The US inauguration is terrifying and fast approaching. Having to be distant from our home during these times is unbelievably difficult. In addition to frantically trying to keep up with the constant insanity and ignorance enflaming US politics, we are also witnessing the utter corruption and power plays by Indian Prime Minister Modi and his ideologically Hindu Nationalist party. The recent case of demonetization, wherein overnight Modi removed and made illegal the two major tenders (500 and 1000 bills) of the Indian rupee, caused major economic losses and damage to a majority cash economy. The corruption around this decision has been neatly trimmed and hidden beneath local media outlets, which are funded and thus controlled by the Indian government. While the media is busy heralding a (not so great) poem written by Modi and replaying his wobbly justifications and convictions that the country needs to have some struggle in order to become stronger, the poor and the elderly (particularly widows) who, without bank accounts, cannot exchange their cash life savings are in an increasingly dire situation.
Being in India, we have observed Modi’s salvation rhetoric being accepted and repeated by the most affected, those of the lowest, uneducated classes, as well as by the least affected, those who live comfortably and were not shaken much by the shift. This point of communion between these two sides of the class and caste spectrum is founded in a shared anti-Muslim, anti-non-Hindu sentiment, wherein Modi’s surprise demonetization caught members of other (religiously affiliated) parties off-guard with black money. Hindu Nationalists also had black money, but being the party in power, had the opportunity to exchange their black money before Modi illegalized the tender.
This trend, where the lowest classes root for what will support and fortify the highest classes, inevitably harming most significantly the welfare of the lowest classes, echoes the sinister strategy and manipulation of the Trump campaign and his nominated cabinet, wherein a shared hatred of “the other” is used as a platform for persuading votes. The Trump campaign’s use of racist and misogynistic rhetoric and actions, Trump’s public image as the powerful ego ideal of poor, white men, his extreme and unfounded statements and “strategies,” all resemble the ways in which PM Modi has convinced the poor that their financial sacrifices (huge losses that have taken a lifetime, or more to accumulate between generations) will not go unnoticed or, somehow, unrewarded when Mother India prospers due to the even greater financial gains of the already rich and powerful—gains that will never “trickle down” to the poor, Indian subjects who, produced within the Hindu Nationalist regime, have had to submit to the regulation of that regime.
Similarly, the American poor, white, working class citizens have fallen into a regime-trap. When will those swallowing the regurgitated worms of Tomi Lahren and Kellyanne Conway understand that Trump has never been for them, will never be for them and is in fact using their too-easy-to-pander-to “make America great again” ideologies of misogyny, racism, xenophobia and homophobia to remove those welfare, educational, health and unemployment securities that are set in place to help the poor build a path to greatness. Such securities hassle and harm the streamline profit models of large corporations, who necessitate and feed off of the consumption of disempowered classes.
When Trump nominated Betsy DeVos as the potential Education Secretary, he made known his support for defunding public education—the only education available to lower class families; when Trump was in support of dismantling the Affordable Care Act—the only health care available to lower class families; when Trump articulates that it was smart to not pay taxes—the major source of government funding for safe roads, clean water, healthy sewage systems, public transportation and much more in lower class communities; when Trump articulates that, though scientifically proven by top scientists, climate change—the greatest threat to all human life, but first and foremost to the poor working class who spend their lives in factories or mines, or who live in already toxic or polluted areas, and who will unlikely be able to afford the health consequences or systems of clean technology (if they are ever given the funding to arrive)—is a hoax; when Trump nominates cabinet members and a VP who have worked to defund Planned Parenthood—a forerunner in women’s health used majorly in lower class rural areas (btw: Roe v. Wade has been established for 44 years, so why do conservative politicians waste so much energy on fighting women’s right to choose abortion and birth control? The high rate of teen pregnancy in poor, white communities assures a future voting population, whereas abortion would halt the reproduction of future uneducated, poor and, probably conservative, voters); when Trump supports removing free and government supported child care—a service exclusively used by working class folks; when Trump promises to create jobs that cannot actually be created due to the replacement of manpower by machine power—John Henry, who are you fighting for by supporting Trump? Certainly not an American like yourself. Certainly not an America in which working class people and their future generations, having to constantly work to fund basic human rights, are able to have the luxury of American greatness, whatever that is.
When Trump does these things, he is not fighting for the lower classes. So when Tomi Lohman whines to those boycotting the inauguration that “protesting Trump is not an act of social justice, it’s just the whining of losers,” it’s important to recognize how horrifically wrong she is. Protesting Trump is an act of social justice.
Judith Butler writes, “Regulative strategies produce the subjects they come to regulate.” By removing the financial and governmental protections and aid that is meant to empower citizens and to create growth in all sectors of America, Trump and his cabinet are producing disempowered (pro-Trump) subjects who are regulated by false platforms promoting competition and segregation between citizens, when the real threat to citizen welfare is Trump and his cabinet. The misogynistic, racist, xenophobic and homophobic nationalist strategies create subjects regulated by their own fear of others and the fear of the empowerment of others. The fear of the empowerment of others is proliferated by feelings of jealousy, inadequacy and envy, and intensifies civil strife among citizens, as well as creates an atmosphere where citizens vote and act in ways that purposely hold each other back (i.e. the empowerment of hate rhetoric falsely empowers certain sectors of citizens by attempting to disempower other sectors; by making one sector’s identity and value system dependent on the other’s demise, this strategy disempowers all subjects). Additionally, everyone holding each other back only gives politicians, lobbyists and those in power the freedom to work above us and under the radar in ways that promote their personal interests and financial gain at the expense of citizens, the disposable assets of corporate greed.
With nationalistic values, like the ones espoused and used by Trump and Modi, shifting into power across the world, the national subject has much work to do in the matter of defending their citizenhood, increasing civil liberties and assuring basic human rights. With such big egos in the global game and so little care and attention to citizens’ rights and welfare, citizens may very well become the pawns of global warfare, the drones of an inescapable global tyranny. It is at this significant and fragile time that we have to maintain compassion and unity, as citizens, in order to avoid becoming the subjects of deranged regulative strategists. If you voted for Trump, or didn’t, or voted third party, thereby increasing Trump’s chances of winning, it is important to recognize that under the new American administration (and in light of surging global nationalism), citizenship and all of its freedoms is at risk of losing its voice, power and political autonomy. Governments should be the manifestations of their citizens’ desires and needs, and not the other way around. It’s time to observe how politicians and those in power manipulate citizen’s desires and needs to gain subjects who are blindly adherent to their regime. It’s time to recognize how this regime is not a pro-citizen’s regime. It’s time to foster a pro-citizen regime, one in which the welfare of citizens up against massive bodies of power are cared for, protected, voiced and self-(em)powered.Follow//Our adventures