Has The Resistance Pondered Its Next Steps?

womensmarch

Anyone who was dismayed by the election of Donald Trump last year should feel at least a little better at the end of 2017. If I had any say in picking Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, I would name the organizers of the Women’s March, who I credit for kicking off a major year of new activism and resistance. 2017 started with the Women’s March, a global rallying cry the likes of which we’ve not seen before. I marched on the streets of DC, and personally, I have never seen anything as massive and inspiring as the Women’s March (and I’ve been to a lot of protests in DC and other major East Coast cities).  The march unified the left and featured third wave feminist activists like Angela Davis and millennial organizers.

Following the Women’s March, there were several town hall speak outs, phone banks, and rallies to stop the repeal of the ACA. That worked. Then came the #MeToo Movement and the outcries against sexual assault. Lastly, there were the elections in November, with Democrats nearly flipping Virginia’s General Assembly, winning a historic number of seats, and winning governor races in NJ and VA, too. Dems even won state races in deep-red districts in Oklahoma, Montana, and Georgia. Dems are winning in places they shouldn’t be winning, which should be an indicator that a wave is coming next year and the House and maybe the Senate could flip. As I write this, Dems even have a decent shot at turning an Alabama Senate seat blue, due to the allegations against Roy Moore.

All of this has been inspiring. There is a level of civic engagement and awareness that has not been seen since the 1960s. Now, with that said,  what are the next steps for The Resistance? The right-wing is striking back. For one, Trump has gutted the EPA, State Department, and other government agencies. He is stacking federal courts with far-right candidates that can easily overturn civil rights. I also predict that by the end of his first term, he will get at least one more Supreme Court pick. I doubt Ginsburg or Kennedy will last three more years, thus establishing a conservative majority on the nation’s highest court.

I am not optimistic that Muller is going to bring down the entire administration within the next few months. Obstruction of Justice is not easy to prove, and if he can make the case, it won’t happen overnight. Watergate took over two years. Also, what would happen exactly if Trump is charged?  What would his supporters do? What would it do to this country? Trumpism is not going away. It is a symptom of a much deeper problem.

More concerning is the fact that it has become clear the GOP no longer cares about angry phone calls, speak outs, or the unpopularity of its agenda. As I write this, the GOP’s tax bill looks more and more likely to pass. Yesterday, it moved forward out of committee and will soon come to the Senate floor for a full vote, probably this week, and if it passes, it goes back to the House. One of the GOP holdouts, Bob Corker, voted to advance the bill out of committee. Yesterday, The Daily Kos reported that Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski are likely to vote for it because they’ve secured deals they have wanted. If Corker, Collins, and Murkowski are all yes votes, then it is hard to see how the bill fails.

In short, the GOP needs a win desperately, and they very well may get one, at the expense of the working and middle classes, teachers, anyone on the ACA (the current tax plan would repeal the mandate, which may lead to the collapse of the ACA), graduate students, etc. If the bill passes, it means that the GOP, including so-called moderates like Murkowski and Collins, really no longer care about dissent and outcry. They care most about their donors, who have threatened to cut off funds for 2018 if they do not get their tax cuts.

So what is The Resistance’s answer to all of this? What if organizing, phone banking, and canvassing no longer can sway one of the two political parties? Furthermore, how will The Resistance organize if net neutrality is gutted? Net neutrality ensures that internet providers, like Verizon and Comcast, can’t charge more for certain websites. If the FCC undoes net neutrality rules, which seems likely, then it is probable that big telecom will charge more for certain services, including  social media. All of the major movements over the last few years have largely been organized online, from Occupy Wall Street, to Black Lives Matter, to the Women’s March. Without the ability to do that, The Resistance is in major trouble. As it stands, there really is no plan for a post-net neutrality world. Dissent could be crushed, and here will be a crackdown on information because not everyone will be able to afford several internet packages to secure fast internet speeds that they enjoy now at one package and one price.

2018 is a major year. The Senate, House, state races, and governors mansions are all at play. If there is indeed a blue wave, then the Trump agenda will be stymied. Democrats have a better shot at winning the House than Senate, where they have to defend 25 seats, compared to the GOP’s 10, but even flipping one branch of Congress would break the GOP’s lock.  Voter registration and outreach needs to be the most important issue that The Resistance focuses on in the coming year, and it needs to figure out how to organize beyond social media because net neutrality is in peril.

2017 was a year of civic engagement, and now the movements that sprang up this year, going back to the Women’s March, need to figure out next steps, especially since the right has reacted to organizing tactics and will circumvent them at every turn. The push to pass the tax bill proves that.

 

 

 

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed/Let it be that great strong land of love

Happy Inauguration/day/week/month, whatever you want to call it. As I write this, some citizens have their TVs turned on at home or at work, or maybe they’re scrolling through their smart phones, eager to see Donald Trump sworn in as the next president of the U.S. Others, meanwhile, may still be in mourning, or maybe they’re in DC, at one of the many protests, or maybe they’re choosing to tune out the news.

