Tag Archives: Donald Trump

A Coup by Any Other Name…

A coup is not about what someone’s motives are for having it. A coup is about what happens, what can be measured. A coup doesn’t stop being a coup because someone is doing it for profit, and start being a coup because someone is doing it for power. Plenty of coups for profit have succeeded in seizing governments; plenty of coups for power have failed.

Neither are we psychic enough to know for sure any motives that Trump has behind his actions. We know his whim is unpredictable, dangerous, and can change by mood, yet then we act as if we can predict his future actions perfectly. We can’t. The only thing he’s demonstrated is that whatever is most chaotic is what he knows how to exploit best.

A coup is measured in what is happening. Last week, Trump replaced three of the four most powerful people at the Pentagon: the Secretary of Defense and two under-secretaries. We’re told Secretary Mark Esper’s removal was expected, and this makes us feel safer without our asking why it was expected – because he opposed the invocation of the Insurrection Act to use active duty military against protesters.

Richard Pilger, the director of the Justice Department’s Election Crimes Branch was forced out on Nov. 9 because he opposed Trump’s Attorney General William Barr attempting to interfere with election results. Now Christopher Krebs, the head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, has been fired for refuting the Trump-Pence Administration’s conspiracy theories. All this in a week and a day.

Meanwhile, Trump is denying the results of the election along with the majority of the Republican Party. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week told us he expected a “smooth transition to a second Trump Administration”.

These are all steps that are component to a coup. That it hasn’t fully formed is not an excuse to pretend it won’t matter. The only reason it’s not fully formed is because it’s still advancing bit by bit every day. It doesn’t need to be clear, highlighted, and complete with a “We’re having a coup here!” sign if it can still get stronger every day by being murky and ill-defined.

Trump, Barr, Miller, and their cohorts may not even know how far they’ll follow through on it. The answer is: however far we allow them.

Do I think Biden will be seated as president on time? I think it’s likely. But if we face even a 30% or 20% chance of a coup that goes much further than it already has, that’s far too high to risk.

I get that we recognize a full-fledged coup isn’t taking place. But that’s not the same as recognizing no coup whatsoever is taking place. As in many things, the Trump-Pence administration is pushing the norms further and further out to see just what they can get away with. If it’s some no-bid contracts and arms sales that make them money, that’s what it will be. If it’s a second Trump Administration ignoring the election, that’s what it will be.

The defining factor isn’t what they intend or what they want, because they’ve always wanted as much as they can take. The defining factor is where we stop them from taking any more. That means the work of active opposition and resistance to this administration isn’t done. However much it sucks, however much we don’t like it, that is the reality.

The thing is, we know how to beat this stuff; we’ve been doing it for four years. That is also the reality. We’re good at it by now. Sometimes even extraordinary. So go be really fucking good at organizing and calling and – if organizers decide it’s needed, marching. Go be really fucking good at stopping their greed and destruction one more time. Don’t let them leave on any victory, and certainly don’t risk them staying on one. Make them slink away into the night with their tails between their legs like the caught out con-men they are.

Gabriel Valdez has served as a campaign manager, PAC manager, legislative aide, and reporter. If what you read on this site is useful to you, consider subscribing to Gabriel Valdez’s Patreon. It helps with the time and resources to continue writing articles like this one.

Avoid the Media Circus. Focus on Policy and Voting.

If Trump succumbs to COVID-19, his administration can still win the election. His ideas may still pervade and damage this country, impact and cost real people, real rights, real safety.

If Trump loses the election, it really won’t matter what the disease does or doesn’t do to him. It will matter that he lost, and we can start putting things back together again, start making real progress on reversing damages and protecting the future.

I don’t care if the announcement was timed or not. I don’t care if Trump’s on a drug cocktail that makes him loopy or not. I don’t care how serious his case is or isn’t.

All of those are plot developments, twists, and cliffhangers on the reality show he wants us to buy into, and the information we’re provided isn’t always reliable or consistent from one day to the next. I’m supposed to believe people who lie all the time that he’s on this or that drug, so I can conjecture that he’s doing this badly or that well, and then analyze how we feel, our response, how we think this month will go…based off of that? What a god damn waste of our time and energy.

