“And so begins the resistance,” Tom Temprano, a newly elected member of the Community College Board, told me.

We were standing in the pouring rain, halfway between the labor rally outside of Carl’s Jr. on Market and the beginnings of the larger march coming together at UN Plaza.

Labor Council Director Tim Paulson: "The best organizer is a bad boss."
Labor Council Director Tim Paulson: “The best organizer is a bad boss.”

The weather was awful. And yet, somehow, there were thousands of people trickling in. They were young and old, they were veteran activists and just folks who couldn’t stand what was happening and wanted to be counted.

One middle-aged couple, who had recently moved to the city from the East Coast, asked me what they could do, what group they could join, how to get involved. They live in the Marina, and worked for Hillary Clinton in Colorado. They were wondering if the local Democratic Party was a place to start organizing.

I told them that I wished it was. It’s getting better, now that the real-estate industry no longer controls it, but it’s not the center of anti-Trump resistance that it could be.

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The anti-Trump resistance here needs to be local. We can, and should, and will, march in the streets and make statements and demonstrate that this city, and the people who live here, do not find the Trump presidency legitimate or acceptable.

But we also need to recognize that organizing against Trump means organizing for a clear, coherent progressive agenda right here at home. It means making sure that the people who run City Hall don’t just talk about Sanctuary City; they fund it. That they don’t just talk about protecting public health; they make sure there are resources to make that happen. That they don’t just talk about the wealth and income gap that is strangling the country; they take local action to address it in San Francisco, which has some of the worse economic inequality in the country.

That’s the resistance.

The Trump Era arrived with thunder, lightning, and floods in this city. It’s been snowing in the Sahara Desert. The climate-change-denier-in-chief took the oath of office with the most bizarre inaugural speech in modern history: Even the folks at CNN noted that his address was “unusual.”

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It was surreal, and I can’t think of a better word, to watch the inauguration and parade and to realize: Yeah, this guy – possibly the least qualified person to run the United States in modern history, a bad landlord, corrupt and failed real-estate developer and reality-TV-show host – was actually moving into the White House.

There were people on hand to witness the event, and crowds lining the streets. They were a tiny fraction of the size of the crowds when Barack Obama was inaugurated.

I watched as riot police shot tear gas and stun grenades into a crowd of protesters, who were throwing rocks and bottles. I fear that is just the beginning.

I’m not an historian of the presidency, but I can’t think of anyone in my lifetime who took office for the first time with such low popularity ratings. And yet, he and his party control both houses of Congress, the White House, and soon the US Supreme Court.

And he will preside over a cabinet that, in general, doesn’t believe in public schools, climate change, labor regulations, environmental protection – or, for the most part, the general concept of government as a positive force.

That’s one of the most alarming things we are going to face: The right wing oligarchs know that government can be, and has been, a force for the good of the many against the few, and they hate that. And now they are in charge.

48hillsantitrumpwhathavewedone

(Tim Redmond)

  • Don Sebastopol

    Good luck with that. The progressive agenda is losing steam all over the world. It also seems to be waning in SF.

    Who is going to pay for the Sanctuary City? How can the City stop higher income people from moving here? Maybe stop building more offices that house high-paid workers? Ban those who do not work in the City from living here? However, it does not look like the income gap, which is worse here than in the country, is harming the City or the Bay Area; the local economy looks good. Maybe Detroit would like to have our income gap.

  • Greg

    Everybody’s having a major freak-out session, but I think we all need to chill until there are some concrete policies to protest.

    Oddly enough, I’m actually feeling hopeful right now. When the establishment stole the election from Bernie, I was feeling hopeless then. I thought, now Hillary’s going to be president, she’ll get us into war with Russia; even if she doesn’t, the wars, surveillance, and regime changes will continue. Free trade deals will get signed. And there’d be nothing we could do about it. No one will even be in the streets, because supposedly “the good guys” won. We can’t even primary that, because it’s near impossible to primary a sitting president. And then she’d lose to a Republican worse than Trump in 2020.

