THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING VIGILANT
AS PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP TAKES HOLD
OF THE SCEPTER OF POWER
Dr. Joyce Watford, an Educator and a Descendant of America’s Slaves
December 3, 2016
PART III: THE UNFINISHED LEGACIES OF CLASS AND RACE IN THE USA, THUS LAYING THE FOUNDATION FOR THE COUP D’ETAT THAT GAVE RISE TO DONALD TRUMP’S ELECTION AS 45TH POTUSA!
As we observe President-Elect Trump’s strategic efforts in putting together people who will serve in his Presidential Administration, we note (and can predict) that his Administration will contain more super-wealthy people than any previous Presidential Administrations ever. His Administration already consists of more multi-millionaires and multi-billionaires than ever before in the history of the country, and he is not even done, yet. This observation must not be downplayed, as President-Elect Trump prepares himself to take Office as the 45th POTUSA, in 2017.
For the sake of being vigilant and proactive about understanding what is really at stake, now brought center stage by Trump’s 2017 Presidential election, which we are facing as both national and global communities, there are some new words average Americans need to hurry up and add to their working vocabulary these days to understand and to have informed discussions about what is happening in the USA and in Europe, which has been characterized as a return to regressive dark times in world history.
Some relevant words to help us understand and talk about what came to head in our country, with Trump’s election as 45th POTUSA, are some of the same words being used in current news articles, in recent political science books, and sometimes in the verbiage of news pundits, to explain the times and what is happening in our country, as well as around the world. As starters,three words jump out: Totalitarianism, Fascism, and Authoritarianism, which are synonyms for dictatorships.
- Totalitarianism—is a form of government that permits no individual freedoms and that seeks to subordinate all aspects of the individual’s life to the authority of government. Mussolini, an Italian dictator from 1920s-1945, coined the term which meant that everything was within the state (nothing is outside of the state, and none are against the state).
- Fascism—is a way of organizing a society around a government ruled by a dictator who controls the lives of the people and prevents people from disagreeing with the government.
- Authoritarianism—is a form of government characterized by a centralized (top-down) power structure and limited political freedoms favoring obedience and complete submission to authority. Simply stated, it is a form of government that imposes strict obedience to authority.
Other red-flag words to know, understand, and regard as threats to our freedoms and democracy include the following:
- Neoliberalism—is a term that began in the 19th Century but refers to 20th and 21st Centuries politics and practices that have to do with economic liberalization of policies which legalize privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade, and reductions in government spending in order to empower the private sector in the economy. The private sector is Corporate America.
- Corporatization—a simplified definition refers to the reorganization of public businesses, run by Corporate America.
- Corporate America—is a term used to describe corporations and big businesses in the USA.
- Militarism—is a term that applies to a strong military spirit or policy that subordinates all other interests to those of the military.
- Hitler—was a German dictator and leader of the Nazi Party from 1934-1945. He initiated WWII in Europe and was a central figure of the Holocaust.
- Mussolini—was an Italian dictator and a leading proponent of Fascism from the 1920s-1 945. He was an ally of Hitler and Nazism, a form of white supremacy and racist nationalism.
- Nationalism—refers to an extreme form of patriotism, shared by a group’s feelings for a demographic region. The group’s feelings exist for the sake of cultural independence and ethnic homogeneity which hold the group together. The term also refers to a form of geopolitics or banal nationalism.
- Demagogue—is a leader in a democracy who gains popularity by exploiting prejudice and ignorance among the common people.
- Demagoguery—refers to the methods and practices of a demagogue.
- Ideology—is a term that refers to the body of ideas which guides a people’s beliefs, social movements, institutions, political parties, governments, etc. It is a specific framework for constructing ideas and actions.
- Hegemony—refers to the dominance or influence of one entity over another, as in white hegemony over other racial groups or of one nation over another nation or nations. White supremacy is a hegemonic concept.
- Alt. Right (or Alternative Right)—refers to a white nationalist group, embracing white supremacy and Hitler’s Nazi Germany. It is regarded as a millennial evolution of the KKK in 21st Century USA.
- Brexit—refers to the British withdrawal from the European Union (EU) as a necessary step to protect and/or restore the country’s national identity, its culture, independence, and place in the world. The argument for Brexit is commonly framed around opposition to immigration.
- European Union (EU) is a political-economic union of 28 European countries or states, with its own monetary union, composed of 19 EU states which use the Euro as currency. The European Union is a unified, superpower organization, offering many streamlined benefits and advantages to its membership, too numerous to mention in this essay.
