Whither?


Hillary Clinton conducted herself with honor this week, as did Barack Obama. Donald Trump is the new president. He won the election. The matter is settled.

Here in Portland as elsewhere in the country we have seen daily demonstrations. Reports indicate they begin peacefully before turning to vandalism and violence perpetrated by many of the usual suspects.

Police tweeted that many demonstrators were "trying to get anarchist groups to stop destroying property" and that "anarchists" were refusing to do so. Demonstrators at many points chanted "peaceful protest." (Ryan, The Oregonian/OregonLive)

Disavowals of responsibility by demonstration organizers ring hollow. We call the mayor and police officials to account when police officers abuse their power. No, the circumstances are not exactly the same, but at the least we might expect organizers to make every effort including cooperation with city and police authorities to rein in those who want to run amok.

The instant someone smashes a window or spray-paints graffiti on a statue at Mt. Tabor, that person is no longer a protester. That person is a vandal, or in the case of self-styled anarchists, an insurrectionist little different in kind from the Bundyistas recently set free in a miscarriage of justice.

I know what I would say if Clinton had won the election and Trumpists were in the streets resisting the outcome. That must be my response now. There is a time for protest. I anticipate there will be many occasions over the next four years when protest will be called for. Now is not the time. I join David Brooks in his call for a respectful pause.

On Friday I cut out from the office fifteen minutes early to catch the MAX train ahead of the one I usually take to ensure I would pass through the city center before any disruption caused by demonstrations slated to commence at 5:00. While waiting for the #15 bus at 5th and Salmon, I fell into conversation with two young women who were distressed by Trump's triumph but not particularly sympathetic with the demonstrators. I made some comment or other, then quickly apologized for breaking into their conversation. They welcomed me to join in and a pleasant exchange ensued.

One mentioned a proposal to abolish the electoral college and an initiative launched to put a measure on the ballot that would require state officials to take steps for Oregon to secede from the union. She and her friend was dubious about both propositions. I noted that the abolishing the electoral college would require a constitutional amendment, a difficult process that would be years if the doing if it happened at all. As for secession, I was born and grew up in South Carolina, where they tried that once. It did not go well. We concluded with agreement on the imperative for those who think as we do to find ways to stand for what we value.

The bus came. They took their seats and I took mine. The matter of what is to be done remains. The outlook is grim. We will have to live for years, for decades, with the consequences of a Trump presidency and Republican majorities in both houses of Congress. It is time to become more engaged than I have been, among other things seeking dialogue with those who may be allies in the struggle such as the women at the bus stop and, more challenging, being open to dialogue with people whose take on just about everything is alien to me, as my take is to them, yet we must somehow try to break through and talk to one another. Beyond that I have little clue what shape or form this engagement may take. More anon.

Recommended Reading

Juan Cole, How can Progressives get through the Next 4 Years? Organize!

Informed Comment, 11/11/2016

Cristiano Lima, Sanders: I'm 'prepared to work with' Trump, Politico, 11/9/2016

Jim Ryan, Portland's anti-Trump protest turns violent, as rioters rampage in Pearl, The Oregonian/OregonLive, 11/10/2016

Theda Skocpol Responds to Judis, Politico, 11/11/2016

Michael Tomasky, No, Bernie Sanders Would Not Have Won, The Daily Beast, 11/11/2016

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David Matthews

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