When Khizr Khan stood at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia earlier this year and said directly to Donald Trump, "Have you even read the United States Constitution?" he was asking the right question.
It remains the right question.
Trump has stated plainly that he wants to ban Muslims from entering the United States and hopes to persecute Muslim citizens, people of Hispanic descent, and other minority communities within America. This means he's ready to shred the Bill of Rights. Trump has said he wants to roll back the freedom of the press and punish women for making choices about their own bodies. This means he's hostile to the First Amendment, the 14th Amendment, and the rule of law. Trump has spoken openly, on national television, about his intention to jail Hillary Clinton. This means he respects neither due process nor democracy itself. As a newspaper in deep-red Utah put it, Trump's heedless bullying and ignorant amorality reveal "the essence of a despot." As others have warned, Trump's thirst for vengeance against dissenters, along with his gleeful targeting of the most vulnerable, is the hallmark of a fascist. Yet Trump has now been elected president of the United States.
What does this mean?
It means we must now commit to defending basic things: Liberty. Equality. Community.
It means we all need do what Khan suggested and what Trump has likely never done. Pull out a copy of the Constitution. Grab the Bill of Rights, too. Keep them. Read them. What follows is obvious: We must act.
Now we resist. We speak. We write. We protest. We defend the rights of others as we would defend our own. We educate ourselves. We make art that matters. We make lives that matter. We make love that matters, including in all of the delightful ways that were illegal in this country just 13 fucking years ago. (See the US Supreme Court's 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision, also worth a read.)
We figure out how to persuade some of the tens of millions of Americans who voted for Trump. We don't need to persuade all of them, thankfully; that's one of the nice perks of democracy. But we do need to persuade enough of them that we can work together to reverse this existential error and save our republic.
We will do this from America's cities, because the cities are where most of us who voted against Trump reside. We see meaning in this fact. We will shout this meaning toward anyone who will listen (and, sure, we'll use our indoor voices sometimes, too), because everyone within and beyond the city needs to hear this, now more than ever. Our declaration of urban resistance is about three things: fixing the city, loving the city, and expanding the city—the better to expand the opposition to Trump.
We will do this because we have to. We will do it because time is running out (see: climate change). We will do it because we want a livable future. Our republic cannot exist without certain basic things—things we cherish and now must defend both for ourselves and for the country as a whole: Liberty. Equality. Community. —ELI SANDERS
If cities are to lead the resistance against Trump's effort to dismantle everything we city dwellers believe in, then we must start by protecting the most vulnerable. Trump's presidency will bring policies that will harm those who have already been fighting just to survive: people of color, undocumented immigrants, Muslims, people seeking safe abortions, trans and gender nonconforming people.
We must be ready to march. But marching won't do the whole job.
In a press conference in Seattle, in an echo of pronouncements made in cities around the country in recent days, leaders at OneAmerica, El Centro de la Raza, and other local immigrant rights groups called for specific action: letters to the editor, white allies "provid[ing] the leadership to open up a discussion on race," thorough documentation of hate crimes as a way of showing the concrete harm of Trump's policies. (You can donate to those groups here and here.)
Sustaining action like this means not allowing the pressures and seductive amnesias of the everyday to lull us into complacency. Remember that status updates are not the same as real resistance.
Those of us with privilege must put our bodies on the line to stop deportations and to hold our elected leaders accountable for standing up to the Trump administration.
The day after Trump's victory, Seattle mayor Ed Murray promised that Seattle will remain a "sanctuary city" for immigrants and refugees, even if it means risking millions of dollars in federal funding. (Trump has promised to "cancel all federal funding to sanctuary cities" on his first day in office.)
"Seattle remains a city guided by our values of equality, inclusion, openness, and equity," Murray said. "We continue to be a city that supports women. We will continue to be a city that welcomes as our neighbors our Muslim brothers and sisters. And today, black lives matter. Black lives will still matter and continue to matter."
We're proud to see Murray make these promises and we will hold him to them—and ourselves as well. Seattle voters have shown a willingness to tax themselves for the greater good. We have raised taxes to pay for transit projects, affordable housing, parks, and schools. We must be willing to tax ourselves to make up for any federal funds lost when Seattle says no to the Trump administration. Another source of federal funding Murray has been hoping for, money to meet our city's homelessness emergency—an emergency that is familiar to other cities and disproportionately affects people of color—is unlikely to flow from a Trump administration. Murray says he may pursue a city levy instead. We must pass that levy.
"If there's one thing we know about this country—none of these things are new to us," said Pramila Jayapal, a founder of OneAmerica and newly elected congressperson. "We have fought these battles over and over again and we have won—maybe not as big as we would like, maybe not when we would like, but we will win again." —HEIDI GROOVER
It's been a big week for the word "bubble." There's the liberal one, in which Democratic voters supposedly got so comfortable that we couldn't hear the jackboots of Trump Nation storm troopers marching to the gates of our right-on utopia.
