When They Go Low, We Go Lower

12/02/2016 02:57 pm ET Updated Dec 03, 2017

During the Democratic National Convention last summer, the First Lady, Michelle Obama, gave a rousing speech. Her most memorable line was, "When they go low, we go high," and it became an unofficial anthem of the Clinton campaign.

With all due respect to the First Lady, while that may very well have been appropriate for the Convention, it no longer is. The campaign is over, and the worst has happened. Now, when they go low (and they do so every day), we must go lower. We fight them with everything we've got. Americans love a fighter, so let's give them a fight.

The last time Americans' challenged a fascist power - actually, two - was during World War II. We didn't win it by going higher, except to keep the Allied bombers above the range of the German anti-aircraft guns. We did what needed to be done, raining devastation down on the German and Japanese homelands. FDR and Churchill knew what it would take to defeat fascism - utter destruction and unconditional surrender.

Today the fascists are among us, and preparing to take control of the federal government. For four decades, the Republican party has worked assiduously to destroy that government, to, in Grover Norquist's words, starve it to such a degree that it could be flushed down the bathtub.

Today that Republican party no longer exists. The coming government, Republican in name only, is a fascist government - a plutocratic, kleptocratic kakistocracy, people so vile, incompetent, and unskilled that they were held at arm's length by previous Republican administrations. A circus of incompetence and right wing extremism, driven by bigotry in all its manifestations.

Our battle against fascism is now a battle at home. A civil war.

The Democratic party, now not the minority party but the opposition party, must not collaborate with the fascists. Ever. If there are sane Republicans left, then by all means recruit them into a new alliance against fascism, and work together in your defiance, but do nothing that in any way would assist the regime in its purpose. The day after Obama's election in 2008 the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, said that the only issue for the Republicans from that day forth would be to ensure that Obama be a one term president. This occurred, by the way, after the worst market crash since 1929 and the beginning of the worst economic contraction since the 30s.

Did the Republicans pay a price for their intransigence? Did they pay a price for the racist teabagger movement created by Karl Rove, or the racist birther movement of Il Duce? Did they pay a price for shutting down the government, twice, and threatening the credit rating of the United States?

No. They did not.

Democrats, decent people as most of them are, didn't make much of a fuss. Decent people usually do not. Call out your political opponents as racist? Not the American way. As unpatriotic? Not the American way.

And what do we have today? A fascist government in waiting, the natural and not unexpected outcome of traitorous behavior by conservative extremists over the past forty years. Aided and abetted by an uneducated electorate that revels in its stupidity, along with the criminal sabotage of the Russians and the FBI.

This country's soul has been destroyed, its secrets shared with our primary enemy, and its weapons soon to be placed in the hands of religious extremists. These extremists are intent on waging a war of civilizations, amplifying an Islamic extremist bogeyman just as was done by the previous Republican president who couldn't be satisfied with attacking the perpetrators of 9/11, but had to go to war with the Islamic world. In the process, he destroyed Iraq and Syria, created ISIS, and killed hundreds of thousands of people, all the while giving the radical Islamists exactly what they want.

This is where we stand today, and fancy speeches by the likes of Senator Warren and Congressman-elect Raskin aside, I fear the Resistance will not be found in Congress. The Democratic party has been too badly damaged as well, and it's a party not known for its spine anyway. They need to obstruct, and do so every day that this regime is in power. What are they afraid of? The short-attention-span and proudly ignorant and anti-intellectual public won't remember any of it.

As David Faris puts it:

Democrats must comprehend, at long last, what is being done to them by the Republican Party. The Democratic negotiating position on all issues put before them while they are in the House and Senate minority for at least the next two years should be very simple: You will give us Merrick Garland or you may go die in a fire.

At long last, Democrats must learn from their tormenters: Obstruct. Delay. Delegitimize. Harass. Destroy. Above all: Do. Not. Help. This. Man. Govern.

If this strikes some Democrats as a difficult strategy to square with their values, it should. After spending the past six years railing against Republican intransigence, how can the party then turn around and do the exact same thing? The answer is that our political system as currently constituted has turned into a fiefdom for a permanent right-wing minority wielding power through the Constitution's bizarre quirks, including the Electoral College. The Democrats must do whatever it takes to recapture power, even if it means adopting tactics that only yesterday they were calling threats to democracy. They must use their time in the minority to slow down and obstruct Trump, to turn the American people against the Republican Party, and to devise a message of social democracy that appeals not just to their coalition -- whose vulnerable members must be defended vigorously rather than discarded in a hasty and ill-conceived post-mortem that blames "identity politics" -- but also to the marginalized rural voters who have turned against the only organized force in American politics that actually cares about them.

The future of democracy, and of the planet, depends on Democrats digging in their heels and fighting dirty. Let us hope they can do so.

Can they? Based on history, I doubt it. So, the power will truly have to come from the people, the people who generate 2/3 of the country's GDP and can bring the economy to a halt if they choose.

My preference, as I've written the past two weeks in recognizing the fascism taking over both here and in Israel, and offering a "Disunion Solution" as the best of all possible bad alternatives, is that the productive capacity of the nation needs to pull away from the federal regime and form regional and urban compacts to defend the values of the Constitution. I think my solution is a good idea, reinforced by the hate mail I've received from both leftists and Nazis. I've also received hate mail from right-wing Jews who haven't bothered to read my words but simply lashed out based on the twisted misinformation put out by the extremist CAMERA organization that has long taken a hard line on the Israel-Palestine question. It's much easier to respond, "Well, it's been reported that you equated Israelis to Nazis . . .," so that makes me an anti-Semite and a "kapo piece of shit." Way to go, American Jews - you sound just like your new Nazi friends in Steve Bannon's clown car.

We live in a "post-truth" age, an age of fascism and American authoritarianism never experienced here. I know it's hard to comprehend, since even the President admitted that the sun is still coming up each morning. But when the darkness begins to spread those sunrises will be harder and harder to see, until the day when we're all plunged into darkness. Before then we must either go on a general strike against the regime, doing everything we can with or without Congressional Democrats, and/or we must save what we can to continue the grand experiment in human decency, dignity, and equality.

The government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" is perishing at the hands of a small proportion of its people, and the apathy of its majority. Drastic measures are needed. The Marquess of Queensberry Rules no longer apply.

Hit below the belt.