None of those changes the real things that are before us that we can impact: the calls we make, the votes we re-enable, the civil rights we remind people are maintained by their votes. Trump can be severely ill for the rest of the month or flying through the air on a pony tomorrow; it should not change our work.

Resist the temptation to allow your feelings to exist in the circus of chaos they want to make of this. Like in everything else, the reality they present will change day by day, and so will our reactions. If they dictate the reality every day, then they dictate the reality the election takes place within. How are we supposed to win an election where the reality of what even matters…stops mattering?

Trump will be the picture of health and a miracle cure one day, on his last legs and needing prayer in the form of donations the next, refusing drugs because he prays it away one minute, then “surprisingly cogent” despite all the drugs a minute later. COVID will be like the common cold one minute, and then a terrible disease only a warrior like him could beat the next. Get too deep into that mountain of bullshit and you’ll be looking at the election, wondering where all that time went, and going, “Why am I so deep in all this shit and sputtering even more of it?” as they dictate the day’s message every morning.

This is an election about civil rights. Keep it about that. Remind people of that, of their role in keeping those rights. What’s the day’s message? Policy. Civil rights. Our message.

The message doesn’t change day by day if you wake up every day in the same reality, with the same set of provable truths, and the verifiable effort and impact you can make before you.

I don’t care what happens to Trump. I care that he loses this election, and that we do what we can together to ensure it. That’s it. There’s not a lot of drama to it. There aren’t constant updates about it. There’s just continuing step by step, keeping the work in front of us that we know makes a difference.

If you find what you read on this site useful, subscribe to Gabriel Valdez’s Patreon. It helps with the time and resources to continue writing articles like this one.

Dear Men: This is How Trump and Sexual Abusers Weaponize Our Silence

Donald Trump, Billy Bush, Arianne Zucker

by Gabriel Valdez

I see a lot of people wondering why Donald Trump bragging about groping women is the instance that breaks his presidential campaign. Republicans already knew who he was. The recording of Trump bragging to Billy Bush about sexually assaulting women is just as violent and misogynist as other things he’s said. So why are Conservatives only backing away from him now? Why not earlier?

A few weeks ago, before the first presidential debate, I was incredibly apprehensive about how it would go. I wrote this to a friend:

“I think Clinton may just win not because she acts human or suddenly becomes likeable to the masses, but because America will be deeply uncomfortable with a man beating up on a woman in that way…and not because America objects to the idea, but because America objects to acknowledging that it accepts the idea.”

Now, I already think Clinton acts human and is likeable, but I don’t think America perceives her that way. More to the point, the U.S….and much more to the point, men are too comfortable with the idea of other men boasting about assault.

The Republican party, the middle independents, the evangelical Right…they already knew who Trump was. This isn’t the objection of a Right wing that can’t accept what Trump said. This is the objection of a Right wing that doesn’t want to acknowledge how much it accepts every day what Trump said. Its Achilles heel is being forced to look in a mirror in front of the voting public.

But that’s how this operates. Billy Bush nervously laughed and added another few jokes for Trump to guffaw at. If Billy Bush had gotten off that bus with Trump and warned actress Arianne Zucker that Trump was contemplating sexually assaulting her, and done so in front of Trump, for all of his braggadocio, Trump might’ve thought twice the next time.

And if other men, over the years, had done that as a regular habit, for all his sociopathy and means, even Trump would have considered the environment hostile toward his groping and the multiple sexual assaults of which he’s been accused. It might not have changed who Trump was, but it might’ve changed the environment enough so that he didn’t feel he had others’ tacit approval when assaulting women. Maybe that means fewer women would have been assaulted.

But Billy Bush didn’t do those things because he doesn’t object to the idea or the act. He objects to acknowledging that he accepts the idea or the act. And if no one forces him to acknowledge that he accepts it, then he’s more comfortable endorsing it, and Trump and all the other sexually violent men who feel they are endorsed by the Billy Bushes of the world go on assaulting, knowing that they are protected by others being much more comfortable with endorsement than confrontation.