Then there's the conservative one, where the large minority of Americans who elected Trump are apparently content to insulate and isolate themselves into the delusion that this country belongs exclusively to ignorant white motherfuckers exactly like them.
But despite being totally real, these bubbles are really just sub-bubbles of the much larger spheres that surround urban and nonurban America. This is a subject we've covered before, at LENGTH (see "The Urban Archipelago," November 2004). But clearly we can use a reminder—and a revision—every decade or so. Let's review:
The two geographically separate areas—cities, not cities—have come once again to represent a fundamental divide in the American consciousness, both sides of which continue to argue over which is more bubbly and which is to blame for the rise of Trump. We say it's their myopic selfishness. They say it's our treasonous snobbery. As the reality that Trump really happened continues to take hold, calls for us to understand where his supporters are coming from continue to proliferate. Don't fall for it. Patrick Thornton of Roll Call perfectly spelled out why calls for Trumpathy have it all wrong:
All of this talk about coastal elites needing to understand more of America has it backward. My home county in Ohio is 97 percent white. It, like a lot of other very unrepresentative counties, went heavily for Donald Trump.
My high school had about 950 students. Two were Asian. One was Hispanic. Zero were Muslim. All the teachers were white. My high school had more convicted sexual predator teachers than minority teachers. That's a rural American story.
In many of these areas, the only Muslims you see are in movies like American Sniper. (I knew zero Muslims before going to college in another state.) You never see gay couples or even interracial ones. Much of rural and exurban American is a time capsule to America's past. And on Tuesday, November 8, 2016, they dug it up.
The reinstatement of the Republican Party's control of the White House and Congress is an unmistakable referendum on urban values (pluralism, tolerance, density, collective provision, pro-other, etc.). It's also a re-entrenchment of the suburban and exurban principles we rightly associate with the Bush years (isolationism; hostility to dark skin, women, immigrants, and sexual minorities; authoritarianism masquerading as patriotism).
The divide is helpfully laid out by Trump's own rhetoric: They are the real America and only they—and only their leader—can make America great "again."
Cities aren't perfect. Seattle has egregious problems—inadequate public transit, rental costs, homelessness, income inequality, de facto cultural segregation, etc. But those problems have now been given a stark reprioritization. As grim as the election results are, there's nothing like knowing with 100 percent certainty that you're on the right side of a culture war. It should inspire our sustained action and reignite our sense of gratitude for the astonishing bounty of human and cultural experience right outside our doors, down our blocks, a few stops down our (slowly) growing light rail line.
This will be a long battle. We are going to need to keep other cosmopolitan values alive as well—both to recharge our batteries and to remember the things that make life a bit sweeter. We need to congregate, converse, conspire, argue, embrace, play shows, see shows, drink up, and eat out (in every sense). We need to revel, not cower. In one way, fuck those people, sure. But in another way, invite them to see our example. Let the large minority solely concerned with taking care of itself see us taking care of each other.
Here's Thornton again:
We, as a culture, have to stop infantilizing and deifying rural and white working-class Americans. Their experience is not more of a real American experience than anyone else's, but when we say that it is, we give people a pass from seeing and understanding more of their country. More Americans need to see more of the United States. They need to shake hands with a Muslim, or talk soccer with a middle-aged lesbian, or attend a lecture by a female business executive.
We must start asking all Americans to be their better selves. We must all understand that America is a melting pot and that none of us has a more authentic American experience.
So much for the larger question of building bridges to Trump's America. Motherfucker, the bridges are built! (Thank you, federal government!) They know where to find us. And guess what: They're more than welcome. That's the nature of cities: Everyone is, or should be.
Our first responsibility is to fight to make our urban areas more inclusive, not less. Newcomers of all backgrounds, including Trump Nationals will be coming when the jobs the president-elect has promised to create fail to materialize. When his imaginary wall resembles an old Pontiac up on blocks on the front lawn that is the US-Mexico border, cities will continue to be where the work is.
In the meantime, the real work starts with us. —SEAN NELSON
Liberty. Equality. Diversity. Those are urban ideals. But our cities don't always live up to those ideals.
In 2015, the Brookings Institution crunched US Census data and found 24 of the 50 largest American cities got whiter between 2010 and 2014. But whiteness still means wealth, so Seattle is losing livability by the second.
