By Bill Mefford
If the Facebook posts I have been reading are real, then there will be lots of moving vans booked for Canada in the next few days. The unbelievable has happened. donald trump has won the presidency. I am numb. I am deeply disillusioned with the American people. I am scared for my friends who are not white and male. We have selected a narcissistic, misogynistic, racist, sexual predator to be president and we have permanently degraded the status of the United States and the office of the presidency. People can talk about how this was a “change” election but this election was entirely about resisting change; resisting the change that comes from the beautiful presence of immigrants in our communities and houses of worship, resisting the change that comes from a more globalized culture and global influences, and resisting the change that comes from the greater acceptance of groups who were formerly ostracized. This was a resist-the-change-at-any-costs election. And all-out resistance must be our mantra from this day forth.
Yes, America, it looks like you have given the world President trump (and that is the last time I will ever say those two words together). Thanks for nothing. And to further darken your day, now we must imagine a trump presidency with a Republican Congress. It ain’t Doomsday, but I think I can see it on the horizon.
So, the numerous texts and Facebook messages and tweets I have received have all been asking, in various forms, what do we do now? For my progressive friends, I have only one plan and it is the only plan, I believe, that we can faithfully follow given the national disgrace we have elected: All-Out Resistance. For the sake of our immigrant sisters and brothers we must all-out resist the new president who has promised mass deportations his first hour in office. This means we say together, “he deports them, he deports us.” For our many friends who feel less safe, this means we say together, “you threaten them, you threaten us.” This is what solidarity looks like and it must be a promise we follow through on.
We have to get past the niceties that too often rule our churches and our church work. Now is not the time to build bridges and find a way forward. Now is the time to organize for all-out resistance. The stakes are too grave – they involve the very lives of people many of us love and care for; the people we are immersed in relationships among. So, yes, I am calling for all-out resistance.
What does that look like? Well, let’s look at what donald trump has promised he will do for much of the next four years. And let’s not fool ourselves about what he has promised. He has made outlandish statements, but those are the very statements that he believes is now a movement. His is not a movement, it is a racist reaction to the impending loss of white power and domination. Let’s take this issue by issue and then talk about how we respond.
Immigration: trump has promised to not just build the stupid wall (which geographically will be impossible) but he will make Mexico somehow magically pay for it. Good luck on that donald. That’s not gonna happen. What he will try and do is tax or stop the money families send back to their relatives for them to survive on. If he does that, this will literally endanger not just immigrants in our country,but entire families in sending countries.
Further, he has promised to deport mass numbers of people. It will be imperative for us to stand with our immigrant sisters and brothers and to resist these efforts. All hands must be on deck and it literally will begin on Inauguration Day. We will need to house immigrant families in our church facilities and in our homes. We will need to march on the White House and show that we will not allow this kind of Gestapo-style tactics to be infringed on our friends. If they get deported, we get deported. The time for nice talking points and polite DC meetings are over. The time for “thoughts and prayers” are over. It is time we lay it on the line. And let’s remember who the most powerful Democrat will be: Chuck Schumer from New York. That is hardly a hopeful sign for immigrants given his total lack of leadership on this issue in the past. It is now up to us.
And do not be surprised if you hear from DC-based faith and immigration “leaders” who think we can negotiate a deal with trump. Don’t be surprised if they try to put a positive spin on permanent second class citizenry for immigrants. We must refuse all “deals” like this. I have seen this kind of duplicity up close. It is time for us to create new structures and new coalitions that resist anything which will further separate immigrant families or render those families a permanent second-class. We must resist.
Criminal justice: trump ran on a “law and order” message and that means he will want to detain and incarcerate more people (supposedly starting with Secretary Clinton); to hell with the fact that we now have incarcerated over 2.3 million people. He is in favor of racial profiling and he will likely be in favor of further privatization of prisons and other industries that benefit from mass incarceration. It will be key that we stand up and not allow the great progress made in recent years to be thwarted by a president who simply is the most uninformed person ever to be elected to almost any office. We must resist.
