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    Crossing Our Pettus Bridge: Resisting Trump’s Cruel Summer in the Cities

    By Andrea Shorter–

    Are we there, yet? Have we now entered into the realm of the actual authoritarian state that has been mused about, warned about, and predicted to occur under Trump’s dangerous less than presidential reign?

    When the President of the United States executes an order to send a conglomerate of unidentifiable camouflaged paramilitary storm troopers onto the streets of Portland, Oregon, to literally knock some heads around amidst a majority peaceful protest against police brutality and for racial justice, under the guise of curbing escalating, rampant urban lawlessness of criminal vandals and intra-communal violence under a Democratic mayor, as a ramp up to his pronounced plans to send troops into at least 3 other cities including Chicago before summer’s end, that sure seems a tell-tale sign that we might very well be there.

    If we aren’t “there” yet, indications are that we are at the brink of the so-called American experiment. At least that is what Trump desperately needs us to fear and to believe. Or, more pointedly—what he desperately needs a dwindling Trump voter stronghold of presumably frightened white suburban moms to believe, that he is the law and order machismo and that only he alone can protect them from the miles away urban lawlessness pillaging towards their gated communities and shopping malls.

    Even more pointedly, please pay no mind to the horrid fact that he has failed spectacularly to protect nearly a half million Americans against an unrelenting pandemic that has needlessly claimed the lives of 150,000 souls, is demanding that your dear k–12 children be returned to public school pronto to clear away any excuse for adults not to return to work to revive a battered economy that was once his one true ace in the hole for reelection.

    Instead, please know that he is protecting you, the Suburban Housewives of America—maybe not your children, but you—against the vagaries almost at your door. Even if it means tear gassing, arresting, and knocking the heads around of peaceful protestors like the Wall of Moms in Portland, Oregon, that infamous urban hot bed of Democratic managed lawlessness gone awry, then so be it. This stage crafting of militia clash with peaceful citizens for B-roll footage for Trump’s law and order campaign ads will have been worth your protection, right?

    Whether believed or not by Trump’s target audience regarding threatened surge of federal use of force in targeted cities is actually immaterial to a large extent. If the current broad and steady resistance to Trump’s re-election holds to November 3, 2020—a swelling coalition of sorts ranging from hard left progressive Democrats all the way to Republicans against Trump—there will not be near enough scared white suburban mom votes to brace against the swelling tide of what should be a clear referendum and ejection of Trump and Trumpism.

    What matters more is that the resistance does not buy into the framework or bad bill of goods Trump is selling to justify placing Americans in Democratic governed cities under federal military occupation. Sending in a shadowy calvary to save city dwellers (including prime commercial real property owners) from escalating crime during a pandemic he willfully neglected to manage with any real regard or seriousness is the hype of a hype man.

    A criminal himself, Trump could really care less about crime, real or imagined. No, aside from attempting to quash righteous peaceful street protests and movement, this madness appears to be dress rehearsal for what he hopes to stage for a resounding loss at the voter polls in November: pressing the need and normalcy of a “keep the peace” armed militia during the civil war he is urging to ensue at the slightest hint of his democratic removal from office.

    We have no reason to doubt that Trump will again cheat by any means necessary to extend his stay in the White House. Trump fully intends to manifest by any means necessary his hints, teases, and proclamations that a civil war would break out should he lose. This is a form of tampering with, interfering with, and urging diminished faith in the sanctity and security of our democratic elections. It is straight out of the dictators’ handbook: lose an election you sought to cheat, cast stones and doubt in its legitimacy, bring in the armed militia to keep the peace, and keep at bay the storming of the palace, at least until you can prove you won. Or, maybe not prove it. Just be prepared to shoot your citizens and opposition into oblivion. They’ll never take me alive! Yeah, that’s the ticket.

    The actual intended use of military force against American citizens will likely be revealed and quashed by the courts. In that regard, we are at least existing under authoritarian intent and delusion. I appreciate Trump’s niece’s forthcoming of her first hand and clinical accounts of her uncle’s deep dark dysfunctions and sociopathology. Maybe one day I’ll get around to actually reading her book, not just view her many talk show appearances.

    However, mean time, I really don’t know that we will learn or need to learn anything more to explain or shed light on his clear and present danger to the American experiment and the American people than his cruel indifference that ramps up of the real crisis of a pandemic killing Americans every day or the manufactured crisis he is staging to scare and lull suburban moms into the necessity and normalcy of military street patrol in American cities.

    We get it, Mary. He is really messed up. Obviously. A self-centered, non-empathetic, broken soul who is a danger to himself, others, and the American experiment he desperately seeks to end.

    This is where we are: at our own Pettus Bridge. We have no choice but to cross it. And, as we do, there is no turning back. Crossing it by holding strong in peaceful protest, getting into the good trouble of fighting tooth and nail with Stacey Abrams and others against voter suppression, for the right to vote, building the coalitions needed to vote him out by referendum, and making it plain and clear to Trump that we are onto his game, and that we will not be fooled, we will not be moved, makes the difference between the triumph of authoritarian Trumpism, or holding true to the only way forward: resounding, restless, and steady resistance. John Lewis would have it no other way.

    Andrea Shorter is a Commissioner and the former President of the historic San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women. She is a longtime advocate for criminal and juvenile justice reform, voter rights and marriage equality. A Co-Founder of the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition, she was a 2009 David Bohnett LGBT Leadership Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

    Published on July 30, 2020