In the wake of the Charlottesville murder, the resistible re-emergence of the Klan, American Nazis, and a president settling into a neo-fascist groove, progressives’ action agenda could stand some updating. Here are a few suggestions:
· Mount ongoing vigils or demonstrations at the nation’s anti-fascist, anti-racist monuments. In the nation’s capital, that would include both the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II memorial in the middle of the National Mall. The World War II Memorial should get special attention, with demonstrators making constant reference to the thousands of their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on—or, among the very old, their buddies—who gave their lives to defeat the most virulent anti-Semitism and racism the world has ever known, and making clear that neo-Nazis and Klansmen make a mockery of that sacrifice, and of the nation’s ideals. Invite World War II veterans to attend—we could start with Bob Dole. If neo-Nazis and their ilk want to show up to counter-demonstrate, so much the better.
· Every American city and most American towns, unless they’ve sprung up in the past 70 years, have monuments to their residents who died in World War II. Outside the South, many have monuments to residents who died fighting for the Union in the Civil War. Progressives should mount vigils and demonstrations in those places, too. There are a lot more of these outside the South than there are Confederate memorials to protest, so this offers an accessible course of action to those of us who live in communities that are not besmirched by statues memorializing white supremacy.
· Progressive elected officials at all levels of government should try to enact resolutions calling for the impeachment or, that failing, the censure of President Trump. Of the various charges that could be brought, my preference is to indict him for giving aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States. In foreign policy, this refers to his preference for authoritarian regimes over democracies; in domestic policy, his cultivation of neo-fascist forces like the ones we saw in Charlottesville.
There’s no reason why the city councils of New York and Los Angeles, or the legislatures of California and Massachusetts, couldn’t pass such resolutions. Given the ideological make-up of nearly all major American cities, such resolutions would have strong support throughout the nation’s urban areas. Progressives should wage campaigns urging their local legislators, at all levels of government, to support them.
· Some Democratic members of Congress have already introduced a censure resolution. Progressives should urge their representatives and senators to support it, as well as to support an impeachment resolution, on grounds including those listed above. Democrats should raise these measures constantly once Congress reconvenes after its summer break, and accuse Republicans who don’t support them of either cowardice or bigotry—charges that have the virtue of veracity. Progressives should focus a good deal of their energy on getting these measures enacted.
· Some of the demonstrations I’ve recommended can be digital; some—the rallies at monuments and memorials, obviously—require people’s physical presence. Both are necessary, now more than ever.