This thought has already been said elsewhere, but don’t be thankful you’re not Trump. Think of the times that you paused and chuckled nervously and gave tacit endorsement to someone who is like Trump. Because if you’re a man in the United States, there have been times when you’ve been Billy Bush. That’s because male society teaches us from youth to be quiet in those circumstances, to think of it simply as “the way men talk.”

We’ve all had moments in our lives when we’ve been quiet, or laughed, and not stood up. I’ve done it. Every man has done it at some point. Don’t excuse it and don’t say you haven’t, because you have. Look at that as a failure in your life. Don’t excuse it. Don’t say, “Well, I was younger.”

Look at that as a time when you did not rise to the occasion, when you justified in your own head being a coward because it was more comfortable. That’s how I look at those moments in myself. It’s all right to have failed. It’s not all right to keep failing, and as men, on the whole, we keep failing spectacularly.

We cannot teach others that, “No, I never failed in that way,” because that is just passing on the same endorsement. That is just teaching other men how to justify silence within their own minds. We cannot teach, “Here’s how I can still excuse the moments I chose to be silent in the past.” We can’t always have a reason why we didn’t stand up. We can’t always say, “Well, I didn’t know better.” Because it doesn’t change the fact that we know better now and that we can teach out of our mistakes rather than excusing them.

I’m a man. That means there are points in my past where I should have said something, but didn’t. Yes, I was young. That doesn’t matter. That doesn’t change the fact that I was a coward and I failed.

As men, we have to teach out of ourselves, out of our mistakes. We cannot keep translating to other men that we are incapable of mistakes because that is what they will learn, too, that is what we will endorse in them, and that makes silence in the face of those like Trump easy.

There were times in my life when I was a coward and failed. There were times in your life when you were a coward and failed. Acknowledge it, admit it, and recognize the high cost that this kind of failure can have. Admit to other men how painful that failure can be, so they will know not to sit there and nervously chuckle, and tacitly endorse because it feels safe.

Trump isn’t the scariest part of this. The scariest part of this is how many men will look at Billy Bush’s position in this and feel sorry for him, because they’ve been him and they feel sorry for themselves because they’ve never figured out how to stop being him.

If we as men constantly justify and excuse the position he took, rather than looking at it and calling it a failure, then we excuse those moments when we’ve endorsed the violent through our silence, and we teach other men that it is excusable and to keep on doing it.

There are times in our lives when we were cowards and we failed in this exact situation. That is what being a man is. It is still cowardly and it is still a failure if we cannot admit that, if all we can do is justify our past mistakes. If we can’t acknowledge our own silences, our own nervous laughs, our own failures, then we are not the generation with whom it stops, we are not the generation that truly objects to the social endorsement of sexual assault. If we can’t admit our own failures, we are just translating to the next generation of men the best practices to avoid acknowledging that they accept the idea, too.

I am a man, and because of that, there have been moments in my life when I was a coward and I failed. Comments like Trump’s aren’t unique. We’ve all heard them, and we’ve all had moments when we were silent before them, or nervously laughed before them, or even added to them with the thought that others might accept us better. And with our silences, the Trumps of the world have all the permission they need to injure.

We might think our silences were fleeting, our endorsements at most implied, but the injuries they fuel last a lifetime. As men, we need to take ownership of our failures, individually and as a whole. Without doing so, we’re just side-stepping the problem and pretending we’re solving it better than we are. Doing better starts with admitting to ourselves when we have contributed to doing worse. Period.

AC: Donald Trump & the Charleston Gunman Sound Eerily Similar on People of Color

One thing that’s really bothered me about the coverage of the Charleston church shooting is how what the shooter said almost directly echoes a conservative talking point that Donald Trump focused on in his presidential announcement. Trump obviously didn’t cause the shooting, but there is a repeated mentality among conservatives that both bolsters and encourages racist elements in this country to carry out their violence in larger and more public ways. Read it here:

Donald Trump & the Charleston Gunman Sound Eerily Similar on People of Color