The Illegitimate President
I very much enjoyed John Nichols’s Feb. 6/13 article “Trump Has No Mandate.” As is the case with most bullies, Donald Trump is a coward inside. The only way to deal with a bully is to face him down. I have admiration for everyone who has marched or written or spoken against him in the three weeks since the dark day of January 20. He will continue to provoke, and we all must keep facing him squarely and saying “No!” It is our country, not his personal property, and we decide how to make it the best for all its people.
gig harbor, wash.
Apropos “Trump Has No Mandate”: Neither Hitler, Mussolini, nor the Bolsheviks before them had mandates either, but they had enough influence to take power and make the worst of it, as Trump and his allies have been doing and will continue to do if they’re left alone to act. I trust readers of this magazine will figure out what to do, and then do it. Nothing less will suffice.?
new london, n.h.
Immigrants must pass a test to become United States citizens, as proof that they understand how our government works. I propose that in the future every presidential candidate must pass that same test. Nip it in the bud.
Life, Death, and the ACA
In the buildup to the passing of the Affordable Care Act, the Tea Party and Republicans very successfully, though falsely, used the notion of “death panels” to attack and undermine the program [“Revolt and Rebuild,” Feb. 6/13]. Now that Trump and the Republicans are meeting to repeal the ACA (with all its flaws) and leave many people in the lurch, the actual death panels are operational.
I recently finished reading Frances Fox Piven’s Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America. All the while, I wondered what she would have to say about how to react to Trumpism. Having read her piece “The Prospects for Resistance” [Feb. 6/13], now I know. She is not only a brilliant sociologist but a practical one.
Now I would like to ask her for suggestions for “effective, nonviolent resistance actions,” although I have a few of my own in mind. I haven’t risked jail time since the 1960s; I think it’s time for me to remember my roots.
Where Salvation Lies?
The articles featured in The Nation’s Feb. 6/13 forum (“The People vs. the President”) struck a chord. I am a retired sociologist and have greatly admired the work of Frances Fox Piven. Over the decades, I’ve learned much from Benjamin Barber’s ideas about strong democracy. But it was Michael Massing who truly captured my attention here.
As much as I agree with Piven and Barber, Massing saw something progressives have missed. Mass resistance and strong cities are crucial, but mass organization in the cities failed to elect Hillary Clinton. The vast expanse of the Midwest has turned red in the last 30 years in part because an urban Democratic Party ignored it. The labor unions that have done the heavy lifting of organizing for Democrats are not gone, but they do not carry the weight they once did.
Churches may be the only organizations effective at bringing people together in the abandoned regions. If progressives continue to ignore the Midwest, as well as the many other regions trapped in decline across the 50 states, they will continue to lose elections.
I live in Iowa. I have worked elections here for a quarter of a century. I talk to the people who voted for Trump. While some are unreachable, many more are not. They are working people who see their world crumbling. They are not comforted or guided by the New Democrats’ promises to save the middle class. The last great American socialist, Michael Harrington, saw this coming and wrote about it in The Politics at God’s Funeral in 1983. Arlie Hochschild’s recent Strangers in Their Own Land should be required reading for progressives.
council bluffs, iowa
I remember making suggestions somewhat similar to Massing’s to a New York Times editor who visited our journalism class at Columbia a few decades ago. I also still remember the look of contempt he directed at me when I made them. “That’s not our audience,” he said.
The Meaning of a Free Press
With David Cole’s “The First Amendment vs. Trump” [Feb. 6/13], The Nation continues its historic stand as a flagship of the Fourth Estate, confronting a pathologically insecure president who has new power to crush any criticism, from anyone. As the Trump presidency unfolds, I ask you to shed light on his attempts, through law or violence, to stifle free speech, which all would-be dictators do.
My wife and I worked against the KKK in the 1960s. I vividly remember that editors, many of them at small-town newspapers, were among the bravest voices for truth and justice. Some were shot or bombed, but not silenced.
This past election was the most energizing since 1860. Now, as then, we saw a desperate attempt by reactionary money and mores to throw off advancing civilization. Today we see the forces of big money, nativism, and white male supremacy engaged in a desperate attempt to turn back civilization.
Please continue to lead human development through the dark night.
J. Allan Smyth
President Trump has shown himself to be a firm believer in the Second Amendment. However, before the Second Amendment comes the First, which reads: “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press….”
Trump’s unceasing, bitter attacks on the media contradict the very idea of a free press. He forever seems to be firing back at the “fake press” or anyone who criticizes him. He tweeted on January 11, 2017: “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?” What makes America great, Mr. President, is the First Amendment and, as a result, a transparent press. Once we lose or disdain that, we become more like Nazi Germany.
The Feb. 6/13 “DC by the Numbers” sidebar stated that 27 percent of voters cast a ballot for Donald Trump; it should have said that 27 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot for Trump.