For the past two weeks I’ve been reading various articles to try to figure out what to do now that Donald Trump is President. How do I oppose Trump within the bounds of our American democratic republic and while maintaining our American values? Many columnists gave thoughtful suggestions on how to proceed and that has helped me a lot. It’s been especially helpful to listen to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders speak of our responsibility to work with Trump on areas of common ground, but to fight Trump when his administration tries to take away the rights of vulnerable groups like Muslim Americans, immigrants, LGBT Americans and women. I believe that the Republicans’ practice of obstructing President Obama’s every initiative in the past 8 years has been very destructive to our democratic republic and I don’t want the Democrats to follow the same path if they don’t have to. Bernie Sanders has done a good job of telling Democrats where we can work with Trump and telling us when we need to fight Trump.
On November 17, 2016 Hillary Clinton gave a very inspirational speech for the Children’s Defense Fund for her friend Marian Wright Edelman. Clinton said in her speech:
There are also children who are afraid today, like the little girl I met in Nevada who started to cry when she told me how scared she was that her parents would be taken away from her and be deported. No child should have to live with fear like that. No child should be afraid to go to school because they are Latino or African-American or Muslim or because they have a disability. We should protect our children and help them love themselves and love others…
…So we have work to do, and for the sake of our children and our families and our country, I ask you to stay engaged, stay engaged on every level. We need you. America needs you. Your energy, your ambition, your talent. That’s how we get through this. That’s how we help to make our contributions to bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice.
I know this isn’t easy, I know that over the past week, a lot of people have asked themselves whether America is the country we thought it was. The divisions laid bare by this election run deep, but please listen to me when I say this. America is worth it. Our children are worth it. Believe in our country, fight for our values and never, ever give up because over the past two years, I have met so many people who reaffirmed my faith in our country, all kinds of people—young people starting businesses, people working in every way they could to make the world a better place, police officers who put their lives on the line, members of communities who work with the police to try to keep everybody safe, immigrants who worked so hard to become citizens and so many people who work long hours caring for children and the elderly, even when the pay is not enough to support their own families.
Listening to Hillary express hope in this country inspires me. So does Bernie Sanders. Last week Bernie Sanders gave a speech in George Washington University showing a path for Democrats to take in the Trump years and afterwards participated in a question and answer session with Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne. In an article in The Nation, John Nichols highlighted the most important points of Sanders’ speech:
In a major speech Wednesday night at George Washington University, the senator recalled: “Toward the end of the campaign, [the president-elect] was actually using the term that many Democrats don’t use, and he was saying he was going to be the champion of the American working class. That’s what he said. Well, Mr. Trump, we have a list of everything that you said, and we are going to hold you to account.” If Trump keeps promises to invest in infrastructure, raise wages, regulate Wall Street, and reestablish Glass-Steagall protections, the Vermonter said Democrats could work with the incoming president. However, Sanders said, “If those promises turn out to be hollow…we will not only oppose his economic policies, we will expose those hypocrisies as well.”
With regard to the president-elect’s naming of white supremacist Stephen Bannon to serve as a top White House aide, Sanders gave no quarter. Calling on Trump to rescind his selection of Bannon, Sanders said, “The president of the United States should not have a racist at his side.”
“We will not be involved in the expansion of bigotry, racism, sexism,” announced Sanders, to cheers from the audience. “Mr. Trump, we are not going backwards in terms of bigotry. We are going forward in creating a nondiscriminatory society.”
Luigi Zingales wrote a very good article for the New York Times describing the right way to oppose Trump, based on his own experience in Italy opposing Silvio Berlusconi. He wrote:
The Italian experience provides a blueprint for how to defeat Mr. Trump. Only two men in Italy have won an electoral competition against Mr. Berlusconi: Romano Prodi and the current prime minister, Matteo Renzi (albeit only in a 2014 European election). Both of them treated Mr. Berlusconi as an ordinary opponent. They focused on the issues, not on his character…
…The Democratic Party should learn this lesson. It should not do as the Republicans did after President Obama was elected. Their preconceived opposition to any of his initiatives poisoned the Washington well, fueling the anti-establishment reaction (even if it was a successful electoral strategy for the party). There are plenty of Trump proposals that Democrats can agree with, like new infrastructure investments. Most Democrats, including politicians like Mrs. Clinton and Bernie Sanders and economists like Lawrence Summers and Paul Krugman, have pushed the idea of infrastructure as a way to increase demand and to expand employment among non-college-educated workers. Some details might be different from a Republican plan, but it will add credibility to the Democratic opposition if it tries to find the points in common, not just differences.