I’ve been involved in various progressive causes for a long time; I will say, however, that i don’t wish any ill will on this new administration. I hope upon hope that Trump and the GOP Congress realize they have to represent ALL Americans, including the number of groups that Trump attacked during his campaign and even post-victory. I don’t like to see this country as sharply divided as it is, to the point where some of us have stopped speaking to long-term friends or relatives. Even I have cut communication with a few relatives, and the election results are too fresh for me to try to heal that division right now.

That said, there is one good thing that has some from this election. People are engaged. They are  getting involved in their local Democratic Party, pondering running for school board or city council, attending meet-ups, planning rallies, making phone calls to their Senators and Congressman/woman, even their state reps. There is a level of political/civic engagement that we haven’t seen since maybe the 1960s. I do believe that Americans don’t want this divide, and I do believe a lot of Americans are fearful about what comes next. How will Trump govern? Well, we already have some indications of that. His cabinet appointments are a right-wingers dream team, everyone from Betsy DeVos to Jeff Sessions to Rick Perry to Tom Price to Rex Tillerson. Then, we received news yesterday that the budget Trump is leaning towards would abolish the National Endowment for the Arts and drastically cut funding to violence against women organizations, environmental research, and civil rights organizations. According to reports, the budget is essentially a Heritage Foundation “skinny” budget.” Cuts, cuts, cuts. The nomination of DeVos as Education Secretary and Tom Price as Health and Human Services Secretary are also clear signs that the GOP will try hard to fully privatize education and health care, something they’ve wanted to do for a long time.

My hope, moving forward, is that citizens will remain engaged and question statements from this administration, especially when they are  not fact-based. I hope Americans urge the press to do the job it needs to do, and I hope, most of all, that people continue to organize rallies, contact their representatives, and unplug from social media to attend a meet-up, realize they are not alone, and you know, actually talk to people face to face.

I will be at the Women’s March in DC tomorrow. I am attending for a number of reasons, but most of all because I believe in women’s right. Period. Following the march, I will continue teaching, writing, and co-leading a local chapter of a new grassroots organization, Action Together. We hope to keep people involved and get them to run for local political office.

There is work to be done. Since I titled my blog post after a Langston Hughes poem, let me end the post with a stanza from his “Let America Be America Again.”

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

One Week Later

The last time I posted on my blog, the county was shocked, making sense of the election results that proved all pollsters wrong. In a week, the world feels like it has been turned upside down. President Obama, to his credit, has been as gracious as he can be in his transition of power. Hillary Clinton conceded last Wednesday and has since blamed James Comey and the FBI letters for her loss. The Democrats, meanwhile, are gearing up to select a new DNC chair. So far, popular progressive Rep. Keith Ellison has tossed his name into the ring, as well as Howard Dean. So far, a lot of Dems, including Harry Reid and soon-to-be Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, have backed Ellison. In the House, meanwhile, the Democrats have delayed their leadership elections, which does not bode well for Nancy Pelosi. The Democrats are licking their wounds and ready to clean house, at least somewhat. If they want to move forward, gear up for 2018, and start winning elections again, that’s probably for the best.

To be blunt, the Democrats have few easy paths forward. In 2018, they have an enormous amount of Senate seats to defend, including some in red states. In the House, they still have a few dozen seats to flip until they win back the majority. The party is poised to be in the minority at least for the next four years. Meanwhile, it may be hard to develop a strong, progressive alternative vision to Trump because it seems likely they are going to have to fight to protect progressive gains made over the last few decades. Paul Ryan is already licking his chops about privatizing medicare and medicaid, which would unravel a large part of LBJ’s domestic legacy. In the “60 Minutes” interview that aired a few days ago, Trump warned that if Roe V. Wade is overturned, abortion rights will go back to the states and women will have to go to another state to get an abortion. The problem is that nearly 2/3 of state legislatures are in GOP control. So yes, I think the Democrats have quite a fight on their hands going forward, but if Trump’s governing is totally mismanaged, it is possible there could be another wave election, on par with 2006, which would give Democrats control of at least one branch of Congress.

Despite this, I have been amazed at how fast the left has organized. Already, there are mass protests planned for January 20 and 21, the weekend of the inauguration. The women’s march on the 21st appears to be gaining the most momentum, to the point where it already earned a story in the NYT. There are buses headed to that rally from all across the country, including in Scranton. I will be there with my partner, and we already know of a few friends joining us. Meanwhile, organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have reported record donations since Tuesday’s results. Even locally, I have been meeting with people about what we can do in this community. This election has rattled enough people that they are wiling to fight over the next few years.

If you want to get involved, here are some easy ways:

  • Contact your  Senator and Congressman/woman. Tell them to be vigilant and NOT support any attempts by the new Trump administration to roll back women’s rights, LGBT rights, and civil rights. Tell them to NOT support any attempts to privatize the social safety net programs, namely Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
  • Contact your local Senator and Congressman/woman and tell them to pressure Trump to rescind the appointment of white nationalist/alt-right leader Steve Bannon as top adviser.
  • Make a donation, no matter how small, to organizations that work to protect women’s rights, LGBT rights,  civil rights, and immigrants.
  • Plan to attend the inauguration protests. Go to rallybus.net. If you can’t be there, and if you can afford it, sponsor a bus seat for someone who wants to attend but can’t afford a bus seat.
  • Get involved in your community. Reach out to people that want to mobilize. There are more folks out there wanting to do something than you may imagine.