Top Democrats tell supporters to ‘stand up and fight’, as anti-Trump protests turn ugly
Party leaders voice anger at their election loss, echoing people at street protesters across America that have led to property damage and arrests
Leading Democrats have begun their fightback against President-elect Donald Trump, accusing him of unleashing the “forces of hate and bigotry” and warning that America’s enemies were exultant at his election win.
As tens of thousands of Americans unhappy with the result of their election plan further acts of dissent against the new president, Democratic politicians have begun to echo the people on the streets of American cities at protests that have sparked dozens of arrests and led to property damage.
Thousands were out in Denver, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Portland, Oakland and dozens more cities, and although the protests appeared to be dying down, there were scattered acts of civil disobedience and damage to property.
US President Barack Obama and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton have been measured in their language, in keeping with the traditions of the post-election period of transition between administrations.
But Harry Reid, departing as the most senior Democrat in the Senate, issued a blistering statement on Friday, claiming adversaries at home and abroad were jubilant and calling on Trump to heal the nation.
“The election of Donald Trump has emboldened the forces of hate and bigotry in America,” the veteran Nevada senator said. “White nationalists, Vladimir Putin and [Islamic State] are celebrating Donald Trump’s victory, while innocent, law-abiding Americans are racked with fear.”
This was particularly true for black, Hispanic, Muslim, gay and Asian Americans, Reid insisted. “Watching white nationalists celebrate while innocent Americans cry tears of fear does not feel like America.”
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a lodestar for liberal Americans, urged supporters to resist Trump.
“You can either lie down, you can whimper, you can pull up in a ball, you can decide to move to Canada, or you can stand your ground and fight back and that’s what it’s about,” she said on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show. “We do fight back. We will stand with those who are here who were told, come out of the shadows, we welcome you. We will stand with them. And we will stand with them every day. That’s what we have to do.”
Her clarion call came hours before Reid’s statement, and left no doubt about the anxiety gripping some communities.
“I have heard more stories in the past 48 hours of Americans living in fear of their own government and their fellow Americans than I can remember hearing in five decades in politics,” he wrote. “Hispanic Americans who fear their families will be torn apart, African Americans being heckled on the street, Muslim Americans afraid to wear a headscarf, gay and lesbian couples having slurs hurled at them and feeling afraid to walk down the street holding hands.
“American children waking up in the middle of the night crying, terrified that Trump will take their parents away. Young girls unable to understand why a man who brags about sexually assaulting women has been elected president. We as a nation must find a way to move forward without consigning those who Trump has threatened to the shadows. Their fear is entirely rational, because Donald Trump has talked openly about doing terrible things to them.”
Warren, a potential future leftwing standard bearer for the party, has clashed with Trump on Twitter; on the eve of the election he recycled his description of her as “Pocahontas”, mocking her disputed Native American heritage, and a “terrible human being”.
She set out a clear manifesto for the progressive left, urging people: “Get out there and volunteer.” She cited Planned Parenthood, the reproductive health organisation, adding: “Give a couple hours a week to them or to any other organisation that really matters to you, an environmental organisation, an immigrants’ rights organisation, somebody who is working on economic justice, someone who is working on financial reform, get out there and volunteer because volunteering is a way to say we’re making these groups stronger.
“This is one way our voice will be heard. It’s not all going to be heard in Washington. This is how we’re going to have our voice heard … We are going to fight back. We are not turning this country over to what Donald Trump has sold. We are just not.”