To Halt the Slide Into Authoritarianism, We Need a General Strike

Demonstrators protest President Donald Trump’s ban on refugees entering the country, outside John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Jan. 28, 2017. The executive order brought a more positive, if muted, reaction from Republicans and sharp condemnation from Democrats, religious groups, business leaders and academics. (Victor J. Blue/The New York Times)Like the recent airport shutdown protests over Donald Trump’s proposed Muslim ban, a general strike could target key transit infrastructures like these demonstrators outside John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, January 28, 2017.  (Victor J. Blue / The New York Times)

In the weeks immediately after Donald Trump won the presidential election, many people expressed serious concern about the content of his policies and platform. This isn’t surprising. Having lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million, Trump had the thinnest support of any incoming president in modern history. However, in the two weeks since he has taken office, these concerns have moved into a whole new realm. Widespread opposition to his administration is mobilizing now not merely around the content of his policies (what he does), but also the manner in which he is governing (how he does it).

President Trump has begun his term by governing by executive order, launching a rapid series of initiatives that threaten the democratic constitutional structure of the United States. These include: repeated attacks on the institutions of a free and independent press; silencing and summary dismissal of government employees, including the Attorney General; failure to divest personal business interests from the office of the presidency, or release his tax statements; the consolidation of power in a small circle of close friends (e.g., dismissing top military officials from the National Security Council to make room for political advisor and Breitbart executive, Stephen Bannon) and family (e.g., the appointment of his son-in-law Jared Kushner as a senior White House adviser). Perhaps most infamously, the administration has moved forward with a wide-reaching immigration and refugee ban that specifically targets people based on their religion and country of origin. Taken together, these signal a dangerously anti-democratic, even authoritarian impulse at the heart of the Trump administration.

We have seen this…

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