Discover more from The Newsletter with ECM
The Beginning of the End
Or, The Start of a Better Nation
Monday night marked a turning point in American history, as Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis dropped 41 criminal counts against 19 defendants, including former President Trump, alleging a wide-ranging and essentially nationwide conspiracy to seize power and overturn the 2020 election. It was an earthquake of accountability, the tremors of which continue as I write this.
The last 48 hours of news coverage has been deep and wide. However, last night, I found myself thinking about something else, something seemingly small by comparison that contains a real nugget of truth.
A few months ago, I was in a seminar with a friend who was talking about cross-identity movement building to create real societal change, when she said this:
“What a lot of folks don’t realize is that the revolution is already here, and it began the day he came down that escalator.”
Some may think that change can finally come now that Trump may end up in prison. However, my friend’s point was that our work to end systems of oppression has been especially fiery and especially significant since the day he began his ascent to power, before he even seized it.
In other words, our generation’s revolution has already underway for eight years. It has been manifest in our collective fighting back against the rising fascism that Trump embodied and fostered and enflamed and nurtured, as he continues to do to this day.
And it must continue, in new and creative and nuanced ways, not just until fascism is long gone from America, but until a truly equitable and just society has been refashioned from what remains.
It’s true that the end of Trump’s stranglehold on American politics may finally be in sight. Personally, both as a lawyer and as an activist and organizer, I don’t see any way that he escapes some form of real accountability at long last given the 91 criminal counts and four separate prosecutions currently pending against him.
The bigger question to me now, though, is what do we do with the void that is left once he is finally gone from the national stage, and when the power to create something better, as he and all his lackeys dissolve into the history books, becomes anyone’s for the taking.
This is not to say, of course, that fascism in America begins and ends with Trump. Indeed, it long preceded him and there are dozens of GOP leaders who would love to step into the space that will be left behind in his wake, some of them more controllable and even worse in terms of their ability to create deadly policies against marginalized people than the man who is facing down the rest of his life behind bars.
Last night, however, I found myself rereading the great adrienne maree brown, and her work on Emergent Strategy. In the earliest pages of that book, she says this:
“If love were the central practice of a new generation of organizers and spiritual leaders, it would have a massive impact on what was considered organizing. If the goal was to increase love, rather than winning or dominating a constant opponent, I think we could actually imagine liberation from constant oppression. We would suddenly be seeing everything we do, everyone we meet, not through the tactical eyes of war, but through eyes of love. We would see that there is no such thing as a blank canvas, an empty land or a new idea– but everywhere there is complex, ancient, fertile ground full of potential.”
As I sit here in the pre-dawn hours in a week full of history-making in America, I wonder what it would mean to fill the void left behind by one who sought to destroy us all with something more akin to liberation, rather than another round of battle. What would that mean? What would it look like? How can it be achieved?
We have much to consider in the coming weeks and months and years as we decide collectively who we will become, and how we will reckon with the last eight years of horror that brought our democracy to the brink, while still making certain that this chapter comes to a close at long last.
There is great work to be done. We must get to it, and till that “complex, ancient, fertile ground full of potential,” until we create a better way of being in humanity.