

Dear friends,

The two weeks since Trump’s election have been difficult, and things are moving fast.  This is a time for action, and it’s also important that our actions and strategies are based on a clear understanding of what our political, social, and economic landscapes look like and how they got this way. Today, we’re sharing some resources for both reflection and action.

In our last email about the election results, we put out 8 steps that people can take after the election to fight white supremacy, as well as a few longer term strategic questions. We are reflecting on what it will take for our movements to build the grassroots power we need at the local, state, regional and national levels–from grassroots campaigns to electoral engagement–in order to make gains toward building a world free of white supremacy, patriarchy and capitalism. And of course, we are assessing how to adjust our our own work priorities to best support these fights.

We wanted to share some writings that are helping us to understand this moment and what’s needed next. We don’t agree with everything in each of these articles, and they don’t all agree with each other, but each of these has been illuminating and thought provoking.  What readings or other guidance has been helping you?

At the end of this email, there are also some more immediate steps you can take to push back against white supremacy in this moment.

Clare Bayard,
On Behalf of Catalyst Project

Readings

From Robin D. G. Kelley:  After Trump

So where do we go from here? If we really care about the world, our country, and our future, we have no choice but to resist. We need to reject a thoroughly bankrupt Democratic Party leadership that is calling for conciliation and, in Obama’s words, “rooting for [Trump’s] success.” Pay attention: Trump’s success means mass deportation; massive military spending; the continuation and escalation of global war; a conservative Supreme Court poised to roll back Roe v. Wade, marriage equality, and too many rights to name here; a justice department and FBI dedicated to growing the Bush/Obama-era surveillance state and waging COINTELPRO-style war on activists; fiscal policies that will accelerate income inequality; massive cuts in social spending; the weakening or elimination of the Affordable Care Act; and the partial dismantling and corporatization of government.”

Christian Parenti:  Listening To Trump

The next four years look very grim indeed. As president he will attempt to govern by twitter and sound bite dragging American political discourse deeper into the muck. The worst case scenario is that Trump will establish a modus vivendi with the far-right Koch brother led wing of the GOP and achieve an historic gutting of the regulatory state plus a momentary debt, tax-cut, and infrastructure funded economic boom. This could consolidate a new right-wing populist base—at least until it all comes crashing down. If the Democrats continue shunning the working class, they will only help solidify Trumpism.

Statement From Political Research Associates: On the 2016 Election   

While reflection is critical, we can afford little time for mourning in the United States. Nature abhors a vacuum and the Right Wing abhors it even more. We must prepare to defend the targets of the coming administration and its supporters, including immigrants and refugees; Muslims, Jews and other religious minorities; and frontline organizers—including in rural communities. But we need more than defense. We must stop the momentum of the Right by pivoting now, and in a sustained way, to compete for the hearts and souls of white people drawn to regressive populism even as we remain firm in our commitment to advance racial, gender, and economic justice.

Rebecca Gordon: Life Under Trump: Night Terrors and Daytime Hopes

We need hope now, so we can face a world in which hopelessness, despair, and the tears of my students could also become the new norm. Hope doesn’t mean pretending that the danger isn’t very clear and very present. If your tastes run to good left rhetoric, there’s the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci’ssuggestion in his Letters from Prison that we should combine pessimism of the intellect with an optimism of the will.

Lynn Koh: Trump’s Victory Is A Wake Up Call To The Left

One of the things we desperately need at this moment is hope. Real hope. As in, “we’re going to freaking win” hope. And there is a lot of fodder for hope, despite what we will be up against in the next four years. Millions of people, including many who have never attended a protest, are asking what they can do to change our country’s politics. Students are walking out of high schools and colleges. Individuals everywhere are pledging to support those who will be the direct targets of the new administration’s repression.

For me, part of getting to real hope is having clarity about what happened—having the courage to be self-critical and grow. And I think this starts with a basic acknowledgement: The Left failed the test of this election.

Freedom Road Socialist Organization: The Trump Disaster, The New Confederacy, and The Left  (FRSO also hosted a webinar which was recorded and can be viewed here)

The New Confederacy won. The New Confederacy is composed of the most reactionary factions of capital allied with racist/nativist, right-wing populists. The Republican Party is the political expression of this alliance. We use the term “New Confederacy” to emphasize the fact that this right-wing political force is rooted in an explicitly racist program and strategy. This alliance has won unified control of the federal government, and has control of more states than it ever has before. And it won with a minority of voters, using state-by-state voting blocs, subjected to voter suppression and disenfranchisement, to build a majority in the fundamentally racist institution of the Electoral College. The New Confederacy is a minority alliance, and it uses every tool it can to rule over the majority, as this election profoundly illustrates. The New Confederacy is undeniably our immediate and most dangerous enemy. Let’s dispense of our confusion on that front. We have to defeat the Right.

Ways to Take Action

Note: Some of these are small, immediate actions. They are great to do and also to use to engage people who share antiracist values and who are just beginning to dip their toes into social justice activities.  Please also see action steps from our last email here.