A Call To Duty And Defiance In The Age Of Trump

It is clear now, beyond all doubt, that Donald Trump and his cabal intend to hurt the most vulnerable and desperate in our society. Their medical plan leaves no ambiguity – they intend to let people die to allow their wealthy sponsors to mint coin from human misery.

The numbers are conclusive, the facts are inescapable. The statements of their legislative mouthpieces have been as crass and heartless as can be imagined. These people are willing to let vulnerable people die for money.

Some of us, not without cause, have said that the vulnerable have whatever happens coming to them. That we should allow them to suffer. They are, by and large, those who were gulled by Trump into believing that they would be spared – that only the “other” would suffer, and they were willing, even gleeful to see it happen. They put him into power. Now, the night of the long knives, where the elites turn on their useful tools, has come. It’s only justice. We can’t really resist effectively anyway. They hold all three branches of government, the majority of governorships and state legislatures, and the allegiance of the still conned, desperately clinging to loyalty to a man who does not know the meaning of duty, honor, loyalty or compassion.

I say that we must reject such thinking. First, there is simple justice. Sometimes, to be good, to do good, we must try to prevent harsh consequences from falling, even on those who have brought it upon themselves. It is easy to see their vulgar, violent displays of tribal loyalty, their crass insults, and their stubborn stupidity and leave them to the consequences that nature imposes on the willfully stupid. That is who they are.

But is that who we are? Will we allow them to suffer just because they have been conned? Will we turn our backs on them – the ones that we claim to represent – the uneducated, the unfortunate, the oppressed? Why then, do we justify our participation in public life at all? If we, as progressives have a purpose it is to bring justice to everyone; to lift up the fallen, and protect even the errant.

Accept the fact that we will lose battle after battle. The miserific vision of Trump and his cabal will come to pass. They have the power to make it so. Nevertheless, we must fight. It is who we are, and why we are. Here and there, we will win. Now and then, something will be preserved.

And more importantly, we must show them that we can, and will fight for them, regardless of the odds. We must show them that we are both capable and willing to resist the forces that are crushing them. Incompetence and malice will have its day, and when the wreckage settles – when those who chanted “lock her up!” find that they have lost their health care, that their lot has not improved, that the jobs have not returned, that the services they depended on are gone, that the new wars claim their children without end, and that they have sacrificed to a false and bloody god, then, some of them will remember who fought to the last ditch to protect them. Not all of them, denial is a powerful thing, and an inability to admit you were deceived – made a fool of – will paralyze many of their minds for the rest of their lives. But some of them will remember who fought for them when it seemed meaningless, and sacrificed for them when they did not deserve it.

Can we turn this around today? No. To try to turn their minds in the flood tide of their power and the height of their delusion would be like trying to catch a falling knife. But when they inherit the whirlwind they have summoned, they will look for answers. We must be there, and we must have earned their trust – a trust we squandered by neglecting them and bowing to their oppressors in exchange for their money and their approval.

We courted Wall Street, when we should have been thinking of the factory worker, the miner, the minimum wage worker, the single mother, the neglected, forgotten, oppressed and alone. We went to their fancy dinners and spoke soothing words to them, when we should have been “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.” We “triangulated” them, betrayed them, forgot them and they punished us, and themselves with the scourge of Donald J. Trump.

So now, we earn their trust back, and we wait for them to come to their senses if it takes a generation, and it well might. We fight for them, even as they call us “cucks” and say things designed to hurt, belittle and disparage. We lose nine in ten, then seven in nine, then five in eight, then two in four. We fight every bit of brutal legislation, and resist every vile nominee.

And even if it never changes. Even if the Republic becomes something we can not now recognize, we will have done our duty. If one day, we must turn away, we will do so with tears for the brave dream of a people’s democracy, but with a clear conscience.

We are progressives. Let us progress though the current is against us.