Beyond the Anti-Trump Protests

Anti-Trump protests broke out shortly after the presidential results were in, but progressives need a more comprehensive and thoughtful approach to the next four years, says Sam Husseini.

By Sam Husseini

Two views seem to be dominant among progressives regarding Donald Trump: Either protest all he does (people have been holding “anti-Trump” rallies for the past week) or “give him a chance” (let’s see what he does, maybe it will be okay). But both the demonizers and those urging a passive approach are wrong.

The “Anti-Trump” approach is hollow. First, to protest a person is dubious. Too often, “progressives” have focused on the personal rather than the policies and actions. Remember “Anybody But Bush”? That’s not a particularly uplifting way of approaching things and doesn’t lead to genuinely positive outcomes. Also, Trump is someone who has said a lot of contradictory things.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in an MSNBC interview.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in an MSNBC interview.

So, you can certainly talk about rights for immigrants or women’s rights or ensuring that anti-Muslim policies do not escalate. But to say “anti-Trump” or to ignore good things that Trump has said is hollow. And, yes, there are good things he’s said. For example, during the primaries, he denounced the “regime change” wars waged by George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton:

“We’ve spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people that frankly, if they were there and if we could’ve spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges, and all of the other problems; our airports and all of the other problems we’ve had, we would’ve been a lot better off. I can tell you that right now.”

But it also doesn’t make sense to say “let’s see what he does.” To stand aside is to allow Trump to be cutting deals with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who will doubtlessly work to take away what populist, anti-interventionist and pro-working-class instincts Trump might otherwise follow.

Bernie Sanders has in recent days struck a reasonable tone at times. In this interview and in a statement just after the election, he said: “Donald Trump tapped into the anger of a declining middle class that is sick and tired of establishment economics, establishment politics and the establishment media. … To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him. To the degree that he pursues racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-environment policies, we will vigorously oppose him.”

That seems like a reasonable approach although the major problem with what Sanders says is that it ignores foreign policy, a longstanding problem with Sanders.

But others are addressing foreign policy: Rand Paul is right to press: “Will Donald Trump betray voters by hiring John Bolton?” Diana Johnston at CounterPunch wrote: “After the Election: Don’t Panic, Think!

Left-Right Alliances

One possible opportunity is for progressives to be forging left-right alliances, as Sanders alludes to above. Indeed, the senator’s biographer, Greg Guma, notes that Sanders has done that in the past at times:

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaking to one of his large crowds of supporters. (Photo credit: Sanders campaign)

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaking to one of his large crowds of supporters. (Photo credit: Sanders campaign)

“One unusual aspect of Bernie’s approach in Congress has been to wage congressional battles with people whose stands on other issues he abhors. In fact, much of Bernie’s legislative success has come through forging deals with ideological opposites. An amendment to bar spending in support of defense contractor mergers, for example, was pushed through with the aid of Chris Smith, a prominent opponent of abortion. John Kasich … helped him phase out risk insurance for foreign investments.

“And it was a ‘left-right coalition’ he helped create that derailed ‘fast track’ legislation on international agreements pushed by Bill Clinton. The power of that strategy may have reached its apex in May 2010 when Bernie’s campaign to bring transparency to the Federal Reserve resulted in a 96-0 Senate vote on his amendment to audit the Fed and conduct a General Accounting Office audit of possible conflicts of interest in loans to unknown banks.”

In fact, if such a right-left approach isn’t followed now, Trump will likely be forging alliances with Ryan and McConnell. In other words, the path ahead for construction policies may be narrow, but it holds the best hope for the next four years. That strategy calls for attacking Trump when he fails his populist promises but working with him when he pursues them.

This approach also would likely strengthen populist elements within the Democratic Party and may lead to a de facto realignment of U.S. politics. It may be less glamorous than resisting and filibustering, which may be needed on some issues, but finding constructive overlaps might actually fix some things that need fixing.

Last year, in a piece entitled “In Defence of the Rise of Trump“, I wrote:

“[Trump] might pursue the same old establishment policies if he were ever to get into office — that’s largely what Obama has done, especially on foreign policy. Trump says, ‘I was a member of the establishment seven months ago.’