- Dystopian Politics is the opposite of Utopian Politics. Dystopian Politics refers to a sinister, frightening, anarchic, chaotic, evil political state—a nightmare of Authoritarian or Totalitarian rule.
- Cultural Mystification—refers to a process allowing domination based on coercion or force, but is maintained by a wide variety of social institutions bent on distorting and eroding established cultural values. It is a form of social/political deviance perpetrated as legitimate, as we have observed around Donald Trump, whose obnoxious behavior, rhetoric, and white supremacy politics were overlooked or downplayed or outright sanctioned by the Corporate-controlled media, individuals, groups, and organizations. Trump’s deviant behavior was legitimatized; while Hillary’s truly legitimate behavior was fraudulently portrayed and criminalized by the Corporate-controlled media in order to control the minds of the masses on Election Day. Our cultural values were turned upside down, distorted, and eroded, which led to the 2017 Presidential election of Donald Trump.
We live in an age of information, for the first time ever in history; yet mammoth ignorance abounds, is rampant, and is manufactured as mechanisms for social control.
There are dire reasons that our public education system is broken and our public schools are in disarray, that our teachers are under attack—defamed, demonized, and denigrated—and that our schools and educators no longer represent the doorways to an educated and informed populace (able to think and read analytically, critically, and independently).
Over the last fifty years or so, public education has been under attack. The attack on public education has revolutionized how knowledge unfolds in contemporary society, due to technology. Today’s technology determines how we access knowledge. It now controls and determines how we learn and how we get and internalize information and knowledge. However, the information and knowledge we get and internalize may not be reliable and filtered for truth and honesty. It may be very biased and subjective, again for the purposes of social control, which has as its primary goal the power to persuade and manipulate the masses to think and believe a certain way. A case in point is how fake news, sound bites, and subliminal messages undermined Hillary’s 2017 Presidential campaigns. The Republicans put a monkey on her back (the emails), early on, to discredit and undermine her in order to persuade the American people in believing that she was too damaged—more damaged than her male political counterpart—for serious contemplation of the Presidency. However, no one (not the media or fellow politicians) raised real concern for lack of relevant, objective, concrete proof that she breeched any specific law or HR rule, which cited in writing that she was expected, in her job description, to perform certain duties with no room for whimsical, arbitrary, or unscripted conduct. In administrative supervision 101, it is understood that employers hold employees accountable by putting into writing what their specific job duties, expectations, and performances are. No one, not even Trump, presented proof that Hillary violated any written contract related to her job assignment. In other words, the accusatory opposition never cited any written prohibitions against her use of a personal server in conjunction with the server reserved for federal government. The accusations that she had willfully breeched a written—etched-in-stone—contract of agreement in her job assignments/duties were arbitrary and flimsy for the purpose of crippling her in the race for POTUSA.
It is amazing that no one (the media and pundits) grabbed onto this fact and ran with it! To the contrary, everyone grabbed onto the subjective information and ran with it, regarding it as fact! All of the accusations against Hillary seemed contrived and, at their worse, unfounded or substantially unsubstantiated, unfairly biased, arbitrary, and whimsical; yet they stuck to her, making it impossible for her to shake them off, in the minds of too many unthinkingAmericans. Furthermore, the whole issue of emails as an acceptable or unacceptable form of communication, which we have no hard and fast laws crafted to govern or regulate, at this particular time in the era of technology, is so new and uncharted that the accusations against Hillary’s emails should never have held water, in the first place, but they did! They did so, because of gross brainwashing of the masses through their reliance on a Corporate-controlled and biased media favoring Republican elites, repetitive subliminal messaging, sound bites, celebrity culture, and anti-intellectualism which thwarts independent, objective, critical thinking. Not even Hillary or her camp did a good job of defending her against the accusations, made possible by unregulated technological social phenomena, which her opponents found opportunities to exploit and misuse against her, but which Hillary and her camp internalized and tried to squelch by acknowledging, accepting, and claiming the accusations instead of projecting them onto something brought on by the times we live in, which are insidious and bigger than ourselves and which we all are grappling with in our transitions to embrace the times—the technological era we live in. Another critical issue around the “email-gate,” synonymous to Watergate, was made possible because of the technological era we live in. During the Presidential campaigns, no one had to break into a brick and mortar building to snoop around in their opponent’s office and steal documents, as during the days of Watergate.
