The ascendance of Donald J. Trump to the presidency of the United States signals an ominous turn in our politics. People across the nation and around the globe watched in shocked dismay on Nov. 8 as election results indicated that Trump would be our new president and that the Republican Party would control both houses of Congress.

Many of us were simply despondent after this news, but we’re mobilizing now. Here in Hawaii, a group of students and faculty at the University of Hawaii have come together to channel our despair and anger into productive social and political action by organizing ourselves as Hawaii J20 (Jan. 20) with the intent of forming a movement to resist Trump’s agenda. We need your help, and here’s why you must join us.

The threat posed by Donald Trump and his Republican cohorts may seem obvious to those of us who opposed him from the start, but his actions and rhetoric since the election have supplied further evidence of his destructive agenda. Even those who voted for Trump in the hopes that he could change U.S. political culture for the better, or those who were simply more turned off by Hilary Clinton, now should be wary of his and the GOP’s schemes. Even a brief review of recent statements and actions proves this.

Trump Tower Honolulu Waikiki. 2 sept 2016

The Hawaii J20 march and rally in Honolulu is headed for Trump Tower in Waikiki.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

‘Draining the Swamp’

On the campaign trail, Trump boasted that he would “drain the swamp” of Washington, criticizing establishment politicians for cronyism and kowtowing to big money and special interests, while declaring himself immune to such influence.

Although this rhetoric surely won him many votes, he has since admitted this was essentially a marketing ploy, one that he personally disliked and only invoked because of the apparent weight it carried with the electorate.

With appointments of elite bankers and business executives, he has formed the wealthiest cabinet in U.S. history. Perhaps more worryingly, Trump’s false promises and contrary actions clearly indicate his lack of sincerity regarding his election promises and concern for the welfare of the American people.

Building Walls, Not Bridging Divides

Trump’s xenophobic and racist remarks about immigrants drew perhaps the most intense criticism during his campaign.

He famously called Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals; promised to build a wall on the Mexican border (despite abundant evidence that such a solution would not only be costly but ineffective); threatened to overturn Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA); and has voiced plans to create a Muslim registry.

In an interview with “60 Minutes” after the presidential election, Trump claimed that 3 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S. are violent criminals. This claim is reflective of either blatant dishonesty and racism or enormous ignorance. Criminological research has consistently shown that recent immigrants have far lower rates of criminal offending than native-born citizens, and the notion of 25 percent of the US population being violent felons is beyond laughable.

Despite facts to the contrary, Trump continues to proliferate racist lies about the criminal propensity of immigrants, fueling unhealthy and divisive fears.

Hundreds of 'Love Trumps Hate' rally supporters gather at Kapiolani Park before marching to the Trump International Hotel Waikiki. 13 nov 2016

Hundreds of people gathered at Kapiolani Park in November before marching to the Trump International Hotel Waikiki.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Health Care

Trump has also signaled his intent to overturn some of the greatest health programs and protections provided to the American people. While the Affordable Care Act surely has its faults, Republicans’ plans to repeal it without a viable replacement will leave millions without access to health care.

And, if some congressional Republicans get their way and turn Medicare into a voucher system, many of our kupuna will be unable to afford health care.

Furthermore, defunding Planned Parenthood will not end abortion (any student of reproductive history can tell you that), but it will result in sicker women and children, and more deaths.

The Environment

Perhaps the most existential threat from the Trump administration is to our planet itself. Not only is human-caused climate change an inescapable reality, but our planet’s plants and animals are dying off at a rate that has caused some scientists to declare this the next major extinction event.

We need to protect mother nature, but Donald Trump is instead launching an assault on the environment by appointing climate change deniers to head the very agencies meant to defend it. For example, Trump wants climate-change denier Scott Pruitt, who has been caught in numerous public lies about environmental issues, to head the Environmental Protection Agency, and he wants to place Rick Perry as his Energy Secretary – the same man who famously wanted to defund the Energy Department but couldn’t remember its name.

