Dear liberal friends: you do not have the tools to fight Trump.

Hey liberal friends. Yes, you. You who’s been telling people frightened for their lives that “it won’t be that bad”. And you who keeps posting links to obscure constitutional loopholes that might make Bernie president. And you, who told me yesterday with a straight face that May was the British Trump (and I agree that a case can be made here) and then proceeded to talk about how to disentangle our message from that of more left-wing, more diverse campaign groups. We need to have a talk, because I don’t think you have even begun to realise yet how out of your depth you are. You simply don’t have the frame of reference: you have never lived in a state that was openly, actively, viciously hostile to you, there’s nothing in your set of life experiences to date to help you process this. And that is a problem, because your cluelessness and flailing is playing into the hands of fascism and doing damage to the rest of us.

Here are three pieces of reading for you to help you build a frame of reference:

Masha Gessen’s rule for surviving in an autocracy. She speaks from experience, she grew up in Putin’s Russia. Rules 1 and 3 in particular are what liberals seem to be struggling with. 1: Believe the autocrat. When Trump says he will deport 3 million people, don’t even for a second think that he doesn’t mean it, that it was just an election soundbite. Believe him, he will do it. Think about what you can do to resist this, to help those he is targeting. 3: Institutions will not save you. The electoral college is not going to swoop to the rescue. Neither are constitutional loopholes going to make Bernie president. Instead, Trump is going to stack the Supreme Court his way for the foreseeable future, and if the Democrats lose one more state legislature, the Republicans, already falling in line behind Trump like ducklings, are going to eviscerate the constitution. These are the stakes. You need to realise this, and accept it, and work out how you can keep people around you alive.

Here’s pookleblinky’s Twitter thread on how fascism is an exponential process. This, frankly, is a terrifying read. But honestly, I’d rather work on this premise and be wrong than keep going with the “it won’t be that bad” narrative and be wrong about that. Some key points: for most of its gestation time, fascism is basically invisible and seems like a joke; by the time you see the exponential ramp of its growth, it’s ubiquitous and overwhelming; you are always playing catch up – by the time you think of a strategy to deal with it, that strategy is no longer effective; the time window of effectiveness for each new strategy is shorter than the last; last time fascism reared its ugly head, it had horses and telegraphs – now it has instantaneous global communication, nukes, pervasive normalised surveillance, and biometric databases of close to the entire population. I honestly don’t have a good answer for this. I can only reiterate: start working out how you’re going to keep people alive.

And finally, just in case you’re still not convinced that what we’re dealing with is the real thing, just in case you still think the fact that Trump and his staff don’t know anything about the scope of the Presidency will save you, here are the 14 characteristics of fascism. Trump and those around him exhibit all 14. May… is getting close. Disdain for human rights, obsession with national security, protection of corporate power and suppression of labour power, disdain for intellectuals… If those don’t ring a bell, you have not been paying attention. We also need to acknowledge that liberalism has enabled many of these. Something to think about if we come out the other side of this.

So, liberal friends. You simply do not have the tools to fight this. Hell, most of you still don’t even believe that there’s anything to fight. You’d better start believing it, and fast. By the time it gets so bad you can see it, people and communities more marginalised than you will be wiped out. So. Listen to those people, to those communities. Listen to black and brown women. Listen to Black Lives Matter. Listen to queer people – and to trans women in particular. Listen to migrants, documented or otherwise. Listen to those of us who have lived experience of an actively hostile state. Take your lead from us. And start figuring out how you’re going to keep us alive, because without us you’re lost.

95 thoughts on “Dear liberal friends: you do not have the tools to fight Trump.

  1. Peter

    While this is entirely beside your point, the links headlining how a constituional loophole could make Bernie be president lead to an article encouraging people to greater scepticism of online news and encouraging them to look outside of their bubble, rather than sticking with sources that just comfort them.

    It actually fits in nicely with your links, which definitely do not comfort me and are in fact utterly terrifying.


    1. bridget

      Agreed. This is a fantastic article but the Bernie/Loophole reference works to discredit it a little since that article is absolutely not about making him president, it is about being informed and not reading trashy/biased new sources anymore.

    2. Motherwords

      This is a very misinformed article. You are addressing the wrong people. In England, the “Liberal Party” is what we call in America the “Conservative Libertarian” party. The English equivalent to the American Liberal Party is called the Labour Party so the author thinks she’s addressing Libertarians who voted for Trump. Actual Liberals in America ARE the people fighting against Trump!! We ARE the people of color, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ, marginalized and anti-Trump people!!! The title should be “To my Conservative Friends” not liberal because the Libetal Party in England is nearly the complete opposite of the liberal party here in the US!

        1. Jean

          I’m not sure why the eye roll…your post makes several excellent points, but seems to be a bit confused on who your target is. Liberals in the US are, on the whole, quite frightened of the Trump presidency and most do understand the gravity of the situation – and we certainly DO believe there is something to fight. I don’t know a single fellow liberal who has said ‘It won’t be that bad’ – even the ones hoping for strange loopholes to stop Trump from being sworn in. Your advice to look deeper into viewing Trump as a fascist is weakened because the audience you are focusing on in your first paragraph doesn’t really make sense. I have no idea how our political parties relate to those in the UK, but your understanding of what actual liberals in the US are feeling right now is flawed.

