The barrage of stories from the first month of Trump’s Reign of Reaction has been intense. I wake up ready to respond to the latest outrage. But before I can compose myself, others have done so, with more clarity than I can muster. For example, just last week, I was ready to write a broiling post entitled: Republicans to Elizabeth Warren: “Shut Up, Girlie. We don’t even want to hear your shrill voice”: Our response:”We are women, Hear us Roar.” But by then Maureen Dowd, Michelle Alexander, or Gail Collins, and lots of others had already roared. So who was I to think my voice was so special?
Still, I guilt trip myself: why did I miss a meeting, or a resistance conference call: “How can I not be there? Will I miss a crucial act in the Seizure of Power? Or the chance to hear the One Good Idea that will show us the way to act, or at least to think? I, who declare myself to be “Radically Reentering”? I obsess. I forward enough emails for my friends to block me. I irritate my loved ones — one of whom said quietly to me “Mom, I read the news too.” I don’t write in my blog often because it seems too public, unpolished, and since I am so hyped up, I may have to apologize within a day for what I said, or didn’t say.
I remember being this worked up 45 years ago. As a budding historian I had never thought this county could launch a revolution from the Left, although as a White Southerner I was always ready for any Rightwing rebellion. But then, on a Movement bus to hear some Black Panthers speak out against the War, and racism, and “Amerika”, I heard myself say: “maybe we will have a Revolution, because I just can’t take it anymore.”
Luckily, I figured out quickly how foolish, and self-absorbed, this was. “We” had no plan, no strategy, no sense even of who constituted our “we” — and certainly we had no analysis of who would be the losers if we radicals were wrong in declaring that the Time was Now. We white radicals had no ideas about how to get out of the way so that those who would be most in danger in any revolution could take leadership. We simply were not the ones to lead any revolution in this so badly compromised USA. We shouldn’t try to do so; we couldn’t do so, and if we tried, we would fuck up and others who were poorer and darker would pay the price for our arrogance.
SO I kept trying: trying to live with a sense of purpose, to teach, write and act as part of the Resistance. To be someone who never expected or wanted to fit in. Sure , because I was a white, heterosexual and married, I was able to find a base within a public university in a Northern state and city. So I was able to be ok. I tried to stay oppositional in words, if not always in deeds. But this was seldom more than an internally generated necessity. I had no community demanding radical resistance from me, no one to really hold me to account.
But that doesn’t feel true now.
These are crazy-making times. I have no excuses. Even more, I have deep obligations to resist to a point of intensity that makes others uncomfortable, or to avoid me. I don’t know what this means, really. But I have to keep at it, with help from my friends and those who must insist. Exactly because I know that the Forces of Reaction will win a lot more before they can be pushed back, I have to keep at it, in any way this poor 70 year old mind and body can manage.