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Handbook for the Resistance: A User’s Guide to Taking On the Trump Agenda

Writers and organizers offer a handbook for fighting back.

In These Times Editors

(Design by Raymond A. Thomas)

As the Trump era draws closer, one of the most unnerving feelings is that we’re about to enter uncharted territory. Even experienced organizers and seasoned progressives may feel at sea. Trump promised to ban immigration from predominantly Muslim countries, deport at least 2 million undocumented immigrants, beef up law enforcement and otherwise crack down on already marginalized communities — all in his first 100 days. Islamophobic, racist appointees, like Michael Flynn for national security advisor and Jeff Sessions for attorney general, confirm that the incoming administration will be rife with people who will validate and act upon the president-elect’s worst instincts.

He has promised to address the economic pain felt by working people. When these plans come to naught, his next best shot at appeasing his base will be once again to divert public discontent by targeting the most vulnerable. 

While the scope of Trump’s proposals is new, their content, for the most part, is not. To get our bearings, we look first to the groups already on the front lines of these struggles.

In the pages that follow, writers and organizers offer a user’s guide on how to fight back — against hate crimes, against Islamophobia, against deportations and against a racist criminal justice system. Bill Berkowitz, Kalia Abiade, Sameera Hafiz, Asha Rosa Ransby-Sporn and Saqib Bhatti lay out strategies and name organizations and campaigns to plug in to. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but these are the groups defending the people who Trump is most likely to sacrifice at the altar of faux populism.

In the long run, as many have correctly pointed out, progressives need to present a vision that can counter Trump’s bluster and appeal to the disaffected white working-class voters who handed him the election. That’s true. But it would be a mistake to view protecting the rights of vulnerable groups as separate from organizing for economic justice. Undocumented workers facing deportation on the job, or black workers locked out of jobs and public services because of a criminal record, are themselves victims of an unjust economic system that a progressive populist platform must acknowledge.

Understanding this reality is also the only way we can stop Trump from succeeding at his game of divide-and-conquer. He has promised to address the economic pain felt by working people — by, for example, cutting sweetheart deals with companies like Carrier to preserve jobs, or somehow spending $1 trillion on infrastructure while trimming the budget deficit. When these plans come to naught, his next best shot at appeasing his base will be once again to divert public discontent by targeting the most vulnerable.

It is our job to stop him.

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