          1. john

            Among Bernie supporters, there’s some denial going on. For one, there was so much anti-Hillary propaganda passed around that people think she’s as bad as Trump. For another, there were a lot of newcomers to politics, so there was a lot of “magic thinking” and a lot of wishful thinking going on. Realists were seen as being weak, or lacking confidence.

          2. wns

            i am guessing the reason the audience is confusing is because the piece *is* addressing liberals, – as in ‘love me love me love me, I’m a liberal’ – and asking them to become empathetic and receptive to radical positions that liberals historically resist. we need to hear from the most marginalized and centre their perspectives and (at least in theory) radicals work to practice this, while liberalism does not. that’s the invitation i am seeing here.

        2. Jennifer

          Liberal millennial here, and I think I get your point. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you are saying that our continued optimism and hope for something to save us and continue the status quo will essentially kill us all? I agree, if that is your point. I feel like I’m watching a bunch of people board the Titanic and I’m jumping up and down yelling for them not to get on the ship, but nothing I say will stop them from loading the ship. It’s a nightmare!

      1. Clara Devine

        Ok, no. In BRITAIN (not England) there are 3 main parties: Labour, Conservatives and the SNP (Scottish National Party). The Liberal Democrats died years ago.

      2. Adrian

        I’m in England, and I think you are completely wrong in every aspect of your reply.
        (The Liberal Party, by the way, once upon a time the Whigs, joined up with others to become a social democratic party of the sort we have in Europe, last century. If a Liberal party still exists it is not one of our governing parties.)

      3. Johnny

        No, in England we use liberals in the same way this writer is using it, but you are just not familiar with it being used this way and in this context. I guess a synonym would be “moderates”, which reminds me of a Martin Luther King quote. Google “Martin Luther King white moderates quote” and it should come up. I think it’s from Letters From a Birmingham Jail.

        1. Johnny

          “First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.”

    3. Carol Schrum

      I like your points and your recommendations are definitely a dose of good medicine. However I really am annoyed to be addressed in that “group” lecture tone. It’s not likely to appeal to the people who actually need the information. Younger people who are really engaging especially resent labels. Milena Popova please revise your approach.

  2. Charles W Luckenbill

    Limited viewpoint. Fight Trump, Bernie, AND Hillary. There was, literally, no one to vote for in this election. Politics and politicians have become the lowest form of society. Always have been, but trend is downward. Hopefully we’ve reached the perigee. (Wouldn’t be the first time we’ve sunk so low, by the way. Just seems that way to the new generations.). Maybe the current generations can resolve it. Would be nice if we could achieve an extra generation or so of peace and progress for mankind this time around.

    1. elmyra Post author

      Ah yes, the “I couldn’t vote to stop fascism because the alternative wasn’t perfect” argument. With friends like you who needs enemies?

      1. ms_xeno


        Here I was just thinking that attitudes like yours should’ve been addressed in this piece, and right on schedule you show up.

        Liberals who were sincere about fighting Trump’s policies would not behave as you do. Some of the people you sneer at are, in fact, those who are in particular danger because of him.

        How are we supposed to work with you when you treat us so poorly? What do you accomplish here by mocking a comment made in sincerity, running us off, dismissing us, silencing us? What does this do other than stroke your own ego?

        I’ve lost track already of the liberals who tell me to “Enjoy President Trump,” and so forth. Frankly, liberals who do this sound like caricatures of Right-Wing Fundies they forever claim superiority to. You made a God(dess) of your candidate and now anyone who failed to worship her is the Unbeliever who deserves shunning or punishment. Punishment from the very man you claim that you oppose.

        We don’t all have to agree on everything to work together as an opposition force. So please clarify: are liberals sincere about united opposition? Or have you decided that one component of that opposition is too small, too odd, too dirty, too unworthy to stand with you? (Unless, of course, we either keep quiet about our beliefs or grovel before you and beg to be forgiven for crimes we only committed in your head.)

        If you want to run a country club and call that a movement, at least be honest about it.

        1. elmyra Post author

          1. You seem to think I’m a liberal. For the avoidance of doubt, I am considerably further to the left of what is considered liberal in America.
          2. You also seem to think I’m American. I am not.
          3. At no point did I say that Clinton was perfect, a goddess, or worthy of worship.
          4. However what you and the previous commenter are implying is that Clinton is equivalent to Trump. Which she is manifestly not. I’ll give you liberal, I’ll give you neoliberal, I’ll give you hawkish, but Hillary Clinton is a not a fascist. Trump is.
          5. Given the above, and given a basic understanding of the US electoral system, if you refuse to vote for the one candidate who can beat the fascist, you might as well be supporting the fascist.
          6. No, this is not pretty, it’s not an ideal situation. But it’s the one we’re stuck with. You play the hand you’re dealt, not the one you wish you had.
          7. By all means, the (neo)liberal consensus needs challenging from the left. And there are ways and times of doing so. Voting for a third-party candidate or not voting when the alternative is full-on fascism is neither the way nor the time.
          8. So forgive me, but your calls for unity are somewhat disingenuous. When it was time to unite to stop the fascist from being elected president you went and did your own thing. But now that the horse has bolted, suddenly you want those who will suffer most as a result to fall in line?
          9. At no point did I say that you deserve Trump. To be honest, not even Trump voters deserve what’s coming. What I *am* saying is that your choices make your priorities very clear, and those priorities are obviously not protecting the vulnerable and marginalised. That in turn means you are in no way a safe person for us to collaborate with.

