29 February, 2016

RE: Donald J. Trump in Louisville versus The Empty Seat Coalition

I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.- Genesis 3:15

My body is my ballot. - Utah Phillips quoting Ammon Hennacy  

Mab J. Trump, Queen of the Pixies
In case you missed it or live under a rock, Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump is going to be here in River City tomorrow. The rally at the Kentucky International Convention Center has promised to be jam packed full of people looking for a leader who can deliver the sort of America they say they want.

There's also a protest building that I call The Empty Seat Coalition. The plan is this: people are supposed to go through Trump's website, reserve two free tickets to the event, and then not show up.  This is an apparently popular form of protest, or so my Facebook feed would have me believe.  Many of my lefty/progressive Facebook friends have embraced the idea that Trump will get the idea that Kentucky doesn't like him and his dangerous rhetoric if he shows up to a rally full of empty seats.

 Now, if that actually worked out, the visual impact would be amazing. And given that many of my lefty/progressive friends pretty much only talk to other lefty/progressives, the idea has gained momentum. And naturally, one form of free speech is orchestrated silence, and there's nothing necessarily wrong with that.

There's only one problem.

A lot of people DO want Trump to be President.  A lot of people have bought into the violent and
Hillary J. Trump: the ultimate neoliberal
dangerous rhetoric.

He's built a campaign on anti-immigrant venom, machismo, and a brand of anti-populist anti-establishmentarianism that only a millionaire can pull off.  He refuses to reject to the endorsement of the KKK. He promises to build a wall between us and Mexico and make Mexico pay for it. He promises deep corporate tax cuts. He is not as critical of national health care as the traditional GOP thinks he ought to be, and stumbles over religious questions.  Most recently, he quoted Benito Mussolini -- who was another anti-populist,anti-establishment, self-described successful business man (he published a newspaper.) He's not a conservative in the traditional sense .He is, in short, a neoliberal ... just like the presumptive Democratic Candidate.

The problem with ignoring Donald J. Trump away is that ignoring him only feeds the fever tide he is rising in front of. Let me be clear - Trump did not create the tide of fascism he has made himself leader of. It was here already and, like a smart opportunist (a good businessman) he took advantage of it and has built it up into an irrational fervor.

It's in these kinds of situations that I think of a cheesy Merlin mini-series I watched as kid. It starred Sam Neil as Merlin, the last wizard. Mab, who created him to wield magic against humanity, tempted him perpetually, much in the same way the serpent tempted Eve and the way Satan tempted Jesus in the biblical tales.  Merlin eventually defeated Mab by ignoring her into non-existence.

Such a nice story. Except there's a reason it was made-for-tv fiction.

It doesn't work.

I have a ticket to the rally, and I'm going. There is nothing that could ever compel me to embrace the fascism Trump is preaching. I'm not going because I'm considering voting for him. I'm going because voices like mine need to be there, and because someone needs to be there to give an actual report of the event.  I'm going because if my body is not my ballot, nothing else is. Democracy is not supported by the piece of paper or computer screen in a voting booth. Democracy is  supported by people showing up -- to vote, and sometimes, to protest.

If you are reading this and you bought tickets in order to leave them empty, let me suggest that you go to the rally. Let's all sit together and sing "This Land is Your Land." Let's all sit together so our voices are represented, not ignored.  Imagine if Martin Luther King decided to address America's racial and economic inequality by not Marching on Washington. Or if Rosa Parks decided to protest racist policies by not riding the bus. Or if Big Bill Heywood and Joe Ettor had decided to speak out against the treatment women in New York City sweatshops by NOT going to New York and instead telling the strikers to go back to work.

It's not enough to wish evil away. Evil must be faced directly, without hesitation, and be banished. Otherwise, you're just making yourself feel better by cooking marshmallows while the world burns. The only people who win then are the arsonists.

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