2020 Reelection Campaign Already?!

In July of 2016, the Urban Dictionary added the definition of “Trumpence” as:

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Roughly one month after making a mockery of the Oath of Office — by violating the constitutional emoluments clause while saying the words — Donald J. Trump filed the official papers to open his 2020 reelection campaign.

Today, , writing for Vox, informs us that the Republican president’s first reelection fundraiser is a $35,000-a-ticket soiree at his own hotel.”

You might ask “Why?”

Why would a president less than a year into office already be campaigning for reelection instead of focusing on implementing the policy he pushed during his first campaign?

There are many answers to that question, and all of them are correct.   All of them should prove to you that you should not support this reelection campaign.

First, as the Vox article points out:

 

In hosting the dinner at his hotel, Trump manages to raise money not only for his 2020 campaign but for himself too. After all, any business the hotel does is personal profit for the president, who still owns the Trump Organization. It’s unclear if the hotel will make money from the dinner, but even if the hotel gave the food for free, any money attendees spend on hotel rooms, at the bar, or at shops in the hotel goes straight to the Trump Organization.

 

Hosting the event as his own hotel is a revenue windfall for the hotel even if it doesn’t charge the President’s campaign itself a dime; but they’ll charge in order to funnel the money from the campaign back into the family business coffers.

But there are other several other, and probably far more important reasons that Trump is doing this, and they need to be exposed as well.   Which brings us to the second reason.

By establishing the campaign fund, and officially holding rallies, large donors who want Presidential favor can funnel money into his campaign efforts through various SuperPac funds over the entire first four years of the Presidential term in return for pay-to-play favoritism.

But, wait, don’t order yet, there’s more!

The big trick is declaring all of his public appearances as official campaign rallies or fund raisers.   By doing so, he can block access to whomever he wants without violating constitutional rights of anyone that doesn’t agree with him.   He can have protestors, hecklers, and anyone who speaks out forcibly removed as an “unapproved guest” instead of being forced to hear what those citizens have to say in opposition to him.

It allows him to continue the “Lock her up!” and “Repeal and Replace!” chants while deflecting from his own inability to do either and from the investigations into his own unethical and possibly criminal infractions.

Next, there is the fact that political campaign speech is protected in a way that the official words of a civil servant are not, so it is much harder — legally — to hold him accountable for the “dog whistle” and overt racist rhetoric he uses at these campaigns to rile up the”Alt-Right,” Neo-Nazi, and  White Nationalist voter base that refuses to abandon him as long as he keeps speaking their language.

Let us not forget the fact that the continuation of the campaign allows him to keep the merchandise sales flowing as well.

Finally, there is the fact that he can set up reservations and accommodations in his own properties for foreign government agents to accidentally — on purpose — bump into him for a brief unscheduled meeting that is off the White House records, while claiming those agents were just there at the same time as his rally/fund-raiser purely by coincidence.

Please, I implore you, do not allow yourself to be one of the willfully ignorant targets of this trumpence campaign that gets whipped into enough uninformed outrage to vote for this administration a second time.

This Is Why We Lost. This Is How We Win.

February 10, 2017 will mark the 10th anniversary of the day a junior Senator from Illinois announced his candidacy to become the first President of the United States who was also a person of color.

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While he would ultimately succeed in bringing out record numbers of first time voters and increasing the civic engagement of people all across the nation, and drawing a record massive 1.8 million people to attend his historic inauguration,

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Both he and his family would become the nations preferred targets for racial hatred and death threats.

As informs us:

According to conservatives on social media, “Republicans have jobs and responsibilities” and therefore couldn’t engage in civil disobedience to voice their discontent with the 2008 and 2012 elections. With this perception of the Obama elections and subsequent claims of “ Republican acceptance,” Trump supporters are now demanding the same “fairness” for Donald J. Trump’s presidency, “We sat through do nothing politics for 8 years, the least they can do is go shut up and sit in the corner for 8 themselves,” on Trump supporter explained.
However, these perceptions do not reflect what actually followed the election of our country’s first black president, much less the difference between why people are protesting Donald J. Trump’s presidency as compared to Barack Obama’s presidency.
Obama’s election in 2008 was preceded and followed by violent attacks and property destruction targeted against minorities.

Evette Dionne provides us with several examples of the discontent of those racists:

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For nearly 10 years those that were against him, would resort to racial slurs, insulting school yard nicknames (so they wouldn’t have to actually speak his real name), incessant harping on a non-existent issue over his birth certificate, and accusations that he was a Muslim terrorist.   These racial attacks, even against his wife and children would continue even through his final day in office and beyond.

For four of those years the cries of “Benghazi” and “Emails” were added to those of “Muslim” and “Birth Certificate,” which became tools used to interrupt and shout down anything they didn’t want to hear.

Throughout it all, every member of his family, but especially he, showed extreme grace, dignity, and decorum — more than anyone could have expected, more than most anyone else would have managed.

Unfortunately, as a result of this, those against him were able to maintain their level of anger, draw more into their fold, and remain willfully ignorant of any information that belied their personal views.  Some were even able to manage the mental gymnastics that would allow them to convince themselves that they were actually the victims of racial policies instead of the perpetrators and supporters of them, while others came to believe that actually denying human rights to a specific group of people was nothing more than a political stance instead of a crime against humanity.

