“Resistance” had been the rage for over a year now, since the election of our Insane Clown President. Pick the poisonous piece of Trumpism that you prefer to oppose – greed, racism, xenophobia, misogyny, militarism, mendacity. You should find plenty of company in the chorus of “no” (though you’ll likely have to hunt serious activist news elsewhere than in the mainstream media, so much of which seems obsessed with Russia, more Russia, and nothing but Russia).
But imagine for a moment Trump suddenly out of the picture; he’s impeached, or develops health problems that compels his resignation, or perhaps simply becomes frustrated enough with the “boring” business of governance to fall back to a more comfortable form of celebrity. One way or another, he’s out of the Oval Office. Is the problem of solved? Is “democracy” saved? Can we breathe a “yuge” sigh of relief and go back to politics as usual?
I’m quite sure that the vast majority of activist “resisters” would now, one year into the debacle, answer in a firm negative. Trump may be more than mere “symptom” of a deeper dysfunction in our political culture, but neither is he (and his much-ballyhooed “base”) a tumor with clean borders that can be surgically excised from an otherwise healthy body politic.
But where to go from here? It seems to me that the “resistance” faces two pressing tasks going forward (if indeed it does go forward). First, it needs to grasp the nature of the dysfunction that produced Trump – and can easily produce more like Trump, if not effectively addressed – in the first place. Second, it needs to move beyond mere resistance (“No!”) to grapple with the challenge of articulating an alternative vision of a truly healthy democracy and civil society.
Neither task is easy. But both are essential if we are to get past Trump and Trumpism to a healthier state.