As women march the streets of Washington, New York, St. Louis, Calgary and throughout the world,
Those of the stripes we refer to as liberal, left-wing, progressive, and moderate are steeling their spines to respond not only to the actions and messages of the new administration but also those with whom they ought to engage with to make the case against the new president's decisions. After years of the right expressing their disdain for the decisions that have been attributed to environmentalists, President Obama, moral relativists, tax-and-spenders, pinkos, and anybody else whom right-wingers, Tea Partiers and Republicans have opposed and obstructed going back to the rise of Newt Gingrich, it is now the left's turn to activate and make their case.
The Women's March on Washington (let me acknowledge that the branding was no reflection of the scope and extent of marches throughout and beyond the U.S.) has hopefully been a peaceful, non-confrontational step forward and the model of peaceful dissent as it will be demonstrated in the weeks and months ahead. (Note my unbridled optimism in limiting myself to those two measures of time.) Apart from demonstrating the sheer size of this opposition to what Donald Trump has stood for throughout his life and his rather unpresidential campaign, there is the task of making the case for opposing him. It seems anathema for me to state that there is a need to make a case against him, but there are people who support him, among them elected Republican senators and congressmen who will not only strive to support him and keep him safely ensconced from the threat of impeachment, but indulge in their own shenanigans while the red-hot focus of the world is on every keystroke Trump indulges in on Twitter.
There are mechanisms of voter suppression, both legalistic and strategic, that will be abused to retain power and their are cohorts of voters who will be relied upon to ensure that power is kept in the hands that assume to currently wield it from the padded benches of the branches of power that reside in Washington, DC.
Apart from those powers, there are also voters who strongly believe that Trump will restore America to the Rockwell-era purity and power that they are so nostalgic for. The desire to regress to that era is, in 2017, an expression of intolerance. Many of the social and security policies that Trump has expressed and won support for are going to compromise the rights and freedoms that have been hard-won over the last 50-60 years and they are target women, Muslims, immigrants and the handicapped. I limit myself to this list in a rare effort on my part to keep a sentence brief. Apart from those targets, it has not been ruled-out that free speech and assembly will be undermined during this administration. A simple demonstration of this would be a highlight reel of Trump demanding his minions ejected those of different opinions or even infants from his events.
The challenge for the left is to resist the temptation to indulge in a similar rejection or oppression of opposing viewpoints - to essentially squash the free speech of the right and challenge their right to assemble. Despite the infuriation that the left might grapple with when hearing opinions that are (rightly?) perceived to be misinformed sloganeering from the right or the conduct of shills or sheep for Trump and the establishment, that option cannot be ponder because of the prime commitment to tolerance. After the left's commitment to the countless minorities who have been discounted and oppressed and held back, it may still be tempting to make an exception in the case of those who have done the oppressing, but that option must not and cannot be exploited. That will make the task of bringing down this government a rewarding one in the end, because it has been done properly and by legitimate means.
The values that liberal democracies stand for, free speech being the key one to protect in the immediate future there must be a commitment to tolerance and beyond that a desire for dialogue. It will be difficult to convince those of the right to listen and risk the threat to the apparent certainties that they want to cling so dearly to, but it is necessary to commit to that give and take and to the careful, calm committed and trusting listening that has to take place in order to make the case that the changes that Trump has implemented and wishes to add to his regression thus far are ultimately threats to the comforts, security and well being that Americans long for.
A reminder of how this tolerance must be embodied dates back just to November as President Obama was stumping for Hillary Clinton in North Carolina. Obama strived to bring the crowd under control and remind the audience of the values that Americans want to stand for and tolerance for dissent is among those values.