          1. ms_xeno

            Stopping at No 5.

            Once you can write that in sincerity, we have nothing further to discus. It’s a myopic, poisonous attitude, rooted in ignorance, and I want nothing more to do with either it or you. That you can claim to believe this and yet brag about being “further to the left” than the average U.S. liberal is laughable.

            So talk on for another hour if you must, but I won’t be here to listen. Enjoy admiring your own reflection in the mirror. Oh, and don’t forget to replace those divots.

          2. Lisa66

            You hit the nail on the head. The protest voters didn’t get their way or their man so they didn’t vote or voted off party even after Bernie implored them to vote for Hillary as he was. I haven’t looked at election results for a while but in some of the key states those Johnson votes though small for the state would have given Hillary enough to win that state.So you hate Trump but you helped elect a man that is galaxies away from your candidate instead of the woman that was at least on the very same planet as your candidate. So instead being upset when someone points out the mistake you made put your big girl and,or boy pants on and admit you helped elect Trump because you were throwing a temper tantrum for not getting your way completely. Well now that you have cut off your own nose to spite your face, how’s that working out for you now.

          3. marcos

            as to number five, you understand the electoral college and how it works and how that makes your statement here nonsense right?

            it was rust belters who swung this election not purist liberals.

            and it was neoliberal democrats who ran on change and delivered successive slaps in the face to working americans. trump’s election was sealed the day obama appointed emmanuel and summers.

          4. frankypoo


            1. Congratulations for using a political label as the first point in your argument. Also, great job using the “numbered list” format in your response. I’ll admit, I too feel as though I’m educating, and therefore superior, when using it.
            2. Most Americans aren’t familiar with specific issues that are voted on by specific politicians, past or present, unless it applies to them specifically. Almost all Americans are unaware of political specifics, unless they are highly publicized. Following that example, and giving you the benefit of the doubt, you NOT being American, your knowledge of politicians, besides the hype, is likely to be limited.
            3. I’m pretty sure ms. Xeno was just being overly expressive, when instead of taking her literally, you should’ve read between the lines. I’m sure she was referring to the shaming the left often engages in when they find someone who disagrees with them. You shouldn’t take everything literally, I’m pretty sure that’s a problem some conservatives have when interpreting the bible?

            4. Hillary is just as bad as Trump. Any accusatory label leveled at him, could just as easily be applied to her.

            Trump is racist. He’s targeting mexicans and Muslim’s for deportation and denial of entry into the U.S.

            Hillary helped legitimize three strike laws in states like California. These laws disproportionately incarcerate black males and sentence them to life in prison for non-violent drug offenses while receiving “endorsements” from privatized correctional facilities. She literally sold black slaves, while telling white America it needed to own up to its racism.

            Trump is sexist. He mocks women’s rights and struggles, objectifies them, and has admitted to assault, because he said “You can grab them by the pussy!”.

            Hillary, after the fallout during her husband’s presidency that occurred after public testimonies from Monica Lewinsky and Paula Jones, publicly shamed these women, one of whom was accusing him of assault. She literally slut shamed and victim shamed women to maintain her families hold on power.

            Trump is xenophobic. He’s trying to build a border wall.

            During her husbands presidency, Hillary publicly called for increased security at the border, which included more armed border patrol, fences, barricades and… Wait for it…. A wall.

            5. Claiming that the third party voters were just ‘rebelling’ with their votes is the grandest testament to the hubris and absolute denial of the remainder of the Democratic party. It is cognitive dissonance in It’s highest form to assume that, still, no matter how hard reality is smacking them in the face, they truly believe you could rig the primaries, and get caught by a Dnc whistle blower, claim it was Russia making it up, hire the former head of the dnc who resigned amidst the accusations of foul play onto your campaign, and still consider yourself the lesser of two evils. We voted our conscience, and everyone else voted fascism.

            6. Its not an ideal situation, but we voted our conscience, praying that the democrats would open their eyes. Instead, as the left always does, we used labels to legitimize not respecting each other enough to even communicate the reality of the situation.

