The Anti-Trump Protests: Justified or Anti-Democratic…?

Protests outside Trump Tower, January 2017

Before commenting on the protests still going on around America, I want to establish two things first. Firstly, Donald Trump won the election: eventually that will simply have to be accepted.

Second, I really don’t have a clear sense of what’s going on at the moment behind the scenes or of what is going to unfold in the months ahead.

I also don’t know whether Trump is really the shock, ‘anti establishment’ phenomenon that we’re being told he is (I have reason to doubt it) and I suspect that, given his background, he isn’t.

I’m fairly certain this ‘anti-establishment’ motif is a fraud and that what we’re actually seeing play out may be an orchestrated push towards civil, societal breakdown and a potential ‘Civil War‘ type scenario – not fought with armies necessarily, but out on the streets.

That indeed was my view for months, in fact for as long as the choice in the election was narrowed down to Trump and Hillary.

How much Trump himself would even understand that is unclear too. But the MSM has spent months telling people Trump represents a threat to American democracy, values and society, while the Alt-Right has spent those same months telling their people that Trump is the anti-establishment saviour who will ‘drain the swamp’ in Washington, put Hillary Clinton in jail and ‘Make America Great Again’.

And now the two groups of people who’ve been conditioned by either side are possibly being pitted against each other in classic Problem, Reaction, Solution mode – and, in the worst case scenario, everyone else caught in the middle will be compelled to take a side.

I dislike Trump and Hillary both, and trust neither side of this ‘divide’ as far as the higher levels of it are concerned. I try to be objective where possible: and my biggest concern is not wanting to see ordinary people fired up and pitted against each other, neither in the US nor in Europe or elsewhere.

If you go over to some of the ‘Alt Right’ sites, you’ll see a lot of mockery or vilification of people who’ve been marching in protest over Donald Trump’s election victory.

But, while I agree that Trump’s victory shouldn’t be contested, I also say that those people marching – almost exclusively young people, worried about their future – have every right to do so. Not just every legal right, but every moral right. And not to protest what is (probably, though perhaps not) a legitimate election result – but to make sure their objection to the victors is heard and firmly registered.

That’s their right: not just the right to protest in general, but the right to express their moral or political position. Just like other people had the right, for years, to protest Obama’s presidency by insisting he wasn’t American, by calling him the ‘Anti-Christ’ or by demonising him in any other way possible.

So for Ann Coulter, Paul Joseph Watson, Breitbart or any of the other sites to say that these people are ‘traitors’ or unpatriotic for protesting the president-elect is sheer hypocrisy of the highest order (so business as usual then) from organisations that have done little but protest the sitting president for eight years. Trump himself – who just weeks ago hinted that he wouldn’t accept a Democrat victory because the system was rigged – can hardly complain either, nor can his supporters, some of whom were filmed saying they’d march into Washington fully armed if Hillary won.

His suggestion – drawn, like much of his campaign dialogue, from Alt-Right conspiracy media – that the protests and riots are being carried out by “professional protesters” urged on by the media may have some truth to it. And I think it was misguided and suspect for celebrities like Katy Perry, among others, to literally call on people to “rise up”: celebrities calling on people to rise up against a democratic result is just beyond stupid (and could even have a more sinister element to it, raising the question of whether those celebrities are taking orders from somewhere).

But this business of dismissing or demonising the protesters as somehow illegitimate or as Soros-controlled entities is also sinister.

Some of them might be; and it’s possible that some of the rioters – as oppposed to the protesterswere outside entities bused in to take things up a notch. In fact, I saw it said by a few people involved in the protests that it was additional people who had started arriving that were the ones smashing up cars and shop windows.

But most of those protesters, particularly the early ones, were probably just genuine liberals, progressives or Democrats who hate Trump and are worried about what this result represents to them.

This business of demonising protesters is actually dangerous: because you eventually end up in a situation where no one can protest anything without being branded as agents of a conspiracy or as agents of Soros. Not that there isn’t a genuine issue with whether some protests or protest movements might be suspicious; but people have a right to protest according to their conscience.

