People are panicking all over liberal circles, and rightly so, about how to respond to the Trump presidency. That reasonable, presidential Donald Trump that so many assured us would appear someday is nowhere to be seen. He's having crazy phone calls with foreign heads of state — although his administration has denied that he hung up on the Australian prime minister and threatened to invade Mexico during a call with that president.
In addition, Trump is mad at news that the cable station CNN has reported about him. He retaliated against CNN by not allowing any of his surrogates to appear on the station's reports. A reporter at CNN said Trump is "trying to punish the network and force down its ratings." Apparently Trump is trying to hurt them in the only way he cares about: in the pocketbook.
And this should be no surprise. Trump banned various reporters or news outlets from his campaign events from time to time because he didn't like their reporting. Threatening, bullying, and retaliation have worked for Trump thus far. I don't know that it will work for the nation now, although it has in the past in a less sophisticated world.
Trump's biggest outrage so far has been a ban on immigrants or refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen. The countries where the 9/11 attackers came from — Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Lebanon — were not on the list. The number of Americans killed by terrorists from the banned countries since 9/11 adds up to a big fat zero.
Politics has gotten weirder than ever before in my lifetime.
And maybe it's because politics is tied more tightly than ever onto capitalism. It's been creeping up for a long time, but Trump has thrown away all subterfuge about truth and justice. It's a "my way or the highway" attitude that generally you can get away with when you are the CEO of a corporation.
He's telling other countries they'll have to pay their own way in international relations, whether that's NATO or the United Nations or whatever. It's hard to argue with that, but the president approaches every issue as a scowling confrontation — not the way to get long-term cooperation. The United States formerly bought cooperation.
That may no longer be the case, as other countries have been expressing their own opinions. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already expressed welcome to people from the Trump-banned countries. He tweeted out a message that includes the sentiment, "Diversity is our strength."
It used to be the strength of our nation. At least that's what I was told in elementary school.
That's our neighbor to the north. Add to that the disintegrating relationship with Mexico. That "make them pay for the wall" thing is a dead cow in the middle of the road. You have to do something about it before you can get anywhere.
In the face of all this and more, opposition to Trump in the streets is apoplectic to say the least. Calls to resist, refuse, and delay any Trump or Republican notions are coming from every corner. This is the same strategy that Republicans used against Obama for eight years. Apparently it has borne fruit. So I believe all that is useful.
But there has to be more. Back during the primaries, it was obvious that the electorate was pissed off and that politics as usual was questionable. Trump managed to beat the game regardless of what the majority of Americans claimed to want. Most of the media decrying Trump told us that Hillary Clinton was going to win the election. That includes me. We were told we could flip the Senate, and possibly the House, to the other party. None of that happened.
That doesn't mean I turn my back all the way against the political establishment. It's only half turned, but it's been that way a long time. Still, I have to admit that the Democrats are the best organized and have the best chance to achieve successes in resist strategies in the short run. But in the long term there has to be more.
One of those "more" things has to be economic. That's the only thing Trump understands. He used his campaign into an infomercial on his brand. His most salient statement on the Iraq War has been that we should have taken the country's oil. He says that NATO and the United Nations cost too much. He fleeced his own campaign for the rent in Trump Tower. His people have pressured diplomats into staying at Trump hotels. There has to be a way to make Trump and his cabal feel the financial heat.
Traditionally, the financial heat has been through a boycott. Such an action would include products of people who are enabling Trump's policies. You have to bring economic heat because these people can't be shamed. Trump is the most shameless president I know of. I mean, the guy brought up the size of his junk on the debate stage and made hate a centerpiece of his campaign. Unfortunately, enough voters were willing to look past that. Maybe that says something about our own shamelessness.
The only shame Trump seems to know is defeat on the economic level. He is surrounded by others with different agendas, but all of them dance to the beat of the money men. There has to be an economic angle that brings them pain. There has to be an economic angle that lifts up our communities too, but that's for another discussion.
I'm not calling for a boycott of specific products here. I'll leave that to the organizers of resistance efforts — plus there are many boycott lists to be found on a simple internet search. But it needs to be done. Kofi Annan, former U.N. Secretary General, recently published an article in The Guardian that encouraged people to "use your power as a consumer, which is now unparalleled in history. Every time you buy a product or service, you are supporting a company. Before you decide which sneakers to buy or financial services to use, consider its business practices."
Think about the impact that could have if more people use the economic clout in their own hands. It takes some effort, but not that much. And if you drop the offensive companies an email or phone call once in awhile to let them know why they aren't getting your money, it helps.
Pressure your pension boards to disinvest from companies that do bad things (like run for-profit prisons) and if you have the purchasing power at your job, make that work for you. The beauty of this is that it's international and ongoing.
The point is that the platitudes and posturing of politics aren't enough. Even the marches and demonstrations aren't enough. Hit them in the pocketbook, where it really hurts.
One more thing here. The No. 1 thing that Annan wrote was necessary to bring about change is to vote. This note is for the folks who wanted to sneer at Clinton as not good enough and stayed home to sit on your hands on Election Day. Now's the time to show us what you got.
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