BY HARRY T. COOK
The Republican Party manifesto is online for any and all to read. Give its gauleiters credit for telling us up front what their candidates will be compelled to do if they are put in power. The raising of an American resistance is therefore imperative.
If you watched, heard or read the convention speeches emanating from Cleveland this week, you would get approximately the same message, viz., the election of 2016 is a choice between Donald Trump’s vision of a law-and-order regime that would rid the nation of all manner of undesirables and the liberal-socialist-pervert-alien-coddling scaredy-cats who would give away American goodies to Syrian terrorists and Mexican rapists.
Should there be a historian among the Trump apostles, who – ipso facto – has abandoned academic integrity, I dare him or her to compare what came out of Cleveland to the political rhetoric that roared across Europe from 1923 until the götterdämmerung of the Third Reich 22 years later.
The similarities are enough to turn human blood into ice water.
Worse is the much celebrated “unity” that was evident in Cleveland as the party vowed to imprison Hillary Clinton without due process, to repeal reproductive rights and to end abortion in this country by making no exceptions for rape or a woman’s health. It would mandate teaching the Christian view of the Bible in public schools – never mind the First Amendment. It would require that state legislatures consult religious leaders in the making of laws – and it just goes downhill from there.
A hapless press called it unity, but it came close to being a riot with angry shouts, grimaces, obscene threats, the shaking of fists all topped off by a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives declaring that Mrs. Clinton should be “shot for treason.”
One waited with breath held for the right arms of convention delegates to be outstretched at a 45-degree angle. They may as well have been. Trump, like all would-be führers, is allergic to truth. His unabashed trafficking in bizarre falsehoods and the sharp-edged innuendo has a more-than-ready audience among the willfully ignorant know-nothings he has gathered to himself. It’s The-Big-Lie-Told-Often-Enough-Becomes-The-Truth approach.
None of this is to say that Hillary Clinton is the ideal Democratic candidate, so vulnerable is she to attack from every side. Unfairly, by the way. Never yet has one woman been investigated so much for so long with so little consequence. But if you’re talking about hope, then you have to vote for her. The election looming before the nation is a choice between fear and hope. Make no mistake about it. You don’t have to love Mrs. Clinton to support her by joining the resistance.
Unlike the French resistance three-quarters of a century ago, its American counterpart of 2016 will not need to go underground – at least not yet. We can organize not only to elect Mrs. Clinton as the only reasonable, real-world alternative to Trump, but as well to ready ourselves for the more clandestine work of an underground should Trump and the Republicans prevail.
A resistance would demand of the willing almost a religious fervor and the courage to put its goals above everything else. It would require honor pledged and honor acted upon. It would mean acting to disrupt a neo-fascism that would likely come with a Trump presidency and a Congress made malleable to the enactment of his outlandish and impossible promises to “make America great again.”
The resistance will need to ask “for whom” and “how,” as if we didn’t already know both: for the 1% by making the already unfair tax code even less fair, and by turning America into a hostile island nation allied with Vladimir Putin and who knows what other megalomaniacs looking for trouble as a hobby.
As long as the resistance can operate openly, it can be free to seek allies. If the League of Women Voters is still functional, there is one possible ally. So are the enlightened wings of the Catholic, Protestant and Jewish clergy who, for one thing, surely do not share in the Islamophobia worked up by the slavering Mr. Trump.
I fear that the press will be of very little help, addicted as it is to he-said she-said journalism. If you say, “The sky is falling,” many of today’s reporters don’t look outside to see if it is. They run across the street to find someone who says the sky is not falling. That’s their story, and they think it proves their impartiality.
An American resistance is a must for the sake of the nation. Even if we were to lose, even if we were jailed – and that would be nothing new to some of us veterans of the civil rights movement – a witness must be made. “Attention,” as Linda Loman was made to say so memorably, “must be paid.”
Are you in?
– Harry T. Cook is a Michigan-based Episcopal priest, journalist and author whose essays appear regularly in The Oklahoma Observer. For more of his essays, visit harrytcook.blogspot.com.