 Occupy Wall Street protester 

And actually if the mainstream media and political establishment had paid more attention to the Occupy protest movement back in 2011 instead of mocking or ignoring it, we probably wouldn’t have ended up with the Trump movement as the so-called ‘anti establishment’ vote. The Occupy movement at its core, for all its shortcomings, was a nation-spanning protest movement that sought to unite every part of the 99% against the activities of the 1%: it wasn’t divided along any racial, gender, class or sexuality lines, but was a genuine anti-establishment movement following a non-sectarian agenda (the image above, from 2011, seems to capture some of the spirit of it).

And the media ignored it, while establishment politics made light of it. Now they’re having to react to a nationalist, right-wing, racially divisive ‘anti-establishment’ blowback across the West.

In this deflation of the Occupy momentum, combined with, for example, the way the DNC establishment shut down the Bernie Sanders movement, the same mainstream media and political establishment that is now acting horrified by the rise of the Far Right (and what Marie Le Pen has just called “the new world”) have essentially fucked over the same young, liberal generation that is now having to go out and protest against Trump and his movement.

And those people protesting the election result have every legitimate cause for concern. And it isn’t just about Trump. I actually kind of like Donald Trump in some ways; and I respect him for what he has accomplished and for how he has handled himself in the last few weeks in particular.

But when a president-elect has said some of the things he’s said, people have no obligation to accept him as their ‘leader’ in moral or social terms – only, as it happens, in legal terms.

A White House (a very white house) governing based on the ideas or principles of Breitbart.com is not something those young people should be expected to roll over and accept.

With the kinds of powers that the Bush regime and the Obama era have put into place, a Trump administration populated by the wrong people (Bannon, Pence, Guliani, for example) could do a lot of harm, even if Trump himself has some interest in doing some good.

Those people – again, mostly young people – have every reason to be concerned, as their society, their 21st century principles and ideals are perceived to be in danger. That gives them the right to protest and to establish their sense of displeasure and anxiety – not to invalidate the election result, but simply to be heard and to make it clear that the America that voted for Trump (and in particular that voted for Pence and Bannon) is not their America and that they’re going to morally oppose it.

Because the regressive, anti-liberal mobs that Trump’s campaign has fired up and utilised (and I’m not talking about all of Trump’s support, most of which had fair reason to vote for Trump – just certain sections of it, including the KKK and the Breitbart gang) need to be counter-balanced by those idealists and progressives who represent the other, modern, inclusive American society.

In Pennsylvania, a number of white students at York Technical High School were filmed marching down the hall chanting “white power” while carrying Trump signs. At another school in Pennsylvania, students have reportedly been verbally abusing people with homophobic insults, shouting the N word on school grounds, calling black students “cotton pickers” and using Heil Hitler salutes. There were a whole bunch of such stories, including the one about a classroom of kids shouting ‘Build the Wall’ at Mexican children, circulating in the days following the election result, resembling very much the ‘Brexit Effect’ that was reported in England in June.

We should be cautious with this – some of those stories might be faked or might be MSM exaggerations, though some may be true.

When stuff like this appears to be going on from apparent Trump supporters, it is all the more important for the protests to be going on – because it’s not just protesting Trump but the perceived ‘movement’ that brought him to the presidency. And while I accept and agree that the majority of those who voted Trump/Pence are probably not racists or white nationalists and actually voted for purely economic reasons, people can’t afford to take their eye off the plain fact that some of Trump’s key allies and some of those who’ve been running his campaign are potentially very dangerous people. 

While we’re on the subject of the reflexive Alt-Right claims that the protesters are all Soros-funded people – which, again, I accept may have some element of truth in part – we could also go the other way and point out that not only Goldman Sachs but also George Soros insiders are linked to the potential Trump administration. So, you know, maybe Breitbart should mention that at some point (but they won’t); partly because, again, Breitbart chairman Steve Bannon – a white nationalist – is being linked with a possible role in a Trump administration.