Moreover, Trump and congressional Republicans have vowed to repeal all sorts of “unnecessary” environmental protections, such as President Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

Waimanalo Beach Park. 30 july 2016

Climate change is an issue the Obama administration took seriously. Will the Trump administration?

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Labor

Do you have a rough time meeting the cost of living in Hawaii? Maybe that’s because wages have been essentially stagnant for decades.

However, Trump has said that U.S. wages are too high, and he thinks the way to ease your economic struggles is to put more money in the pockets of the rich. The GOP is downright giddy about implementing more of the same trickle-down economics that are a major cause of stark income inequality and the demise of the U.S. middle class.

Rather than taking steps to correct these problems, Trump and the GOP are going to double down on this flawed approach, cutting taxes on the rich and placing more burden upon the middle class.

Moreover, Trump will wage a war on workers and labor, as evidenced by his appointment of fast-food mogul Steven Puzder for Labor Secretary. Not only does Puzder oppose a $15 per hour minimum wage, he also opposes unions themselves, any minimum wage at all, and even shift breaks!

Clearly, the Trump administration is no friend to workers and they have nothing but contempt for a labor movement that gave us many things we take for granted today, such as weekends, workplace safety, and child-labor laws.

Undermining Democracy

Finally, even if you find some value in Trump’s agenda, you must reject his and Republicans’ efforts to undermine our democracy.

Trump declared Barrack Obama’s 2012 victory a sham and called for mass protests. Yet, after his own victory, in which he lost the popular vote by 3 million votes, he claimed a landslide and argued that demonstrations were the hijinks of “professional protestors.”

Faced with serious allegations of foreign interference in our elections, Trump’s reply to Americans was to simply “move on.” More recently he and his cabinet choices have dragged their feet or outright refused to comply with ethics standards designed to prevent conflicts of interest, standards with which other administrations have willingly complied.

House Republicans took as one of their first tasks to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics, though they were stopped by public outcry. In states such as Kentucky and North Carolina, Republican-led legislatures rushed emergency sessions to accomplish things like strip a newly elected Democratic governor of powers and enact unpopular anti-worker laws, blatantly disregarding the will of the majority.

US Capitol East side. 12 june 2016

The U.S. Capitol in Washington, as seen from the east side.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

What Is To Be Done?

These are but a few of the threats posed by a Trump presidency. The complete list is too great to enumerate here, but our point is clear. This is a crisis and we cannot stand on the sidelines.

Trump and the Republicans care nothing about democracy, justice, rule of law, or the welfare of average people. They cannot be trusted to run this nation in good faith, and it falls upon the people to hold them accountable.

We, the people, must use our collective power to stop Trump’s elitist and regressive agenda and advance one that respects human rights and dignity. Indeed, recent events show that doing so is possible. Just look at events regarding the Office of Congressional Ethics — people were paying attention and forced the House GOP to reverse course.

Government derives its power to govern from the consent of the people in our society. Today, we must oppose Trumpian rule because we never consented to the demise of our democracy.

That is why Jan. 20 should not be a day to herald a billionaire oligarch, but to show that the vast majority of U.S. citizens reject Trumpism. That is why we will be gathering at various points throughout Honolulu to march to Waikiki Gateway Park, and from there to Trump Tower and on to the Waikiki Shell for a solidarity concert.

This inauguration day we will not be going to work; we will not be doing any shopping; and we will not celebrate Donald J. Trump. Unified, teachers and students, workers from every sector, residents and tourists, women and men, mothers, fathers and children will rise up, act out, and reaffirm our commitment to government by the people, for the people. With our brethren across the country, we will make it undeniably clear that the people will resist this onslaught of regressive and elitist forces every step of the way.

On Jan. 20 we will inaugurate that resistance, and we ask that you join us.

Visit www.hawaii-j20.com for more information and mark your calendar for Jan. 20.

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