I am against Trump and Pence, but why do you say we must drive them out of office?
As it says in the RefuseFascism.org Call to Action, “Fascism is not just a gross combination of horrific reactionary policies. It is a qualitative change in how society is governed. Fascism foments and relies on xenophobic nationalism, racism, misogyny, and the aggressive re-institution of oppressive ‘traditional values’. In Trump’s election campaign he encouraged and fed on the threat and use of violence to build a movement and come to power. In his inaugural address he pledged allegiance only to this movement. What is crucial to understand is that once in power fascism essentially eliminates traditional democratic rights.”
The Trump/Pence Regime is not simply carrying out monumental crimes that must be stopped now – though it is. Nor is it only a continuation, even an extreme continuation, of the injustices and abuses that have marked and scarred US society since its founding – though it is that, too. Those are, in themselves, gravely dangerous and are already having horrifying consequences in the lives of millions of people.
The Trump/Pence regime, however, represents a leap not just in quantity but in quality. It is remaking the form of governance in this country so as to close off the ability of anyone – inside or outside of the official halls of power – to challenge or stop them. As long as they are in power, even if they are temporarily pushed back on one front or another, they will continue to slam ahead unless and until they are removed from office. This is all the more underscored by the regime’s extremely aggressive posture and actions, and its openly warlike wielding of nuclear weapons. It is not an exaggeration to say that the fate of humanity may hang in the balance of how we act and when.
Isn’t the best strategy to defend the marginalized people coming under attack by Trump while also working towards dealing the Republicans a decisive blow in the 2018 congressional election?
It is indeed absolutely necessary to defend those who are coming under attack from Trump. But, even leaving aside arguments on the overall efficacy of electoral politics, we must not delude ourselves into thinking that the next two years will proceed “normally.”
Right now there is a “window” in which people still have the (relative) freedom to speak out, organize, protest, etc. But a number of people who have studied the history of fascist regimes have warned of the particular dangers posed by the Trump regime AND that the window could be slammed shut at any time.[i] Historian Claudia Koonz, said in a recent interview, “Remember Franklin Roosevelt said in the 1930s, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself? I think the only thing we have to fear is not being afraid enough. Even though the parallels are not perfect with Nazi Germany, what is similar is the weakness of progressives, people of good will, liberals, lefties, call them what you will, defenders of human rights—our weakness when confronted with overwhelming force, financial and legal, we hope legal not yet. So that’s why I’m scared.”
The USA could embark on a war, which would be used to justify a leap in the repression; or there could be an international incident or domestic one short of war, something either real or created, that could also serve as a pretext to do that. Or it could proceed as it is, one measure following another, until the cumulative effect is like that of the proverbial frog in steadily heating water who never notices that its being boiled to death.
As we say in our Call to Action, “Fascism has direction and momentum. Dissent is piece by piece criminalized. The truth is bludgeoned. Group after group is demonized and targeted along a trajectory that leads to real horrors. All of this has already begun under the Trump Regime. History has shown that fascism must be stopped before it becomes too late.”
Waiting until 2018 is simply way too risky for humanity.
But how is it even possible do anything before the next elections?
We should not underestimate the power of the people when they act in their millions outside of the normal channels, determined to see change and not willing to stop until they get it.
As recently as March of this year the sitting president of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) was forced to step down, after being impeached late in 2016. On the one hand, there were real differences within the ruling circles there over to how to deal with very pressing questions. At the same time, the exposure of a scandal closely connected to the president became the occasion of massive demonstrations in the streets over a period of weeks which called into question the legitimacy of the president herself and both made possible – and forced — action at “the top of society” to remove her. How things will now get resolved in the South Korea is an open question; but the point is that the president through the mass action of the people was forced out and many different possibilities have now come into play.
It could be objected that this – along with cases like the massive and sustained outpourings of people in Egypt that toppled a hated regime in 2011 — was extraordinary. Yet the ascension of Trump is also extraordinary. In dealing with the extraordinary, we must rid ourselves of ordinary thinking.
