Presentation by Coco Das at the second in a series to dig into the roots of this American fascism, “Why did 74 million people vote for Trump? What is the danger and what do we do about it?” Also see the presentation by Andy Zee: Why did 74 Million Vote for Trump? The simple and basic answer: Because they agree with him.
Refuse Fascism formed in December of 2016 with this mission: to build a movement of people coming from diverse perspectives, united in our recognition that the Trump/Pence Regime poses a catastrophic danger to humanity and the planet, and that it is our responsibility to drive them from power through non-violent protests that grow every day until our demand is met.
With the slogans:
In the name of humanity, we refuse to accept a fascist America.
This nightmare must end.
The Trump/Pence regime must go.
We have been bringing into the public square and public discourse…
the problem: that a vicious American fascist movement took a leap into the highest offices in the most powerful country in the world through the election of Trump and Pence.
And the solution: A sustained, non-violent, mass protest movement that would not be provoked and would not stop until our demand that the regime must go was met. Imagine thousands growing to millions in the streets of cities and towns across the country, with marches, candlelight vigils, rallies – students, religious communities, immigrants, everyone with a heart for humanity in the streets and not backing down. Our actions would reflect our respect for all of humanity and the world we want – in stark contrast to the hate and bigotry of the Trump/Pence regime. This could create a serious political crisis compelling those in power to respond to our struggle from below and concede to our demand. This is how dangerous regimes around the world have been driven out – in South Korea, Egypt, Tunisia, Armenia, Puerto Rico, and Lebanon.
Imagine, at any time in the last four years, what this could have stopped. Just as the months of righteous protest after the horrific murder of George Floyd changed the terms of debate on white supremacy and police brutality, shook people awake, and caused millions of lose their adjustment to wanton and routine murders of Black people, a non-violent mass protest movement against the Trump/Pence regime would have reset the terms on what was acceptable, drawing the eyes of the world to a population that was resisting with all they had instead of constantly adjusting to the shock and horror coming down every day. A constant barrage of outrages, overwhelmingly unopposed, has brought us to a point where 3,000 people can die in one day from COVID and even thousands are not moved to take to the streets to say no more! A sustained mass protest movement against the Trump/Pence regime might have inspired protests against fascist leaders all over the world, and, with millions in the streets, it could have succeeded in delegitimizing and driving out a regime that imperils humanity and the earth itself.
The founding call of Refuse Fascism stated:
“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 took dramatic leaps under the Trump Regime. History has shown that fascism must be stopped before it becomes too late.
… 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.” Fascist mobs and threats of violence are unleashed to build the movement and consolidate power. What is crucial to understand is that once in power fascism essentially eliminates traditional democratic rights.”
No matter what the 74 million tell themselves and others, this is what they voted for. Above all Trump’s campaign of Make America Great Again promised a return to a time when this was seen as a white, Christian, male-dominated patriarchal country. In some sense, 74 million people voted for Trump for the same reasons that 80 million voted against him. This election was an existential battle for the future. Would we have a fascist government consolidating their power with the help of paramilitary secret police and other armed forces, racist vigilantes, fascist courts and a supposed electoral “mandate” to bring the hammer down on Black and brown people, women, LGBTQ, immigrants, protesters, the media, scientists, Democrats and other “enemies”? Would our culture continue to degrade into one of schoolyard bullies, might makes right, and unmitigated selfishness? Or would we stop this trajectory?
We succeeded in overwhelming Trump at the ballot box – not with the landslide it should have been but with enough of a majority to make the attempted fascist coup nearly impossible. But voting alone has never been enough to stop Trump, especially with a mainstream media that won’t dare even utter the word fascist and a Democratic Party that will not dare veer from the rule book that the fascists have torn up. Contrast Trump’s tweets to “liberate Michigan” with the reluctance of Democratic Party Leaders to impeach until they had no choice. When they were finally moved to impeach, they kept it within a narrow framework of the Ukraine scandal but would not fight to enforce subpoenas or call their base into the streets to protest the egregious crimes the Trump regime was committing.
Fascists most often come to power through the normal electoral channels with a mass base of followers – rarely a majority but often a large minority. The Nazi Party never “won” a free election, but through the normal workings of the German system Hitler was appointed Chancellor in January of 1933, and with his hands on the levers of power he was able to win the obedience, complicity, and outright allegiance of the German people through propaganda and terror. On their rise to power, the Nazis suffered defeats and setbacks, but continued to take over the streets and airwaves until they seized power, and then went on to ban political parties, criminalize dissent, unleash legal and extra-legal violence, and change the laws until they could not be stopped without tremendous sacrifice.
Trump did not win the popular vote in 2016 either, but was able to win the election through an institution created to uphold slavery – the electoral college. As fascists seize and consolidate power, if the people who recognize the danger fail to take a clear moral and political stand that overwhelms the fascist movement – in the public square and in the public discourse – the unthinkable can quickly become the new normal. Trump’s unhinged conspiracy theories about a stolen election is laying the groundwork to give this fascist movement the fodder it needs to mobilize a passionate, violent base, to seize power wherever it can, and to re-seize the White House. Fascists can and have come back from defeat, and when they do, they are more prepared, determined, and vindictive.
Tonight we are going to talk about this large minority of Trump voters shaping this country – but I urge all of you watching to hold in your minds and hearts the great majority – of voters who rejected Trump, of people who cannot vote but live nonetheless in the crosshairs of this regime, and the people of the world – the 7 billion on this planet whose futures are tied up with ours and to whom the people living in this, the most powerful country in the world, have a special responsibility.
Earlier this fall, Andy Zee and I co-authored A Pledge to the People of the World: In the name of humanity, we refuse to accept a fascist America, which appeared as a full-page ad in the New York Times the Monday after Biden’s win was announced in the media, and was signed by many people of prominence including Cornel West, Noam Chomsky, Lilly Wachowski, Arturo O’Farrill, Jodie Sweetin, Alyssa Milano, and others. Before we hear the rest of our presenters, we are going to play a video of the pledge read by some of the signers.
The moral and political stand a people must take to defeat fascism is embodied in this pledge. As long as this fascist danger looms, through a regime in the White House or “in exile” with 74 million followers, we must continue to build our numbers, unity, and resolve into a mighty non-violent force that can rise up and drive this fascism out of government and society. After this broadcast, I encourage you all to sign and spread this pledge, which you can find at refusefascism.org, not just as a statement of where you stand but as a commitment to remain vigilant, to organize, to stay in the streets, and to not stop until this American fascism is brought to a halt.