The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Canada needs more independent media. And independent media needs you.

Did you know that most news organizations in Canada are owned by just a handful of companies? And that these companies have been shutting down newsrooms and laying off reporters continually over the past few decades?

Fact-based, credible journalism is essential to our democracy. Unlike many other newsrooms across the country, The Tyee’s independent newsroom is stable and growing.

How are we able to do this? The Tyee Builder program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip into our editorial budget so that we can keep doing what we do best: fact-based, in-depth reporting on issues that matter to our readers. No paywall. No junk. Just good journalism.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to be Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
We're reader supported.
Get our newsletter free.
Help pay for our reporting.
Culture

At DOXA: Trumped! What the $%*%(!! Now?

Trio of films at upcoming Vancouver film fest bring clarity, even hope.

By David Beers 3 May 2017 | TheTyee.ca

David Beers is founding editor of The Tyee.

Donald Trump might melt into a yellow puddle of leaks, tweets and tantrums tomorrow. He could be led off in a straight-jacket by Stephen Colbert — but it wouldn’t begin to resolve the terrifying set of questions he has surfaced. Like:

Just how much toxic bile does reside in the body politic? How responsive is it to total bullshit? How much damage can be done in it its name, once unleashed? After Trump, does just a less bozo fascist win?

Or can the good in human nature — rebellious, but constructive, smart and cooperative — be tapped to defeat Trumpism? No one doubts anymore populist anger is real — can it deliver real reform?

To such musings, a trio of films showing in this years’ DOXA festival brings clarity and even hope.

If you are wondering what diabolical alchemy could have possibly converted tycoon Trump into the outsider candidate for America’s forgotten little people, may I suggest PACmen. It isn’t about Trump but Ben Carson, the African-American, fundamentalist Christian neurosurgeon who, for a brief moment, looked to be the perfect self-made Republican hero. As he sweetly brags: “I went from the bottom one per cent to the top one per cent!”

Carson’s biggest champion is a gung-ho arch-conservative named John Philip Sousa IV, great-grandson of the famed composer of “Stars and Stripes Forever,” first marched to when America was great (1897). PACmen shows us Sousa and other rich white guys high in corporate suites working the phones, hauling in Political Action Committee (PAC) money, moving their black chess piece forward.

We meet the pawns, too, white suburban evangelicals enlisted to recruit Republican primary voters by phone and on foot. They are very worried that the United States increasingly looks and sounds quite unlike the insides of their churches. Their speakerphone meetings always end in prayer, the pious millionaires joining their petrified plebians to thank the Lord for sending Ben Carson to “save America.”

But whoops. It’s the devilish Trump who goes on to scoop 10 times Carson’s evangelical votes, even though, as one Carson pacman says to another, “Trump wouldn’t know a Bible if it hit him in the head!” Sousa lets that settle in and replies, ominously: “Interesting.”

Credit where due: Carson’s pacmen were early to guess widespread disgust with politicians made running a non-politician a good bet. But after Carson bumbles one too many times, one of his pacmen names the game — and the fear churning his particular gut. Without a Republican in the White House, furious citizens will make life hell for One-Percenters like himself, whom he calls “producers.” He’s shifting his cash to Trump, the hate-mongering fake populist, because Trump is winning. Trump will protect him.

President Trump, as we now know, wasted no time in selling out the faith and family voters who believed he would topple Washington’s corrupt order. He’s packed his cabinet with Wall Street kings (and Ben Carson) and set about slashing taxes for the wealthy while stripping health care from 24 million vulnerable citizens. Trump might keep up his populist charade as long as his Rasputin Bannon churns out conspiracy theories and wedge issues, but only if current spasms of progressive opposition don’t morph into a full-blown movement built to last and win.

Such a movement began to weave itself during Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the Democratic presidential candidacy, and this is the subject of Waking the Sleeping Giant. It’s bracing to see how early and easily Sanders connected. Before he’d even decided to run, he tells a room full of Iowans they are the producers — “producing more than 20 or 30 years ago, but wages are going down.” To these nodding Walmart shoppers he says, “The Walton family owns more wealth than the bottom 40 per cent of the American people. One family.”

