Tag Archives: donald trump

Nationalism Today, Fascism Tomorrow

Nationalism is dumb.

Nationalism everywhere
Nationalism… If only it had more memes.

Oh, sure, I’m all for apple pie and the Star Spangled banner, fireworks, and hot dogs on Independence Day – but the racism, xenophobia, and outright bullshit are a deal-breaker for me.

Just to be clear, the “nationalism” I’m talking about is the Webster’s variety, or:

Nationalism (noun): “A feeling that people have of being loyal to and proud of their country often with the belief that it is better and more important than other countries.

Emphasis mine, of course.

See, you can justify a lot of crazy things by throwing the word “patriot” around. Don’t like Muslims, refugees, or the LGBTQ+ crowd? Well, you’re not prejudiced, you’re patriotic.

Tired of feeling bad about being a white male, constantly put down by all the brown people in society and their liberal, Marxist policies? They may call you a bigot, but deep down in your heart, you know you’re really just a God-fearing patriot.

Think everything will be fine with America as long as women can’t get abortions and students aren’t allowed to learn about climate change in schools? Don’t worry, you’re not an idiot, you’re just a concerned, hard-working, American patriot.

That’s really what nationalism is about, right? If you believe your culture, your nation, is really better than everyone and everything else, you should be a good little patriot, fighting against all other ideologies and calling people “cuck” in the comments section.

I realize I’m being a little dramatic, but allow me to support my point of view with some facts.

Nationalism is Trendy, and Nationalist Groups are Popping up Like Weeds

It would be hard to miss the constant bleating of the Bullshitter-In-Chief, or the rhetoric machine cranked up by the far-right these days. While it’s tempting to blame Donald Trump, the real problem has been a constant and growing concern for years now.

The Southern Poverty Law Center actively tracks the numbers for various hate groups in the United States. By their definition, hate groups have, “beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.” This can be anything from the KKK, to that group of old Baby Boomers who meet at the Legion hall and bitch about Sharia law undermining western values.

As of now, there are 917 active hate groups in the United States. That’s down from the peak in 2011 at 1,018, but a significant increase since 2014, when the number dipped down 784. 130 of these groups are chapters of the KKK, and 193 are black separatist groups, just to give an idea of what that ‘917’ means.

The SPLC keeps a full map of hate groups across the country, which I strongly encourage everyone to check out. But the real kicker for me is that of the 917 groups listed, 663 are considered, “anti-government ‘patriot’ groups.”

These groups are spread all over the country; Alaska and Hawaii are the only states that don’t show any activity on the map, but this is likely an error of omission rather than proof that no such activity exists. California has almost 80 hate groups, while even my home state of Fuck-Off-In-The-Middle-Of-Nowhere Idaho has 12.

That example I gave before, about crotchety old people complaining at the Legion hall? Even that’s not an exaggeration – I based it on Idaho ACT for America, which has two chapters, and is itself part of the larger “ACT for America” organization.

Even college and universities, stereotyped as strongholds of liberalism, aren’t protected from the sewage-laden tide of nationalism.

For months, if not longer, white supremacist and nationalist groups, i.e. groups on the ‘Richard Spencer’ end of the political spectrum, have been recruiting on college campuses, and the rhetoric has been chilling. CNN had a story just last month about this – watch their video, and listen to the people they interview.

These people – these nationalists – don’t think of themselves as hate groups. They think of themselves as the oppressed, as the downtrodden, as defenders of American values and the white, Christian way of life.

Seriously. Watch the CNN video.

“We are being replaced in our own country,” Nathan Damigo, the founder of Identity Europa, said. In his mind, and in the minds of people like him, they’re not attacking other people, they’re just opposing the false narrative of contemporary society! They’re not spewing propaganda, they’re just providing alternative facts!

These groups are everywhere, by the way. This was put up all over my local university campus just today:

Boise Nationalists
Boise Nationalists group flier posted on college campus

And that’s the second time this group has posted fliers. At least in our case, students immediately showed opposition by tearing down the fliers, and even posting anti-fascist fliers of their own – but don’t make the mistake of thinking these are isolated incidents, or that you’re far removed from it because the incident you just read about happened hundreds of miles away. Nationalism is trendy these days, and it’s probably not hard to find in your own town.

