Just a couple of weeks ago, critics of post-inaugural protesters argued the anti-President Trump movement lacked coherence. Too many small, identity-politics issues, the marcher-watching pundits sniffed. Well, as we imagined, Trump has provided the unifying theme and emotional inspiration, one that can galvanize Americans from many walks of life and political persuasions.
Trump’s poorly executed and monumentally counterproductive refugee freeze and travel ban demonstrated just how many aspects of American society are connected and dependent upon people outside the United States. The Hill reports:
A coalition of 598 college and university presidents has released a letter voicing “concerns” with President Trump’s temporary ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations.
In the letter, sent Friday to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly through the American Council on Education (ACE), the presidents say they are concerned about how the order will affect international students, faculty, researchers and staffers.
Academics ordinarily might not have much in common with the business community, but in this case they see eye to eye. Walt Disney Company chief executive Bob Iger didn’t attend Trump’s Friday business forum. Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick abandoned the group altogether after his urban customer base vilified the ban, criticized Kalanick for cooperating with Trump and in many cases deactivated the Uber app on their phones. A slew of CEO’s in the new and old economy have lashed out at the president, making clear a discriminatory ban on Muslims from certain countries is bad business and antithetical to their corporate cultures.
Silicon Valley, traditionally reluctant to mix it up in electoral politics, now is fully engaged. Politico reports:
A collection of Silicon Valley executives, engineers and activists are quietly plotting a progressive counterattack against President Donald Trump, a sign of the industry’s growing anger at his election victory and actions on immigration.
Through a new organization tentatively called Win the Future, or WTF, the likes of LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and Zynga founder Mark Pincus are teaming up with former Sierra Club President Adam Werbach to connect political organizers and shore up progressive candidates and causes ahead of the 2018 midterm and 2020 presidential elections, according to three sources familiar with the plan.
Employees in retail, manufacturing and financial services have exactly the same reason to get on board the anti-Trump train. Their employers cannot pull up the drawbridge, and if Trump continues down this protectionist, xenophobic path they, not foreign countries, will bear the economic brunt.
On the political front, Democrats instantly seized the opportunity to attack the White House as did some free-market conservatives and many libertarians. City and state governments, particularly in border states, are up in arms as well, seeing the threat to their local economy and the humanitarian harm Trump is causing in their communities. Massachusetts, New York, Virginia and Washington state this week joined litigants in challenging both the travel ban and the sanctuary cities executive order.
Just as Trump forged his coalition with a nationalist, xenophobic message, opponents have now found their common cause — protecting America as a tolerant, dynamic place that derives real benefits from — and in some instances cannot operate without — international talent, markets and travel. Productive, innovative and modern Americans now have a common cause. Regardless of ideological differences on a host of issues, they now see defense of the international liberal (small “l”) ideal as critical to the country’s economic, political and psychological health. They do not want to be dragged back to the 1950s (as if such a thing were possible) or lose talent and capital that will go elsewhere if the United States turns inward.
The vain attempt to make America “great,” Trump critics now see, would destroy the environment in which a diverse populace can cross-pollinate and collaborate. That understanding — a defense of modernism itself — requires that we stay engaged in the world, defend democratic norms and vital institutions and eschew the image of the “Ugly American.”
We already see some political push-back against Trump’s travel ban, and also against the wall on our Southern border. (CNN reports, “President Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall on the border with Mexico is facing a major problem: A wall of resistance from his own party. A growing number of congressional Republicans are objecting to the cost and viability of a proposal that was a rallying cry for the billionaire businessman during his insurgent campaign. Interviews with more than a dozen GOP lawmakers across the ideological spectrum suggest Trump could have a difficult time getting funding for his plan approved by Congress.”)
A wide and deep coalition of students, teachers, scientists, high-tech and industrial workers and CEOs, state and local leaders, religious leaders and Americans of all political stripes now has its message and calling: America is great because it is free, welcoming, dynamic, generous, exerts leadership in the world and has institutions (e.g., an independent judiciary, a free press) that promote inclusion and success (however we define it). If anti-Trump Americans aim to reinforce those qualities and the institutions that promote them, then the know-nothing populists and xenophobic characters who occupy the White House will not destroy what makes America great.