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Over 150 coordinated "Bridges not Walls" actions are planned across the UK and Europe for January 20 -- and actions are planned as far afield as San Diego, California and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In a show of solidarity with those resisting incoming US president Donald Trump, in London we will be dropping banners off each of nine famous Thames bridges to highlight and resist the right-wing rhetoric and agenda at home in the UK and Europe.
Douglas Lain's dystopic sci-fi novel After the Saucers Landed imagines an alternate reality in which the dreams of UFOlogists are realized and aliens really do come to earth. These aliens, anticipated by everyone as an apocalyptic force with the power to radically transform everything for the better, turn out to be dull, boring and complicit in the most banal forms of capitalist mundanity. They drink Pepsi, build corporations and enroll in undergraduate courses. In short, very little changes. Donald Trump is not quite such an alien. Things will significantly change in the Trumpocalypse, and they will of course change for the worse.
On January 20, President-elect Donald J. Trump will inherit an economy that looks very different to what President Obama received in 2009. When President Obama moved to the Oval Office, he inherited an ailing economy that was facing a whiplash from the subprime mortgage crisis. The unemployment rate was as high as 7.3 percent, quickly moving towards 10 percent while home prices and stock prices plummeted at a steep rate. Amidst struggling industries and failing banks, a quick revival of the economy meant the introduction of fresh and non-traditional economic policies.
The recent first step by the Republicans for repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by a vote of 51-48 in the Senate and 227-198 in the House opens up an intense debate among Republicans as to how and when to replace it. President-elect Donald Trump is pressing Congress to replace it concurrently, or nearly so, with its actual repeal, with which House Speaker Paul Ryan now seems to agree. Recent talk of a two- to four-year delay is quickly fading away.
Though well known to some and little known by many, Gene Sharp's From Dictatorship to Democracy has served as a handbook for pro-democracy advocates throughout the world. It is not an academic treatise on the whys and wherefores of this or that dictatorship; rather it is a straightforward, 100-page manual for formulating the strategies and choosing the tactics needed to bring down dictators, complete with an appendix listing 198 concrete actions available to do just that. Donald Trump is no dictator. He is a demagogue.
In the toxic political environment of the US, love is an act of protest. At least, that is what Dr. Martin Luther King, whose 88th birthday we celebrate Monday, said in many ways. As just one example, he wrote in his book Strength to Love, "Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
It is an undeniable fact that with the upcoming inauguration, Donald Trump will become the 45th president of the United States. Yet a part of me refuses to accept that reality. On the one hand, I love this country for its freedom and democracy, and as part of my love greatly respect the office of the presidency. On the other, it seems to me that Trump is doing great damage to the core values and institutions that make this country great. I thus find myself at odds with myself, and out of step with the major forces in the political arena -- a weird American in Trump's America.
As the pendulum swings in a politically polarized and disillusioned electorate, many Americans yearn for a reliable and firm foundation for governance of the nation. Each January, we have an opportunity to remember the prophetic wisdom of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and consider his words and actions as a beacon across our conflicted landscape. In the last 15 months of life, King spoke repeatedly about war and the role of the US in the world. His words on war are often forgotten in an effort to sterilize and domesticate his legacy. One of his major addresses was in Los Angeles in February 1967.
Meryl Streep's denunciation of Donald Trump at the 2017 Golden Globes focused on his mockery of a disabled reporter, and provoked a Twitter reaction from Trump to the "over-rated" actress: "For the 100th time, I never 'mocked' a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him "groveling" when he totally changed a 16-year-old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more very dishonest media!" But it's Trump, not the media, who was being dishonest. Trump was willing to lie over and over again in an attempt to pretend that he had never done this.
A crisis persists across the nation. Public higher education funding in Oregon, as well as in other states, remains low. Dismayed university presidents reacted to Gov. Kate Brown's proposed 2017-19 budget for its flat fundingof the prior biennium's $667.3 million. In their January letter to the governor, the presidents warned that unless the Legislature improves her budget by an additional $100 million, students will face tuition hikes. They wrote: "To keep tuition increases below 5 percent at most universities, and also preserve current financial aid and student support services, state investment in the Public University Support Fund (PUSF) will need to increase by at least $100 million above the Governor's Budget."