Donald Trump’s shocking victory was met with a mixture of anger, confusion, and very real fear among ordinary people in the U.S. and around the world. Millions asked, how could Trump win? And further, what will his presidency mean for immigrants, women, Muslims, and all others targeted by his viciously right-wing campaign?
But the election of one of the most right-wing presidents in U.S. history was also met immediately by determined mass protests. All across the country, tens of thousands of people poured into the streets to defiantly stand up against Trump’s bigoted agenda. Many were protesting for the first time, and were angry but also empowered by the examples of the Black Lives Matter movement, Standing Rock, and Bernie Sanders’ call for a “political revolution” in the presidential primary. The mood to fight back was also fueled by the growing radicalization and huge discrediting of the political establishment over the course of the election, especially among young people.
Within hours of Trump’s election, Socialist Alternative, Socialist Students, and Movement for the 99% organized protests in cities around the country. The call was met by 5,000 people in Oakland, 6,000 in Boston, 3,000 in Philadelphia, 6,000 in Seattle, and nearly 10,000 in New York City. The diversity of the chants taken up by the protesters reflected the important beginnings of solidarity between movements. Chants expressing the outrage of protesters like “Not my president!” and “F*** Trump!” were also joined by “Black Lives Matter!” “My body, my choice/Her body, her choice,” “Mni wikoni!/Water is life!” and “Say it loud, say it clear – refugees are welcome here!” Combined, they pointed to a larger message of mass, united resistance that will be necessary to defeat Trump’s attacks.
In New York, protesters held picket signs in front of Trump Tower declaring “Fight Racism,” “Solidarity Not Scapegoating,” and “Build the Resistance Against Trump.” Protesters marched from there with chants echoing off downtown buildings, and drivers honking their horns and leaning out windows to raise fists of support.
At Seattle’s Westlake Park, the rally was addressed by a range of speakers representing different groups: immigrants, indigenous people, LGBTQ people, labor, Muslims, socialists, and students. A young Latino activist and member of Socialist Alternative, Manuel Carrillo, responded to Trump’s infamous call for a wall along the Mexico border by saying the movement would build its own wall: “Ours will be a wall of resistance, built on solidarity, struggle, and a socialist alternative.”
As this paper goes to print, protests in dozens of cities have continued every night since.
Protests have been marked by frustration and disillusionment in Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party and their failure to defeat Trump. Many recognized that the calculated undermining of Bernie Sanders’ campaign by the DNC – despite polls showing Bernie matching up far better against Trump than Clinton – was a major factor in Trump’s improbable victory. Seattle City Councilmember and Socialist Alternative member Kshama Sawant address to the crowd at Seattle’s Westlake Park:
“We can not even trust the Wall Street dominated Democratic Party to beat the most unpopular candidate the Republicans could ever find to run for president. Their politics prepared the ground. Look at NAFTA and the TPP. Look at cuts to social security and welfare. To build the resistance against Trump, to stop the growth of his movement, we need to build our own movements, we need our own mobilizations. Working people and youth need an independent party of, for and by the 99%. Are you with me?”
She was answered with a deafening cheer.
The question now is whether we can turn the initial protests and solidarity into sustained and powerful movements. Already the burgeoning resistance has crystallized around another date of protest: Trump’s inauguration on January 20. Inauguration protest events have popped up on Facebook in nearly every major city, using hashtags like #ResistTrump and #OccupyInauguration.
We need to use the next two months build toward the biggest possible protests on inauguration day as a springboard to ongoing mass mobilizations. Already, in Boston, Socialist Alternative members held a public meeting to discuss the way forward for the movement that attracted over 400 people. We need to systematically organize in our workplaces, our schools, and in our unions to build the largest possible actions. We will need to organize meet-ups to prepare those events, with banners, pickets, posters, and march routes.
Building the kind of resistance necessary to block Trump’s attacks will require us to reject the calls of Democratic Party leaders and others to silence our movement. After calling Trump “profoundly dangerous,” Clinton is now telling her supporters, “We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.” Obama similarly said, “We are all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country.” But we cannot wish Trump any “success” in his Contract with the American Voter or the rest of his bigoted agenda. This would be a dangerous mistake. Unity is essential, but the unity needed is not with Trump, the Republican or Democratic Party establishments, or the billionaire class. We need unity of ordinary people to stand up against his call for mass deportations, registration of Muslims, and other vicious attacks on the working class and oppressed people.