A city puts you next to people unlike you, and that is a social-justice issue, not just a matter of better restaurants. How can you work to create and maintain affordable housing in your own neighborhood? How can you persuade the residents of your street that parking is not more important than transit? We still do not have public restrooms for people with nowhere to go, nowhere even to wash for a job interview. Our public school system is even more woefully segregated than it was just a decade ago. Tell the billionaires their financing of charter schools is unacceptable.
To fight for the disenfranchised, to prioritize affordability and transit, you must be informed. How would Seattle residents do on a quiz about the mayor's housing plans? Follow local news even if you're skeptical of the media; without you, journalism can't get better, and the city can't stem the tide of rising homogeneity. We need intrepid critics. Read free local publications and purchase subscriptions to others.
Cities are where we are supposed to remember each other. You don't need to be an asshole to fail other people. You just need to forget them. Density is a wake-up call. So is riding public transit. Use it.
Do not fall into the belief that a "liberal" city is a liberal city all by itself. Every city that's getting whiter and wealthier—including Oakland, DC, Austin, Atlanta, Charlotte, Colorado Springs, Denver, Oklahoma City, Portland, Raleigh, Detroit, New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas, Louisville, Nashville, Baltimore, Kansas City, New Orleans, and Seattle, beloved Seattle—has to get off its high horse and self-criticize. We do it in big ways and small. Public and private. At work, too. White men working at white-male-majority Amazon, not the only but the largest such company in Seattle, do something every day to correct this. There are thousands of you, and you have a role. You are so important. Put pressure on your HR supervisors and managers and CEOs to use their power to create a more equitable workplace and city. When you see people experiencing homelessness in your neighborhood, let them be innocent until proven guilty. Rich neighborhoods, stand up and invite them in.
Cities are inclusive, equitable, and just only if we make them that way. —JEN GRAVES
Who would you rather have running the country? The most qualified presidential candidate ever to run for office who happens to be a woman... or (check all that apply):
__ a racist.
__ a bigot.
__ a misogynist.
__ a tax dodger.
__ a billionaire who's declared bankruptcy multiple times.
__ a man who has never held public office.
__a man who makes fun of disabled people.
__ a man who "grabs women by the pussy."
__ a man who might not be able to read.
__ all of the above.
Anyone but a fucking woman, said America. Anyone. Literally anyone.
Of course, racism has as much to do with the outcome of this election as sexism. But many women were proxies for misogyny directed at Hillary Clinton. They encountered it firsthand—lectured by mansplaining "friends" on Facebook about what a bitch she was, told what a liar she was despite the fact that her e-mail scandal amounted to nothing. Women listened patiently to false equivalencies: "They are both terrible," family members would say, not grasping that equating a liar, a con man, a bigot, a racist, a tax dodger with a woman who had a private e-mail server was the result of centuries of baked-in sexism and misogyny.
No wonder women felt so harassed that they joined one of the many secret Hillary Clinton Facebook groups to find a safe space to talk about the election.
When you are a member of a marginalized class of people experiencing homophobia, sexism, or misogyny, trying to explain to people who are not a member of that class of people—or even worse, who are but who don't understand it—that it is already happening is like being the only person who can see a ghost in the room. It's there, it's talking to you, it's plain as day, but reasonable people insist that you must be crazy—or worse, just wrong.
You can listen to Michael Moore speak at length about how the Democratic Party didn't connect to its base of working-class blue-collar men in the rust belt—or how Clinton didn't campaign enough (or at all) in Wisconsin and Ohio and Pennsylvania. You can agree that perhaps Clinton didn't do enough to connect with Joe the Plumber, and Joe the vice president would have done better there.
But you are missing the key point: Clinton can't connect because men like that are predisposed to not like women like her. Women from those parts of the country don't like women like her. Clinton represents everything we have been taught women should not be: strong, smart, powerful, independent, loud. That is sexism.
For many women, it's still so painful to know what we came so close to achieving and how far away we still are. It's so painful to know that the Bernie bros have only been vindicated by her loss, able to huff, "I told you so," even though they themselves have absorbed 20-plus years of conspiracy theories rooted in sexism and fear of female power. When the next female presidential candidate is introduced, hopefully sooner rather than later, all of us—men and women—need to listen to Clinton, who urged her supporters in her concession speech to stop hiding "in secret, private Facebook sites... I want everybody coming out from behind that and make sure your voices are heard going forward." —TRICIA ROMANO
Remember, too: This country was founded by white male slave owners on stolen land. He is what America always was.
Donald Trump is the white supremacist ideology coded in our country’s DNA. He was there at the 1787 Constitutional Convention, declaring Black people to be three-fifths human. He was there a century later, arguing that Native Americans needed to be removed from their ancestral lands. He was there in 1952, telling white women they needed to be afraid of sharing bathrooms with Black people. He spat on Dorothy Counts on the morning of September 4, 1957, when she walked to her newly integrated high school.
