If there is one thing we should have learned in our battles with Trump and the far right, it’s that sliming is of limited benefit, even when “the slime” is accurate and true. It may be of value to those who are already disposed to listen, but the polarization of America has reached epic proportions. Nobody has a blueprint or ready made plan to wear down and penetrate the thick skulls of the Trumpers.

A typical response to mass protests of the 60s.

That does NOT mean, however, that there should be no strategy. Which should not be “sliming.” Many people in the 60s and 70s flipped rather suddenly, sometimes from far right to far left (the Weathermen are a small but excellent example of flipping). Some did so because their eyes opened. But many more on the right side of things also flipped. They did not become card carrying leftists, but they turned against both the Johnson and later the Nixon administration and the War, and these changes helped to demoralize the right and usher in many of the hard fought progressive changes that were won during this period.

The right has recovered and learned their lessons from this period. So should we.

So what are the lessons for us? The first and most important one is activism. During this period of the Vietnam War we did not have the ear of many politicians. It was for this reason that we often took to the streets. We were considered radicals and commies, whether we were or not. It took years for politicians to move in our direction. When Grace Slick of the Jefferson Airplane sang the line “Everything they say we are, we are . . . in ”Volunteers of America” she was 100% on target.

Volunteers of America Album Cover

What do you think recently pushed many Democratic politicians to the left, including President Biden? It was in part the massive protests against Trump and racism of 2020. Things on our side have grown more quiet lately in this regard, which is not necessarily a good thing for us. As the more conservative elements in Washington (and I don’t just mean the Republican Trumper types) attempt to carve up Biden’s agenda, what will our response be? Large and focused demonstrations in Washington are still necessary, but did not happen for a number of reasons this year, allowing the right to gain lots of public attention with far less supporters, and while Trump was soundly defeated, he still got a huge number of votes. So lesson one is both activism and mass pressure on Washington and local governments must be maintained. Without such pressures, Washington could horse trade away the best elements in any legislation.

Many whites last year joined Black Lives Matter demos.

Lesson two, which is arguably just as important as lesson one, is not to abandon or deprioritize the struggle against racism. It is more than clear that the basis for Trumpism’s appeal is built on America’s Achilles Heal, which is racism and white supremacy.

The very foundation of most of the historical wrongs in America can be traced to this division. It is the reason a white middle class neighborhood can produce lots of successful professionals and many communities of color and poor whites are mired in poverty and all the negative consequences that poverty brings. So opposing racism both on economic and political terms is essential and number two on our list. Is is absolutely essential that we view the struggles of people of color in economic terms as well as against the mistreatment they receive at the hands of the police. Ultimately it is the bottom ladder of the economic order that racism has relegated people of color to that cements so many of them to destabilized communities ravaged by poverty. This has been largely ignored throughout our history by both parties. And place them in harm’s way of the police. Failure to address racism destroys the credibility of progressivism, as racism can be found in virtually all aspects of American society

Number three on the list is patience and persistence. The wrongs and injustices in America can be traced to our founding, and will persist without constant struggle against them. Our period of world domination is coming to an end, which will reduce access to the pillaged resources of much of the country’s wealth. To maintain privileges for the upper classes, increasingly harsh policies will be enacted against the less fortunate. So we must think not only what we should do tomorrow, but have a strategy over the long term. The Republicans had a 50 year strategy in response to the Vietnam War era disasters. They have met many of their goals. What are ours?

It should also be remembered that politicians rarely lead the struggles for progress. Most if not all react to pressure. Which brings us to number four, which is to openly support the struggle to main our democracy and retain the right to vote for ALL. If fascism is victorious, it will usher in an era where there is absolutely no ability to pressure a politician or vote in a meaningful manner. Political opponents will be jailed or killed. This pattern is well documented to have been the case in numerous countries. It should be openly publicized as the end result of Trumpism. I think it could be used to send a message to the Trumpers: Be careful what you wish for, for this will be the result.


9 votes Show Results

Can anything reach Trump supporters in a meaningful way?

9 votes Vote Now!

Can anything reach Trump supporters in a meaningful way?

1 – Yes,
0 votes
2 – No. They will never change.
6 votes
3 – Yes, but only some, and perhaps only by demoralizing them.
1 vote
4 – Yes, but it will happen because time is NOT on Trump’s side.
2 votes

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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