            7. The reality of the situation was, most Hillary supporters would’ve happily supported Bernie Sanders if the primaries weren’t stolen from him. If you remember, Hillary’s position matched his almost verbatim. (but hey, Melania and her plagiarism, right) But the true Bernie supporters weren’t for Bernie. Only his message. A message of voting for issues instead of the ransom and corruption offered to voters by every other politician. A message that our voice is important, that if we just communicate with each other, we could change the world. A message that said that the labels we use against each other, to divide us, to give us the ‘us versus them’ mentality should be abandoned. That whether you’re black or white, gay or straight, atheist or deist, man or woman, LEFT OR RIGHT, if we approach each other with empathy and understanding, we can be all inclusive. This was the perfect time, not to teach neo libs a lesson, but to show America that you won’t fall for the lie. The perfect time, not to rebel, but to lead by example.

            8. I’m not sure about ms xenos message of unity, but here’s mine. You’re voice matters. Yes, your concern matters. But so does John Q Republicans. And unity means you don’t get to pick and choose. Instead of hearing our complaining as an offense to your decision to support a criminal, view it as an invite to say let’s expect and do better next time around. It’s over and we need to demand better from the DNC next election.

            9. So yeah… Let’s pretend Trump is going to nuke gay muslims and then have Mexico pay Rosie O’Donnell to build a wall from their charred radioactive remains. Then we can blame those gosh darn selfish ‘Bernie or busters’ for the hype we built up to justify backing a career criminal instead of just reevaluating like normal human beings.

            I was a Republican, uncomfortable with the policies that somehow got tied into the few things I admired about the party. I flipped Democratic right before Obamas first term. The democrats are the same, just painted differently. ‘Democrats are gonna take our guns!” “republicans are gonna take our food stamps!”… Bullshit. We the people, we’re still shooting at each other and picking up our frozen pizza with link cards. Bush didn’t take our social safety nets and Obama didn’t take away our right to bear arms.

            No. More. Fear. Politics.

          5. redbirddawn

            Very clear, very true. Responses really illustrate Ms. Popova’s points (why getting Democrats, and others bemoaning our governmental future, to look at this clearly is a tall order).

          6. Craig Thomas

            “What I *am* saying is that your choices make your priorities very clear, and those priorities are obviously not protecting the vulnerable and marginalised. That in turn means you are in no way a safe person for us to collaborate with”
            You’re absoltuely correct, and sadly they don’t understand what they have done. Hillary received more votes than Trump . but 10% less than Obama in 2012. they just didn’t vote. If one consideres how many excited Brnie supporters decided to finally start voting this year then sat out the election one can imagine Hillary winning the popular voet by 8-10 million or over 10%. Even the elecotral system could not have meessed that up. But, no the perutlent kids didn’t vote. I was an ardent Bernie supporter, but I learned about Hillary and supported her. Petulance elects a facist, don’t trust anyone under 30.

        2. Stella

          They didn’t “show up”, it’s their article, which you missed the entire point of. If you’d read the whole article, maybe you’d realize it’s about entitled brats like you. You’re not being “treated poorly”, you’re being called out on your ignorance. Grow up and learn to listen.

      2. Freddie W

        Exactly what I’ve been trying to convey to Facebook “revolutionaries” since the election….You’re right on the money.
        Thank you

      3. Heather Maio

        You’re right on Elmyra. The media and Trump led the masses to see Hillary in such an unjust light and it is totally a cop out to fall back on, well they were all equally bad. They haven’t begun to see bad and I have my breath taken away every day reading each new thing Trump has done. God save us if we can’t save ourselves. This man is evil incarnate and he is surrounding himself will equally evil, white men. We may need Allied Forces to save us over time.

      4. deanie

        You assume third party votes (Stein’s) would’ve made a difference if they went to Clinton. They would not have made any difference at all. If you want to count third party votes you need to include Johnson’s. The vast majority of those votes would have gone to Trump, making his wins in the battleground states bigger and he would have also taken Colorado and New Hampshire. Nice try. The dems blew it once again. And they have nobody but themselves to blame.

        1. Steve Wallin

          Stein’s voters would have swung Wisconsin and then to Hillary. Stein’s voters + 14% of Johnson’s would have Pennsylvania. That would have swung the entire election.

      5. Bill

        I’d like to remind you that the state of North Dakota has been oppressing Native Americans for the benefit of wealthy investors in the oil industry, for which the United States has been investigated by the United Nations for possible human rights violations, all under the current Democratic administration. You can shine the spotlights on the coming Donald Trump administration for anticipated fascist action, but the gate has already been kicked open by Barack Obama*. Also, you and your coterie of third-party vote shamers might want to keep in mind which past candidate promised to “continue the legacy of the Obama administration”. If you fancy yourself a modern day Paul Revere, you’ve started your ride way too late, but there are other possibilities about what you fancy. Maybe, for you, fascism doesn’t count when it’s only Native Americans in the crosshairs. Or maybe you think jackboots look okay on Democrats’ feet. Or, just maybe, you’ve learned from Donald Trump that you can gain a lot of notoriety by saying fearful, outrageous things.

        * Actually, state actions against ordinary people on behalf of the wealthy have been going on for a much longer time, but let’s not confuse ourselves with too much history.

        1. elmyra Post author

          Pretty sure I covered that in the paragraph that said liberalism has enabled the rise of fascism. When I speak of people who have lived experience of a hostile state, I include Native American people in that group.

