Since the #GagMeElection of 2016 we have heard a great deal about “resistance.” Nevertheless, we’ve seen relatively little of it actually happening. Who is doing what toward what announced goal?
The War Resisters League (full disclosure: I was on its National Committee years ago and especially love its secular nonviolent philosophy) is claiming to be doing a lot but nothing much to show for it, nothing mentioned since the inauguration really, and no reference to numbers involved. Discouraging.
Moral Monday movement, led by Rev. William Barber II, is possibly the most ambitious, with designs on establishing campaigns in every state. Encouraging.
The movement in and out of Congress to impeach Trump is lurching into view, but is yet to gather enough steam or coordinated constituencies. One is reminded of both JFK and Obama telling activists, essentially, get out in the streets and give me the political cover to do what you are asking me to do. Challenging.
The climate chaos resistance has produced a small beginning in its overdue and underpopulated resistance to Trump’s slashing efforts to stymie the EPA and roll back renewables while boosting dirty tar sands, choking coal, and radioactive nuclear. Some of the resistance — the most serious of which actually happened during the last two years under Obama — has been impressive, but, again, spotty and not yet in meaningful coalition. Motivating.
Yes, the women’s movement has produced by far the most meaningful mass results, first with the astonishing Women’s March and now with the sexual harassment/attack/pedophilia charges mounting against all powerful abusive men, but only very recently has found a bit of a focus on Trump in particular. Mildly hopeful.
Immigrants’ rights groups historically come out in the streets on May Day and 2017 was no exception, with spokespeople from several national groups claiming that strikes and boycotts would ensue. If they have, few have noticed. Yearning.
What is the goal, overall? Bluntly, to end the Trump regime using nonviolent methods. Has such a thing ever happened in a democracy? Or, for that matter, in an autocracy masquerading as a democracy?
Oh yes. Serbia. The Philippines. Hungary. Poland. Ghana. Estonia. Tunisia. Chile. Czechoslovakia. Lebanon. Latvia. Zambia. Lithuania. Tanzania. Liberia. This list goes on and there are online libraries devoted to it. The research shows it succeeds twice as often as does violent insurrection but to succeed it takes numbers — that research reveals that successful civil resistance movements are normally larger than a successful guerrilla army by a factor of about 11:1.
But it’s not just the numbers; it’s the coordination and commitment. Is there the movement power to engage in sustained resistance on a massive enough level and keep its nonviolent discipline? Michael Moore launched a resistance calendar, but it is a catch-all with no idea of priority or coalitional clout. Enticing.
So far, we are not close in the U.S. Trump may shoot himself in the rhetorical foot daily, sometimes hourly, but until we are coordinated in an unstoppable coalition — broad base but laser-sharp focus — he will enjoy his power, privilege and position. Many peoples, one goal. Many reasons, many constituencies, one target. Join with others to remove Trump.
Time to reach out to each other. Hello?
Dr. Tom H. Hastings is a scholar of civil resistance and PeaceVoice Director.