851px version of Waking-Sleeping-DOXA.jpg
‘Waking the Sleeping Giant.’

Here’s one right out of Trump’s script: “You can’t keep doing what you’re doing. You can’t keep beating down the middle class. You can’t keep buying elections. You can’t keep sending our jobs to China. That’s wrong.” But this is Sanders, a self-labelled “democratic socialist,” explaining his agenda and receiving, that day in Iowa, a standing ovation.

How it stings to watch it, knowing that Hillary Clinton chose to obsessively court Wall Street, spending most of her $1 billion raised on ads that, by one analysis were “almost policy free” and aimed instead to make people feel dumb and dirty for resonating to Trump. Sanders’ prescription was the opposite: “Our job is to mobilize.”

Among those inspired by Sanders to mobilize herself and others is Sabrina Shrader, a young white woman who barely scrapes by in West Virginia coal country. She is running for office for the first time as a Democratic candidate for the state house. Schrader is union-backed, has a sister who’s battled drug addiction, and displays Bible verses on the walls of her house. She knows first-hand that “living in poverty creates toxic stress.” In her opinion, “right now in America, most everyone hates themselves right now ’cause we’re stuck right now.” But what unsticks Schrader are these two things: Jesus’s teachings of empathy — “All people deserve love,” she tells voters, “and no sin is greater than another” — and Sanders’ program to re-distribute opportunity and wealth.

The documentary makers invite us to see Schrader as an arm, maybe a little toe, of the rousing giant, joining unionists, Black Lives Matter activists, academics, environmentalists, LGBTQ advocates, the quite religious and the not religious, all manner of just plain decent hard-working people, red staters, blue staters, rural dweller and urbanites, and yes, one or two quoted members of the liberal media, in channeling her anger into a politics of inclusivity.

That anger. It is hungry and one way or another must be fed. At one point in PACmen, Ben Carson is perplexed. “People love me! They just won’t vote for me. But that’s ok!” But it’s clear the surgeon blew it when he made his slogan “heal America.” That’s no battle cry, and voters were ready to rumble when they chose Trump.

The war must only escalate when and if people realize they’ve been Trumped, left to fend for themselves as moneyed elites deepen their political control. Could such a war (“Our Revolution” as Sanders now calls it) be fought and won with creativity and joy alongside the anger, in a way that leaves most citizens feeling affirmed by democracy’s workings?

Well, that’s exactly what is at stake in Ada for Mayor, a documentary about the unlikely run for mayor of Barcelona by Ada Colau, an affordable housing advocate with one toddler and no political party. The movement she comes to lead might look a bit like Occupy Wall Street at first, but taken inside by the documentary makers, we see it’s very different because it’s all about the careful, good faith brokering of an alliance of many different populist and progressive political groups with a focus on establishing core principles, sticking to them and winning office. A bit of brilliant branding doesn’t hurt either. I will not reveal much more about this one in order to avoid spoilers.

851px version of Ada-For-Mayor-DOXA.jpg
‘Ada for Mayor.’

Suffice it to say that all of us, having been Trumped, must guard against despair. Drip, tweet, drip... each new intrigue, outrage, and weird-ass poll result raises more harrowing questions about the very essence of human nature. I submit that human nature is up to the job if appealed to properly and joined to a savvy new way of doing politics and getting people elected. Trumpism can be repealed and replaced in Washington, in your town, in an angry, hurting heart. That is the fact-based conclusion one must reach upon viewing Ada for Mayor. You’ll see. And you’ll feel a bit less terrified, I promise.

The filmmaker behind PACmen, Luke Walker and this essay’s writer, David Beers, will converse when DOXA shows the documentary Sunday, May 7, 8:30 p.m. at the Cinemateque in Vancouver. Info here.  [Tyee]

Read more: Politics, Film

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free.

LATEST STORIES

The Barometer

Tyee Poll: What Is One Art or Design Skill You Wish to Learn?

Take this week's poll