      6. Lindsay

        I think this post is telling me *Why* I should be scared of fascism becoming real in America – well, I am. Ok.

        Now can anyone tell me what to actually do about it? The louder I (and people like me) yell, the more our fellow citizens tell us to pipe down. Maybe we should pipe down long enough to figure out how to actually be heard.

      7. Christine


        People who didn’t vote screwed us over badly, as did those suckered by religious appeals to guilt and other forms of emotional manipulation.

    2. Darie Johnson

      We are a VERY long way from the bottom, obviously, you fail to comprehend the enormity of the situation; don’t worry, by this time next year you’ll be able to see it … when it’s too late to escape.

    3. J Blackwell

      “You simply don’t have the frame of reference: you have never lived in a state that was openly, actively, viciously hostile to you, there’s nothing in your set of life experiences to date to help you process this.”

      To whom are you talking, Ms. Popova? I’m a fifty-something black woman born and raised in the US.

      1. elmyra Post author

        To well-meaning white liberals going “it can’t possibly be that bad”. I am also urging them to listen to people like you who do have that frame of reference. Hope you’re ok, stay safe.

      2. Chris Dadds

        I can only take a guess here, since I’m a tall good looking white guy. I know you know a lot more about overcoming challenges than I ever will but I’ve got a good imagination. I grew up noticing what was going on around myself in the late fifties and early sixties in a factory town where it was unusual for black adults to get one of those great, soul crushing union production job at the big plants. But compare your life here in the US to what history has told us of apartheid and the third reich. Remember that in the evolution of humanity, and the genetically coded emotional systems we carry that drove people to oppress, and submit, within them, that those are very recent events. Here in the richest country the world has ever known even the least of us has little concern for being eaten… We are who she is talking to. She’s just giving us a reminder of what has come to pass before.

    4. Jeff

      That is the stupid point of view that gave Trump his victory. Very principled, self absorbed, and fatal to our democracy.

    5. john

      We need to focus on the areas where the system will become more fascistic. I think the main target will be to deportation of undocumented immigrants, and an increased repression of Muslims. There will also be attacks on Medicare and Social Security and ACA. There’s also the push to increase oil production. I think these things are the attacks, most important thing to less important.

      The left needs to solidify in defense of the people being scapegoated and targeted. We need to overcome our discomforts, whatever they may be — and I know they exist because it’s hard to get large numbers out for cross racial solidarity for undocumented persona and for Muslims.

  3. DT

    German-American, and have studied my birth country’s history thoroughly. Child abuse survivor. Escaped that and spent 18 months in a cult that made “1984”‘s Big Brother look like an amateur. I know all about totalitarianism, thank you.

    I’m not the only one. There are a lot of people who survived some really nasty stuff, where the authorities can’t be trusted; where in fact nobody can be trusted; where telling the wrong joke can get you in deep trouble but also keep up your morale and will to survive. There are a lot of us out there, and we’ll teach the rest.

    1. BJohnM

      I appreciate your sentiment, but alas, I’m afraid too many are too lazy to learn, and won’t believe it will actually happen here.

      The normalization of people like Trump and Bannon has already moved us very far towards a dark. Bannon can even get up and say “dark is good” (literally), and still have his job.

  4. Melissa Pollard Helms

    HI and thank you for this.
    I am in the process of creating a website to offer information (real news) and ways to deliver solutions.
    And am wondering if you would mind if we collaborate in some way. I feel a bit frozen and overhwhelmed. I feel like the momentum to give a shit is going to fizzle out and people are going to let this happen like they have let it all happen and every time I think, “Maybe Im wrong” he hires some lunatic racist.

    I don’t know what I am asking. Maybe just that you could write for or I could just share your posts on the site.
    Having the information as you have mentioned here from someone who experienced the autocracy of Putin would be amazing information. Thank you,


  5. Pingback: I just don’t have time right now… – The Cassie Times

  6. Susan Jacobi-Johnson

    Your #5 was bang-on, as was the rest. Please help us know what to do. We are novices at this. Almost half of us didn’t vote in this election, and half of the rest voted for Trump. Of the remaining roughly 25%, probably the majority of them believe everybody is overreacting. I know that most of my Hillary-voting friends do. So we have a very small percentage that “get it” – and they’re constantly second-guessing themselves as to whether this can REALLY be happening. But I am 60 years old, and my father served in ww2, and I am a student of history. I certainly do believe we are in very deep shit as a nation. I need guidance.