Muslims: trump has made targeting Muslims (as well as other races) his calling card. He has promised an ideological test for all people entering the country and a ban on all Syrian refugees, though refugees are the most vetted people entering the United States by far. It is imperative that churches develop deeper relationships with mosques and Muslim networks. That literally should start today. It is important we repeatedly speak out against this kind of, again, Gestapo-style race-baiting and race-blaming. Our primary message over the next four years to Muslims and other vulnerable groups who have been targeted by trump must be that we are with you. What happens to you happens to me. There are no sidelines anymore. We are either for these groups or we join the racist forces aligned with trump and we are against them. For me, I am with them. We must resist.
Trade and jobs/taxes: So, I predict this will be trump’s greatest downfall. First, there is no way manufacturing jobs will be brought back. Second, there is a tremendous chance trump and his Republican buddies pass a huge tax-break which will benefit the richest people and no one else. This is a recipe for continued anger from the angry white people who believed trump’s idiotic promise to make America like the 1950s again. It ain’t gonna happen and while trump will obviously blame everyone but himself for everything, when four years has passed and it ain’t 1950 again I fully expect them to be angry once again.
Obamacare: With a Republican Congress, the repeal of Obamacare is certain. This is the ultimate dream for Republicans who repealed it in the House nearly 60 times. The problem is that they will now have to replace it and this is a real problem for Republicans who have spent the last eight years railing against everything having to do with Obama, yet proposing no alternatives. They do not have any answers – none. So, all of the white people who are angry now will be even more pissed off when the little bit of healthcare gets ripped from them. We must resist.
And I am not even including the incredibly disturbing foreign policies trump has mentioned like working more closely with Putin and ignoring or mistreating current allies. This is deeply disturbing and the man’s complete lack of knowledge is horrifying.
We will hear from our current religious leaders that we need to figure out ways to work with trump. Honestly, that is nonsense. You cannot work with a man who has spent his two years campaigning with a message that ostracizes people who are not white. There is only one response that is faithful to the gospel Jesus preached which is to stand with those ostracized from dominant power: all-out resistance.
Yes, my fellow progressives, do not mourn, organize, organize, organize. All Out Resistance.
I wrote a few weeks ago about my vision for November 9, 2016, not knowing that we would wake up to this kind of a nightmare. Here is part of what I wrote:
We must be creative and innovative, focusing on organic ways to include those who feel abandoned by the incessant failures of our institutions. It is far past time to lay aside the institutional church and to start anew. We can love people into the Kingdom and build movements among people with shared passion to make tangible change when we are incarnated among those directly impacted by injustice. The old wineskins of our institutions cannot hold the needed innovations and new dreams that are bursting forth. Let’s lay the old institution down and start again.
It is time for new dreams, new connections, and new leaders. Let’s start new expressions of the Body of Christ, small groups of people who love one another and who serve our communities faithfully. We need new connections among these innovative local expressions of faith communities so that local leaders, who are not ordained by massive institutions but rather by smaller networks who fully support their leaders, are able to learn from one another and grow together to build a wider movement to achieve tangible change.
Our new leaders will not come with fancy titles and big-ass offices. No, they will instead be people with a passion for God and for the world that is contagious; a passion that cannot be contained in one beating heart, but which finds and infects others with new dreams for what the Body of Christ can be.
This is what a revolution can look like. This is what Fig Tree Revolution is purposed to help create.
The world is nuts right now. That is true. But I believe the time is so ripe for us to throw off the shackles of institutional commitments that make us busy and perhaps even give us identity, but which also blur our vision and suck our passions dry, and for us to build a revolution. And this will be a revolution of invitation that eliminates marginalization, a revolution of shared plenty that overcomes greed and isolation, and a revolution of love that drives out fear. Thanks to Jesus, the revolution is here. We need only to live it out in shared spaces with others.
Yes, it is time for a revolution. Like never before. We cannot rely on the same old institutions, so mired in impotence and internal battles for institutional survival. We need new and rapidly responding networks of people working on multiple levels, but working together with no thought of turf or name recognition. It is time for a revolution.
So, let it begin today and let it start with us. I hope you will join Fig Tree Revolution today so that we can build this movement for all out resistance to stop the incoming tyrant’s promises to harm real people in real ways.
All Out Resistance begins now.