Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Massive protests fill London's streets with opposition to Donald Trump

Protests of Donald Trump
The streets of London filled with hundreds of thousands of marchers, banners waved, a giant balloon was launched, and a robotic version of a MAGA-hat-wearing Donald Trump tweeting while seated on a toilet loomed over Trafalgar Square.

Citizens of a U.K. that has lately been so divided over major issues seemed genuinely united over one thing on Tuesday: their disdain for Trump. They don’t appreciate his attempts to interfere in their elections. They’re angry over the way he has gloated over an issue that’s brought their own government to a halt.

They’re upset that he has claimed that British intelligence was involved in a plot against him. They’re upset that Trump is just so deeply, deeply a jackass who has forever tainted the special relationship between the U.S. and the U.K.

Trump used his state visit on Monday not only to wear the most ridiculous tuxedo outside of a Bugs Bunny cartoon, but to rub his hands over the great trade deal he would make with the U.K. after its current trade relationships have been ripped apart by Brexit. Trump didn’t go into the part where he would then turn around and punish the U.K. for imagined sins with impossibly high tariffs that violated that agreement before it even made it through Congress—as he has just done with Mexico—but at this point, everyone gets it. Whether it’s the environment, or preventing increases in numbers of nuclear weapons, or existing nuclear weapons, or trade, Trump can’t be counted on to follow any deal.

There’s little wonder that China has been slow to come to the table on a deal with Trump. Because it seems clear that signing a treaty means nothing so long as Trump is in the White House. His signature on a trade deal is no more binding that his signature on a contract. Even without membership in the European Union, it seems unlikely that the U. K. will politely queue up to be screwed by Trump.

However, there was one bit of possible legislation that seemed to energize the boisterous crowds in London’s streets. On banner after banner, and in chant after chant, they were energized by … the I-word. America’s greatest ally has a message for U.S. lawmakers: Get busy on impeaching Donald Trump.

An online petition against Trump’s state visit gathered in 1,863,708 signatures, but more importantly, protesters filled the streets, the airwaves, and the op-ed pages. It was enough that Trump, after facing deserted streets along parts of his route, took a helicopter ride rather than face the crowds.

As the woman behind the Baby Trump blimp puts it, making Trump uncomfortable and upset in every possible way is exactly the point. “We know Trump isn’t a joke,” said Anna Vickerstaff. “He is responsible for rampant xenophobia, sexism and transphobia and the creeping rise of far right politics. His climate denial and persistent facilitation of the fossil fuel industry is a death sentence for communities in the global south. But if flying a balloon caricature is what gets under his skin—then that’s exactly what we’re going to do.” Vickerstaff makes it clear that Trump “doesn’t deserve our respect” not just because of his policies toward the U.K., but for the harm he’s done to the U.S. and the world.

The Tuesday protests are set to culminate with a march toward 10 Downing Street, where Trump is set to meet with outgoing Prime Minister Teresa May. That event will likely include Trump once again trying to insert himself into a foreign election and rubbing salt into the wound caused by a difficult negotiation that’s still in progress. And, if everyone is lucky, protesters will drown out every word.

The biggest question generated by the protests in London is … why London? Why not Washington, D.C.? Why isn’t Trump perpetually facing these kind of protests?

Why isn’t the White House continually surrounded by such crowds? Why isn’t Trump staring at his own squalling face on a balloon every time he looks out the window? Why are Americans so complacently sitting back while the remains of democracy are crushed more and more brazenly each week?

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