The monster has been named. That may be the only silver lining in this election. Now begins the slow, methodical, painstaking work of taking the monster apart—including the work of wrestling the monster inside all of us. —SYDNEY BROWNSTONE
Here's what Mayor Ed Murray's declaration that Seattle will remain a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants means: It means that in Seattle, it will keep being against city law for police to ask someone's immigration status unless there's reasonable suspicion they committed a crime. It means police won't be profiling and rounding up suspected immigrants, checking them for identification, and deporting them—not if Murray can do anything about it.
Sergeant Sean Whitcomb said the mayor is "showing leadership on all these fronts" and the police department stands fully behind him. Whitcomb's boss, Chief Kathleen O'Toole, said the undocumented "need to know we will be there for them, for ordinary police services and also when they are exploited, threatened, or victimized." Sergeant Whitcomb added: "We're not some state apparatus that's here to squelch people's rights."
Still, protests often disrupt business as usual. City council member Kshama Sawant is calling for a complete shutdown of business as usual on Inauguration Day. If push comes to shove, will police crack down on protesters who want to grind the city to a halt as a show of resistance to Trump?
As Seattle protested Trump's victory, at least a few Seattle police officers were celebrating it on social media. One called out the mayor's reaction to Trump's win as "one of the most pathetic political episodes I've ever seen." Another officer wrote, "Restore law and order and it's ok to say stop being a pussy. This is a great day for law enforcement... I'm pumped."
Council Member Lorena González, a child of immigrants who now oversees the police as chair of the public safety committee, has a blunt message for those officers: "It needs to be very clear from Chief O'Toole to rank and file and to leadership within the police department [that] we expect you to do your police work in a constitutional manner. That means that you respect people's due process and equal rights under the Constitution. The fact that those statements are being made is another sign of why police reform, in spite of a Trump administration, is important."
If you want to get involved in policing the police, go to the next Black Lives Matter protest, volunteer with the ACLU of Washington, or join a grassroots citizen watchdog like the Center for Open Policing. The Community Police Commission is also a great starting place for local reform efforts. —ANSEL HERZ
It used to be that every 50 minutes in Washington State, someone was arrested for cannabis possession. Nine out of 10 of those arrests were people of color, even though more than twice as many white people smoke weed as people of color. Legal weed is a social-justice issue. It's an incarceration issue. It's an issue we need to prevent President Trump and his racist henchmen from turning back the clock on. Stop into your neighborhood pot shop and introduce yourself and tell them you're their neighbor and you support them. And maybe while you're at it, buy a gift for someone who likes weed.
Abortion rights and LGBTQ rights will also come under attack. President Trump believes there should be "some form of punishment" for women who have abortions, and Vice President Mike Pence believes in conversion therapy for LGBTQ people.
So what can you do? "Honestly, right now, donations are what's best for us," said Mercedes Sanchez, director of communications for Cedar River Clinics, which has clinics in Renton, Seattle, and Tacoma and offers direct services in reproductive health care and LGBTQ health care.
And to protect the LGBTQ community? "Have you heard of the SAFE Alliance?" Sanchez asked. "They were developed when the stupid bathroom laws were coming up. It's a statewide coalition of organizations and individuals that are working to protect Washington's antidiscrimination laws, specifically focused on transgender protections."
Speaking up and getting involved in the political fight is important, Sanchez said, but she reiterated that the most helpful thing people can do is donate money. "We're bracing for an influx of patients," she said. "Our clinics have been around for more than 43 years. I hate to say it, but we have been through all the awful times, and our plan is to hold the line for reproductive rights, because without people offering direct services, our rights are meaningless." — CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
The people who are about to control all of the major political institutions in the United States are going to make life extremely miserable for the people who put them in power.
The people about to take power want fast cash in the form of speculation, derivatives, debt, leveraged buyouts, and shareholder maximation. Trump's America is going to have major bubbles, which will increase indebtedness in the private sector, and then, when things go bust—when the rich need liquidity to reduce debts and exposure to a crisis—those debts, their debts, will be transferred to the public sector. The indebtedness of the few will become the indebtedness of us all.
Best believe this will hurt poor and middle-class people, many of whom are in the rural areas, most of whom voted for Trump. And because they know nothing about economics, they will blame not the people who are dispossessing them, but us in the city, with our liberal values and our desire to make huge social investments that would benefit them. This is the cycle we are trapped in. This is the right's big con. We need to find a way to break free from it. The first step is to make sure more people can see it clearly. That will require more funding for education, and that will mean more money going toward social investments rather than tax cuts. That will mean doing exactly the opposite of what's going to happen over the next four years. — CHARLES MUDEDE
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.