President Trump’s visit to Ypsilanti last Wednesday is a great example of how the rich try hard to sustain their political influence in the face of growing civic engagement and protests. According to one article, “Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and General Motors told workers they will transport them to and from Trump’s rally, provide lunch and cover their pay for the day if they miss a shift at their plant. Ford will do the same, but will not cover their pay.” (https://www.eclectablog.com/2017/03/detroit-three-automakers-busing-uaw-workers-in-to-cheer-at-trumps-visit-to-ypsilanti-michigan-today.html) You have got to wonder: why does the auto industry offer to pay its workers to cheer for Trump? Are Trump’s policies so unpopular even among his own supporters that they need special incentives to show up for his speech? Or, has Trump lost so many of his original supporters that a satisfactory turn-out at his rally is not to be expected? Whatever the reason, the Big Three were sufficiently concerned that they took steps of their own to ensure that the impression of broad support among the working class for Trump’s policies is kept alive.
Yet, the power of the rich and powerful to manipulate appearances has its limits. While Trump was in Ypsilanti, in the middle of a workday, hundreds of anti-Trump demonstrators brazed the cold winter weather to protest Trump’s visit and his policies, at a rally organized by Michigan to Believe In. These demonstrators were not paid to show up. They came because Trump’s policies so appall them that not speaking up against them is not an option for them. It was a fascinating mix of people representing our diverse society. Their protest signs addressed issues ranging from climate change, to women’s right, to social justice, to civil rights, to immigration, to Russia, to impeachment, to kleptocracy, and more. There was authenticity in the air everywhere you looked. There was a sense of assuredness that protesting Trump’s attacks on our way of life is a civic duty. There was a unifying energy, a coming together to push for meaningful change and to oppose Trump’s harmful and divisive policies. There was a real sense of solidarity. You cannot buy any of those things. You can only live them. And this is how change will come about.
Our democracy has been manipulated for years now to enable a minority to rule a majority. Political engagement and activism, like the protest in Ypsilanti, will be the agents of change. As the saying goes: “Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence.” (http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/28100-dripping-water-hollows-out-stone-not-through-force-but-through)
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