No, I don’t mean killing people. I mean kill a government, an administration, a set of leaders that we can no longer abide as leaders of any sort.
But I say kill because it’s the right metaphor. A government has a life, has blood, has muscles, has eyes, ears, a mouth, hands, fists. It has an omnipresent voice in the lives of all of its citizens. It has an ego. It has pride. It has feelings.
We want to kill all of those things. Forever.
So the question is, how do we begin to kill such a being? What will do the job?
Countries around the world and throughout history have had to address this question. In the United States, we did it once and attempted it a second time. The Revolutionary War established one of the world’s first great democracies. The Civil War, which ostensibly ended in 1865, may have really been in hibernation. Spurred on by decades of inhumane and unfair neoliberal policies – in conjunction with good old racism, xenophobia, sexism, and homophobia – it has come very close to becoming an outright war again. Except this time, the South holds the White House and every other branch of government worth mentioning.
So, from a position of extreme vulnerability, we must consider how to strike meaningful blows that will eventually end in the death of a government. We must devise some serious political and social jujutsu because we are going up against an opponent with every conceivable weapon our vast military, police and intelligence organizations have devised over hundreds of years, with the assistance of possibly the greatest technological industry in world history. Yeah, it’s that daunting.
Care to tap out now? That’s exactly what they expect you to do.
First off, let me assure everyone that we – the citizens of the United States – will not kill this administration through violence or armed conflict. Unlike previous armed takeovers of government property by right wing political dissidents, we will not be given an ounce of charity if we attempt such an act. As we speak, armed and militarized police are clearing the Standing Rock protestors from the Dakota Access Pipeline construction areas. Don’t doubt for a second that those police will be told to subdue any resistance with lethal force. There is no brutality, no unethical behavior, no vile proclamation that this administration will be shamed by. There is no LBJ in the White House. This government is shameless now and forever.
The guns we must use on this government must be figurative, but powerful. I mentioned jujutsu purposefully, because like any good protestors, we must use our opponent’s force against them in order to win. We must bring them to the ground where their physical advantages – their greater size, their greater weapons, their greater technology – are mostly neutralized. Only then can we fight them with any semblance of a chance of winning.
Once again, I ask, how can we kill this government? How do we bring it down to the ground to grapple with the people who so desperately despise it?
Let’s begin with vanity.
This government is vain beyond all measure. When its orange-faced leader was labelled a fan of golden showers, he erupted in rage and lashed out. When his inauguration was rightfully noted by the press to be less well-attended than that of his predecessor, he spent days and government resources to shout down the facts. When the Women’s March clearly brought far more people out to protest his inauguration than his inauguration brought out those to celebrate him, he vehemently protested and the administration leaders insulted women for their actions.
Vanity, while it won’t kill the administration, can certainly be used to frustrate it and make it behave rashly. Rash behavior is a weakness. Those behaviors may be repressive or they may also be violent. We will take that force, that violence, and use it against this administration…when it comes.
Logic can be useful, but only when we use it to deduce the rules that give the government its advantages. You cannot argue with tyrannical governments. They are not logical. Dissenting pundits and celebrities will not turn the tide against the forces of this government. Their voices will only be heard by the choir that’s been preached to. No, logic has to be used by protestors, to organize effective disruptions to the status quo. We must ask ourselves, why are we already hearing state legislators introducing laws to increase penalties on peaceful demonstrations? Why are we already hearing rumor of a federal right-to-work law? The answer is that unpredictable public protest and any type or organized labor groups are the greatest threats to this government, any government.
Logically, we must be organized, disruptive and unpredictable. Tyrants loves nothing more than solitary, powerless, predictable citizens. Do not be one. Ever again. This is your greatest weapon against this motherfucker of a government.
The Injustice Boycott was purposefully unpredictable recently. It announced its intentions, via columnist Shaun King, to bring about boycotts at a certain time. The group gave a month or so warning, indicating that if certain demands weren’t met, large boycotts would ensue; but they refused to clarify those boycotts until local governments had had time to act. Only then, if those governments did not act on their demands, did they initiate these “wildcat” boycotts, with no warning given to the companies being boycotted. The lesson here: Never warn this administration or its allies. Act unpredictably but with organized action. This is social and political jujutsu.
