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It’s been almost a week since Donald Trump was elected president, and the majority of Americans who didn’t vote for him are still processing the information. How did this come to be? What does it mean? Whose fault is it? What is to be done? There is, shall we say, a range of interpretation. For some Clinton enthusiasts, the bad news only drives their proclamation of her immaculate perfection to new and ecstatic frequencies. Others are taking the opportunity of Trump’s victory to call for a serious reckoning in the Democratic Party. To that latter end, more than a dozen millennials were arrested yesterday outside New York Senator Chuck Schumer’s office in Washington, D.C., demanding that he step down as minority leader.
Roughly forty protesters with a group called All of Us gathered outside Schumer’s Senate offices demanding to speak with him, but were told he was unavailable. Undaunted they staged a sit-in, delivering speeches. “The party of Clinton and Schumer is also the party of Wall Street,” declared Waleed Shahid, standing in the senator’s outer office. “And now the party of Trump is the party of the KKK. So where is our party?” Soon, the police arrived, arresting seventeen of the protesters.
All of Us was formed earlier this year by a collection of young activists working in the movements for black lives, climate justice, immigrant rights, and greater income equality. Like many reading the polls, they’d anticipated a Clinton victory and were strategizing how to bring pressure to bear on her cabinet selection process when Trump’s win changed everything. Now, they say, the path to keeping Trump in check and bringing the Democratic party back to health lies in getting the people who drove the party to defeat to step away from the controls.
“What’s really dangerous about Chuck Schumer and the Democratic leadership is they don’t understand the stakes of what’s happening in this country,” Max Berger, one of the organizers behind the relatively new group that led the protest, said today. “They don’t understand the level of anger people feel, or why, and what people are demanding.”
Schumer, who has taken in more than $3 million from Wall Street in the last five years alone, is often held up as an example of the Democratic Party’s fealty to the financial sector. That entanglement is no small part of what turned voters against Clinton as well, Berger said, and it makes Schumer and his ilk uniquely unsuited to lead the resistance to Trump.
The protesters also criticized Schumer for what they see as a dangerous willingness to compromise and collaborate with the new Trump administration.
“If Stephen Bannon is in the White House, we have a real threat to democracy in America today,” Berger said. “The response cannot be ‘We can negotiate with them on infrastructure.’ ”
Going after the most powerful Democrat in the Senate in the first week after Trump’s election isn’t self-defeating left-infighting, Berger contends. It’s a necessary step to building a successful resistance to Trumpism. “The notion that a Wall Street Democrat could be leading the opposition to Trump isn’t just unconscionable — it strategically doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “Starting now there is going to be a wave of opposition to the establishment Democratic party that has allowed things to get so bad that Trump could take over. The people who got us into this mess cannot be the people who get us out of it — it’s just that simple.”