The Washington Socialist <> February 2017
By Woody Woodruff
The news can be pretty dizzying and putting trends together is not easy. But here are a few things we, as progressives and activists, know that help us put some filters on the everyday buzz of events.
Fighting Trump is going to be the existential struggle for progressives in the next four years, or however long he lasts. What is emerging as a corporate capitalist coup under his show-runner management means we’ll have to be in struggle all the time. It’s going to be exhausting and exhilarating to be involved in what Prof. Clarence Lusane, of Howard University, called the imperative of “permanent mobilization” on WPFW radio a few weeks ago.
Some of the most important weapons we have in this mobilization are our local institutions – state government, local governments, neighborhood activism, the nonprofits and public interest organizations -- a bottom-up solid front against the assaults that are sure to come from the total takeover of the federal structure by the barbarians. (If you think that’s too strong a word, we invite you to just wait a bit and see how you feel then.)
We have a strong array of such institutions in Maryland and in the District, distinct as their politics and structures are. But we may feel we can count on them in the fray against Trump.
So that’s why the news, taken together, is a little disconcerting. A lot of what we are seeing and hearing about those local institutions in Maryland makes us feel as though we are going to have to watch our backs while presenting a front of resistance to the worst that Trump & Co. can offer.
The Sun has a poker-faced article about a group of CEOs from Virginia, Maryland and D.C. getting together to make the region even more attractive to business. As with Gov. Larry Hogan’s use of the Augustine Commission (created by the Democratic leadership in the Assembly!), the outcome of business-fueled activism like that is usually further plans to weaken workers and strengthen bosses. Trump, a rabid union-buster, will be pleased.
Looking to the Maryland General Assembly to push back against the Right (in the form of Larry Hogan, or otherwise) may be a losing game too. It is really pretty quiet on that front. There seems remarkably little appetite for defiant behavior in the upcoming legislative session in January, where issues like Hogan’s backpedaling from RGGI, the regional climate pact with other states, heels dug in on full funding for schools, or advancement of weak rules to control fracking that could endanger our water and air quality don’t seem to be rousing much outrage. And if you are holding out hopes that national Democrats will resist Trumpism, don’t.
Hogan is doubling down on his plan to privatize education, inch by inch, having already extracted an open barn door from the Assembly leadership on that, too – proposing to devote more public money to private schools. And Montgomery County, usually the last line of progressive defense, has knuckled under to Hogan’s absurd demand that all schools start after Labor Day, a clear violation of local autonomy in education and more evidence that decentralized school authority simply makes kids more likely to be victimized by adult shenanigans. Can’t wait to see what Trump’s Education Department brings to the table to complement the so-far-unopposed Hogan takeover.
It would be great if Democrats at the state and local level could be trusted to keep the pernicious effects of Trumpism and Hoganism at bay. Alas, not so. One of Prince George’s County’s most powerful legislators, Dereck Davis, who chairs the House Economic Matters Committee (where pro-worker legislatin goes to die), has filed a pre-emption bill that would forbid local governments from setting their own minimum wage and benefits (read: paid sick leave) laws.
County Council members in Prince George’s, a majority of whom are pretty much in the pockets of business and developer interests, have not objected to Davis’s authoritarian move, though Baltimore’s council definitely has.
As we’ll read elsewhere in this issue, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett vetoed a $15/hr minimum wage bill on spurious, pro-business grounds in one of the most expensive counties to live in in the country. Many forces, including the Metro DC DSA Economic Justice working group, are publicly urging him to reverse his course.
These, as we said, are all Democrats.
So the bottom line appears that as progressives, we may have to watch our backs if we resist the Trump administration without first consolidating our base, bucking up our chicken-hearted elected and appointed officials and let them know that rolling over for Trump, or looking the other way, will bring quick action in the streets and lasting action when election time comes around.
“Permanent mobilization,” indeed.
About The Washington Socialist
.The Washington Socialist is Metro DC DSA's monthly e-newsletter. Focusing on our local's events, socialist analyses of current events and book reviews, among other topics, The Washington Socialist is a great way to stay on top of the progressive goings-on in DC, Maryland and northern Virginia. We also encourage our readers to submit their own articles! Contact Editor Woody Woodruff for more info at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get the Washington Socialist delivered directly to your inbox every month!
Past issues of The Washington Socialist from 2012-June 2016 are available for viewing on our archive page.