To the administration, logic is maddening. Cold, hard logic – which they claim to espouse – would unravel their administration if they actually practiced it. They don’t. They act impulsively, throwing out orders and restraints in response to every modest but effective act of resistance. A football player kneeling in protest during the national anthem under this administration should rightfully fear for his life. But even non-protest provokes this government. A Muslim child arriving by plane necessitates handcuffing their arms behind them under this administration. Logic? It has no place in their minds. Thus, it makes it easy to surprise them.
This government is huge. It may seem to move quickly, but protest is an idea that can spur action in moments. Protest doesn’t require approval. Protest is a logic already considered, and spurred by injustice. One moment – the sight of a child with his arms handcuffed behind his back, the sight of a black woman climbing a flag pole and taking down the Confederate flag – can provoke swift, powerful, unpredictable protest. This rotten government may seem to be everywhere, but it isn’t. Moments, images, sounds, events small and large, actions prolonged or fleeting, can inflict tremendous damage to big lumbering governments.
Compassion is not a characteristic of this awful government. To this administration, compassion is a great weakness. It does not wish to share, it does not wish to console anyone. It wishes to win allegiance through force and the appearance of force and control. It wants obedience, a state of existence which it can control for a long, long time. Compassion, empathy, these are not arrows in its quiver. It doesn’t see them, as it does the other tools it uses, as weapons.
But they are weapons. Our weapons. Compassion and empathy are the cornerstones of connection, and connection is the essential component of organization. Labor unions of today are a pale, pale shadow of what they once were. Between the 1930s and the ’60s they were forces to reckon with. Why? Because labor organizations gathered together everyone with a shared need to be valued. Workers, churches, charities, communities, people from all manner of groups who were sick of being ignored. What brought them together was more than helping workers earn a living wage. What brought them together was the shared understanding that the larger powers of the government and industry were ignoring them, consigning them to live their lives as faceless, soul-less, meaningless, unimportant cogs in the vast industrial/political machine, a machine that created in the 1920s the greatest inequality of income in American history. Today, we face the second greatest level of income inequality in American history. And like our predecessors who so successfully fought greed and the lust for power with compassion and empathy, we must do the same. We must find those who suffer like us and fashion a collaboration of like souls and minds. We must put aside the small things – the color of our skin, the countries of our birth, the people we wish to love, the spirituality that we practice, the amount of money in our wallets – and we must recognize that if we are to kill the thing that is killing so many and would kill so many more of us, we must come together as one.
This is the greatest weapon we have. The ability to bring together other people who see love and kindness as the greatest good. This government derides and ridicules such a thing. It laughs, and its followers laugh with them, a sickening laugh. We have to recognize that such cruelty doesn’t gather followers; it compels them. Those people so long denied the benefit of a community of compassion and empathy, or those who have lived their whole lives without it, follow this kind of hatefulness, emulate it, take a sick joy in it. They imagine that it is real power.
But cruelty isn’t power. Being physically stronger than the weak or the non-violent isn’t power. It’s an illusion. Like serious, violent drug dealers who choose a lifestyle that will almost inevitably lead to violent ends, those who live compassionless lives are pursuing a tragic path. There is no joy in basing your happiness on the misery of others. In that world, everyone ends up miserable eventually.
It is cliche to say that love is our greatest weapon. Or is it? I don’t like the metaphors of war or violence usually. Wars on drugs, on terrorism, etc., it all sounds melodramatic. Now, however, I find it absolutely appropriate. We now face a tyrannical administration with no official opposition in the most powerful country in the world. We, its citizens who oppose such a situation, are faced not with a “challenge,” an “inconvenience,” or a “political disadvantage.” No, we face a government that is unilaterally committed to exerting power, not through collaboration or compassion, but through vast, virtually unmatched military and economic force.
We must kill it. We must kill it dead.
And, yes, love will kill it better than anything.