Resistance to authoritarianism has to come from the grassroots

Protesters demonstrate against President-elect Donald Trump in New York City Nov. 12. (CNS/Kevin Hagen, EPA)
This article appears in the Transition to Trump feature series. View the full series.

I am worried. My students are worried. Many Americans are worried. Donald Trump is the closest we have ever had in American history to a U.S.-style dictatorship.

Trump has authoritarian tendencies, as have many of his followers. His cabinet and While House appointments so far, beginning with white supremacist Steve Bannon, are people with possible fascistic views. We see white supremacist meetings with people shouting out, "Hail Trump" that is code for "Heil Trump," and with people giving the Nazi salute.

We are entering into dangerous grounds and Americans who cherish our civil and constitutional liberties have got to be vigilant. There has to be resistance to what may begin to unfold when Trump becomes president. It will be bad enough that he will begin to round up and deport hardworking immigrants and do away with President Barack Obama's executive order protecting DREAMers from deportation; that he will gut Obamacare, remove environmental protections, recommend a right-wing ideologue for the Supreme Court, and take myriad other actions that will negatively impact most Americans.

But equally if not more dangerous will be his effort to restrict civil liberties, freedom of the press, and bypass constitutional restrictions on the presidency and dare anyone to stop him. Trump does not see himself restricted by law. He will make up his own laws and thumb his nose at Congress and the courts.

This is precarious for our democracy. Who will oppose him? Will Democrats in Congress have the courage and backbone to try to do this? The Democrats have to take a leaf from the Republicans who pledged from the beginning of Obama's administration to thwart him and defeat him at every turn. The Democrats need to do the same.

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But I have my doubts that they will. The resistance has to come from the grassroots, where every important change and reform in American history has emanated from. We need to see the type of resistance that characterized the civil rights movements of an earlier period as well as the antiwar movements, such as the mass protests against the Vietnam War.

Only people power can protect our democracy from Trumpism and the assault against our democratic traditions.


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