Geneseo’s chapter of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality hosted a presentation and panel discussion entitled “The Trump Presidency: What It Is and How to Fight It” on Thursday Dec. 1. Borrowing its title from Leon Trotsky’s Fascism: What It Is and How to Fight It, the meeting addressed the nature of our president-elect’s administration and the ways in which establishment Democrats have responded. Additionally, the presentation discussed the broader implications of the 2016 election results and the ways in which Trump’s adversaries can mobilize their resistance.
To introduce his exploration of the implications that Trump’s presidency might carry, the president of IYSSE senior history major Josh DeJoy opened his presentation by assessing the nature of the president-elect’s administration. Describing the strongly right-wing cabinet appointments, the presenter highlighted failings in such choices for these positions.
While the pick for attorney general, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, missed appointment as a federal judge in 1986 because of racist comments, Michael Flynn—who is tapped for national security advisor—considers Islam an ideology, rather than a religion, thereby stripping it of First Amendment protections.
“Beyond possibly the most right-wing cabinet in history, Steve Bannon—co-equal with the chief of staff—has come to the fore of Trump’s administration and lets the alt-right see him as ‘their guy’ on the inside of the White House,” DeJoy said.
Having previously served as the executive chair for Breitbart News—an internet platform for the opinions and concerns of the far-right movement—Bannon, now appointed to chief strategist and senior counselor, joined Trump’s presidential campaign team as the chief executive officer in August.
Hailed as a mouthpiece for the alt-right, Bannon crafted many speeches that Trump made in the latter half of his campaign, including a Florida address in which the president-elect likened himself to a personal savior who will “suffer” for the voters—if they support him.
To explain potential vehicles for resisting the Trump administration, DeJoy cautioned the audience against relying on establishment Democrats to champion any movement of significant intransigence, even the outspoken liberal Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
“We cannot effectively prosecute a fight within, through or by association with the Democratic Party who spent the entire campaign criticizing Trump in apocalyptic terms, but have now prostrated themselves before him,” DeJoy said.
Acknowledging an element of validity in President Obama’s well wishes toward the president-elect and an aspect of truth in the assertion that Trump’s success will correlate with American success, DeJoy foregrounded the degree of danger that such statements also carry.
Critiquing Sanders and Warren for so quickly transitioning from rallies for political revolution to openness for collaboration with the Trump administration, DeJoy emphasized the threat of the idea that political leaders can hold popular opposition in abeyance, so long as the person in power claims to help the common citizens.
An examination of polling data characterizes the 2016 presidential election as an election for change. By refusing to validate or to even address the concerns of a suffering working class, the Democratic Party set the stage for a victory by Trump, whose “Make America Great Again” slogan proposed a referendum on the state of the country, according to DeJoy.
To convey the legitimacy of a socialist movement against the impending administration, DeJoy implored his audience—and any concerned adversaries—to turn away from the Democratic Party, which he labeled “a trap,” and turn toward the working class.