“The point is that the natives are restless. And they should be. It’s an important time to engage them so they stay restless and funnel that energy to constructive use, not demonize or tune them out.”

Demonizing Trump supporters has proved disastrous. It’s time for another approach by progressives: engagement.

Sam Husseini is founder of

20 comments for “Beyond the Anti-Trump Protests

  1. John V. Walsh
    November 18, 2016 at 14:03

    Sam is always a worthwhile voice.
    But liberalism/progessivism, in contrast to genuine leftism, is dead.
    The Left emphasizes the politics of class and even more importantly the politics of opposing Empire.
    The pwogwesives embrace Identity Politics, as does our ruling elite, as Hillary displayed so nakedly with her basket of deplorables. And both also embrace humanitarian imperialism as opposed to solid anti-interventionism. So the progressives are pretty solidly in the fast ideological embrace of our rulers.
    And in all attempts to build right/left coalitions against Empire it is the pwogs who throw up insurmountable barriers.
    And Bernie echoes this in his demeanor. He lost and Trump one – and so it ill suits him to display such condescension in his remarks. And Sam understates the case about Bernie’s views on foreign policy. He is hostile to Russia and Putin and a liitle too open to bombing helpless Palestinians; and he could end up taking us on the road to war just like Hillary. He is very much the Hubert Humphrey of the moment as Jeffrey St. Claire has pointed out.

  2. backwardsevolution
    November 18, 2016 at 00:13

    !@# – “You have just let the corporate fascists take control of your country.” Where have you been? They’ve had it for years; most people just don’t know it yet, but a few are waking up.

  3. John
    November 17, 2016 at 21:33

    There are only two choices……..Nationalism / Sovereignty…….Globalism / Socialism…….Obama for the last 8 years has hung the moon on global socialism …….All the big money deals have been made according to that model…..Will Trump go out like JFK ? ……Obama and Merkel ….two socialist dreaming….. Humans are too selfish and greedy to ever accept any form of dictated socialism……Hello

  4. john francis lee
    November 17, 2016 at 21:16

    “The point is that the natives are restless. …”, says the imperialist Husseini. I assume Trump will be another change with no difference, but for the worse. Just as Clinton would have been.

    We natives need to organize on our own, precinct by precinct, implementing paper ballot voting to create our own platform and to select our own spokespeople.

    The next congressional election is 717 days away in 2018, the next presidential election is 1451 days away. We need to field our own candidates across the board in each, support them, and elect them. No more elephants, no more jackasses.

    • b.grand
      November 18, 2016 at 12:18

      Why in the world would you call Sam an imperialist? You’re not from around here, I guess.

  5. Mahatma
    November 17, 2016 at 19:14

    What the left MUST do is show that it has the interests of the people who voted for insurgency in mind too. The left has been irrelevant to them and will be even more irrelevant if it keeps up the “death to the pu**y grabber” rabble rousing. Huge events are taking place, this is the end of the US domination it has held and grown sense WWII. This is the end of Neoliberalism – the opportunities for the left to have influence are great if it has the courage to proceed in spite of certain episodes of chaos.

    The left must rejoice even today TPP dead TTIP dead and a strong possibility of a substantial easing of tensions with Russia. These are monumental and Trump is not in office yet.

    The left must show it can join the insurgents (not Trump himself) join with the people who voted Trump to get good or better policies in place. They want jobs, Trump wants jobs, the left wants jobs – work on it.

  6. Realist
    November 17, 2016 at 18:01

    The Democrats approached this election in entirely the wrong way and they are addressing the results of the election in also the worst way possible.