However, in the 2017 Presidential election campaigns, the Party of opposition was able to commit cyber breaking and entering, snooping and invasions, along with retrieval of confidential information, which would have been considered unlawful breaking and entering and criminal theft during Watergate but which now in the era of technology are not considered criminal because the laws have not yet caught up with the technological ease with which crimes can be committed. The old standards of law do not apply in the era of technology, yet these old standards of law are what Trump and the Republican Party used against Hillary with immense success without anyone challenging the unfairness and immorality of what was being used against her by the opposition in order to handicap her and sway the Presidential election in their favor (which was accomplished by putting Hillary and her camp on the defensive with the emails, in order to distract and weaken them). The gravity around the case of Hillary’s emails—politicized and misused to steal the 2017 Presidential election and our country’s two Party democratic processes—deserves in-depth studies to set precedence against its happening again. Serious, broad, deep, heinous crimes for which we have no laws to regulate, were not only committed (in the name of implicit, non-existent, pseudo or fake law!) against an individual but also against a people, a country, and the exceptional democracy of the free world, where its beacon of hope has traditionally welcomed the broken and down-trodden, where one’s birth circumstances have not predetermined his/her lot in life, and where racial and cultural diversity has co-existed.
To help us safeguard our democratic freedoms and values and to be ever vigilant for threats against them, this essay includes some superb books/articles recently published, which deserve sharing, for the purpose of providing a foundation for understanding and discussing the dangerous politics and times which are defining us and our country, today. The book titles are listed below. They are being shared because our educational institutions and media are no longer dependable to keep us informed with truth, honesty, and objectivity. The books are highly recommended as “must reads” for the importance of including average people in a much needed common, but informed, political dialogue, during these dark times in our nation’s history and in the world, today.
Michael Moore is a powerful “must read” author for beginners. Everything he has written is informative, relevant, and relatable. Three pieces that stand out are Stupid White Men; Dude, Where’s My Country? and “10 Things They Won’t Tell You About the Flint Water Tragedy, But I Will,” (an article).
Wake Up America, Eric Bolling (a Fox News Channel Personality and co-host). Bolling’s book is a popular endorsement among all Right-Wing conservatives. Donald Trump has described it as a “HUGE book.” He stated, “It will help to Make America Great Again.”
Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul, Eddie S. Claude, Jr. This is a book endorsed by a number of black elites and pundits, including Michelle Alexander and US Senator Cory Booker.
Race, Reform, and Rebellion: The Second Reconstruction and Beyond in Black America, 1945-2006, Manning Marable. This book is an excellent historical account of black lives in America.
Freedom Is A Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement, Angela Y. Davis. This book is a call for intersectional solidarity enlisting the struggles of the oppressed not only here at home, but also around the world, because our struggles are the same.
America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America, Jim Wallis. This book is about motivating hope for racial justice and reconciliation. It makes a plea for “white Christians to be more Christian than white.”
Americaat War With Itself, Henry A.Giroux. This is a very relevant and sobering book about America’s race toward Authoritarianism and away from Democracy.
The End of White Christian America, Robert P. Jones. This book offers an examination of how white fear and anger are searing our faith and politics.
White Trash. The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America. Nancy Isenberg. This book is a historical study, tracing the historical roots and roles of poor whites in America, from the 15th to the 20th Centuries, from swamp vagrants to crackers, hillbillies, and trailer trash to upbreeding, eugenics, and identity reinventions to the rise of Andrew Jackson to the 21st Century Republican Party—it provides a comprehensive look at our past and present and the pivotal role of class and race which continue to permeate life in America.
The History of White People, Nell Irvin Painter. This book reveals essential truths about race and justice in America and an inevitable revolution for change.
Who We Be: A Cultural History of Race in Post-Civil Rights America, Jeff Chang. This book explores how artists and art can help unify a divisive American culture.
Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond, Marc Lamont Hill. This book is a study of anti-black racism and nationally-sanctioned violence and militarism against the most vulnerable in our society.
It is imperative that every one of us has a working knowledge of the issues facing us as a national community but also as a global community. We must be able to create platforms of resistance to abusive forms of power—whether thrust at us by groups, politicians, or government. By learning to understand and talk about the forces at work against us, we can act proactively to counter them before they devour and/or eliminate us. We cannot wait for more encroachments on our democratic values to happen, as we permitted ourselves to tolerate during Donald Trump’s 2017 Presidential campaigns and then to be forced to react now to what we have already lost. We want to act before we have lost that which we value. Therefore, information and education are crucial keys against blind oppression (of which there are many forms!). However, we must take control of our own knowledge base because our educational institutions have been taken over, not to serve the masses any more, but to now serve Corporate America and the elite.
