Saturday, January 21, 2017

Endlessly Reminding You That We Hate You

1. Donald Trump, even in his fact-free sycophantic bubble of narcissism, is quite well aware that tens of millions of people don't like him. We had an election for that (just recently!), where we had the chance to express this in a meaningful way (those who stayed home literally don't count).

2. So today there are massive protests, to impress upon Mr. Trump that people don't like him, period. Again, he knows that.

3. So what do we do when he actually does something? When he starts banning Muslims, or persecuting Muslim citizens? Do we trot this out again? The millions who dislike him - who he knew about, and who were tallied in November, and who marched in January - will be seen as griping yet again. Yawn.

Don't get me wrong, it's always fun to goad the opponent, by repeatedly reminding him that we're opposed to him, personally, period, regardless of whatever he actually does. But maybe we can stop "teaching" him something he already knows, and try something different; something that requires some balls. For example, would anyone out there care to join me in publicly declaring yourself Muslim? That move is still priced cheaply; the cost will only rise later. Get in early!

If you'd rather just vent your indignation, cool. Enjoy. But know that there are actual things that can be done.

The next time your urge to stand up and be counted will actually mean something will be during midterm elections. How focused are you on that? How much are you focusing others on that, and preparing to push everyone you know (and make them push everyone THEY know) to register?

Have you purchased subscriptions (digital or print) for every single news publisher you ever make use of or generally admire (see this and the final paragraph here)? Have you badgered everyone you know to do likewise in order to support strong independent journalism?

Will you more than double your normal charitable and political giving this year, past your pain point? (here are some suggestions).

Are you paying attention to local politicians, and supporting the good guys? And generally activating politically? (That doesn't mean reposting snarky FB posts and clucking your tongue at Trump's latest outrageous tweet. It means donating and working and trying and evangelizing, way past the point where it doesn't feel like fun.)

Are you ready to support pragmatic, generally sensible politicians even if they're not your most favoritest - even if they're imperfect and prone to compromise, and even if they don't shmear you with rhetoric about transforming the country into your most perfect snowflake dream? Liberals just spent eight years fuming at Obama for working the system rather than sticking it to the "bad guys." They backed Bernie, who offered them every possible pony. Now that stakes have risen, are you ready to get real, and maybe even feel affinity for right-wing Never Trumpers (read, for instance, Rick Wilson and John Schindler) who don't emanate that comforting tribal smell?

Are you staying up on issues by reading primary sources as much as possible (rather than trusting and parroting your usual media gatekeeper)? How in-depth will your command be of news and issues in the years ahead? Will you continue to merely accept bulleted talking points?

Are you reading widely across the political spectrum, and doing everything you can to broaden your views and escape your bubble? To maintain your resolve and values while finding empathy and common ground with those who view things differently? To recognize, for example, that lots of good people voted Trump for totally non-racist reasons?

Are you securing your online communications and (more important) helping less technically competent people do likewise?

Are you going out of your way to make Muslim, Mexican, and generally immigrant neighbors, workers, coworkers, waiters, busboys, etc. feel like somebody's got their back, and making sure they have your cell number?

Are you gonna do something other than just bitch about it?

5 comments:

shel emm said...

Of course it is important to avoid the age old problem of protesters who "lose their heart and head for home." (to quote an R.E.M. song)

However, this turnout should inspire Democratic politicians to fight policies they abhor from Day One. And fight them hard just tlike they fought Obama. They have to hit him hard and often, and this is important because it looks like a lot of people will lose their health care coverage and the rest of us will lose major benefits like allowing our younger family members to stay on the health plan to age 26, and parity for mental health coverage and substance abuse. This will threaten to break a lot of families financially. This is serious.

Jim Leff said...

Ok, sure, but then I'd rather see people rallying at these Democrat's offices. Kick ass or we'll primary you. You know, the Tea Party tactics we're all supposed to be using.

My problem is I'm not big on dramatic gestures, or endless re-litigation (e.g.: http://jimleff.blogspot.com/2015/04/resilience-giving-serendipity-chance.html ). If there's a problem, work to FIX THE PROBLEM. Two months post-election, we're still sharing our feelings. We're still saying "this can't be happening." Enough of that!

It's just more lefty "safe space" thinking, and it's only self-defeating.

shel emm said...

It's only self-defeating if it ends there, like I already said.

The big difference now is that, once benefits are taken away, it could ruin families when the changes go into effect. So the 'long game' you are speaking of will be too late, self- defeating or not. The way forward is to immediately impress upon the Democratic representatives that the people want to fight this beginning with Day One. This still means follow-through is crucial, but we shouldn't be waiting to send that message.

Jim Leff said...


I'm not quite sure what you're arguing for. If you're saying that the marches this week in any way accomplished this goal, I'd respectfully disagree.

Political pressure works when it's applied specifically. There's not a Democratic politician in the country who's had the least doubt since roughly 11pm on Nov 8 that anti-Trump outrage is, and will be, high among Democrats. It's a point that doesn't need making. So I'd suggest (and it surprises me that this would be controversial) waiting till there's a point that needs to be made. "We don't like this guy" is a point that was already recently made by 65M voters.

Again, if the point is to activate Democratic leaders, then THOSE GUYS should be marched upon. Lord knows the Republican public pressured the bejesus their peeps to fight tenaciously against Obama. But even this could be counterproductive, as such pressure would inevitably devolve (as it did on the right re: Obama) into a never-compromise litmus test, with the mob pointing in fury at any politician failing to condemn 100% of Trump initiatives with maximum stridency.

shel emm said...

I am saying that the big turnout is impressive and an important first step, if it is only a first step. However, without it I'd be fearful that the opposition to what Trump wants to do in the corridors of power would come too late. It is not good enough to threaten removal from office after the fact.

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