by Sarah Roark, editorial group, RefuseFascism.org |
Our “institutions” haven’t stopped this regime from pouring thousands of refugee children into concentration camps. Democratic leadership couldn’t block Gorsuch and can’t block Kavanaugh. We must at long last accept the simple truth: only the people can save the people now.
This is not a dream. If it were a dream, we’d have woken up by now to find it all mercifully gone.
This is not a movie. If it were a movie, we could rest assured that everything will turn out fine in the final reel — no matter how screwed Our Hero looked to be in the second act.
And as much as some in our media might like to think otherwise, this is not a reality show. It’s reality.
This was brought home once again to an already-reeling American people over the course of the last two weeks. We’ve all become a little punch-drunk since the Trump/Pence regime came to power, but for many, the blow of the impending Kavanaugh confirmation crashed through even that haze. Particularly on September 27th, when it looked as though Brett Kavanaugh—a nominee chosen specifically for his hostility to civil rights and his signaled willingness to accommodate this fascist regime’s lust for ever more executive power—might sail through his Senate hearings without even a pretense of investigating the serious criminal allegations against him.
But let’s be honest in here: the only difference this week is that now there’s a pretense. And it’s unlikely to last long.
In fact, let’s be even more honest. A good part of our angst over the backs and forths of this nomination doesn’t actually come from the sickening uncertainty we’re enduring day to day. In a way, getting our stomachs knotted up over this is an escape (though it doesn’t feel like one) from the even more sickening awareness of a certainty:
That even if this confirmation is somehow defeated, the same sword will stay hanging over our heads. If it’s not Brett Kavanaugh, it’ll be someone else from the Heritage Foundation’s fascist-friendly list. And a 5-4 court where Roberts is the moderate can and will reverse the most hard-won human-rights victories of the last fifty years.
And the November election is unlikely to change that. Not just because the GOP is clearly hellbent on installing some lackey of the religious/Trumpist right-wing before that, but also because Democrats are battling a highly unfavorable map in the Senate. And that’s if the election is free and fair in the first place, a point on which there’s sadly substantial doubt.
The certainty whose well-founded dread currently has us by the throat is the simple, terrifying fact that none of this can get better while this regime remains in power. If anything, it’s entirely on track to get worse. Forget making it to 2020—how many more things and people will Trump have destroyed in the next month, using only his executive powers?
And yet here we stand, playing for time—in this case a week, in another case a few months—knowing that we can’t keep taking blocks out of a tower forever before it finally becomes one block too many for the whole thing to hold up any longer and…CRASH!
But playing for time only makes sense when you’re expecting a rescue.
Think about it. Who do you think is coming to save us? Which movie hero are you waiting for to give you permission to step outside your boundaries and follow their shining leadership to where you already know you need to be? Is it Beto O’Rourke? Bernie Sanders? Elizabeth Warren? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? Robert Mueller?
(I certainly hope it’s not Jeff Flake.)
They’re not coming, folks. They are unwilling to give us that permission, and they will remain so. It’s not that they don’t want what they think is best for us, or don’t work very hard at it; I personally believe they do. But we must understand that they are fully committed to fighting this battle either from within the system or not at all. Because of course they are. Because that’s what we sent them to do.
In other words, the very nature of their work—their government work—constrains them to working inside the very same traditional democratic structures that this regime is steadily dismantling right out from under all our feet as we speak. Including theirs!
This is a well-known mechanism of historical fascism. It doesn’t emerge from other authoritarianisms. Fascism is always an ailment of failing democracies, because the way it comes to power is by using a country’s own democratic processes against it, until it’s thoroughly rotted out the superstructure and can replace it with the more blatantly tyrannical system it craves.
This is why Chuck Schumer has no power to stop this Trump nominee—or any Trump nominee. And even if a mighty Blue Wave crashes over the Congress in a few weeks, the Democrats mathematically cannot win a majority big enough to pass legislation over a Trump veto, to say nothing of impeachments.
(They could in theory keep the SCOTUS seat open if they take the Senate, but a) that’s unlikely, and b) how have we been doing with the 4-4 split Supreme Court we have now? For the most part, it hasn’t served as any real check on Trump and Pence, and in fact, has often helped them: devastating our unions with its Janus ruling, eviscerating LGBTQ rights by allowing “religious conscience” laws that re-legalize discrimination, instituting the third version of the Muslim ban, and more.)
So. Even with a “best-case” scenario of Democratic wins, where do you truly expect us to be on the morning of November 7th? Other than more or less where we are now, only with less time on the clock?
No, there’s no savior coming. No one who can give you official permission to stand up with millions of others and demand an end to this nightmare NOW. Again, our officials are constrained to doing this through the normal processes—and we know that the normal processes have become too weak to stop the widening destruction. We know this both by logic, and by the churning pit of our stomachs.
In the end, permission isn’t really theirs to give in any case. It’s yours. It’s mine. It’s ours. The only people who can save our country and the world from a metastasizing fascist regime…are the people. As the poem says, “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”
Only a true mass movement of the people, nonviolent and noncompliant, has any hope of removing this regime before thousands more children end up scarred and terrified in concentration camps. Before Jim Crow is fully re-implemented. Before an angry prep-school man-child—a proven misogynist and most likely a sexual assaulter of women as well—sets down his beer just long enough to destroy women’s control over their own bodies.
And what doesn’t make sense about that? Has any great victory for human rights or rule of law been won without the pressure of a mass movement from below? That’s what it took in the 60’s. That’s what it took in the Velvet Revolution and the Arab Spring. And that’s what it took in South Korea in 2016. We shouldn’t expect this to require any less.
No one will give us permission to do this. But we can grant it to ourselves. There’s no wise expert or brave hero who will guide us all safely through this (most of the experts are just as lost as we are right now, I’m afraid), but we can put our heads together, bringing the wisdom and creativity from all our different backgrounds and perspectives. And we—in numbers that command assent—each one looking out for the others—are our own best defenders against the horror of a resurgent fascism.
We can do it, and Refuse Fascism has the analysis, the understanding and the plan to do it. Want to learn more? See the Call to Action from RefuseFascism.org.