Robert Meeropol: Consider consumer boycott if Trump loses but doesn’t leave

Our job as citizens right now is to do everything possible to turn out the vote, so the outcome isn’t close enough for Trump to contest. ...

Our job as citizens right now is to do everything possible to turn out the vote, so the outcome isn’t close enough for Trump to contest. But what if he announces that he won’t accept a defeat no matter how overwhelming? What if he initiates a coup? How should we react if he loses the election, but refuses to leave?

There has been talk of massive civil disobedience, and I expect many resolute constitutional patriots will take to the streets. But given that up to 26 million joined demonstrations after George Floyd’s murder and nothing has changed on the national level since May, such actions may be necessary, but will they be sufficient?

The Democrats are planning court challenges, but given the results of Bush vs. Gore, and given that the courts are packed with Trump appointees, that’s probably not enough, either.

The end of the Trump-generated government shutdown in January 2019 suggests a plan that could increase our chances of success. The government reopened just hours after Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants union, told the airlines that flight attendants would not fly because the shutdown had compromised in-air safety.

The AFL-CIO Labor Council of Rochester, New York has apparently taken this lesson to heart. At their meeting on Oct. 8, the Rochester Labor Council passed the following resolution:

“Therefore, be it finally resolved that the Rochester Labor Council, AFL-CIO calls on the National AFL-CIO, all of its affiliate unions, and all other labor organizations in the United States of America to prepare for and enact a general strike of all working people, if necessary, to ensure a Constitutionally mandated peaceful transition of power as a result of the 2020 Presidential Elections.”

The Rochester Labor Council understands the power of workers. They understand that the corporations whose profits are threatened will join the call and Trump will be forced to leave. Even a partial, but significant, short-term economic shutdown could create massive pressure.

What about the rest of us? Consumers are the driving force of our economy, and a lot of what we buy is not critically important. A mass consumer boycott of all but the bare necessities could send a strong message. We could refuse to use our credit cards except when we absolutely must and then not pay our credit card bills. As banks’ losses mount, they will clamor for Trump’s departure. This is a way for millions of people, including those of us with COVID-19 targets on our backs, to do our part without risking crowds of potential disease spreaders, police brutality and armed Trump vigilantes.

These actions will cause hardship, particularly for the many millions now living on the brink. And our first responders and medical professionals must stay on duty during the pandemic. So, it will also be our community’s task to support first responders and organize support for the most vulnerable amongst us as well as for local small businesses. We must shift whatever necessary shopping we do away from the online giants, big box corporations and franchises to mom-and-pop groceries, independent bookstores, repair shops and local restaurants.

This may seem like a daunting organizing task, but we’ve seen in other nations that, with the help of the internet, mass movements quickly can render entire nations ungovernable. The election is near, but we still have time. The first task for those who find this strategy attractive is to spread the word. Despite voter suppression and intimidation, it is clear that there are more of us than there are of them.

If we act collectively — even if some of us are staying home — buying nothing and refusing to pay our bills, we could become an unstoppable force. The people have the power to force an illegitimate government to leave.

Robert Meeropol is the founder and former Executive Director of the Rosenberg Fund for Children. He retired in 2013 and lives in Northampton.

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Newsrust: Robert Meeropol: Consider consumer boycott if Trump loses but doesn’t leave
Robert Meeropol: Consider consumer boycott if Trump loses but doesn’t leave
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