 Protests outside Trump Tower, January 2017 

And while I would caution against trying to somehow reverse or nullify the actual election outcome, I entirely maintain that those people who live in and hold to a progressive view of society – especially those who had their own protest movement stolen from them by the DNC back in the summer – cannot be expected to sit aside or give way when they think that a government diametrically at odds with their values is about to run the country.

And you could argue that many of those who voted for Trump can say the same thing – that they feel like they’ve been ignored or marginalized in recent years by the quasi-liberal Democrat establishment and have had to put up with ‘liberal’ ideas being shoved down their throat.

This might be valid, but there is one major difference: the Democrats never had a domination of Congress, but the Republicans are about to dominate across the board. Obama, by comparison, spent most of his presidency unable to implement half the things he wanted to after senior Republicans decided they were going to block him on virtually everything.

And people who are fully aware of how many decades it took for women’s rights to reach their modern status, and how long it took for racial equality, gay marriage and LGBT rights, for example, to get to where they are today, are right to be worried about the danger of significant reversal or regression in years to come.

Such things may never happen. But you can’t blame people for being worried.


All of that being said, I would also urge caution and believe there should be a line drawn.

Where the line should be drawn is with actually calling for the election result to be nullified.

The ones who’ve called for Hillary to be installed as president – and there have been a few of them – are the ones crossing the line and going down the wrong road. For one thing, any attempt to actually go down that road would mean Civil War essentially; for another, it would be a violation of democracy that wouldn’t only apply to this election but would set a precedent for the future.

Democracy means not always getting your way and it means having to respect the legitimacy – legally, if not morally – of the winning side. They should of course also draw the line at actual physical assault on Trump supporters, which have been reported in several instances: again, some of these may be fake stories run by the Alt-Right, but some are probably true.

What would be wisest at this juncture is for the Democratic establishment to give way to the people and social movements that were trying to have a ‘revolution’ of their own this year but were prevented from doing so.

 Bernie Sanders supporters 

People like Bernie Sanders and others should now be intervening to guide and inspire those people – and also to calm them down or try to reign them in where necessary (calling for Trump’s assassination, as some appear to have done, is also crossing a line). Sanders has already said that he is willing to work with Trump to achieve positive things in America – and that’s a good start. He also said he is unwilling to cooperate with Trump on racist or discriminatory policies – and that’s a good start too, as is Sanders’ refusal to entertain Trump’s belief that climate change is a Chinese hoax.

Obama – on the surface of it, at least – has also shown moderation since after the election result was announced.

Those displeased by this state of affairs need to, more than anything, get their game together for four years time. The Left and the liberals/progressives, and not just in America, but in England and across Europe, have allowed themselves to be beaten into the gutter from complacency and from a lazy tolerance of questionable government policies and actions.

And they will need to fight back hard – and I’m not talking about Establishment liberals, but the real, proper grassroots.

But those who hate Trump and can’t stomach the thought of him as president – and I understand that feeling, of course – are perhaps now best-served to give him a chance. See where he goes. His victory speech on Wednesday morning was actually a very positive one, particularly the fact that he made it a point to call out to everyone, including Democrats and liberals, to “help” and “guide” him in his presidency; suggesting, to me anyway, that he isn’t completely switched off to the people he has alienated.

It’s also entirely possible Trump may turn out to be a much better president than anyone is expecting.

But the fact is that, if this new administration does go down a terrible road, it could be the perfect catalyst for this entire generation of liberals and progressives to rise up in a meaningful way (not through civil unrest or violence on the streets, but through political action), with a momentum greater than that of Occupy in 2011: if anything, it would be much easier to unite and have that momentum towards genuine change when you have a clear and obvious ‘enemy’ to focus you.

By that point, if the Clintons and the failing MSM and neo-liberal false Left has been weakened and pushed away by a hard-Right government, this might actually make it much easier and simpler for a genuine liberal movement in and outside of the Democract Party to come together and secure the next election.

But for now, he won the election and there is no democratically legitimate way to contest that victory without provoking a major upheaval.