Resistance Is NOT Futile

Honestly, I feel like I shouldn’t have to explain why these so-called nationalist groups and the values they represent are a problem. If you’ve paid attention in history class, you know all about how the Nazis rose to power, you know all about the rhetoric used against Japanese-Americans during WWII, and you don’t need me to tell you about the humanitarian disasters caused by Manifest Destiny.

If you understand that history, you know that the American dream isn’t a given – it has to be periodically upheld and fought for, and the people who would willfully pull us backward must be resisted at all costs.

I don’t have all the answers. Maybe it’s better to protest, or to write to Congress, or to form organizations of our own. Or maybe you can do what these counter-protesters did in Dallas:

…or not.

I’m not advocating violence, of any sort. But you do have a legal right to protest, and a legal right to bear arms – as far as I’m concerned, if you’re doing anything, as long as you’re doing it legally, you’re fine, and we should be doing everything we legally can do to stand up for our rights and the rights of others.

The nationalism genie may not go back in the bottle – but we can sure as hell make him regret coming out.

 

 

What to Expect from Trump’s First Hundred Days as President

The first hundred days of Donald Trump’s America will soon be upon us.

Despite the breakout protests and outrage following Donald Trump’s surprise victory at the polls, most people still aren’t sure what to expect of his administration.

Will he fulfill his promise of making America great again, or will the next four years be a cartoonish nightmare?

Why the First Hundred Days Matter

The first hundred days of any president’s administration are critical. Trump may be a strong example, but the opening act of a presidential term sets the stage for the years to follow.

Trump has to choose his cabinet, and decide what policies to make priorities. Which of his campaign promises, if any, will make it to the Oval Office? For Trump, whose election platform offered few details on policy, but was rich with “personality,” the first hundred days will be a furtive glimpse into the future.

The start of the first term is also when most presidents have their highest levels of support, and therefore, the most potential to pass parts of their campaign agenda.

For those who don’t know, the precedent for the first hundred days was set by FDR during a radio broadcast in 1933, where he outlined a plan to pass the New Deal during the hundred-day session of the 73rd Congress. The phrase quickly changed meaning, and became a label for the first hundred days of FDR’s first term in office, and later, the first term for any new president.

Crash Course has a more detailed explanation of the New Deal and FDR’s early days in office. Take a look for a quick history refresher:

FDR’s first hundred days were productive ones. If Trump can be even half as effective as FDR was, it should be clear why liberal voters are worried.

President Trump: What We Know So Far

To recap, the first standard by which all United States Presidents are judged, established during one of the most difficult periods in American history by this guy:

FDR set the precedent for the first hundred days during his first term.

 

 

 

 

 

 

…is now about to be applied to this guy:

Nervous yet?

Trump was so vague about his policies during the campaign that he really could do just about anything. All we have to go on is his recent “Contract with the American Voter,” released in late October.

It’s hard to make any real predictions on this yet, but some news outlets have made a stab at it anyway. NPR copied the whole contract into an article last week, and the San Francisco Chronicle published a similar article a few days ago.

The thing about government is that it’s not easy to summarize. For those who really want to know what Trump will do, the best information is still straight from his website, but some highlights are included below:

The Supreme Court, Social Justice, and Minority Activism

There are number of issues, such as the rights of the LGBT community, that Trump’s contract doesn’t address.

There are other issues, such as the Supreme Court and Obama’s executive orders, that it addresses thoroughly.

Justice Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court is still vacant, and three more justices are past or approaching 80 years old.  While liberal justices might decide to wait a little longer to retire, if they were to die in office, it’s likely they would be replaced by conservatives.

LGBT Americans are already concerned about what Trump’s administration will do, especially when he has a Republican Congress behind him, but if the Supreme Court becomes conservative, would it really be a stretch to see same-sex marriage get the axe?

What about America’s burgeoning police state, or movements like Black Lives Matter? How many Syrian refugees, if any, will be allowed into the country? Will President Trump get his wall, and if he does, what will happen to immigrants that are already here?