    1. elmyra Post author

      I wish I had answers. A few thoughts:

      1. Be aware of the scope of the fight. Charlie Stross has more on this here.
      2. I know I said (and Masha said) institutions won’t save you. But I still think it’s worth prioritising a couple of things in the vague hope that they might. The one you have more control over is state legislatures. The Democrats must under no circumstances lose one because then the constitution is toast. I think it’s vital that some effort goes into this. The one you have less control over – but is definitely worth protesting over, calling your representatives, etc. – is who Trump is going to put on the Supreme Court.
      3. I can’t emphasise this enough: do not normalise this. Do not let others normalise this. It’s going to make for some very uncomfortable conversations with friends and family, and I think we’re all gonna lose long-lasting friendships over this, but we have got talk to people, we have got to keep naming the problem for what it is: fascism, white supremacy.
      4. This is me basically copy & pasting a Twitter thread I wrote the other day (which I should probably expand into a blog post): One thing we need to start systematically dismantling is the discursive coupling of “America” and “freedom”, both historically and now. It is the most white supremacist of ideas, and it is baked into the consciousness of (white) America and the world. The idea that America is synonymous with freedom crumbles at the slightest challenge *even if we centre whiteness*. From the House Un-American Activities Committee to Freedom Fries, these are not things a “free country” does. The minute you *decentre* whiteness, it becomes absurd. It’s a country built on genocide and slavery that needs to reckon with its past. But that idea of the “land of the free” (and see Colin Kaepernick on that one!) is built into the very language even “progressives” use. From Star Trek’s “space – the final frontier” to the @EFF, the frontier those “aspirational” words refer to is the frontier of genocide. Genocide so normalised that organisations campaigning for human rights see no problem naming themselves after it. America is not free. Has never been free. If we do not succeed in dismantling the myth of American freedom, will never be free. Cat Valente wrote something similar here from an actual American’s perspective. (It’s not threaded very well, you’ll have to go to her TL to read the whole thing – I might try and storify it tomorrow.)

      1. elmyra Post author

        Oh yeah, start sorting out an anti-surveillance infrastructure. I know it’s neither cheap nor easy and so many privacy tools are a pain to use, but trust me, the surveillance capabilities of the state are something the Trump administration is going to make extensive use of. Here’s a starting point on that front.

        If you are a member of a marginalised group start organising, finding community, working out what other people are doing to keep themselves safe. If you are in a position to help the marginalised with time, skills, or money, listen to what they need and give it to them to the best of your ability. (E.g. lots of trans people are scrambling to get ID with the correct gender on it – if you can help them with money, or if you’re a lawyer with some pro bono work, that’s a thing.)

      2. pudewen

        The Republicans are nowhere near being able to amend the Constitution – that requires a 2/3 majority in both houses of Congress (in addition to 3/4 of state legislatures). The much bigger risk is that they will simply ignore it (or ignore it, in combination with appointing a Supreme Court that will interpret it in ways favorable to them). That’s not to say that control of state legislatures isn’t important, but it’s not the only thing standing between us and the Republicans rewriting the Constitution.

  7. Tha Joker

    Yeah, that whole democracy thing, making sure Trumpf is held accountable and right to protest are totally not tools.

  8. Sairon

    Honestly I’m confused. I dig the links , especially to the Survival in an Aritocracy. And yeah, I’ve seen liberals sugar coat this presidency, but honestly more as a survival technique to not fall into a major depression, so that they can go back to work and win their money and pay back their student loans, like society demands.
    You seem to be calling us out for our psychological comfort blankets, but not by pointing out that such blankets are blinding us from our real power as human beings, as potential activists, but by saying that we’re even more helpless than we can imagine.
    What are we supposed to do with that?
    I can read articles all day about race , about atrocity and aritocracy and capital, but to be honest, me being more educated hasn’t helped the world much. Just because I know what intersectionality means doesnt mean that there will be more abortion clinics in Kentucky. What do we actually, really do to make meaningful change.

    1. elmyra Post author

      The problem with the psychological comfort blanket is that it normalises this. And we can’t afford that, because it’s killing people. (See also Laurie Penny on liberal bargaining.)

      I honestly don’t have a good answer for how exactly fighting this will shape up. But the one thing I know is that we can’t afford to spend even a second thinking what is happening is normal. (See also Charlie Stross on the scope of this fight.)

  9. Pablo Otavalo

    A major tool that the right (especially the tea-party/moral majority right) learned to do that the left seems to fail to do every chance it has is to champion candidates in congressional, gubernatorial, and state races. Because a common trait among the left is a need for ideological purity, candidates on their own side are ignored or outright spurned because they are not ideal. The left’s inability to get behind candidates, though it might keep their hands clean, cedes the field to what both allows and enables the red-party dominance of entire states. Yes, Clinton won the popular vote by wide margin, but there are counties she lost garnering only 15% of the vote. These are the places the left has stopped engaging at all. Sure the left will post a meme, click a link, “like” a protest, but it won’t back a state representative or stuff envelopes at a campaign headquarters. waiting for candidates that inspire us ignores our responsibility to help create the candidates we want by actively being their constituents.

    1. Kim C

      I am a white female Boomer, in a lesbian relationship. And I am terrified. I have been reading about all the harassment going on. Trump is scary, but his followers are horrible. I live in a liberal state, but in a rural area where all the signs in the neighborhood were Trump/Pence signs. We saw a while ago that Trump represented fascism, but we really didn’t think he’d win.
      We feel this is the end of America, and maybe the world (because of climate as well as politics).
      The only solution I can see is local communities, locally sustainable.

  10. Alex

    I don’t think it’s white supremacism, just increasing supremacism of the already supreme – the powerful, shadowy elite, the illuminati – largely at the expense of the rest.

