Trump vs the Squad: the battle for America’s way forward
*Note: My opinions are not representative of official Baha’i views on this matter
Much has been said of what Trump said about 4 Democratic Representatives, who are affectionately called the Squad by their fans and evil commies by their detractors. It has attracted a maelstrom of controversy and hatred towards Trump, rivaling that of the comments he made in a 2005 video with Billy Bush that were leaked back in October 2016. Trump’s tweet went like this:
So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly……
….and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how….
….it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!
It is clear that Trump is being nationalistic and offensive towards these 4 reps simply because they disagree with him and aren’t shy to say so. What is so terrible is that 3 of the Squad(Tlaib, Ocasio-Cortez, and Pressley) were born in the US, so in that sense Trump is calling the US corrupt and poorly run. This is a point that actual communists would agree with and would love to drive home. Ilhan Omar was born in Somalia, but her family fled the war that engulfed Somalia in a storm of violence and anarchy, and she spent a few years in a Kenyan refugee camp. Her family then arrived in the US and she spent years adjusting to a new country and enduring bullying for wearing a hijab and being Muslim. Yet she became naturalized as a citizen in 2000 at 17 and was able to climb through the ranks and win office in 2016 and 2018 in Minnesota, a state Trump only lost by a margin of two percentage points. To tell her to go back to Somalia is outrageous and inane, not to mention revealing of Trump’s flaws that render him unfit for office.
It is also revealing this past Wednesday when a crowd at one of his rallies started chanting “Send her back, send her back!”. These chants were scary and eye opening; it amounted to a blatant display of xenophobia and bigotry present among some of Trump’s followers. Trump was taken aback by the intensity and brashness of this display; he made no effort to quiet the crowd or even to reprimand them for such a horrific display of their feelings. He has remained reluctant to disavow these comments, offering a weak condemnation instead to not look like a blatant bigot. This episode has finally unmasked Trumpism for what it really is: a staunch, stubborn nationalism that is tied with blind faith and trust in what America does(or what Trump does) and a distrust of foreigners and outsiders. Nevermind the fact that 99% of Americans are descended from immigrants and that the real native Americans arrived thousands of years before Europeans even knew that sailing out west on the Atlantic wasn’t a suicidal endeavor. Nevermind the fact that Ilhan Omar has been an American citizen since 2000 and that there are about 100000 Somali-Americans, the bulk of which live in the Midwest. Nevermind the fact that sending Ilhan Omar back would only be possible under a fascist dictatorship and a terrible human rights violation, as well as violating the previous asylum grant her family received to find refuge in the US. Ilhan Omar, if anything, is a proud American who appreciates the freedom and opportunities she has received here, given that she is a refugee from war-torn Somalia and knows the difference in fortunes all too well. She wants to expand on that promise though and expand that to all other Americans who have been left behind by the economy and are languishing in poverty. A lot of these folks are the same folks who flocked to Trump and became his staunchest supporters, looking to him as their savior. And in response, he has offered them a scapegoat in progressives and liberals who do not pander to them the way that he does.
I do not agree with everything the Squad says, does, or believes in. I’m not a democratic socialist; I prefer to identify as a member of the Baha’i Faith and that precludes me from being part of any one political party or partisan movement. I do not agree with some Democrats with elitist or snobbish attitudes about Trump supporters, who deride them as ignorant or bigoted in spaces dominated by people who share their progressive/liberal ideology. I have heard these comments in spaces and events hosted by these progressives, and they make me feel somewhat sick. Still, I cannot help but agree with them that Trump is not fit for office and has some dictatorial tendencies. Trump would love nothing more than to run the country with an iron fist and imprison his enemies; his rhetoric indicates that. The fact that he thinks the Squad hates America and loves the enemies of America like Iran, and that he says they should just leave America. This is a common talking point conservatives use to demonize liberals, who do not share the same blind faith in the American system that conservatives often have. They do not share the same blind faith in corporations or laissez-faire economics, in jingoistic nationalism or international saber-rattling with Iran. Or the same blind faith in Trump either as some Messiah/savior. The way these attitudes have gained prominence on the conservative side is alarming, and it must be combatted to ensure the health of American democracy.
I do not wish to demonize Trump or cast him as an evil person or a secret white nationalist. He has some racist and bigoted views, but he is not anti-Semitic or pro-segregation like white nationalists are. His son-in-law Jared and daughter Ivanka are Jewish, and his mentor Roy Cohn was also Jewish. Roy Cohn, who played a role in McCarthy’s investigations and trials of suspected Communists, was a ruthless, tough lawyer and imparted his attitudes to Trump. Trump took them to heart and this contributed to his divisive, controversial persona. It also explains why he appealed to his base, why they view him as a champion to save them. But it also explains why he should not be President anymore, and how dangerous it is to America and the world that he is President right now and in charge of the largest nuclear arsenal in the world. It explains why he is bullying Iran despite no clear evidence of any breach in the nuclear deal and his constant provocation of the Iranian regime, which could lead to the outbreak of war as Iran seeks to retaliate against any perceived American aggression.
Waiting until November 2020 to have Trump be defeated is not the best idea. For one, he could win the election even if he lost the popular vote in a repeat of 2016, which would lead to even more chaos and instability as liberals would feel further enraged and cornered. Even if he lost, it is unclear if he would accept the result unless he suffered a clear landslide defeat. He would accuse Democrats of rigging the vote and stealing the election, refusing to step down. Such an action could lead to a constitutional crisis as the incoming President tried to take office, kicking off a power struggle that would likely turn violent and chaotic. Even if things went smoothly in a Trump loss, Trump’s supporters would not feel any better and would look to someone else to be their voice, their champion. They could unite behind someone even worse in views and outlook, someone who could bring an end to American democracy. The way is thus clear: demand Trump resign now!
To do this, there must be peaceful protests and demonstrations in the streets. Americans must take to the streets in every state, and they must make their voices loud and clear. There should be no clashes with police or Trump supporters at these events, no Antifa-style actions against supposed right-wing extremists. The people must realize that Trump can resign from office, that they can make life as President so untenable that he decides to step down and go back to Mar a Lago. This same scenario has happened this year already, in Sudan. Tens of thousands of Sudanese people rose up against President Omar al-Bashir, who responded violently to these protests. His military units and Janjaweed militias, the same militias that pillaged and devastated Darfur, fired on and killed many protestors, but they still kept on with it despite the risk to their lives. Eventually, President al-Bashir was deposed and is now on trial for crimes against humanity and other atrocities committed during his 30 year tenure as President. If they can do it, why can’t Americans who would not face soldiers and government-backed thugs shooting at them en masse and little threat of injury either.