We’re the Wall Protecting America from Pres. Trump’s Policies

March 20, 2017

Together, we’ll fight the administration’s reversal of decades of progress.

Well, that didn’t take long. And we can’t say we weren’t warned. One month into his presidency, the man who ran the most racist, sexist, xenophobic, hate-filled and dishonest presidential campaign in at least one hundred years has completely lived up to his campaign image.

What have President Trump and his billionaire cabinet members promised us? Elimination of the Affordable Care Act, decimation of Medicaid and Social Security, elimination of the minimum wage, possibly reintroducing child labor, destroying collective bargaining and the rights of labor, curtailing voting rights for African-Americans, Latinos, youth and our elders, preventing women from exercising control over their own bodies, eliminating the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act and the global climate change pact, and a full-out assault on immigrant workers and families— especially those from Latin America and predominantly Muslim countries —forcing 11 million immigrant workers deeper into the shadows and blocking any path to citizenship.

Let’s be clear: President Donald J. Trump’s pledge to “Make America Great Again” is a hallucination. How does any of this make our country great? When he says great again, he means America was great before we had civil rights, voting rights, labor rights, immigrant rights, reproductive rights and the rest.

Still worse, the campaign’s focus on the white working class perpetuates the false notion that the working class of our country is not multiracial and multinational. Those he says he speaks for—the millions who lost good-paying jobs in the auto, steel, mining, rubber and other manufacturing industries— are workers of all hues and many languages. What President Trump never mentions is that those good jobs were good because they were union jobs, won through collective bargaining and struggle. Also going unsaid is that those industries were gutted by the same bankers and billionaires who are now his partners. This is what he should have been referring to when, at his inauguration, the new president spoke about “American Carnage.”

Now President Trump prepares to lay waste to 100 years of democratic progress, achievements fought for and won by our multiracial working class and our allies. His list of targets— Medicaid, the ACA, voting rights, the minimum wage, reproductive rights, environmental protection and the rest—became reality because we and our elders and forbears fought for them, often at a terrible price. Nobody ever gave them to us. But this new administration stands ready to wipe out all of these accomplishments.

But just as we are in uncharted waters with the Trump White House, it now faces popular resistance never before encountered by a new administration. The president lost the popular vote by three million and is in the White House only because of the slavery-era Electoral College. He has no mandate. He has no majority. He has no legitimacy. And he has certainly had no “honeymoon” that previous presidents have enjoyed.

The day after his inauguration— which was attended by 180,000 according to Capital police and which was about one-tenth the size of President Obama’s 2008 inauguration—more than 3.5 million protesters turned out for the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. and other cities around the world, a dramatic and fitting response but only the first of many to follow. A few days later, thousands of people spontaneously flooded airports in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and elsewhere to protest Trump’s cruel ban on refugees and Muslim travelers.

This is only the beginning. We are just one month into President Trump’s term. What is the answer to the unfolding catastrophe? We are. We caregivers of 1199SEIU. But not just us. The new president has declared war on the American people and our “gorgeous mosaic,” as former New York City Mayor David Dinkins once described us. With all the levers of power in Washington under the control of far right-wing Republicans in the service of banks and corporations, who will stand up for us if not ourselves? Sure, we will have some good Democratic and Republican allies, but they are only as strong as we make them. As for “fair weather” friends who won’t stand with us, we’ll have to say what the beloved Mississippi civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer once told wavering political leaders: “Move on over, or we’ll move on over you.”

There was a sign at the D.C. Women’s March that played on the president’s threats to Mexico. It read, in part, “We Women Are the Wall, Mr. Trump.” Amen to that.

1199 Magazine, Jan/Feb 2017