    1. elmyra Post author

      Me: “Listen to people who can actually name the thing we’re fighting and have experience of it.”
      Nice Guy: “But I have a much better conspiracy theory that doesn’t force me to accept responsibility for my part in this clusterfuck!”

  11. Alex

    Which fascism would you prefer:
    • that of Trump (or Putin) and his enablers, or
    • that of the politicoreligious ideology whose name I dare not speak?

    Just curious. I think I’d prefer the former, but then I’m white, male, straight, and cis – though I’m underemployed, poorly paid, renting, unhappily single, middle aged, highly sensitive, depressive, and an iconoclastic misfit.

    1. elmyra Post author

      Oh look, we’ve got ourselves a Nice Guy who thinks his relationship status is a political issue.

      1. Jussi Markula

        I agree on the topics, however, your style of disrepecful rhetoric might alienate also some other people who agree on the issues. I hope you could be more respectful to people in your communication style.

    2. Jeff

      They are one in the same, working together to eliminate all individual freedoms. You will be a slave, or a slaveholder. Most slaveholders will eventually be slaves at “the merger”.

    3. Jon Spangler


      You are being too cute for your own good. What, pray tell, is ” the politicoreligious ideology whose name I dare not speak”?

  12. Philip S. Knight

    Yes, I agree on TRULY listening to every group under seige. And/but one of the most powerful things we can do is the following. Something I have been sharing online. It’s do-able and perhaps one of the most long-term important changes to secure a fair future we can do.

    ► The ELECTORAL COLLEGE (EC) v. The NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE (NPV) – Get The Facts, Not the Stock-Answer Spin That the EC is So “Fair”. The NPV is Actually Far MORE Fair to ALL (incl. Third Parties) ►
    There is a lot of propaganda, “stock answers” and almost exclusively Republican/Right opposition to finally have the latter replace the former. (Though funny how DJT tweeted that the EC was “a disaster!” before it benefited him. Oddly enough, Gingrich has said not so long ago that it was time to replace it.) So have others…

    …. with respected credentials in government and Constitutional law. We can write a whole bunch of half-backed, half-informed comments here arguing about the EC vs. NPV, spinning it however one wants. Instead, how about this:

    —- Go and actually get some FACTS about how the NPV is not the danger it is peddled as being. Specifically, watch the “Myths About…” videos on the left at the homepage.

    One of the more curious but not surprising factors in the creation of the EC in the 18th century is that it was designed by “the elite” to benefit themselves due to their contempt for the “populace” to be educated or informed enough to vote. Perhaps back then, that may have been a somewhat valid point – it was the 18th century – no TV, no Internet, very low education level.

    But that argument (“mob rule” being one of them) is simply is no longer relevant in the 21st century.

    The below cited website is not rhetoric. it’s non-partisan and by-the-numbers — and as pointed out numerous times, the Constitution specifically says that it is the STATES that have the ultimate authority – not the Congress, SCOTUS or any Federal entity to make that decision:

    —- The Interstate Compact requires that if a large enough number of States which have passed the NPV “trigger” law in their Legislatures reach a total of 270 Electoral Votes power, NPV become the law of the land. Bypassing the need for a Constitutional Amendment.

    —- So far, the current States that have this “trigger” law account for 165 Electoral votes. Including, oddly enough, Arizona.

    So it wouldn’t take much over the next 4 years to reach that 270 threshold. Will it happen?

    I’m not Nostradamus. But this time around, the “enough is enough” factor that TWO elections within 16 years have been lost giving the President elect the advantage when the opponent won the NPV by respectable margins. Gore was about 500,000; HRC has already hit 1.x and could reach 2.x due to that the remaining votes to be counted are mostly in large Blue States.

    And sure, the Republicans and the Right are understandably nervous about the EC going away for there are more Dems and progressives in the nation. (The RNC vehemently voted the NPV option down in 2011). Yet due to unstoppable demographic changes and diversity, this will continue to grow. Part of the voter suppression laws enacted were a clear voicing and law-enacting of that concern.

    Yet most U.S. voters favor the NPV by around 70% over years of surveys. So it’s time. Another reason why this is so:

    One-person-one-vote works fine for everthing else in this country (including States with the small-rural vs. metropolitan landscapes that mirror the country as a whole). In fact, there is no functioning, legitimate democracy on the planet that is not one-person-one-vote. We are the anomaly.

    So if you are willing to actually look at the facts and numbers, go to National Popular Vote .com (spelling it out for not sure a live link will appear here below).


    ► Last, for full disclosure: I have NO connection with and do not work for that organization. It is non-partisan and probably the most comprehensive databank on why the NPV should replace the EC. I’m just offering it as an FYI.

  13. Joe Crescente

    Just FYI Masha Gessen is nearly 50, so she did not grow up under Putin. She was raised in the USSR and the US.

  14. Duffy

    OK, so I haven’t the time to wade through all the comments (slow reader here) but if it’s not already been brought up we also need to look at entrenchment of power. I’m not sure how the naked orangutan is going to get past two terms although I think some people are already looking at this as a possibility but while the Tories are gerrymandring like nothing else in the UK there was an enormous amount of voter suppression in the US this year, specifically in majority black/non-white areas.