    Now, everything is turned on its head. The neoliberals in the Democratic Party have been thoroughly discredited. The party may or may not learn its lessons. They’re definitely trying to deflect focus from themselves with useless diversions about Russian hacking and stuff. But at least we have a fighting chance now. A fighting chance to come back in 2020 with someone better, who can put forth a real progressive agenda.

    I think there’s a risk though. We need to reach out to those voters who stayed home, maybe even voted for Trump. And the way to do that is not to insult them or their president before anything even gets done. And we shouldn’t act like petulant children and oppose him in a knee jerk fashion. If he does good -if he does things like protect medicare like he promised, have the government negotiate drug prices, reject free trade deals which progressives have fought against for years, abandon the crazy project of NATO expansion, make peace with Russia -we need to support those things. If he does bad, then by all means oppose him. But remember, there are millions of people for whom Trump is their hope and their change. It *is* a historic victory. It’s the first time an outsider has defeated the establishment, and that’s a big deal. And the people who supported him want to celebrate that victory, just like progessives celebrated Obama’s victory 8 years ago (before he dashed our hopes). I say, let them celebrate. There will be plenty of time to ask them “sooo… is this really what you voted for?” Now is not that time.

  • MKR

    I was willing to consider giving him the benefit of the doubt after he was elected in November despite the fact that he is a sexual predator and a mean spirited bully by nature. But look at the people he is choosing for his cabinet. The four most important positions in the Federal government are Secretary of state, Secretary of Defense, Attorney General and Treasury Secretary. While Mr. Munichin and General Mattis are reasonably competent, why on earth would you select such a retrograde attorney as Jeff Sessions as the highest law enforcement officer ? Why pick an Exxon executive as a the head of the state Department? Tillerson already said its ok to taunt another superpower (China) – do you want to wake up to the prospect of a military conflict in Asia? Do you know what happened the last time?

    The real consolation is the fact that he can give all the orders he wants, it doesn’t mean people have to follow them. The machinery of the federal bureaucracy has to agree to go along with him before he is actually going to be able to do anything. And there is a very complex body of military law which governs the following of orders, but basically put the generals do not have to follow illegal or insane orders. So people are right to freak out – its the only way anything ever gets done .

    • Greg

      Well, yes. There is the whole China thing. We seem to have traded our virulent Russophobia for equally virulent Sinophobia. Except we never exactly traded it. It was always there. That’s what the “pivot to Asia” and “freedom of navigation” was all about -the encirclement of China. That’s what the real problem with Duterte is. Washington doesn’t give a rats ass about killing some drug dealers; what they’re really concerned about is that a US colony might dare to make a separate peace with China. Obama was aggressive enough, and Clinton promised to be even more aggressive.

      The sad fact is, after the election was stolen from Bernie, we weren’t left with any good choices. On the one hand, we had a boor who joked about grabbing women by the genitals. OTOH, we had a bona fide murderer and war criminal who laughed on national TV about the destruction of a whole country.

      Some of rhetoric is interesting. There are a few initial good signs, along with a few bad ones. But you’re right, the cabinet picks are almost universally terrible. We’ll see how much the rhetoric matches with what he actually does.

      • MKR

        Im not a big fan of Hillary Clinton, she wasn’t a great candidate because she has too much baggage and rubs a lot of people the wrong way. Bernie Sanders could have a been a great President but he’s also 74. Trump is an old man too . The American political scene needs new blood as I don’t think the septuagenarians Trump is appointing are going to get anything productive done, its just a question of how much damage he could do.
        .
        Part of Obama’s message was generational change, but the old guard blocked him from doing most of what he wanted. the Democrats are not blameless in this – they couldn’t pass a single payer health care system or a public option even when he had control of Congress in 2008. So the only silver lining may be the next time they will get one through. I just hope we do not have too see a public health care crisis for that to happen.