One-to-One-to-One…for 1/21/21

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One-to-One-to-One…for 1/21/21  

By Larry Kleinman1 

January 21, 2021. The first day of the next administration.  

Day One, post-Trump.  

Of course, there’s no taking that for granted. But even as we are fully devoted to making  1/21/21 actually be the first day of the post-Trump Era, we’d do well to gradually prepare  ourselves along the way for how we want and need to show up then.  

The Post-Trump-Presidency road—the path for restoring, repairing and re-building— will likely occupy most of the 2020’s. On Day One, though, we and our communities  will feel great urgency to halt attacks and lower fear.  

One way to prepare ourselves is to anticipate, visualize, and start conversations about key  dynamics and events that we’re likely to encounter over the next two years…and on  January 21st 2021.  

We can start those conversations today: one to one to one.  

Threshold assumptions: Trump will seek re-election, will lose, and will never concede 

People can and probably will legitimately take issue with those three core assumptions,  especially the middle one. For those who think Trump won’t run, or who consider it  premature to entertain the notion that Trump will fail to win a second term, or who think  it’s more likely that he will run and win, “1/21/21” has a completely different import. For  them, this essay, admittedly, has much less to offer.  

A second, less contentious assumption is that the 2018 mid-term election results are  seen and, to a degree, will serve as a political shift. A decisive majority of voters in  the November 6th Election’s impressive turnout installed Democratic control in the House  of Representatives to operate as some kind of “check” on Trump and as a rejection of his  politics. Though the Senate remains a bit more firmly in Republican hands, the  Democrats’ string of governor pick-ups, especially in the Midwest (Illinois, Michigan,  Wisconsin and…Kansas!) and the Mountain West (Nevada, New Mexico), plus many  down-ballot successes, reinforces a narrative and analysis that Trump’s electoral path to  re-election now tilts more sharply uphill for him.  

Third, unless Trump resigns—a longshot at best, he will press on undeterred throughout  the next two years, continuing and escalating his Administration’s lacerating policies and  the divisive politics he relishes, exacerbates and exploits.  

And following his presumed November 3, 2020 re-election loss, we can expect that  Trump, with the Fox Network in tow, will likely continue to feed his narcissistic  addictions by embarking on an “I Was Robbed” roadshow of open-ended duration.  

The terrain on the path(s) to 2020  

Our “1:1:1” conversations to visualize and prepare for 1/21/21 can start by anticipating  the headline-grabbing actions that Trump and company are likely to pursue, such as:  

Declaring a border “state of emergency” and forcing a showdown with military  leaders skeptical of indefinite deployments at scale;  

Forcing a protracted government shutdown over border wall funding;

Taking executive action to rescind the 14th Amendment birthright citizenship (as  he announced to regain the spotlight after the October 27th Pittsburgh massacre);  

Directing the U.S. Department of Education to abrogate undocumented student  access to K-12 education, thereby inviting litigation and Supreme Court action to  reverse its 1982 Plyler v Doe ruling that access is constitutionally guaranteed.  

With apologies to Malcolm X, the Trump Administration watch-words will increasingly  be “By Any Mean(nes)s Necessary”.  

Beyond the realm of immigration, the path ahead could include an economy that  wobbles, broadly and/or selectively, under inflation pressures plus the strains of trade war  retaliation and uncertainty. There could be an actual or supposed major terrorist attack,  some kind of international “incident” or even an alleged assassination attempt.  

The path to 2020 will also like include congressional or media investigations unearthing  mounting evidence of past and ongoing corruption and abuses of power.  

And, resources permitting, the progressive base organizing and coalition building which  catalyzed major 2018 turnout will be sustained and poised for expansion. We can count  on Trump to feed that by continuing in constant campaign mode, as he has since 2015.  

2020 political posture and our message framework  

As others have no doubt observed, the essential ingredients for Trump’s defeat will be  accumulated anger, outrage and alarm—driving high anti-Trump turnout—combined  with increasing pockets of “swing” voters who can’t endure another four years of it all  and/or who blame Trump for disregarding or jeopardizing their own core interests. The  Democratic ticket will need considerable authenticity, discipline and finesse to  simultaneously attract and/or motivate those Trump has harmed, has alarmed, and has  disarmed. That’s hardly a sure thing. The thrust of a winning campaign will likely  include some blend of “Enough!” plus “Is this working for you?” and “my priority is to  improve/restore protections for you” (be they health care access, dependable markets,  family-wage jobs). Call it the “results, not insults” approach.  