    This doesn’t dilute what you’re saying by any measure but having seen the claim that over 28% could have been ineligible to vote combined with at least one of the reasons why it worries me more. We’ll see, I suppose, how able they are to tear up the constitution soon enough but honestly I’d so much rather this wasn’t even a valid concern.

  15. Jess

    Well written, insightful, and terrifyingly accurate. You reminded me of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (April 16, 1963) and this quote that goes hand in hand with everything you wrote here. People love to cherry pick quotes from Dr. King that can be twisted into their “it won’t be that bad”, kumbaya mindset, yet ignore some of the more powerful and relevant things Dr. King said because that would require introspection.

    “First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.”

  16. Alplily

    While I understand your point, I honestly have no idea which liberals to whom you are directing your commentary. My progressive friends and I, all of us, are absolutely horrified and are trying to see what we can do to protect those who will be the most threatened by the new administration (and a huge segment of the population needs to be protected). By no means are we saying, “It won’t be that bad.” We are not that delusional or disengaged.

  17. Pingback: Interesting Links for 21-11-2016 | Made from Truth and Lies

  18. trumphater

    Ok, virtually everything posted here, including the original article, is nonsense. If you think that BLM, LBGTQ, radicals and the occasional liberal can win against Trump, you are sadly mistaken. When Hitler was coming to power, he regularly laughed at the vast number of small German groups of intellectuals, liberals, gays, Communists, socialists, bombthrowers and such like. Each had their own group and none of them could stop them. Even had they known for absolutely sure what he was, they couldn’t stop him. It is the very fragmentation of democracy that empowers Hitlers and Trumps, not the other way around.
    Whether you like it or not, there is only one way out of this mess: for EVERYONE who is to the slightest bit left of Trump to put aside their differences, agree to stop arguing about toilet labelling and gender assignment and pronouns and race and religion and work together. Not under any bs revolutionary banner, but under the banner of taking our country back from the nutjobs; and the only way to get EVERYONE to support this is by returning jobs to this country and creating wealth. What we have to do is reconnect the working class white man with the working class of every other color and race and religion by creating a society that WORKS, not one run by white nationalist billionaires or Eastern liberal billionaires. That means STOP CALLING EVERYONE WHO DISAGREES WITH YOU A RACIST OR A MORON but agree that there are many issues that will need to be worked out over generations but which are simply NOT AS IMPORTANT NOW as stopping the relentless rise of fascism in this country. If you feel that you can’t work with white rural working class folks because they are the products of white privilege – then you are simply a small minority who will remain a small minority until you are wiped out by the Trumpoons, in due time. We must all work together even if you are a revolutionary and I am a liberal and he is a white Rust Belt ex-factory worker without a job. Or we will all fail together. Instead of making the rest of us listen to YOUR agenda – which is the tone and direction of this silly article – YOU must put aside YOUR vast prejudices against liberals and moderates and even intelligent conservatives and put aside your petty agendas and with an open mind and NO agenda at all, beyond that of freedom and justice, work with all of us. Or you are lost. I am done with watching the Democratic party break down and be hijacked by a thousand different minority voices… you need to simply show up, keep your political differences to yourself (as I will) and say “Let’s STOP THIS NOW!”

  19. bfscr

    Great post, but since it’s important to stay accurate as we battle the autocrats & fascists, can we not vote shame left 3rd party voters vs systemic bias and purposeful voter suppression?

    Stein voters didn’t cost Clinton the presidency Demonstrably the Electoral College means that for many US citizens, voting for Hillary Clinton does not in fact help stop open white supremacists from getting elected. North Carolina was illegally purging voters from the rolls into early voting, while Wisconsin’s BS voter ID law kept hundreds of thousands from voting. In Texas we accomplished record voter registration & turnout, even turned one of the most populous counties [Harris] Blue, then still lost by nearly 10%.

  20. Patrick Monk RN

    The “Democrats” abandonment of principles, failure to represent all the people and the rise of neoliberalism are largely responsible for the rise of fascism and creation of our militarized police state.
    Those who have any doubts about one of the founding principles of our society, racism, might want to read this book.

  21. Dawn Tollefson

    I read through all of this and I grieve for what is coming. People on here blaming each other for what is now, instead of making plans to stop what will be. Yes, a lot of people voted third party. for some reason they refused to believe Trump was actually as dangerous as he kept telling us he was. They refused to believe this election was different and the man was a true fascist with plans to destroy our country.

    That is over. Now even they are beginning to understand. This isn’t about Clinton, Johnson or Sanders anymore. This is about saving ourselves and the people we love from a madman. You’re either with us or you’re against us. There is no in-between. No one cares who you voted for or why. Are you going to read the articles the author suggested? Are you going to stand up? Are you going to resist? Or are you going to have petty arguments about who voted for whom and why? This isn’t the student union. If you want to have stimulating political arguments, that’s where you need to be. This is where mothers are lining up to keep their children alive.


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