Bill Knight column for Thursday, Friday or Saturday, May 5, 6 or 7
The Service Employees International Union and the Jobs With Justice coalition were among the groups that signed an open letter calling for Americans to stand together and stand up against Trump. Others signing the letter included leaders of the Sierra Club; the United States Students Association, Greenpeace USA, and a dozen other organizations.
Working people and progressives can’t afford to make the same mistake GOP leaders did by failing to confront Trump until it was too late, they said.
“This is a five-alarm fire for our democracy,” the letter said. “A hate-peddling bigot who openly incites violence is the likely presidential nominee of one of our nation’s two major parties. It is alarming and dangerous.”
The groups call Trump “a threat to the America we love, and we must respond to him and what he is stoking with a nonviolent movement grounded in love and community that ensures that he never comes anywhere near the White House, and perhaps even more importantly, makes clear to every other politician and every person in the United States that racist demagoguery is a dead-end political strategy that most Americans reject.”
As this is written, Trump’s April 26 primary victories boosted his pledged-delegate total to 956 – 281 short of a first-ballot win at the Republican convention.
“We cannot allow this hate-baiter anywhere near the White House, and we will not accept legitimization of hateful, bullying and authoritarian politics,” the letter said. “This is about more than an election. This is about the tide of history. Who will write it: Donald Trump or us?”
Some of the groups have endorsed Democratic hopefuls Hillary Clinton, and some support Bernie Sanders, but they all called for a multi-level, anti-Trump campaign.
“We are calling for a massive nonviolent mobilization of working people, students, immigrants, children of immigrants, great-great-grandchildren of immigrants, people of color and white people, the unemployed and under-employed, people of faith, retirees, veterans, women, and men – anyone who opposes bigotry and hate and loves freedom and justice – to stand up to Trump’s bullying and bigotry,” the letter said.
The call for action suggests:
* “Door-to-door conversations about the values that make our democracy thrive” plus teach-ins about confronting hate, writing letters to the editor, using social media and holding prayer vigils.
* Non-violent mobilization, ranging from “500 families rallying against hate at the high school football stadium, to 50,000 marching in the streets of your city for love and against hate.”
* “Asking every media outlet, corporation and office-holder – from the school board on up to Congress – ‘Will you condemn Trump’s racism, misogyny and xenophobia?’ ”
In Washington, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka called on unionists to remind each other about Trump to ensure the nation’s 12.7 million union members oppose the billionaire businessman. The labor federation, which hasn’t endorsed a candidate in the primaries, will launch digital attack ads against Trump and will ramp up its canvassing campaign.
“We can’t be fooled,” said AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka. “Trump isn’t interested in solving the problems he yells and swears about. He delivers punch lines, but there’s nothing funny about them.”
Trumka is optimistic that the vast majority of union households will reject Trump and his proposals if they’re better informed. For example, many everyday Americans may not realize Trump supports Right To Work laws, which prohibit contracts from requiring workers benefiting from union representation to have to contribute to the costs of bargaining and enforcing agreements – a provision that research shows weakens unions and results in lower wages across the board in states with such laws.
“When you give working-class people the facts, I think he falls apart,” Trumka said about Trump. “He’s a house of cards.”
[PICTURED: Editorial cartoon by Jen Sorensen, from the Progressive Populist.]