When I watched the first presidential debate, just over a month ago, I was filled with anger and dread at the gravity of the current political conjuncture. For most of my adult life, as a Marxist-feminist-anti-racist-ecological economics professor, I have had a classroom of students to lecture to, but I recently retired. I felt propelled to find some way to contribute to ousting Trump besides phone calling, texting, post card writing, making the pledge, and signing up for protecting the results initiatives.
I found myself inspired to write a song about dumping Trump. I decided to build on the tune and format of Steve Martin’s “King Tut,” aired on SNL in 1978. I wrote the chorus, using “Dump Trump” instead of “King Tut”—and two verses:
Dump Trump, dump Trump
We’re gonna dump, dump Donald Trump
He doesn’t care about us, only for his pockets
He puts kids in cages, it’s outrageous
He’s burning up the planet, we will not allow it
Dump Trump. We’ll dump Trump
Let me tell you about the Donald, our president Donald Trump
He claimed to be an outsider, but he didn’t drain the swamp
He didn’t pay his taxes, gave tax cuts to the rich,
Stopped regulating corporations, threw nature in a ditch
He’s a sexual harasser, a bully and war monger
He loves dictators, and making Nazis stronger
Dump Trump (he ‘s a real hater), dump Trump (wants to be a dictator)
We’re gonna Dump (he has got to go), dump Donald Trump (we won’t take it no more)
He’s a liar, climate change denier
He supports racists, we will not take this!
He’ll take away our rights, that’s why we fight…to
Dump Trump (he’s a dangerous man)… we’ll dump Trump (stop him, YES WE CAN!!!)
It’s time to take and use our power, it’s time that we get woke
While it won’t fix everything, it’s still important that we vote
We can elect much better people, Biden, Omar and AOC
And also fight for changes that are revolutionary
Let’s not fall victim to… Trump’s campaign of voter suppression
Mail your ballots now, or go to early votin’
Fellow radicals and my more liberal friends who were over 50 loved my Dump Trump song. But I was shocked to find that it irritated, even enraged, my intelligent, compassionate, activist 28-year-old daughter, Ella. She was not even sure whether she wanted to vote at all! Ella told me that many of her friends were in the same position. Inundated with exhortations to vote, vote, vote, she had been turned off, almost deafened, to the message. A litany of Trump’s misdeeds was not enough. Radical changes were needed, this she knew – but she also knew that voting was not going to bring them. She felt that I did not care about what she thought or felt. That I did not respect her right to have her own opinion and make her own choices. As we argued heatedly, I felt like I was my parents confronting myself 50 years ago, when I -- a 1960’s hippie radical involved in anti-Vietnam war civil disobedience and convinced of the futility of electoral politics -- came home from a semester at college where we had shut down the campus, to fight with my Republican parents and their friends.
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Over the ensuing weeks, Ella and I kept talking, trying to hear one another. It was painful, but I was learning. I wrote a new second verse and new chorus to lift up the voices of Ella and the younger generations. I wanted to honor their desire not to participate in our corrupt political system. I wanted to honor their awareness that the democratic party is also sold out to the billionaire class, and to their devastating neoliberal policies. And I wanted to honor their desire for deep-seated, systemic change. I could see how it could feel like they were having to choose between voting and progressive activism, between “dumping Trump OR” pursuing transformative change:
New Verse 2
When I sang this song to you, it only made you sore,
You said “this isn’t news to me, I’ve heard it all before
Voting just won’t fix… the problems that I see,
I know we don’t have justice or true democracy
Politics are broken, Obama didn’t deliver,
We need transformation, we need to change the system!!”
Dump Trump OR!!!……..(we need system change); dump trump OR!!! (we need so much more)
dump trump OR!!! (we won’t compromise); dump trump OR!!! (we need to mobilize)
As Ella and I talked, I developed a more nuanced argument for dumping Trump. Yes, voting for Biden is a reform, but he is clearly the lesser of two evils. Importantly, he at least claims to respect the democratic process, and to value the truth. The democratic party is tolerating – if unfairly treating – its left wing, while Trump is already violently suppressing peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstrations, railing against socialism, and encouraging white supremacist terrorists. Plus, there is real, powerful pressure within the Democratic Party from Bernie, AOC, Ayanna Presley, and others to make it into a transformative party, opposed to all forms of oppression.
I also realized that I wanted to provide Ella and others with more discussion of the way forward, since, as one activist said, “it’s easier to envision the end of the world than to imagine moving beyond capitalism.” As I have written about elsewhere in Common Dreams, post-capitalist, “solidarity economy” practices and institutions already exist in the US, alongside capitalist ones. These practices and institutions express anti-all-oppression, solidarity values, forged through decades of worker, feminist, anti-racist, ecology, LGBTQIA, and other movement, increasingly connected via intersectionality into a movement of movements. Besides equity in all dimensions, they embody core values of participatory democracy, cooperation, sustainability, and diversity. Some examples include producer and worker cooperatives, time banks and community currencies, mutual aid, and socially responsible consumption. We do not have to wait for the revolution to post-capitalism, it is already in process – within and outside of markets, within and alongside capitalist practices and institutions. Because growing the solidarity economy requires a shift in values and relationships, as well as practices and institutions, it requires r/evolution – gradual, revolutionary change.
So I added a third verse to the song which tries to resolve the conflict between me and Ella.
I get that dumping Trump won’t fix what’s broke,
But it’ll keep our civil rights from going up in smoke,
We need need radical transformation, all across this land,
So I’m changing my refrain to Dump Trump AND,
Trump is using our fears to divide and move us backwards,
Let’s seize the time and grow the solidarity paradigm
Dump Trump AND!!! (support Bernie… and AOC), dump trump AND!!! (get money out of our democracy)
Dump trump AND!!! (take back control of our minds) Dump trump AND!!! (as a new system we design)
Dump Trump AND!!! (defund the military and the police), Dump Trump AND!!! (grow a culture of love and peace)
Dump Trump AND!!! (abolish prisons from our lands), Dump Trump AND!!! (come on people, let’s take a stand)
Transform our economy with solidarity
Find ways to shine our light…..ending wrongs, creating right
Together across divides… determined and unified,
Dump Trump AND!!! Dump trump AND!!! Dump Trump AND!!
I hope you like my song—which is actually a video, complete with images of our beautiful movement of movements—and pass it on. If you are on the fence, I hope it moves you to vote for Biden, especially if you are in a swing state. And I hope that it helps other progressive parents bridge the generation gap with their adult children. Dump Trump AND!!!