It’s happening. Right in front of us, it’s happening. Outright, unapologetic fascism has risen to power in the United States.
Things are bad, and they’re going to get worse. Much worse.
What is being left out of the discussion of the Trump administration’s outrages against decency is that they didn’t need to build the machine they’re using to crush America’s civil society. It was constructed over decades. Even though the architects were warned again and again that this would come to pass, they drew up the plans and hired the builders anyway. The hubris of thinking they would always have control of their creation is why the nation is slipping into this abyss.
Trump and his inner circle are bunglers. If they didn’t already have a functioning apparatus to work with, they wouldn’t have been able to get any of this off the ground. They were saved having to do the work needed to amass the manpower and build the infrastructure to carry out their plans, and America was cheated out of having that precious time to beat them back.
The machine has been tested thoroughly, and it works.
A racist system of mass incarceration is an American staple, as are racist mass deportations and the detentions that precede them. The police can already kill people of color with impunity. They can also use civil asset forfeiture to confiscate property and assets without presenting compelling evidence. Prisoners are already being forced to work under harsh conditions without payment. And then, there are the White nationalists who have been allowed to amass huge arsenals of weapons. They have also infiltrated law enforcement and the military.
All the pieces are in place for something truly unspeakable to unfold.
If you are not White, and you live in America, you need to start planning how you will either confront the mounting horrors or escape them. The time for outright panic and selling assets off for pennies on the dollar isn’t here yet, but if things really turn, it will happen quickly.
Do not assume being a citizen will protect you. Do not assume redress in the courts will be available. Do not assume your assets won’t be seized. Do not assume you won’t be labeled a dissident and interned for speaking out. Do not assume you won’t be summarily executed for not turning your papers over quickly enough to the cop who demanded them.
It is time to prepare for the worst.
If you’re fortunate enough to be a professional with skills you can take to a stable country, you should begin exploring those options. If you’re at a multi-national, you should put in for a transfer.
The property bubble is going to burst. If you own a home in one of the thriving markets, you should be thinking of cashing out anyway, so do it sooner rather than later, and use the proceeds to get out of Dodge.
If you’re an immigrant, and your country of origin is relatively stable, you should save as much as you can for as long as you can and repatriate yourself.
Most people, especially undocumented immigrants and refugees, won’t have these options. They’re barely making ends meet and they may already be hiding from ICE. As events unfold, it will become clearer which areas of the United States are safer for immigrants, and people should try to make their way there. Those of you who can should do whatever you can to make their journeys safe and eventually help get them out of the country.
For the people who can’t or won’t leave, dismantling the machine at the local level needs to become your top priority right now.
Put your local law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges under a microscope and start voting out, impeaching, and otherwise clearing out anyone with gestapoish tendencies.
All the surplus military equipment that has been turned over to state and local law enforcement needs to be decommissioned or destroyed. Don’t think for a second that they won’t use it on you.
Don’t assume the state-federal divide will hold and local police departments and other agencies won’t eventually take orders directly from Homeland Security or whatever new nightmare agency they’ll dream up.
Assume all the rules will eventually go out the window.
Everyone needs to put their backs into ending mass incarceration and its abuses. Poor Black and Brown communities have been targeted for decades by racist, draconian drug laws. Non-violent drug offenders need to be released and their records expunged. Unpaid prison labor needs to be outlawed.
Cash bail has to be ended. It is used to trap mostly poor, Black people in jails where they languish for months at a time, sometimes years, because they can’t raise bail money. They lose their jobs, their cars, their homes, and are further impoverished. The cycling in and out of jail and prison keeps these people poor. Their poverty keeps them in ghettoes. Housing discrimination prevents many who might from getting out.
We need to wake up to what all this is: concentration of “undesirable” populations. We can’t afford to pretend we don’t know what brutal escalations might come next.
The violently punitive American justice system destroys people’s lives and takes everything from them for relatively minor infractions, and it has always been racially biased. Civil and human rights violations are part and parcel of the system. There is a straight line from these transgressions to what is happening down at the Mexican border now.
All the “tough on crime” strategies need to be finally named for what they are: tools of fascism. Anyone who backed this play needs to be told in no uncertain terms to go and sit down somewhere. Their destructive participation in American civic life is no longer required.
Loudly and vociferously back up the people working on holding police accountable and limiting their power. Make it a priority to take the gun and badge of every abusive cop and do everything possible to make sure they can’t work in law enforcement again. They’ve shown us again and again that they’ll follow any order that comes, no matter how brutishly it debases humanity.
Fight back against mass surveillance. Organize to push the tech companies to better protect your privacy. Press your representatives to do the same. The ability to organize in secret must be preserved.
This all has to be done while America’s civic institutions still function, while there is still some semblance of rule of law.
Time is of the essence.
The machine has been built, and it has been tested.
If you know you’ll need to run, start planning your escape now. If you’re going to stay and fight, remember that ordinary people — your neighbors — will collaborate in the atrocities that are unfolding and those that are yet to come. Watch them too, not just the spectacle in Washington.