This allowed them to drive turnout during the midterm elections and swing both state legislatures and governorships their way.   This, in turn, paved the way to undermining the Voter Rights Act at the state levels, gerrymander voting districts, and create new forms of legalized voter obstruction.

The first fatal flaw we fell victim to has been trying to fight unreasonable people with reason, logic, and facts — trying to rationalize away the cause of irrational and deeply seated fears.

As we watch civil rights already begin to roll back in the first days of the new President’s term, we must realize by now, that drafting new laws isn’t going to change the cultural bigotries that exist.

Those are still too ingrained in our collective identities.

Slaves started arriving, having been brought by force, to the Americas in the early 1600s.  It wasn’t until 1865 that slavery was made illegal in the United States, although it was some time later before that news reached everywhere and was well enforced.  Segregation started ending in the mid 1950s but the Civil Rights Act wasn’t signed until the next decade.   Even that didn’t stop racist lending and housing practices that manufactured segregation by maintaining racial makeup of communities which are still in practice at some companies today as we just discovered in the lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase Co.   Along the way, we discovered that the “War on Crime” had taken advantage of a loophole in the 13th Amendment that legalizes slave labor for prison inmates, which was further compounded by the outsourcing of that labor to corporations by privatized prisons.

With that information, it is easy to see from the timeline below showing four centuries of racist practices that we are not yet even one generation removed from overt systemic racism in our nation.

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This is why People of Color are not “over it” yet, and it is why those privileged whites that have benefited from it in any way still have trouble sharing their privilege as a right of equality.

The body cannot heal while the wounds are still infected.

We see similar problems being repeated in the fights for the rights of  the Native American people, women’s suffrage, women’s right to make their own health care choices, disabled inclusion, gender equality, LGBTQ rights, interracial marriage, marriage equality, fair housing practices, fair lending practices, and the rights of every other group of marginalized people and the issues surrounding how those rights are oppressed.

The second fatal flaw that we consistently make is treating each of these individual fights as separate fights, and further treating the same issues as separate issues for each marginalized group and having to fight the same battles over and over again.

As we focus our sights on the next issue to tackle, we lose ground on others.   As we saw today.   While the world focused on the historic international event of the Women’s March that brought out over four million women and men protesting several women’s rights issues, the violence against the Native Peoples at Standing Rock protesting the Dakota Access Pipe Line escalated again.

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We need to unite in the fight for human rights for all.

Then we need to force the new laws that protect those rights to be written as all-inclusive laws that protect every grouping at once, and any possible future groupings that may arbitrarily be created in an attempt to circumvent those laws.

However, as we’ve covered above, we know that just having those laws in place doesn’t really protect anyone unless we enforce them.   And getting them enforced fairly and justly requires having the hearts and minds of the public and those that enforce the laws on board with why they are important.

Which brings us to how we win.

Changing hearts and minds, and rewriting societal norms isn’t a matter of politicians arguing, it isn’t a matter of rewriting laws or writing new ones, it isn’t a matter of trying to reason with unreasonable people.

It is psychological warfare.

To win it, we must use the same tactics that were used against us.  We must be angry enough to stay motivated.   We use that motivation and anger to bolster our numbers and drive us to the voting booths.  We must cast a ballot for every local and national office and initiative.   We must show up for midterm elections and off-cycle run-off votes.

Achieving that will require duplicating the interruption tactics, using our own buzzwords to shout down their lies, hatred, bigotry, racism, misogyny, rape-culture, and oppressive desires.

When they start presenting those things, we must be ready with the cries of “Russia!” “Sexual Predator!” “Fraud!” “Racist” and others.

This must be done with the same tireless vigor and venom that they used for the 10 years since Mr. Obama declared his candidacy and we must stick with it until it is done.

We must take to the streets and stand up against all the forms of racism, bigotry and oppression we find.  Even if we’re not the victims of it.  Even if it is our family, friends, and neighbors that are the perpetrators.  Whether it is intentional or unintentional.

No more free passes for anyone.

This isn’t about political differences.  This isn’t about being politically correct.

This is about fundamental human decency and human rights.

And if you’re not willing to stand up and fight for them for anyone else, you can’t expect them to stand up and fight for you when you suddenly find yourself or one of your loved ones in one of the marginalized groups.

After Action Report

On Sunday December 4th, the Army Corps of Engineers, under the direction of President Obama called a halt to the current construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.project, and ordered a study to find alternative routes for the pipeline that do not run through the Sioux Nation lands.

This is a major win for grassroots activism and for the Sioux people, but we must remember it is a temporary victory.   We must ensure that the new route is a safe route and doesn’t just threaten another group of people that cannot or  will not defend themselves as diligently as the people of the Sioux nation or Bismark before them.  We must ensure that as soon as our attention is diverted, the President-Elect who is financially invested in the company laying the line doesn’t just direct it to pick right back up where it left off.  We must not allow a temporary victory to allow us to become complacent again.