S. Awan

Independent journalist. Pariah. Believer in human rights, human dignity and liberty. Musician. Substandard Jedi. All-round failure. And future ghost.


  1. Norman, for some reason I cannot reply to you so I am posting a new comment. I think a big problem is the fact that many people (regardless of political stripe) are so emotionally invested in their personal privilege. Right wingers are fairly honest about it, but those who claim to be left (genuine or not) are in denial. I’m from Los Angeles, and I see this hypocrisy all the time, especially from people who come off as well meaning liberals.

    Most people in the entertainment industry are Democrats, “social” liberals. They donate to environmental causes, women’s groups, gay rights, etc. All very standard you see. But you should see how they treat “the help”. The industry is also notorious for using interns as defacto unpaid labor (a glamorous form of slavery that only rich kids can afford, allowing them to build up networks and connections for future well paying jobs). On a film set, there is a strict hierarchy, with the union members treating the nonunion employees like dirt. And being nonunion is not always a choice either–union requirements for joining is very prohibitive for many (high initiation fees, # of union vouchers received, etc.) I did join the union, but I remember how awful it was when I was non-union, and I feel for those who wanted to join but couldn’t. They pretend to be above caring about money, but they absolutely do care about money because you can’t live there if you’re poor. They only make sure to socialize within their circles for practical reasons, making sure that their potential partners all have money and the right career connections. They never associate with someone who cannot offer a good network, which is why newcomers always bluff about networks and finances they don’t have. If they didn’t, “important people” may never deign to talk to them or give them a chance.

    The hypocrisy runs deep, even for seemingly innocuous things like physical appearance. If you live in Los Angeles, Orange County, Miami, and Manhattan, artificial physical enhancement is common knowledge. But to outsiders, these rich, cool, beautiful people are just “naturally” perfect, and Americans from flyover country are just ugly, fat, and jealous. For the record, I am not anti-plastic surgery at all. If you are in the industry of looking good all the time, it’s simply common sense to do what you need to do to protect your career. Getting a nose job or liposuction to get more modeling work is not the same as accepting mercenary work to destabilize sovereign governments. But in general, those who do get it done want the most subtle results, so people will think that they are just naturally that way. If people congratulate them on their “natural” beauty, well who are they to object? This form of hypocrisy is especially insidious among “serious” actors who supposedly traffic on their talent rather than looks. Again, I have no issues with the surgery/enhancement, but I suppose they feel they would lose their “mystique” if they were ever upfront about it.

    Anyway, I digress. Though what I wrote is just innocuous fluff, the hypocrisy I documented is detectable to everyone except to these people. They will never admit it, but they like being part of the “benevolent” aristocracy, and the benefits it brings. Once in a while, they can cleanse their conscience by making a tax deductible donation to some charity, and get full credit for the virtue they financed with taxpayer money. They get their name on some building, or get an award at some fancy $2000 a plate dinner, where everyone is wearing a tuxedo or a 5 thousand dollar dress. All for a good cause! And let’s not forget those that aspire to join this benevolent aristocracy, who truly believe the system is ok as long as they figure out the rules so they can get ahead based on their “merit”.

    The collective delusions we hold is almost like some form of inoperable cancer, because it permeates almost every section of society. I really shouldn’t say that. There is hope, even if there’s precious little left of it these days. And besides, the best way to guarantee your defeat is to believe it’s inevitable. Though fighting back offers no guarantees of victory, it at least guarantees the possibility of it–and for me, that’s more than enough reason to go on.

  2. As one blogger put it, the only problem I have with the protests at hand is that they are ‘partisan.’

    Yes, of course, Trump — or anybody else representing the interests of the rich and the system that serves them — ought to bring people out in the streets.

    Unfortunately, if the fascism that rules the United States and that has ever ruled it presents itself in the appearance of tolerance and social progressivism, if it manages to project an attitude of kindness — never mind that it actually abets naked oppression and repression both abroad and domestically — it becomes perfectly acceptable to those who are now in the streets.