As the Refuse Fascism Call has said: “Our only recourse now is to act together outside normal channels. Every faction within the established power structure must be forced to respond to what we do – creating a situation where the Trump/Pence Regime is driven from office.”
And when you think about what this regime has already done… what they have explicitly threatened to do… and the blowback and aftershocks still to come from what they have done, are doing, and will do – it is extremely urgent that people cast away illusions and throw their efforts now into bringing forward millions to raise the demand, in the name of humanity to DRIVE OUT THE TRUMP-PENCE FASCIST REGIME.
So, what would be the strategy for doing this?
The approach to actually driving out this illegitimate fascist regime encompasses several things: to continue to analyze and lead others to understand the true, fascist nature of this regime as it develops and to identify and seize on key “moments” when there is a need and an opening to wage big-scale resistance against this regime; to unite with all groups and people that want to resist this, while keeping the focus on the fascist character of the regime and the need to drive it out; and three, most important (and part of that), to popularize the NO! and our unifying slogan, as well as the call from Refuse Fascism, throughout society and throughout the developing resistance. In this way, the resistance can both grow exponentially and become increasingly knitted together around the effort to DRIVE OUT THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME.
As part of this, we cannot mince words in sounding the alarm about this regime. We should unite with and learn from everybody we possibly can, but we do have to continually drive home the nature of the threat that humanity faces.
But if you drive out Trump, won’t you just get Pence – who is equally as bad, but not as exposed?
It is precisely for that reason that our single, non-negotiable demand must be that the entire regime – Trump, Pence and all their henchmen (Bannon, Sessions, Mattis, Devos, Pruitt, etc.) – must be driven out.
Then who or what would replace this regime?
It is very likely that many different individuals and social forces would come forward with many different ideas as to what is to be done, and the views of those millions who enter into political life will go through changes. Big questions about what gave rise to this grave menace and what kind of society do we want to live in will be thrashed out. Two things can be said for sure: one, the regime must be replaced by someone who is NOT a fascist, and the struggle must not stop short of that; and two, that if we do succeed in driving out this regime, the masses of people will be in a much stronger position to go forward toward a much more just society.
But isn’t what you are saying potentially dangerous? Might not the very fascist social base of the Trump/Pence regime – which includes forces within the army and police, as well as vigilantes and militias of various types – react violently if the regime were removed from office?
Again, we must return to the reason you are even reading this: the Trump/Pence fascist regime poses itself poses an extremely grave danger to humanity and it must be stopped. If they are allowed to consolidate their power and implement their full program, the only thing that we can predict for sure is that at minimum hundreds of millions will suffer terrible consequences, in many cases far beyond what people are dealing with today, and that it is possible that the entire future of humanity will be called into question. It is true that Trump and Pence, and those behind them, have whipped up a hard-core base of racists, national chauvinists, women haters, Christian theocrats, etc. – in short, fascists. We are presented with the challenge that other peoples have faced in the past: do we go along with something unspeakably vile and catastrophic, or do we do try to prevent it, even as that will very likely require sacrifice?
[i] “What’s happened so far (protest against the Trump regime), there needs to be more of it, and unfortunately, there’s not going to be an opportunity to tire of it. This is not something that is going to go away quickly. In a best case scenario, I think there’s a fight here that’s going to have to be waged for a long time and it’s been heartening to see that enough Americans have a spirit of defiance of injustice, that they’re willing to break up the routines of their own lives and speak out against what’s going on. But we need more of it, and I really hope that the different groups, not only the vulnerable ones, but different groups with different kinds of privilege can find ways of resisting together. Because it’s only in a very powerful and relentless co-resistance that we’re going to keep that window open long enough to actually get these people out of power”. George Prochnik, author of ‘When its Too Late to Stop Fascism, According to Stefan Zweig’, interview with Michael Slate, KPFK radio, February 24, 2017