Conservatives may not always care for social issues, and they may even support the rollback of the last eight years of liberalism. Hopefully, they do not let ideology take precedent over disenfranchisement and human suffering.

Regardless of political affiliation, it would seem that for social issues, if the last eight years equaled two steps forward, the next four might equal a dozen steps back.

Term Limits

“Drain the Swamp” was a big rallying point for Trump’s campaign, aimed at reducing corruption in D.C. by limiting terms in Congress and curtailing the influence of lobbyists.

This is certainly a goal that most Americans can get behind. But it’s also hard to see Trump making much progress when his cabinet is a veritable rogue’s gallery of Washington insiders.

On paper, term limits curb corruption, since fresh people are always fed into office.

New blood could also help to pass more popular legislation. It’s easy to imagine government losing touch with people, since the average congressman is around 60, while the the median age in America is 36.

But term limits might be easier said than done. Even Trump knows that term limits would require a constitutional amendment, and members of Congress likely won’t support any bill that would force them out of a job.

If Trump somehow gets his amendment passed, it might create other problems. Members of Congress will cycle more frequently, but lobbyists wouldn’t be affected by term limits, creating a big shift in the balance of political power compared to what we have now.

But lobbyists wouldn’t be completely off the hook.

Restrictions on Foreign Lobbyists

It’s important to note that it’s already illegal for candidates in federal elections to take money from foreign donors, but not necessarily for foreign lobbyists to raise money on their behalf. Trump would eliminate this loophole.

White House officials would also be banned from lobbying for foreign governments, and would not be allowed to lobby in the United States for five years after leaving government.

The revolving door between the private sector and government is no secret. US officials with ties to foreign governments can (and should) make voters nervous, and this is still without mentioning that countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE are some of the more generous contributors to the D.C. machine.

While it’s hard to pick any one reason for Hillary Clinton’s defeat, alleged ties to foreign governments were definitely a sticky point for her during the election.

Clinton may not have taken foreign money for her campaign, but she did accept it for the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of state, despite President Obama’s wishes. Depending on how strictly Trump’s proposals would be enforced, gray areas like this might become more black and white.

Infrastructure and Energy

The American Society of Civil Engineers gave infrastructure in the United States a D+. The society suggests an investment of $3.6 trillion to fix this problem.

To address this, Trump has proposed the American Energy and Infrastructure Act. The act would rely on partnerships with the private sector to raise $1 trillion for infrastructure projects.

Trump has yet to specify how this proposal would work. What incentive will the private sector have to invest in public works projects? How will the government pay for their share? Where will the other $2.6 trillion needed to fix our infrastructure come from?

Will a Republican Congress really authorize funds for bridges, dams, and roads?

Maybe not. But they probably will support the Keystone pipeline and increased fossil fuel production, which Trump has also proposed.

This might help keep gas prices down, but it doesn’t bode well for the environment, or for the people who don’t want leaky pipelines in their backyard. Is the possibility of cheaper energy really worth flaming drinking water?

The Immediate Horizon is Cloudy, at Best

Trump, unlike most presidents, does not have a record of policy making and statesmanship behind him. He tends to act impulsively, and breaks with tradition often; he may not even live in the White House.

One hundred days does not a president make, one week after election day is not enough time to adequately predict the future of the entire country, and no pundit, liberal or conservative, was able to see any of this coming.

The reality of the situation is that we do not fully grasp the reality of the situation. If you’re a died-in-the-wool conservative, you probably won’t complain too much. If not, you probably won’t know what to make of anything for a while.

Until we do, we can only keep watching the news, and hope for the best.

 

Daniel Durand is a writer who like politics, but admits that it’s a lot less fun lately. He can be reached at ddurand.specialprojects@gmail.com.

So You Elected Donald Trump for President

by Daniel J. Durand

Good morning, America; sleep well? I would like to take a moment to briefly talk about what happened last night.

Last night, on November 8th, 2016, we, the American people chose Donald Trump as our new president.

