By Marty Loftin
Being “woke” is not enough.
If Americans want to defend the rights that others have fought so hard for, they cannot do it solely from the safety of their cell phone or computer.
Not all of the rights that many Americans hold dear came from the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Caring people have engaged in political activism since 1776 to make the United States a more perfect union.
“Slacktivism” is a modern alternative to getting politically involved that is as ineffective as it sounds. Activists become deeply involved with an issue, but “slacktivists” do little more than just talking about the issue as a topic of discussion. While slacktivists think they might be sticking it to The Man by sharing/reblogging/retweeting a story, they leave The Man a convenient paper trail to follow.
If more people had been involved, the 2016 elections would have gone differently. Slacktivists enjoy the reassuring feeling that they are making a difference for a cause that fits their interest, without the inconvenient aspects of real activism, such as being brutalized by the police, arrest, sacrifice or hard work.
Internet access has united people around the world and is a tool for staging massive political movements. The Arab Spring of 2010 used Twitter and other forms of social media to organize a wave of revolutions across the Arab world. But the Arab Spring would not have had any impact if people just stayed at home on their phones and computers. People on the streets carried the day.
On the day after President Donald Trump was sworn into office, the largest single-day protest in U.S. history blossomed across the country, uniting people against the divisive identity politics that has plagued Americans.
Erica Chenoweth of the University of Denver and Jeremy Pressman at the University of Connecticut went through the grueling task of tracking down figures from across the country by tallying head counts from newspapers and other sources. She estimated that between 3.33 million and 4.63 million individuals participated in the Women’s March on Washington (and many other places) to show intersectional solidarity among the different communities that Trump had targeted.
With the success of the Women’s March, the organizers have announced that another demonstration called “A Day Without A Woman” is on the horizon.
Unlike the Arab Spring, the huge protests against Trump have yet to result in a coup or revolution.
Trump and those that tell him what to do are waging war against the American public through a campaign of disinformation.
Even though the Figurehead-in-Chief’s administration wishes to divide the country along lines of race, religion, gender or nationality, contempt for the current president is a powerful uniting force. Professional media is slowly adapting to White House deceptions. While Trump might not be called out as a delusional liar on live television anytime soon, it is important to inform people that he lies constantly and so do his advisers.
That rebellious energy must be used wisely because the Trump administration will use any whiff of violent protest as an excuse to crack down on the loyal opposition.
At Berkley non-violent protesters have already been slandered by right-wing outlets that claimed that they “turned violent” when a white-nationalist provocateur/professional Internet troll was invited to speak by the College Republicans.
UC Berkley officials said 150 masked agitators interrupted the non-violent protest by setting fires with Molotov cocktails, attacking police with fireworks, assaulting people and destroying property. “The Young Turks” host Cenk Uygur hypothesized that these violent agitators were right-wingers who sought to discredit liberal protestors and the university they represent, or an anti-fascist group like Antifa that believe that fascism can only be defeated with violence.
Whether or not that is true, any violence will be used as an excuse by Trump to seize more power. Trump even threatened to take federal funding from Berkley even though the university had nothing to do with the “riot.” He has blamed California for costing him the popular election, citing millions of illegal votes (without evidence).
Trump has stated that he should withhold funding since the state is “out-of-control,” but California is a donor state that in taxes gives more to the federal government than it receives in federal disbursements. Maybe California should be the one doing the cutting off and we will see how well charity cases like Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska and other deep-red states hold up.
Activism should take the form of marches, contacting representatives, labor strikes, sit-ins, rallies, boycotts and – most importantly – voting out extremist politicians.
These tactics have worked to get children out of factories, improve working conditions, prevent corporations from poisoning the environment, give women and minorities the right to vote and stopped women from having to self-abort their pregnancies with toxic substances or sharp objects.
Those who want to protect America from becoming a dystopian dictatorship should actually get involved and not just talking about it online. Sharing articles online to inform others is fine, but it is not enough to fight the rising tide of totalitarianism.
By the time people become comfortable enough to protest and take a stand against injustice, it might be too late for political activism to be an effective method of enacting social change. When Germans were rounding up “undesirables” and putting them into concentration camps in the 1930s, the time for peaceful protest was long past.
Trump and his cronies are already attempting to undo all the work that went into making this country better, while arguing they will “Make America Great Again.” Adolf Hitler said in 1934 he was going to make Germany great again by combining Nationalism and Socialism. Trump cannot make America great again by combining Nationalism and Corporatism.
Trump’s approval rating of 39 percent is the lowest of any new president ever, and his disapproval rating at 45 percent is also a record, according to a Gallup survey.
Trump wishes he were as popular as Hitler when the Führer became chancellor. He lost the popular election by 2.86 million votes. Despite his obsession with imaginary illegal voters, Trump does not have popular support for any of the executive actions that he is signing. He is not a king, despite his love for golden thrones, and no amount of “alternative facts” will show that Trump has the love of the people (or his father).