And an opposition focused on personality would crown Mr. Trump as the people’s leader of the fight against the Washington caste. It would also weaken the opposition voice on the issues, where it is important to conduct a battle of principles.
Democrats should also offer Mr. Trump help against the Republican establishment, an offer that would reveal whether his populism is empty language or a real position.
There is a middle ground between total resistance and total acquiescence.
…I also don’t think it’s tenable for Democrats—especially if Democrats were to advertise it as their strategy!—to keep their hands off every single thing that might make Trump look good, especially if the things that are making him look good include people getting good construction jobs and improved access to child care…
…there are a lot of Democrats in the Senate, too, ones who need something to show their constituents ahead of 2018. Democratic senators are up for re-election in 10 states in 2018 that Trump won, some more deeply red (Montana, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, West Virginia) than others (Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida). They will all be difficult races, and Republicans will have an opportunity to pick up a supermajority. It would be mightily helpful for, say, Sens. Jon Tester, Heidi Heitkamp, and Claire McCaskill to have some sort of new bridge or highway to point to, because otherwise Republican-favoring midterm electorates in Republican states have little reason to vote for Democrats…
To whatever extent Democratic senators work with Trump on these proposals, they should work extra hard to block the rest of his agenda. They should fight mass deportations, hard. They should fight appointments, like Jeff Sessions’ for attorney general, hard. They should walk out of Congress if Trump moves forward with a ‘Muslim registry.’ They should use all the leverage they can possibly muster in the appropriations process to block rollbacks of the social safety net.
This does not mean Democrats should ape destructive tactics like shutting down the government or threatening default (which, in any case, they have no opportunity to do without the majority in either chamber of Congress). It does not even mean they should rule out all cooperation. It means they should carefully weigh every policy concession they can win, assuming that any present themselves, against the enormous political price they will pay by getting it. A few policy goals could meet this test…
…A broader and even more vital mission, one that should attract support far beyond the Democratic Party, is to safeguard and expand space for political dissent…
…The nonprofit sector has a long tradition of subsidizing institutions to safeguard open discourse, human rights, labor rights, and ballot access. (Not coincidentally, Soros has made enemies in the Putinsphere by doing precisely this.) Trump’s government will probably set itself the task of grinding down all these rights, from union organizing to civil-rights enforcement to freedom from torture. Philanthropists should subsidize legal defenses for journalists threatened by the tactic, embraced by Trump and his ally Peter Thiel, of bankrupting critics through exorbitant legal action. America already has a nonprofit infrastructure devoted to safeguarding domestic civil, human, and political rights, but it will have to scale up radically to meet the threat of a Trumpist party in full command of the federal government.
Niraj Chokshi wrote an article about the rise in donations in nonprofits that oppose Trump’s ideology. That is something that never occurred to me before I read the article, but that I think is a good idea. Chokshi wrote:
In the segment, which was broadcast the next day, Mr. Oliver urged viewers to donate to causes he felt were being threatened by President-elect Donald J. Trump — and to do so on behalf of friends or loved ones who voted for him. The list of groups he encouraged his audience to support included the Trevor Project, which provides help to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.
‘It’s working,’ Mr. Mendelsohn, the nonprofit’s deputy executive director, said on Wednesday, adding that the on-air mention helped sustain an outpouring of donations that had begun in the days after the election.
The Trevor Project has company. At least a dozen nonprofits that oppose Mr. Trump’s policies or actions have reported similar, in some cases explosive, surges in support since Nov. 8.
Here are some charities and organizations you might consider donating to:
A video of a Hillary Clinton’s speech at the Children’s Defense Fund
A video of a Bernie Sanders speech at George Washington University and a question and answer session with E.J. Dionne