I am, at the moment, flat on my back recovering from a particularly bad flu. It has been some time since my last blog post – forgive me, for I have sinned. What got me writing again, of course, is that my country appears to have suddenly, and according to some inexplicably, entered an entirely different political era than the one we were in just a year ago. The discourse has transmuted from one of hope and progression, to one of fear and despotism, seemingly overnight. We have certainly had our share of milestones to snap us awake and let us know that the era of Obama is over. The problem with the narrative expressing our shock is that it is just not true. What is actually happening is that we are being forced to focus our attention more to the vitriol spewed by a minority of oligarchs, racists, homophobes, and fascists from which progressives were almost beginning feel safe, believing that humanity might be moving into a more progressive, uniting era. We are seeing an agenda that has been years in the making, finally establishing itself after gathering knowledge, tactics, and political clout. It is now up to us to determine the fate of this minority movement and make it the final death rattle of old-school fascist patriarchy.
The silver lining to Trump’s inauguration is that it is already proven to be a Pyyrhic victory. Hundreds of thousands of people descended on Washington D.C., not for the inauguration ceremony, but to march in protest of a new leader who by many accounts and his own words is a sexual predator and a hater of women. In New York, Chicago, Boston, and Atlanta thousands marched, too. Indeed, if my Facebook feed is a proper gauge, they marched everywhere. On Saturday Night Live, Aziz Ansari, used his opening monologue as a salve to comfort and soothe angry Americans and ever more resentful Trump supporters.
“[I]f you look at our country’s history change doesn’t come from presidents. Change comes from large groups of angry people. And if Day 1 is any indication, you are part of the largest group of angry people I have ever seen.”
This is the right approach, and I believe he is right. The marches this weekend were not merely a day of rage against a system against which we stand helpless, but a demonstration of the power of dissenters and a new milestone in our political consciousness. This demonstration to the oligarchy that their mixed-messages, bullshit, and populism is just the beginning. They have fooled few people if anyone that was not already looking for a politics more angry, divisive, and hate-filled. It will be difficult to win those voters back to the right side, and demonstrate to those so stuck in their dark fantasies of a world that is predominately white, male, and frightening, that their vision has no place in reality, but we must try. We must try mainly because the Trump camp isn’t fighting for them. They are being used for an agenda far more self-serving and destructive.
As much as this new fire must burn hot, it must not lapse into violent protest. A meme spreading on Facebook and elsewhere celebrates a minor alt-right celebrity getting clocked by a masked protester. Non-violent protest has been the standard every since the civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s. It is not a relic of that era, and it is not something that died with Dr. King. The basis of the philosophy is simple: Do not muddle a debate with violent acts. Address the issues and do not let violent action remove focus from the principles being demonstrated. Violence always begets more violence, while the reasons for that first punch or kick become lost amid accusations over who struck first. Don’t believe me? Just look at Israel. No, we have to reject this action and the delight that people seem to have taken in re-posting, re-contextualizing, and commemorating it.
So what can we do? A lot, actually. While I have been sick in bed, catching up on my reading, I’ve also been signing petitions and getting my calendar ready for coming protest rallies and events. Here are just a few ways you can take action from your couch:
Sign Up for 100 Days of Disruption at FreePress.net
FreePress.net is a nonpartisan organization building a nationwide movement for media that serve the public interest. They are particularly active in the fight for an open Internet. In spite of some of the rhetoric criticising the unfair media, Trump is not attempting to champion the right of the people to a fair and unbiased press, he just wants to chip away and the credibility of major news outlets and they report more of the facts. 100 Days of Distruption is a daily email update highlighting actions, calls, petitions, and demonstrations that you and others can take part in to fight back against the Trump agenda.
Create and/or Sign a petition at Whitehouse.gov
Yes, the same Whitehouse. gov that just got taken over by the alt-right and scrubbed of any sign of progressive agenda, also has a robust petition platform that isn’t going away. Already, dozens of petitions are showing up demanding Trump divest of his overseas business ventures, show his tax returns or resign. There is also one demanding that language supporting rights for LGBTQ people be returned to the web site.
Join or establish your local political action group
Earlier in January, a group of former congressional staffers released Indivisible: A practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda. It lays out precisely the strategy used by the Tea Party to disrupt Congress in 2008 and block President Obama’s key initiatives throughout his eight years in office. Now, as the authors tell us, it is time for the tables to turn. In addition to taking up our causes, we have to be ready to organize against an onslaught of legislation designed to enrich the president’s cabinet and their cronies.