To those of you who voted for him, congratulations! You did it! To everyone else… sorry. I’m so sorry. The following is an open letter, which I’m going to break down into parts in order to better address each of the major groups I see in play right now. Here goes:

The Democratic Party

You guys really blew this one, you know?

At best, before the election, you controlled maybe eight states–now you have nothing.

You threw all your eggs in the Hillary basket, kicked Bernie and the Millenials to the curb, ignored the problems facing organized labor, African-Americans, the LGBT community, and everyone else, all somehow in hopes of getting Hillary to the White House. Don’t believe me? Look at the early exit polling–you guys lost everyone you claim to represent, and by a scary margin.

The party structure is now drained of resources, and Democrats are fractured into those who supported the establishment and those who supported a Bernie-style movement. The party is now meaningless outside of the northeast and the west coast, where strongholds still remain.

In short, you guys done fucked up proper, and now you have a lot of work to do.

The Republican Party

You guys are asssholes, but you won this round despite that. Kudos! I still hate your guts, but mad props for pulling it off.

Politically, I will never agree with Republicans, and I doubt many liberal voters will, either–but we all understand how dangerous Trump’s presidency could be, and if The Donald goes nuclear, Republicans and Democrats have to be ready to work together

Try not to get us into another war, okay? If Trump turns out to be the nightmare president we are all afraid of, you, the Republicans, are the only group capable of stopping him. .

Hillary Clinton

There is no way you don’t have this coming. Now, suck it up, and put your incredible political machine to work alongside Bernie Sanders’ movement.

You weren’t the right candidate to go up against Trump, and it cost America. Voters made themselves clear last night that we don’t trust you, we don’t like you–but you still have the DNC at your fingertips, you still won the nomination and made it this far, and you still have serious clout.

Don’t retreat. Keep moving forward for progress, for the Democratic party, and most of all, for Bernie Sanders and the movement he started.

You are never going to rule the land–you can, however, be a key to power for the next generation of liberals. I know you don’t play second fiddle well, but for the sake of the progressive future we could have had, that we should have had, you have to try.

Donald Trump

Because of you, I woke up this morning and realized that I am living in the plot of a bad 80s action movie. You have no clear policies, no plan, just a bunch of hopeless conservative platitudes and a boorish personality.

And yet, you won.

So, Mr. Trump, do the country a huge solid, and surprise us. Earn the office you’ve somehow taken. Prove your opponents wrong, stand for the future America needs and not the apocalypse that we expect you to usher in. Rise above the petty.

Don’t fuck this up.

The Voters

Okay, you guys are the group that matters most. Whoever you voted for individually, I doubt anyone who voted last night is happy with where the country is right now. Those feelings probably spurred you to vote in the first place, and guided you to the candidate you ultimately chose.

But regardless of whether your candidate of choice won, there is something very important that voters need to remember: the fight did not end at the ballot box.

Healthcare still sucks. Education still sucks. We’re still bombing or at war with seven countries. Our government is still spying on us. Money still has too much influence in politics. Our infrastructure is crumbling. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, times a million, ad infinitum.

If you believe that your vote every four years is all it takes to fix these problems, then you are a fool.

We are the tired, the poor, the huddled masses. We are the people. We are the masters of our own fates. We will not solve our problems with one election, but we should also not let our problems hold us back.

Take a moment to relax and recuperate. As a country, we need a breather. But then, get ready for the next round of elections–local, state, midterm, whatever. Do volunteer work. Write to Congress. Look for ways to better yourselves and to help those around you.

No matter what side you were on before, now, more than any other time, we need to be in this together.

We made ourselves sick with insanity over the last 18 months. Now, let’s make ourselves sick pushing forward, working to fix the problems that led to this terrible, awful election cycle in the first place.

Hell, let’s even start a hashtag, and stick it on everything: #progressisours, until we think of something catchier.

Own your country. Own your fate. Own your passions. Don’t wait for the White House to solve your problems; it’s time we banded together as an electorate, and took care of ourselves.

End of rant. Have a nice day, everyone.

Daniel Durand is a Boise-based writer who wants a stiff drink and a vacation. He can be reached at ddurand.specialprojects@gmail.com