    So I disagree: the U.S. is not a democracy. It is a dictatorship serving moneyed interests.

    As such, it is deserving of the utmost contempt by the majority of Americans and should indeed be inciting the kinds of protests we are currently seeing.

    But not just when “elected” representatives frankly speak the interests of the establishment, as Trump has dared to do, but even when those purporting to represent the interests of the majority — the Obamas, the Clintons or, yes, even the sheepdogging lackeys like Sanders — occupy the heights of ostensible power in America.

    The U.S. is anything but a “a democracy and a civilized society,” and it is a trap to fall into thinking that as a society whose most essential purpose is to serve the god of profit, it could ever be such a thing.

    • I definitely agree that the U.S. is a democracy in image only, not in reality. That said, a part of me feels that Trump’s election is the mask coming off. For better or for worse, he represents the truth coming out, showing what the American character truly is (for most people, not all Americans of course). Obama, Hillary, and Sanders provided very good left cover–especially Obama and Sanders. The consent manufacturers at the DNC blew it by picking a candidate with no charisma whatsoever, thinking that browbeating and demonization would be sufficient to win the show.

      The West truly excels in manufacturing imagery and illusion. Though I am opposed to the fakery and venality (as well as the goals and ethos of emprire), I do admire the skill and craftmanship that is put into manufacturing the illusion. The quality is second to none, in my opinion. While I do not advocate that the left become master liars and illusionists in order to win (there is more than one way to win after all), we do have a lot to learn about the art of illusion, and what it says about most people, for better or for worse. Edward Bernays and his methods should be required basic learning for every revolutionary mind–not so we can be better manipulators, but so a better defense, as well as a better offense, can be formulated.

      That said, I have to say that lately, the illusionists are losing their touch. I do not know if this is due to complacency, or due to the fact that they are insular and rarely allow outsiders with fresh perspectives into their circle. Or maybe, they are degenerating simply because nothing is meant to last forever. Perhaps the untermenschen (well some of them) have evolved to resist the methods that used to work so beautifully before. Whatever the real reason(s) is/are, I am glad that the mask has fallen off. There’s an old saying that at 40 years old, you get the face you deserve. I’m not entirely sure how true that is anymore with the advances in plastic surgery and minimally invasive procedures like fillers and botox, but with the election of Trump, the aging American empire has finally gotten the face it truly deserves.

      • I hope you are right, that the mask is slipping — for the majority, at least . . . My intuition inclines me in that direction . . .

        Yes, Trump is the embodiment of the ugliness of the ‘system’ in plain view, and the faux-left of the U.S. (preoccupied as it is with ‘identity,’ and not too much with the actual substance of the politics of economic power) is the astoundingly successful and ingeniously contrived illusion of a civility that among the ruling class simply does not exist in depth, that is to say, at a level where it could make a difference, in the corridors where public policy decisions are crafted and made.

        I sense, however, that the majority of the well-meaning protesters are still very much enthralled to that master illusion, that dethroning Trump and crowing Clinton would be just the thing to pacify them into believing that they had actually achieved something momentous and into accepting another decade or more of brutal austerity at home and continued mass murder abroad.

        But I most fervently do share your hope, that reality is increasingly becoming harder to misconstrue, ignore and deny for the abused majority, and for this reason, an opening toward the future, toward something substantially more humane than what we have, may actually be in the offing . . .

        And it isn’t beyond the realm of the possible that the misguided protests at hand couldn’t actually become a spark for igniting something more genuinely anti-establishment and progressive and explosively widespread. We shall see. And in the meantime, we can hope, eh.

    • I take all of that as fair point, Norman. I’m not idealising the protests or protesters – and I’m by no means saying that a Clinton administration would be anything great. In some ways, I think a Trump administration – if it goes badly, especially – would be the perfect culmination of that flawed, corrupt situation to its maximum apex: and could therefore be a perfect catalyst for things to go in a different direction via the eventual counter-movement.