    The seeds of their destruction first came from Obama’s naming Hillary Clinton as his secretary of state. She acted dishonestly, greedily and belligerently throughout her tenure in that office. She, secretary of defense Bob Gates, and CIA director David Petraeus offered bellicose foreign policy that was only harmful to the Obama and liberal brand. Her appointment of neocon subordinates like Nuland and Pyatt, and the precipitous actions against Russian interests that they deliberately pursued basically ensured that the Cold War would be rekindled. In fact, they welcomed that conflict with open arms, though there was nothing in America’s interest to be found therein. Her Middle Eastern pursuit of war, war, war and the toppling of one regime after another was also not seen by most Americans as worth the risk of global annihilation from thermonuclear war. Those are among many reasons her disapproval rating far exceeded her positives. The only way she stood a chance of winning the general election was against someone equally disapproved by the public, i.e., the Trumpster. As poll after poll showed during the primaries, Bernie was the only Democrat capable of beating Trump or any of the other Republicans in November. Guess what? In spite of massive collusion on the part of both political parties, the American oligarchy, the American Deep State, the establishment elites of all stripes AND the corporate mainstream media from top to bottom, the predictions rang true! Though the polls were fixed to make you believe that the insiders’ scenario was inevitable (98% probability of a Hillary victory? Not even close, chumps.), the people had such a belly full of the lies that they voted their conscience regardless of the outcome. Outside of California, New York, Mass., and Illinois (which together gave Hillary a 7 or 8 million vote plurality–CA alone benefited her the popular vote), the rest of the country voted emphatically to keep her out. Even she belatedly got the clue late Tuesday night/ early Wednesday morning and sent John Podesta to cover for her after first, allegedly, slapping him around for her failure.

    So, the whole sad affair, which was an incipient fiasco from the get-go, was finally played out. Yes, she enjoyed a popular vote advantage as did Al Gore in his debacle v. Dubya in 2000. After Gore was denied the recount he deserved by a partisan supreme court and the victory illicitly handed to a moron puppet of Dick Cheney and the Neocons, he had the grace and good sense not to take the fight to the streets as the Dems now seem to be doing, and which will come back to bite them in the ass in future elections. If Gore, in spite of his restraint, was tarred as “Sore Loserman” what will the Dems be smeared as in 2020 and beyond? What does it gain Harry Reed to incessantly continue to cast personal insults at Trump and the voters who supported him? It only makes it seem like the Dems have decided to protest democracy itself because they don’t like the outcome of one election. Now we suddenly have to change the constitution because Hillary didn’t get the prize she wanted all her life (“Boxer’s rebellion” which she formally filed in congress–not that it was go far). More bad form. And what are the motives of the media and establishment elites in their continuing demonisation of President Elect Trump? They seem to hope that he fails in governing this country and bringing some small semblance of peace between the factions. Besides further degradation of both political parties, what advantage does that bring to the people who hold most of the real power in this country? Why are they still pressing Trump to choose war and death over life and peace? What kind of extreme reactions within a divided congress are they trying to provoke? If it’s just an attempt to sell more newspapers, let them go to hell. If they are going to continue to blame Russia for manipulating events within our country, let them show the evidence, but it’s not there, so they don’t (can’t).

    Every election cycle in this country seems to get crazier. I’ve never seen anything this extreme on the part of all the players before in my long life time. Perhaps, someone in some quarter of the Shadow Government wants an actual revolution so they can usurp complete control after the dust settles.

    • Joe Tedesky
      November 18, 2016 at 01:38

      Realist You nailed it. The DNC screwed this whole election up from the get go, and I feel like they owe us fellow Democrate’s/Independents an apology. It is offending to a honest voter how awful Hillary and her DNC Election Committee conducted themselves. Isn’t it ironic how if the Republicans cheated Hillary out of the presidency that cheating Hillary has so many skeletons in her own closet, that she can’t even cry foul. The saying, what goes around comes around, was never any truer. The only ones outside of Hillary’s little circle of kiss ass friends who ever believed she had a chance is Hillary herself. It was her turn, damn it.

  7. Dennis Merwood
    November 17, 2016 at 17:57

    Mr. Parry, I hope you don’t mind me giving Wil (3) other good news sources for Consortium News readers.