There will, of course, be many perils on the campaign trail. Trump will be endlessly  provocative and the Democratic nomination process will uplift strategy tensions between  dwelling on Trump’s despotic, proto-fascist embrace of white nationalism and looking  past it to a vividly specific description of what must supplant and succeed it. Some  candidates in the 2018 election—though not running head-to-head against Trump— showed real deftness in handling this “resist/remove/replace” continuum. Possible 2020  slogans might include “Health Care Before Wealth Care!” or a call to put threats of  “National Integrity Risk” on a par with National Security Risk.  

Our 2020 challenge also includes holding the House and re-taking the Senate. The 2020  Senate opportunities are not extensive: Colorado, Arizona, and North Carolina, plus  possibly Montana, Iowa, Georgia and Maine. We must win at least three seats, or four if  we lose a difficult defense in Alabama where Democrat Doug Jones, who improbably  won a special election in 2017, may face Jeff Sessions’ attempt to win back “his” seat.  

The mental and emotional 79-day walk across political hot coals  

Truthfully, we have no certainty about how Trump would respond to losing re-election,  nor how he’d act during the 79 days from Wednesday, November 4, 2020 thru Tuesday,  January 21, 2021. What we can safely predict, however, is that, for most of us, a feeling  of dread—ranging from vague to intense—will pervade every one of those days. “What  

outlandish executive order will Trump issue today?” we’ll wonder. “What (inter)national  crisis will he instigate or conjure?”  

As the Inauguration Day countdown hits single digits, we’ll contend with a gnawing and  terrifying doubt: “Will Trump actually leave the White House?” Trump may well choose  to organize rallies to protest alleged fraudulent voting by the millions of “illegals.” He  might even suggest a need for a nationalist insurrection.  

Our mindset for the 2020’s  

Given the energy rightfully devoted to fend off ongoing and impending assaults, it seems  premature for now to formulate detailed plans for 2020 and for the immediate post election period. It’s not too soon to begin steeling ourselves for new levels of turbulence. 

Counterintuitively, we can draw strength from visualizing the long arc of recovery and  renewal. For starters, that means preparing to dedicate the entire decade of the 2020’s to  restoring progressive standards and policies that Trump-ites removed, to repairing ones  they trashed, and to re-building others that they damaged beyond repair.  

Throughout this process, we will find opportunities for transformative change— instituting something completely new. This will likely require some kind of reckoning  with the abiding grip of racism and sexism aggravated by Trump’s demagoguery and  cruelty. We will have to peer more determinedly into our deepened doubts that any kind  of reconciliation is possible. If Trump chooses to endlessly stoke a more energetic form  of permanent backlash, our souls and our resolve will be mightily tried.  

Visualizing January 21, 2021 and the first few weeks of a new era  

The actions, tone and demeanor of the new Administration’s early days can manifest and  signal a fundamental pivot. Our prospects for maximizing that pivot are better if we’ve  prepared ourselves, those around us, and the leaders we’ll support.  

For immigrant communities, immediately lowering fear is paramount. One such measure  would be a broad pause in removals. The humanitarian and due process case for it is  strong, but politicians will fear Trump’s predictable and relentless assault on it as radical  and dangerous. If we are to achieve such a pause—and defend it coming off the post election period’s ample anxiety, we do well to start laying the groundwork now.  

And that’s only a first step in halting and reversing the War on Immigrants of color, the  War on Immigration, on Citizenship, on Benefits. We’ll work to quickly re-focus  “emergency” response from the false narrative of a country “overrun” to the genuine  emergencies of opioid overdose and criminal justice over-incarceration, among others.  

The “one to one to one” contribution to 1/21/21  

We can count on Hurricane Donald to bluster through our political discourse and to flood  our constitutional structures. There’s no “evacuation route”, even at Category 5 levels.  

We have to find—and stick with—ways to help each other bear up. We can strengthen  our relationships and reinforce our unity. We can share with each other the genuine  security—protection, place, belonging—which we visualize, even as we struggle to hold  the line against seemingly boundless insecurity.  

Though the storm winds will send time flying by, each of us, engaging in our midst one to-one over many months, can reach the dedicated nonvoter, the wavering politician, the  overwrought community organizer, and the drowning co-worker. We can be united by  our common and ever-closer destination and duty of showing up on 1/21/21. 

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