Published January 18, 2017 in the Huffington Post
At noon this Friday, what was once thought impossible is scheduled to happen – Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.
More than two months after the US election, it is still shocking and frightening to say those words.
In the days, weeks and years ahead, however, we must do more than fret and worry. Instead, we need to organize and learn effective ways to assert more strongly the values we hold most dear. It is important to not be silent but rather to push back against the politics of sexism, racism, xenophobia and fear that got Trump into the White House.
We are entering a period of unprecedented instability brought on by a Commander in Chief in the United States who seems to make policy through middle-of-the-night tweets and headline-grabbing interviews with select media.
In just the past week, Trump’s impulsive musings have cast into doubt on the future of longstanding US policies toward both Israel and China. He’s questioned the legitimacy of NATO and his own intelligence community. He has applauded the Brexit vote, predicted the demise of the European Union and said Germany made a “very catastrophic mistake” by accepting so many Syrian refugees.
It’s hard to keep up with it all, honestly. The broadsides keep coming. By the time you’ve digested one, another comes flying. It is a dangerous and irresponsible way to lead or to govern.
Among the most startling in Canada this past week, Trump’s team said that cars from Canada could be subject to the same “big border tax” he has been musing about for automakers importing cars to the US from Mexico. The comments from Trump spokesman Sean Spicer were the first time Canada had been specifically mentioned when it came to auto imports.
I have never been a big fan of NAFTA. Our trade deficit with the US has soared since NAFTA came into effect. The deal has put downward pressure on wages and working conditions, and it has failed to lift up Mexican workers as was promised.
I do however have a few ideas, outlined recently with Council of Canadians National Chairperson Maude Barlow, on ways to improve NAFTA for all working people, but I suspect that’s not what Trump is talking about. Trump, instead, is talking about an isolationist, protectionist America-first policy that spells danger for the rest of us.
It’s the same sort of attitude we saw in his dismissive comments about NATO and Europe over the weekend. As a German broadcaster reported, such comments show that Europe and NATO simply don’t matter to Trump, personally, so it no longer matters to the US government.
As well, judging from his past comments about women, immigrants, racialized people, Muslims and others, there seems to be a great deal that doesn’t matter to Trump beyond pushing his own brand and his own self-defined corporate success at making America great again.
Many are already pushing back. Since the election we have seen rallies across America warning Trump not to take America backwards. Within 24 hours of his inauguration, what promises to be a historic march will be held on Saturday on the very streets where Trump’s inauguration will take place, along with hundreds of solidarity marches happening.
The march has grown to a worldwide phenomenon, with rallies around the globe, including several across Canada. It began as a humble appeal for women to descend on Washington the day after the inauguration to show that they will not stand by and let their rights be taken away by a president who boasted during the campaign of assaulting women. This march has now become a massive mobilization with a call to action and a demand for women and others to speak up and have our voices heard. Unifor is joining efforts across Canada to encourage union members to attend and say no to hate, and yes to justice.
We can take inspiration from this. Saturday’s march won’t immediately stop Trump’s agenda, but it’s an important start for what must be done to build a united mobilization effort. Let’s keep it going.