Donald Trump did not materialize overnight. The Movement he represents has been in the making for a long time in our country, reaching its high point, in our lifetime, during the Reagan Administration and has gained momentum with every President since, thus yielding the time that was/is right for Trump’s Authoritarian rise and significant abandonment of democratic principles and traditional two-party politics. The Authoritarian signs were manifested in Trump’s Presidential campaign, all along, but too many of us missed them, for lack of knowledge and information about what was really happening. However, the signs were evident in Trump’s rhetoric, as well as in the political agenda of extremists in Washington and around the country, who now control the voting base of the Republican Party. Trump’s rhetoric was ultra-conservative and portrayed him as the Strongman who could and would fix everything in our country, broken by the Obama Administration. His rhetoric revealed a clear bias, favoring a culture of white male dominance and a dislike for all things public. His intolerance for social justice and equality was evident in his contempt for public assistance (Obama-Care), public education (School Choice), and labor unions, including teachers’ unions (states’ rights and Right to Work Act). His xenophobic regard for racial and cultural diversity was manifested in his promises of ethnic cleansing via deportation and/or prohibition of certain groups of immigrants.
Other signs of Authoritarianism, displayed throughout the Presidential campaigns, involved the Corporate-controlled media, which ignored and/or downplayed Trump’s hateful, bullying, self-absorbed narcissism. The only action/reaction from the media was (and still is) to make Trump more acceptable to the public, no matter how unacceptably he behaved/behaves. All the while, during the campaigns, the media refused to acknowledge the possible consequences of political extremism being displayed. The display of political extremism, however, revealed a dark, threatening politics, capable of having a grave impact on free and open society. Trump was unchecked in his use of expressions of racism and white supremacy; his tolerance for lethal neglect and violence against low-income people and communities of color, from Ferguson to Flint; his attacks on the welfare state; his downsizing of civil liberties; his disdain for women’s and LBGT’s civil and human rights; his unapologetic support for the financial elite (boastfulness of his wealth); and his tolerance and/or impunity for crimes committed by the wealthy (including his own). Trump’s support of Christian fundamentalism; a glorification of war, militarism, guns, and violence; and an eagerness/willingness to commit brutal, indiscriminate killing and maiming of civilians during military operations, were all additional signs of Authoritarianism.
Other Authoritarian traits indicated a propensity for violations of national sovereignty of other nations and/or imperialistic aggression and nation building to steal and control other countries’ resources; a disregard for international law and human rights; and approval of the legitimatization of torture. Finally, though contrary to its order of importance in keeping with Authoritarian elements, is the broad-based, sweeping shift upward of extremist Republican politics. Trump and the Republican Party are now demonstrating a dominance of the political landscape, notwithstanding their ultra-conservatism and anti-democratic practices: that they oppose equality and diversity; that they desire personal power; that many of them are members of the super-wealthy elite; and that they have no moral conscience.
Throughout the campaigns, Trump’s Authoritarian personality and leadership style were explained away by the media as a bellicose nature and temperament, nothing more. But it was more—it was something way more sinister and dangerous than most of us ever suspected, until the results of the election came in; and, then, it hit us like a thunderbolt that something terrible had just happened. And the reality was that democracy in the USA had just crashed from within, subverted by a new, internal Authoritarianism, poised to set upon us!
We are a people and a nation in crisis, because theAuthoritarian Movement is not going away—it will continue to grow. When people are faced with a crisis, they do one of three things: freeze in fright, take flight, or stand and fight for life and country.
It is apropos to paraphrase the words of actor Brandon Victor Dixon, an actor in the musical “Hamilton,” speaking to VP-Elect Pence, on behalf of the cast, about important issues facing us as a country and a global community. Dixon said, whenthey come after our American values, we will fight them, both tooth and nail. Those sentiments resonate broadly, loudly, and clearly.
The fight begins with arming ourselves, now, by being ever vigilant, informed and educated, observant and, most importantly, proactive. If the opportunity arises, we want to stand ready to attack back with our shields of armor in tact.
THIS SUBJECT WILL BE CONTINUED IN PART IV: THE UNFINISHED LEGACIES OF CLASS AND RACE IN THE USA, THUS LAYING THE FOUNDATION FOR THE COUP D’ETAT THAT GAVE RISE TO DONALD TRUMP’S ELECTION AS 45TH POTUSA!