Most likely you are reading this from inside a city. Most likely you have been feeling despair and doubt and fear. Most likely you have wondered if this can still be your country, too.
Yes, it can.
Look out the window of your micro-apartment or new town house or aging wood-shingled home. Look at the faces of the people sitting with you in the cafe, or bar, or free clinic lobby, or library. Look across the aisle of the bus, or subway, or light rail train you're riding. Look at the drivers stuck in freeway traffic with you. Look at the young and old of all colors and creeds who share this city with you, some sleeping, not far from you, under tarps and highway overpasses.
This is the American city. You are fortunate to be here, inside one of the most powerful machines we have for defeating fascists.
American folk singer Woody Guthrie liked to say that his guitar killed fascists—he painted that saying right on his instrument—but Guthrie's phrase, "This Machine Kills Fascists," could just as well be painted across everything and everyone in any city. Look inside yourself. You will see the nonviolent truth of this. You will see that your city has changed you as it has changed everyone around you, that it has challenged and defeated the fascists within all of us, the selfish and small and eliminationist parts that are perpetually humbled by the integrationist demands of the city.
The city is literally intersectional. It was intersectional long before the word came into its current vogue. Pick up any thread of American urban life and you will see this. Just start somewhere. Say New York City, 1961, when a young guitar player arrives from Duluth, Minnesota, in search of his idol, Woody Guthrie, who's dying in a New York hospital. In a nightclub, this young guitar player meets Nina Simone. He takes in Jimi Hendrix live. In the Chelsea Hotel, this young man—today a Nobel laureate who won't return the Nobel committee's calls—is seen and admired by the punk rocker Patti Smith.
At first, people didn't know what to do with Patti Smith, a woman singing loud and angry songs, a woman who, at the tail end of the Reagan years—years of presidential heartlessness in the face of the AIDS crisis, years of callous demonization of "welfare queens," years of phony "trickle-down economics"—releases "People Have the Power." ("The power to dream, to rule, to wrestle the earth from fools.") When this song comes out, Hillary Clinton is down in Arkansas learning that people don't know what to do with a loud and angry woman in politics, either. Fast-forward to 2016, to the city of Cleveland, a few days before this year's shattering presidential election. Clinton is standing on a stage with Beyoncé, an heir to Nina Simone, the woman whose voice and spirit struck the man from Duluth, and Clinton is quoting Jay Z: "Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther could walk. And Martin Luther walked so that Barack Obama could run. And Barack Obama ran so that all the children could fly."
"Well," Clinton continues, "we have unfinished business to do."
This is the unfinished business you must get off your depressed liberal ass and do. In your city you will find everyone Donald Trump wants to demonize, marginalize, deport, and degrade. Together we must wrestle the earth back from fools.
You live inside a machine that has been killing fascism for a long time. Think of the countless refugees from rural America, people who might otherwise have grown up to be Trump voters, who moved to your city and were changed. Newspapers have long been part of the machine that kills fascism. Maybe your own guitar, your own voice, your own artistic vision will become part of this machine that kills fascism. Maybe your money will become part of this machine that kills fascism. Maybe you and your tech-savvy coworkers will create new and unheard of ways to kill fascism. Whatever it is, whatever you can do, get busy.
Cities are now the home of the resistance. You are the resistance. Kick yourself and the machine into action. Yes, it's a messy machine and there's plenty to criticize within it. Yes, people don't always treat each other perfectly within cities, or speak perfectly from cities—in person, in print, or online. But we now face an existential threat and it is time to move forward together in strength. We see the present danger with clarity, from our homes, our cafes, our buses, our workplaces, and our classrooms.
Cities have the power. Unleash its full measure. Now.Read the full feature The Resistance: How to Defeat Donald Trump's Plot Against America