    Wil, you will find these blogs complement the excellent commentary on Consortium News


    • Zachary Smith
      November 17, 2016 at 19:36

      I had the global research site bookmarked for a brief while – until it began to show its true colors. From the Michel Chossudovsky wiki:

      Promotion of conspiracy theories

      Common conspiracy theories are frequently advanced, and stated as facts by authors including Chossudovsky himself on his website Global Research. A few examples are: The New World Order (conspiracy theory), 9/11 conspiracy theories, such as the assertion that the attack on the Twin Towers was a False flag operation, The HAARP conspiracy theory, that the installation is a “secret weapon used for weather modification, electromagnetic warfare”, (Also included by Chossudovsky in one of his books.), Global warming conspiracy theory, Charlie Hebdo shooting conspiracy theories, and the FEMA camps conspiracy theory.

      Needless to say, I never go to that site anymore.

      • Gregory Herr
        November 18, 2016 at 01:36

        Are NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the scientific community in on the global warming “conspiracy theory”? Now that would be one hell of a conspiracy…and to what motive or end?

        The term “conspiracy theory” was promoted by the C.I.A. as a means of casting aspersions on doubters of the Warren Commission Report. I suggest a reading of Lance DeHaven-Smith’s “Conspiracy Theory in America”. The way the term is used as a dismissive pejorative is rather lazy and lacks real meaning. Theories can be necessary tools of inquiry and conspiracies take place. Obviously, it is not necessary for people to conspire, in a legal (or any other) sense, for events to take place; and theories are subject to a wide range of credibility or lack thereof. The term “conspiracy theory,” in and of itself, signifies nothing in regard to fact, evidence, rationality, etc.

        • backwardsevolution
          November 18, 2016 at 03:51

          Gregory Herr – “…and to what motive or end?”


          Follow the money.

          • Gregory Herr
            November 18, 2016 at 07:36

            I don’t think man-induced environmental effects are something one “sides” or doesn’t side with. The reports that describe what has come to be known as “climate change” are either scientifically (method) produced and verified or they are not (fudging and hoaxing).

  8. Wil
    November 17, 2016 at 17:31

    Can anyone recommend any good news sources that are critical of both the Democrats and the Republicans besides Democracy Now and The Intercept? Consortium News has always been great.

    I’m having a hard time finding anything in Google search. Would like to see more news critical of the military industrial complex and foreign policy in general.

    Thanks in advance

    • John
      November 17, 2016 at 19:31

      Black Agenda Report
      The Empire Files with Abby Martin
      The Jimmy Dore Show
      Indian Country Today Media Network
      It’s The End Of The World with The St1mulator
      The Real News Network
      TYT (to a limited degree)

      …that should get you started

    • Noel
      November 17, 2016 at 19:48

      Have you checked and ? If you have suggestions yourself, please let me know.

    • Edward
      November 18, 2016 at 00:31

      The Naked Capitalism blog is good.

  9. Zachary Smith
    November 17, 2016 at 14:13

    An alternate view:

    ANARCHY BY DESIGN: ‘Anti-Trump’ Flash Mobs, Hollywood and The Wall Street War Chest

    It’s a novel scene, even for America: President Elect Donald Trump is facing an unprecedented wave of organized opposition prior to moving into the White House. While the Democratic Party are hoping to leverage these street action into votes in 2017 and 2018, the real strategy here seems to be about forging deeper narratives and creating a collective feeling of ‘disenfranchisement’ among liberal millennial. It may appear like a grassroots uprising, but upon closer inspection, there big money and big players behind it all.

    I’d say the ‘protests’ are the first reaction by the Power Elites. These aren’t costing the Big Moneybags very much, and with a bit of luck Trump or his people will say or do something stupid regarding them.

  10. Sam F
    November 17, 2016 at 14:09

    If the present protests could focus on positive cabinet appointments they may have a positive effect. But demonstrations against possibilities detract from credibility.

    When there are serious abuses of authority and bad legislation in the works, it is time for serious demonstrations. I hope that those who are angry now about identity politics are much more angry when there are immediate causes.

    • Peter Loeb
      November 20, 2016 at 08:34


      Many thanks to Sam Husseini for his great article.

      As I have written elsewhere (see my comment to
      Ray McGovern’s article on torture), Trump and his
      like make clear an expression of idolizing immediate
      and final power as well as fraud.Read:

      (Alfred A Knopf, 1975).

      —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

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