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Monday, November 21, 2016


I should like, if I may, to address an appeal to all of the readers of this blog.  If Google’s counter is accurate, there appear to be some thousands of people who visit this blog on a regular basis, some of whom, to be sure, do not live in the United States but most of whom do.  Of those many people, for whose readership I am very grateful, only a small percentage have ever posted a comment, and a mere handful comment regularly.

This plea is to the rest of you out there.  Please, please become active wherever you live, get actively involved in opposing the new Trump administration.  This man poses, I truly believe, an existential threat to such democracy as we have achieved in America.  He will use the enormous powers of the presidency to attack and try to punish those who criticize him, and the press and media are too cowardly and complicit to offer any sustained opposition.  It is going to take all of us, ceaselessly opposing him, collectively and individually, to stop him from destroying the victories we have won.

I would like to think that this blog will offer some sustenance and encouragement to those who read it, and I shall do my best to keep up the attack, for whatever good it will do.  


David said...

Professor Wolff, I would like to offer this advice, which comes from Pramila Jayapal, Berniecrat and newly elected member of Congress from the 7th district in Washington State. It's long, so it may require more than one post.

". . . I want to respond also to so many hundreds of you who have reached out asking what we do next, how we process what has happened. Some are in tears; some are fighting despair and feel there is nothing more they have to give; some are ready to double down and do everything possible to step up even more. Not everyone is in the same place, and there is so much wisdom in our communities from so many leaders and so many places. Let's listen to all of that, learn, and be sensitive that there is no single answer, that our trajectory out of this moment will be different, and that we are still working through what possible paths forward may look like.

For my part, I intend to fight for this district and for our values as never before. I intend to stay in the moment, no matter how painful because it is necessary, while at the same time looking forward to where we go and how we organize ourselves better and stronger. I intend to represent everyone in this district to the best of my ability. And, in spite of everything, I know we will rise again, just as we have done again and again and again. Don't forget that part of the reaction we are seeing is precisely because we HAVE been successful in our movements and building power. Don't forget that a majority of Americans did reject Donald Trump. But also, know that I do not gloss over where we are. We can't afford to. Don't also forget that an almost equivalent number simply had far more tolerance for the racism and misogyny than we did and that feels like a giant slap in the face particularly to those most hurt. Those are complex truths to hold and it will be hard. It will be painful. But in the end, I absolutely believe we will rise just as we have again and again and again. Here are just a few things I also believe we need to focus on:

"First and foremost, we need to PROTECT. We need to put ourselves side by side, behind and sometimes in front of those who need our protection--Muslims, immigrants, refugees, undocumented, LGBTQ, women. This will be front line defense. There is no time for hierarchy of oppressions here. We all need each other more than we ever have. I have already heard beautiful stories of women in hijab proudly wearing their full selves out there even while afraid, and I have heard beautiful stories of men of privilege putting their bodies between someone who wanted to do harm to a Muslim woman. Thank you to both--let's be sensitive to what is needed and not assume but give as generously as we can in whatever possible way we can."

To be continued . . .

David said...

Continued from the previous post:

"Second, we need to plan. That sounds boring, but it is absolutely essential that we understand and prepare ourselves for all eventualities. We need jujitsu moves to win. We need to take on incredible power structures that have created wealth at the very top and denied opportunity to so many. Make no mistake that many if not all of those structures also prey on or at least utilize racism and sexism to thrive and survive. At the same time, it would be a huge mistake to write off everyone who voted for Trump as racist or sexist. We need to reach out and tap into the fears that are common to all of us to unite us instead of divide us. We need to show that we really are more powerful together and fighting the bigger obstacles to progress for all of us. We need new structures--including ones that work both inside and outside together. As we elect more movement leaders into office, we need to develop our structures so that the accountability goes both ways and we can take over the spaces that allow us opportunity to use levers of power and lift up everyone who plays different roles in the struggle for justice. We need to realize ahead of time that people will try to pull us apart because that is always what happens. There will be attempts to pit LGBTQ against immigrant; labor against labor; POC against white. Let's do everything we can to anticipate those moves and plan. Let's be ahead of the curve not behind it.

"Third, we need to organize. I know that for our part we are looking at how to transition our incredible movement that we built for the campaign into ongoing organizing efforts for change. There will be more about that to come, but for now, heal, prepare and let's get ready to organize again and again. For our incredible white allies in the struggle, we need you more than ever before to lead--within your OWN constituencies. We need your voices to convince others who may see more in common with you than with others. Labor unions who supported me, we need you to go heart forward into organizing in your unions and bringing the conversations of race, class and gender together amongst your membership. Business leaders in our area, we need your leadership and sensibilities about what it means for all of us to profit together in our economy, but also we need your leadership in our communities on so many issues. Any of you who can see that you have more privilege than someone else, we need you more than ever before. Young people and folks who have never been involved in democracy, don't give up because we need your voices more than ever before. I'm so proud of the new leadership we built in this campaign to help continue to move things forward. There IS new, beautiful leadership ready to help drive even when others are tired. Let's give them a space to do so, while at the same time respecting the wisdom and lessons of the past because history does absolutely repeat itself.

"Fourth and perhaps most important, LOVE and JOY. I'm proud to talk about love in politics. It's what moves us forward. It's what allows the best of us to overtake the tendencies to tear each other down. Find that love and joy in whatever form you can. Hug those near to you and hug some strangers too if that feels comfortable. Be with your children, because they see joy like no one else--and because you are bringing new humans into the world who must be brought in fully conscious of what lies ahead. Go dancing. Talk to people you don't know and see what is basically human in all of us. Don't ever forget that being alive is the single most courageous act we can take on.
I am so unbelievably proud to represent the 7th Congressional District in the United States Congress. I look forward to always learning from you and to leading from the heart. Thank you for the incredible honor!"

James Camien McGuiggan said...

Emboldened and comforted by (inter alia) your blog, I - an Irish resident of England, whose racism I no longer dare to gauge - have tried to start making a difference, with my time as well as (as before) my meagre income. I've been focusing locally, though.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

David and James, thank you both. David, it is splendid that we have such people in the Congress, around whom and behind whom we can organize. Thatnk you for reproducing this here.

Jerry Fresia said...

With the hope that we can all do something (I live in Italy so my efforts will be long distance), please read a great piece
by Michael Albert in which he lists a long variety of things we can do:

The first half the piece he is making clear that we understand that this is not normal, but then in the second half he
begins listing ways of dissenting, then resisting, then building a better world, which is quite nice to read. It is the best
list of actions that I have seen; very creative and based upon a lifetime of activism and helps turn this nightmare into an
opportunity to move forward to the better world that we leftists seek.

Secondly, I have been busy and haven't been able to comment on your statement about feeling ashamed. This is such a different concept and powerful statement. While many have said that they feel shame as Americans, my sense of the statement was that it was also confessional in the sense of allowing "this" to happen - and that sense of responsibility could be generalized as in we, as Americans, are ALL, in some way, responsible - which then behooves us or compels us, each of us, to do something. I urge my comrades here to check out Albert's piece.