Resistance against the rise of Trump and the European far-right must come in the form of nurturing new leaders
Nowadays, like many I imagine, when I see a Donald Trump- associated headline, I find myself wanting to just switch off altogether. I’ve resorted to limited social media exposure and I can’t remember the last time I bought a newspaper or even purposely sat down to terrestrial television news. As a long-time Obama, Warren, Hillary Clinton and Sanders fan I felt devastated by the Republican party win and not just because I’m a left-wing liberal, or because Trump is despicably misogynistic, racist and politically unintelligent, but because it was clear that important freedoms in America would be actively eroded, and consequentially global freedom would come under attack.
All the life-enhancing policies and judicial wins for equality, environmental protection, access to health, freedom of movement and a very slow end to a long, drawn-out Middle East/ Afghanistan war appear to be being undone. It seems as if war is being reinvigorated with fearmongering and attacks on the Islamic community. And that’s not to mention how the Trump administration seems to have close links with the likes of homophobic Putin, while supporting racist Le Pen, to name but a few. There appears to be a growing trend of cynical xenophobes gaining power across the globe and we can’t let it undo or halt our evolutionary and revolutionary, democratic, humanitarian hopes of the future.
The satirists, the lyricists, authors, poets, the artists and underground subversives have always played an integral part of social change and now we need them more than ever, not just to keep us sane but as sticks to prod and poke on behalf of sanity. For centuries, right back to the role of a court jester, we have relied upon our artistic communities to keep our leaders’ egos and actions in check, using art to challenge inhumane political powermongers. And we have to continue to use our imagination and education to counteract and comment on the rise of the far-right.
I think one of our biggest downfalls on the left, centre-left and among human rights activists, is we are often reactionary and rarely ready. We need to educate ourselves, to skill-up, regroup, create some unified action plans, fill up our coffers and generate our own ready, prepared, electable, inspired and supported leaders and community shapers. Once we recover from the lethargy of loss and shock, the upshot is that we can be inspired to challenge and use our own political systems as examples of change.
In Ireland we’re lucky not to have a deplorable goon for a leader, but we don’t exactly have a Justin Trudeau either, or even a government that appears to be legislating much. Instead it feels like our leaders are passing time, sitting on the fence, coasting along from one general election to another with a few hot-air moments in between. It is up to us ordinary citizens to take actions that call for change and positive growth, with creative and innovative uses of our own talents, abilities and natural resources.
Let us and other nations around the world send out a message of solidarity and inspired action to all those leaders who want certain citizens to feel weakened and powerless. Not only is it our responsibility in Ireland to fight for further rights, but it is our collective responsibility to protect all the rights our elders have lived and died for across the world. It’s up to us to stake out an influence the direction in which change is happening. While the Trump administration, the anti-European ‘Brexiters’ and the right-wing xenophobes across the world have been handed the reigns, against popular wishes and against all our expectations, we must resist with persistance.
It’s okay to feel overwhelmed by the endless horrible Trump-associated revelations. It’s okay not to want to even think about xenophobic leaders in Europe coalescing. For the time being, let’s start taking care of ourselves so that we can recharge and regroup as a recognised act of defiance against the waves of global negativity.
As a soft beginning, we can start by harnessing the energy of our best days and achievements, by channelling and remembering how empowering it was to wear and see others wearing their Yes badges and every other badge of symbolised solidarity over the decades. And on the days when we’re feeling timid and quiet and sore, it’s okay to lay low.
If you’re free for even a lunch break or the entire day on March 8, workers and citizens across the world, and here in Ireland, are organising themselves for International Women’s Day in support of gender equality, abortion rights and human rights in general. Let’s make some noise on that day, let’s send out a ripple of solidarity and support across the world. Who knows, maybe it will bounce right back and be heard in the corridors of Leinster House.
Thousands turned up to the Strike 4 Repeal earlier today with even higher numbers estimated to attend the march at 5:30pm.