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Progressives Need Their Own Tea Party

01/20/2017 05:00 EST | Updated 01/20/2017 05:10 EST

trump protests

Protests and supporters gather as Donald Trump takes the oath of office and becomes the 45th president of the United States, during the Jan. 20, 2016 inauguration ceremony in Washington D.C. (Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

It's midnight in America.

Donald J. Trump has ascended to the highest office of the United States, making the billionaire bully the most powerful person in the world, and he did it with a campaign that Made America Hate Again.

These are dark times, and Trump's behaviour since winning the Electoral College, despite losing by 2,864,974 votes, has allayed no fears.

George W. Bush, who also lost the popular vote in 2000, used his inauguration speech to reach out to those who didn't vote for him. He said that immigrants "make our country more, not less, American," and pushed for civility and "community over chaos."

Trump, on the other hand, delivered an inauguration speech echoing his divisive campaign. He ranted about the "carnage" of the Obama era during which the U.S. saw its largest ever job creation streak, prison populations reduced for the first time in decades and crime rates falling to the their lowest rates since the 1960s.

If there's one thing that progressives should learn from Trump's election, it is that protest works.

He spoke of taking the country back from the elite, leaving out that his cabinet is full of billionaires and Goldman Sachs bankers, and to an almost entirely white audience he promised that "the forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer" while failing to mention he won't forget to take away their health care by the tens of millions.

Trump also said that "from this moment on, it's going to be America First," a slogan he borrowed from an anti-Semitic political movement in 1940 that tried to keep America from taking on the Nazis.

All told, it's been a bleak day.

But don't give up. Resistance isn't futile. If there's one thing that progressives should learn from Trump's election, it is that protest works.

Obama was inaugurated with 84 per cent approval and Democrats in charge of the Congress and Senate. But the reason why the U.S. doesn't have a Canadian-style single-payer medical system is because the right showed up en masse to health care town halls and scared Democrats into backing off.

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Yes, Republicans are more ideological and likely to follow their leadership in lock-step, but some are already starting to get scared from non-violent crowds protesting the Obamacare repeal.

And on January 21, the world will be demonstrating against Donald Trump. Hundreds of Women's Marches, including some across Canada expected to draw big turnouts, will march in solidarity with the main Washington D.C. protest's anticipated 200,000 participants.

But that's just the beginning.

The right created a movement, the Tea Party, which not only protested in the streets -- beginning with the September 12 Taxpayer March on Washington -- but energized the Republicans to win the 2010 midterms. They literally took over the party and pushed it to the far-right, eventually electing anti-establishment Trump as their presidential standard bearer.

Progressives can do the same.

bernie rally Senator Bernie Sanders speaks out against president-elect Donald Trump during a rally next to the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 17, 2016. (Photo: Getty Images)

So demonstrate and march non-violently, but also use the movement that developed around Bernie Sanders to organize at a community level and work your way up. Progressives can effect change from the grassroots by pushing local, state and federal Democrats leftward from Clintonian establishment centrism and by reminding Republicans that progressives are their constituents, too.

And, most importantly, defend the marginalized. Make no mistake, Muslims, people of colour, women and LGBTQ Americans will all be under constant attack from the Trump regime.

Don't get depressed. Learn. Fight. Resist.

Trump may have won by scapegoating minorities and inflaming white fright, but he doesn't represent the majority. Trump was inaugurated with a historically low 37 per cent approval, and that was according to a Fox News(!) poll.

Don't get depressed. Learn. Fight. Resist.

And that's also true here in Canada, where progressives need to defend our border from Trump's influence by pushing Trudeau to fulfill his campaign promises as a firewall to Conservative party populism.

It is midnight in America, yes. But if people pull together, dawn will break once again.

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