Yes, Today Is A Political Opportunity
Today is a big day for most if not all of us.
As Donald Trump takes the oath of office today, protesters, organizers, and advocates are ready to meet his dismal cabinet nominees and nationalist, sexist policies on their own terms: through direct actions, with several petitions, and every other possible way there is to take a stand.
All week, I have seen multiple forms of political resistance, from the politically powerful to the layperson. Representatives John Lewis and Maxine Waters asserted their belief that Trump is an illegitimate, unworthy president; local activists in Chicago remained committed to improving local conditions, organizing against police brutality in light of the new DOJ report. Women marchers and organizers are taking their efforts to the national stage to visibly resist Trump and disrupt his inauguration.
Although all of these actions are coinciding in time and all aim to resist the US government, we cannot yet claim that there is a unified left or a unified resistance in the United States. Racial, class, gender, educational, ideological and a whole host of other differences divide our world-views and understandings.
While I may not roll with the anarchists, while I may not know enough Marx or social justice language to run in some circles; although I pay too much attention to national politics and put too much hope in neoliberal political figures—I see an opportunity.
In his 1994 book Power in Movement, political scientist Sidney Tarrow talks about the political opportunity structure, which defines what is possible to achieve in a political moment. He claims that when opportunities for resistance arise for folks who usually lack them, movements are born.
Yes, there are those who have been working on these issues since the very birth of injustice in the United States. Yes, there are people more informed, more dedicated, and more knowledgeable. And we should listen to, center, and be guided by those who have been steeped in the struggle.
I think, though, what is more important than comparing social justice credentials is enabling others and ensuring that all those opposed to Trump are able to take this political opportunity and mount a movement of mass resistance. Even if we do not fully overlap in how we imagine this world, we can at least unite around our desire to resist Trump’s administration and, by virtue, the US government.
We should find common ground and support the actions and resistance of others how we can—and not belittle when someone got here, how they choose to resist, or why they are finally paying attention. We must acknowledge our differences and unite in our common causes. Accountability is important, but purity is not.
We have a political opportunity. Not just to replace one political party or tyrannical leader with another; rather, we have a chance here to resist longstanding truths and terrors in our politics and policies. Let us form the solidarities and the mutual respect needed to take action.
Photo Credits: Flickr