In the meantime, there are some lessons we need to take away from the last several months as these events played out.   I’ll cover them here in no particular order of importance because they are all important.

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First:     No matter how much help and assistance was sent, there was no way the protest would have succeeded long enough without the protestors enduring perseverance and commitment to their cause.   As activist allies came and went, they remained, despite the weather and everything the government and the pipeline construction company had to through at them.

The lesson here, is that protest for major reform isn’t going to happen in a one day march, if we want to affect change, we’re going to have to be willing to commit to the the long haul, especially against opponents with virtually unlimited time and resources to use against us.

Without the local community involved and supporting these types of movements cannot succeed.

Protests Continue At Standing Rock Sioux Reservation Over Dakota Pipeline Access Project

Second:     For the first time in history, a large contingent of American military veterans came to the conclusion that their oath to defend the both the Constitution and our people against all enemies both Foreign and Domestic required them to answer a call to stand with these people against our own government.

They showed up and began building winter barracks to protect the protestors from the worst of the Dakota winter weather conditions and committed to stand with and in front of the protestors to protect them from armed and brutal retaliation as they defended their land and rights.   Their presence, and the press coverage generated by them, was no doubt a significant factor in the timing of the ordered halt.

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Third:    The corporate conglomerate had no problem resorting to violence against these people, early on in the protest, which lasted well over half a year.  More than once they released attack trained guard dogs against the protesters.

They even went so far to have a DAPL security agent disguise himself as a protester, drive into the protest camp and fire several shots from his rifle in the direction of the workers in hopes of creating an returning volley from the local law enforcement.  He then torched his truck in an effort to hide the fact that it was an official company vehicle that did not belong to the protesters.

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Fourth:    Unlike the Veterans mentioned earlier, both the Federal and State governments, especially various police forces forgot that they’re job is to protect, serve, and defend the people, not massive corporations attempting to run roughshod over the people.

As a result, police agencies from states all over the country invoked emergency support laws and raided their FEMA disaster funds to send militarized troops to attack the people in an attempt to forcibly drive them from their own land.

In 1996, then-President Bill Clinton signed the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). The statute was created in response to Hurricane Andrew, which wrought an estimated $25 billion in damages when it hit Louisiana and Florida in 1992, necessitating large-scale, interstate relief coordination. EMAC, an agreement eventually entered into by all 50 states, allows for states to share resources and coordinate emergency personnel in case of a crisis. The good-neighbor style law was invoked for disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and, more recently, Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Governors have almost always employed EMAC in the wake of natural disasters, but the bill contains a stipulation that makes it applicable during other types of emergencies including “community disorders, insurgency, or enemy attack.” On August 19, when North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple declared a state of emergency at Standing Rock, he relied on this language to issue an EMAC request.

Standing Rock is one of the few times that EMAC has been called upon to respond to social activism.

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Those officers eventually resorted to the use of both tear gas, stun grenades, and  water cannons and in below freezing night time temperatures, causing serious harm to many of the peaceful protesters.

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Fifth:     The mainstream corporate media outlets maintained as close to a near total blackout on the distribution of any news pertaining to the protests and the violent response to them by officials as possible.  Maybe it was because they were too busy reporting on what each other were saying and focusing on a candidate so vacuous that they aired 30 minutes of an empty podium on all them major networks and nobody seemed to care.   Some believe this was due to the desire to retain their oil industry advertising dollars, while others have raised different concerns.

The limited media coverage, and the biased, inaccurate reporting included in what coverage the Dakota Access Pipeline has received in mainstream media is a microcosm of the endless denigration Native Americans suffer. The New York Times, Guardian, The Daily Beast and some other print outlets have provided ongoing coverage. However, the lack of an on-the-ground presence from major TV media outlets at Standing Rock is a result of CNN and most of the mainstream media’s lazy preference for propagating false narratives based on secondhand sources.

Sixth:     Social media usage easily overcame the lack of corporate media coverage of the events.  Protesters made adept use of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube,  GoFundMe, and Amazon Wish Lists to get information out to the people of the nation regarding their need for protest, their goals, what assistance they could use, and what they had to endure.   This ability to bypass the media blackout would prove to be — aside from their perseverance — the most important key to their success.

Seventh:    Allies fighting for social justice from all over the nation came together.  Many traveled to the sight to join the protests even if they could only stay a short time, but more importantly a tremendous number of people sent food, medical supplies, camping gear and equipment, and money to support their needs and legal fees as they continued their efforts.   Without these people banding together from all over the nation and around the world it would have been infinitely more difficult for the protesters to remain in place for as long as was needed to ensure success.

Eighth:    After centuries of broken promises and broken treaties and a year of government condoned attacks by security guards and police, the Sioux nation released a “Thank you” statement to the people and the government in which they spoke of hope and peace and continued cooperation for common goals.    In that one statement they offered more hope, more grace, and more class than our country’s government has ever offered them.

In Summary, there is much we can learn from this, the most important combination being that for these protests to be successful in bringing change, we need to encourage non-violent protest with long term commitment, led by local communities, and receiving long distance support from all of us who cannot get there to stand together but want to help.