A win for Trump was a win for bigotry. Here’s how we resist him | Owen Jones

Capitulating and normalising Donald Trump’s presidency will lead to an authoritarian America. It has to be opposed

Donald Trump lost the popular vote: the second Republican candidate to do so yet still take the presidency in 16 years. He will be the most unpopular presidential candidate to take office since records began. He has a track record of opposing democratic norms, inciting violence against protesters and threatening to imprison his main opponent. His intolerance of political and media dissent is well documented; he now has the means to do something about it. His ghostwriter has called him a “sociopath” whose presidency risks “the end of civilisation”. He is appointing extremists to the White House: in a call for vigilance to the American people, Republican strategist John Weaver declared that “the racist, fascist extreme right is represented footsteps from the Oval Office”. His campaign exploited and incited hatred against Muslims, Mexican immigrants and women. Racists chose to celebrate his victory by launching hate crimes against American minorities. As John Oliver puts it, Trump being president “is not normal”, and his rule should never be normalised. His opponents should refuse to accept the legitimacy of this president and – like Republicans have done before – refuse to co-operate and begin a nonviolent war of political attrition.

John Oliver on Donald Trump: ‘A Klan-backed misogynist internet troll’

Hang on a minute: who am I as a Briton to interfere in the internal affairs of a foreign country? The problem is the entire world is now subject to the writ of the leader of the last superpower. We are all, to a degree, under his dominion. The American people have a struggle on their hands, not just to preserve their democracy and republic, but to fight for the rest of us, too. There is a long tradition of marching in solidarity with people in foreign countries standing against their own rulers.

There will be those among Trump’s opponents who capitulate and normalise his rule. They will take Barack Obama’s line, urging Americans to embrace Trump as their president, to give him a chance, even to urge his success. They must be resisted. When Trump wrongly believed that Obama had lost the popular vote in 2012, he called for mass protest, so he has as much moral high ground on this as any other issue. There are encouraging signs that even political figures who can hardly be described as radicals are doing exactly that. Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate minority leader, declared that Trump’s election “has emboldened the forces of hate and bigotry in America”, denouncing Trump as “a sexual predator who lost the popular vote” and for “grave sins he committed against millions of Americans”. Andrew Sullivan – a conservative, no less – demands “nonviolent civil disobedience”.

Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, is becoming the de facto leader of the American opposition, warning that he would be Trump’s “worst nightmare” if he turned his supporters’ anger on minorities. Protesters have taken to the streets in cities across the United States, chanting “Not my president” and defending the rights of women and other favoured Trump targets.

Trumpism is, by nature, an authoritarian movement that regards democratic norms as dispensable if they fail to serve political ends. The aspiration – whether realisable or not – is clear: authoritarian societies such as Putin’s Russia, Erdoğan’s Turkey and Orbán’s Hungary that maintain certain democratic trappings as a convenient front. As Sullivan and others predict, a clampdown on democratic rights and freedoms will only need a pretext. Perhaps an investigation into his financial dealings and conflicts of interest. Perhaps, after another unarmed black man is shot dead by the American police, violence towards protesters could trigger an escalation. Perhaps a terrorist attack, either at home or abroad.

If the American people simply accept the legitimacy of this president, and they normalise this would-be tyrant, it will only embolden him. Demoralised and frightened though millions of Americans are, their new ruler is weaker than he appears. When this billionaire plutocrat charlatan – who poses as a man of the people as he enriches himself at their expense – implements a $5.5tn cut that shamelessly shovels money into the pockets of affluent and wealthy Americans, he should be resisted. Democrats should filibuster and obstruct, using the same tactics Republicans have deployed against Democrats. Protesters should mobilise in every town and city. Civil disobedience should be employed where necessary. Don’t just do it for yourself, America. The fate of the rest of the world will be determined by your choices.


Owen Jones

The GuardianTramp

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