Wednesday, November 9, 2016. A very large segment of the American people are shell-shocked. Bitterly critical as we were of Hillary Clinton, and I include myself in that camp, we still somehow expected her to win. We thought she, and “the establishment,” were invincible.
We were wrong. The pollsters were wrong, the news analysts were wrong, even our gut instincts were wrong. The establishment, the status quo, have finally been shaken off their pedestal.
And those of us who did not like it, but also hate everything Donald Trump, make that “President-Elect Donald Trump,” stands for, are at a loss. Apparently, we were gearing to fight Hillary, not Donald. We had planned to fight the “known” evil (I am still reluctant to call Clinton the lesser evil, if only because her candidacy is what led us here), not the new one.
We did not want a war president, and Clinton is a hawk. We did not want a Zionist, and Clinton is a Zionist. Indeed, I sincerely believe Clinton is a Zionist through-and-through, not just beholden to AIPAC money. A “liberal,” she may have had some personal reservations about some of the more egregious Israeli abuses of the Palestinian people, but Hilary is a genuine “friend” of Israel, and no friend of the Palestinians.
We did not get what we did not want: Clintonism, politics as usual, empire.
We got Trump. Fascism.
And we are at a loss.
But here’s what we need to ask ourselves: would we really have fought Hillary, or would we have settled yet again, for the “familiar” foe? How many of the progressives who are protesting Trump today would have protested Clinton? My guess is that many of today’s protesters would have sighed in relief, at a Clinton victory. And we would have deluded ourselves with pledges to “hold her feet to the fire,” to push for a more progressive agenda. How well did that work with President Obama?
And how can we forget, or rather dismiss the fact that, as secretary of state, Clinton approved of the US “super predator” drone attacks on Pakistan and Afghanistan that killed entire innocent civilian families, in attempts at the extrajudicial assassination of suspected terrorists? Do we also forget that, as secretary of state, she has cemented US alliances with some of the world’s most brutal regimes, including allying with Saudi Arabia, in its genocidal war against Yemen? And of course, always, with Israel, in its (also genocidal) assaults on Gaza, its (illegal) expansion of (illegal) settlements, and its attack on that cherished all-American right, our freedom of speech, as we advocate and practice BDS here in the US?
Because we have gotten into a groove, a slumberous “protest as usual” groove. We, too, ran our activism with a “business as usual” attitude. We were pushing the Democrats for change, even as we complained that Democrats and Republicans are two sides of the same coin.
Today, the struggles we are invested in remain unchanged, regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s elections. For those of us committed to justice for the Palestinian people, let us keep in mind what Hilary Clinton “promised” AIPAC, on March 16: “One of the first things I’ll do in office is invite the Israeli prime minister to visit the White House and I will send a delegation from the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs to Israel for early consultations.”
On the other hand, (or is it the same hand?) yesterday morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called President-elect Trump to congratulate him on his victory. Netanyahu had called Trump ” a true friend of Israel,” and Trump had declared that he would work on making Jerusalem the undivided capital of Israel. And the Israeli right is rejoicing over Trump’s victory, just as they would have rejoiced over a Clinton victory.
So, we must keep on keeping on. This is not the “apocalypse,” as some are describing Trump’s ascent to power. Even with escalating attacks on our human and civil rights, this is not the seismic change that will knock us off our feet. It’s the same evil we have been fighting against, racism, environmental devastation, profit before people, except that this time, the mask is off.
On our activist agenda are all the same issues we were already organizing around, hopefully shuffled around to foreground one that had been pushed to the backburner for way too long: envisioning, planning, and consciously, intentionally organizing for the different world we want to live in. So we continue to organize for a world free of racism—directed against African Americans, the Indigenous peoples of this land, Arabs, Muslims, immigrants. We continue to work for justice for the Palestinian people, and for an end to settler-colonialism from North Dakota to Haifa. We continue to expose, denounce, and work to end misogyny, whether in the form of sexual assault in beauty pageant dressing rooms, or in government calculations intended to take care of the “demographic threat” to a racist supremacist state. And all the while, we support each other, strengthen our coalitions, our alliances, understand each other’s struggles, and enact our solidarity.
It is up to us. It has always been up to us. To say “we must organize now, more than ever,” would suggest that somehow having a different outcome to these elections would have made a difference for our struggle.
That is not so.
This is not an abrupt wake-up call. It’s the snooze alarm, going off yet again. Time to get up, and tend to our work, like we did yesterday, and the day before.
Well, not quite “like we did yesterday.” Let us learn from this election, and work differently. Not harder, but smarter. And more urgently. Let’s not just “protest” Trump’s elections. Let’s organize for our issues. Standing Rock, and indigenous sovereignty here in the US. The sanctity of Black Lives. Justice for the Palestinian people. An end to the trade agreements creating economic refugees. An end to the wars, creating the global refugee crisis.
Don’t mourn, organize. Now. It’s already very late.