  3. Is it politics or pride causing the action on the streets? If Bernie Saunders had run and lost, might be more about the former but suspect the later drives much of it. The belief and proclamation Donald wouldn’t win and dealing with shame, and anger at their shamers. The upshot of internet-based media voices thus far, dismissed by most hip and young, off the mainstream map – now a city on the hill.

    No one believed Hillary would’ve been particularly ‘socialist’ about anything (except ever growing establishment bureaucracy and intervention) but Donald represents alternative to socialism, yet this unlikely, in his grow/ing-Govt, to happen. Like Rand Paul and others he’s on the ‘Right’ – for better or some would – obviously say, worse. Only Ron is a Libertarian. A few others but few. Yet, in the nation it is; small/er-govt believers and the rest. And within these, more-conservative, yet many liberals all in their ‘not-that-Right’ position. Vague to medium hope, through to often dismissive about Donald – but the positives overall have risen, now he’s got in. What the ‘protesters’ have suddenly realised has happened (c/o this vote) has outraged them into revenge – unspoken it might be – is that so-called right are looking more the new alternative to establishment rot. Yet their bigger-picture theories make left-talk less relevant/redundant. ‘Two nations’ – what the money-players and military industrial see, as their ever faithful escape plan.

    The Alt.Right are/have been v.much mixed on Donald, yes united against Hillary and co but they’re not an easy grouping to box, due to alliances over issues and not always overall aims. Donald wasn’t expected to win, so this has thrown many of them as well in reaction – but not such a struggle.

    Those in the Alt.R for sure – or those so-sympathetic might as well be – overlap paleo-conservatives and libertarians in parts. Being a relative recent phenomena, it’s hard to tell how much of this has been all about the election and what now? Donald is vulnerable to back-track on promises and receive the kind of counter-reaction that could loose him all support. The threat to his life must be the lever to move the compromise way. How much give and take will there be? Personally, don’t believe he isn’t what he says he is and therefore the ambitious boss. The real winners – so far – are sections of ‘alternative’ media and some of their causes. This again, the cause of painful irksome and cultural horror, for all but those in the ‘awaken’-ish world. (Awake and only the non-controversial bits for the Alt. Right broadcast/personalities… “don’t want to spoil the fun eh”).

    Quickly read your storming piece, will now go back and get thinking. Wrote this quick splat to get something out (nothing, ‘most’ ain’t ‘got’). If I took a closer look at your specific analysis first, be here ‘till Christmas. My thang: Donald was always most about reaction and reflection. What his presence says about us? My/our response? An irritant or mirror. He’s a cat amongst… from climate to mercenary more than all-about-Islam overseas and on. Causing conversation (hope). Argument to fighting on the streets (waste). This throws-up the less-spoken about, a by-product of his over-braggy proclaimed intentions. Question is; How will the powers behind the President and co’s office; side-track, exploit, deflect, divide, spell chaos and cause wars – because of and through this?

    Pride and revenge are monster emotions. Will all the young punks and their older versions who groomed em along, be manipulated to bring about perpetual social deterioration, street-based agitation and violence, until there’s ‘emergency measures’? The alt-ers should cut their smug some, now they had their feast – and the lefties need to build some alternative media and become something constructive, attempting to persuade masses who’re disaffected – and not AltR or yet-Left or No-Govt-ers (but not Libs) – to see their dreams and visions.

    • You’re such a poet, man. I think this situation is presently so complicated and so difficult to foresee where it goes, that it’s hard to make a good analysis.
      My basic position right now is that Donald should be given a chance – it serves nothing to sabotage him before he’s even had a chance to do anything. At the same time, I say that many of those dodgy figures around him need to be watched closely; and on one hand, I’m wary of too much protest and unrest, because it could be made the catalyst for bad things – but I also feel like the (peaceful) protests need to be there to provide the balance against the tide of the Alt-Right philosophies.
      Good you mention Rand Paul: I actually think I saw Ron Paul speaking to Alex Jones the other day and basically saying he would be unwilling to have any official connection to the Trump administration – though he would be willing to offer advice here and there if asked.

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