A Survivors' Guide for the Trump Years: Sanity and Strategy

Saturday saw ebullient push-back against the roll-back-the-clock Trumpeteers. Now comes the challenge of keeping up the pressure, lest last weekend turn into flame-less smolder. Some thoughts on what to do next:

Chill a Bit

Righteous anger inspires but without time outs, burnout will occur before the first daffodil blooms in Boston. Four ways to do this:

            1. Find your peeps and embrace the bubble. I marched with more 10% of my town on Saturday and it was only that low because another 10% was watching and at least that many were elsewhere. We felt lucky to live in a place of so many like-minded people. Critics would say I live in a "bubble," as if that's a bad thing. Nope! In these times you need a bubble where you feel validated and supported. The goal is to expand the overall number of bubbles across America. Ignore those who call you "out of touch." That shouldn't be hard. Do you want to live in their alternative?

            2. Turn off your TV and unplug your radio:  Swearing at your TV and shouting at your radio? Turn them off. Read more. I did this during G. W. Bush's Reign of Stupidity. It improved my attitude and made me better informed. If you can't stand the very sight or voice of the latest POTUS by Chicanery, reading is an emotional distancing tool. Plus, do you really need me to tell you that TV news is as shallow as an Arizona creek in August? Sadly, as sacred as NPR is for some, the fact remains that this is not the liberal NPR of your youth. Since the 1994-96 Newt Gingrich reign of terror, NPR has run scared, ever fearful that a conservative Congress will yank its funding. Don't watch. Don't listen. Read—but stay away from the Internet discussion boards, which will also make you nuts.

            3. Don't Give Trump the Attention He Craves:

Think it through. We know that King Donald of Orange doesn't give two toots of a broken horn for anyone other than himself. He is the living proof of Oscar Wilde's witticism, "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about." So don't talk about him publicly. Oppose policies, but make Trump a walking dead man. Say "I oppose the plan to dismantle the Affordable Care Act" but not, "I oppose Trump's plan." Never say, "President Trump." Don't put his name on your protest signs. Don't patronize anything that has He Who Shall Not Be Named's face on it. If asked about him, shrug your shoulders and say, "Who?" You can also hurt the Trump brand via disinvesting and/or boycotting companies and celebrities that support him. Grab Your Wallet updates such a list regularly. 

            4. Ignore the White Trashlash: This is my term, but feel free to appropriate it.. Identify the Deplorables and isolate them. Among those unworthy of breath expenditure are: racist hate-mongers, Confederate wannabes, the keep-away-from-my-Uzi crowd, the dig-and-drill set, anti-science lunatics, bomb-the-Third World imperialists, and those who'd feed the poor to the dogs if it meant their taxes went down.

You won't sway them; don't waste energy trying. Take solace that the trashlash is on the wrong side of history. The Census Bureau estimates that by 2044, just 27 years hence, the US will be a minority-majority nation. Future historians are likely to interpret the 2017 election as the political Battle of the Bulge for White America monoculturalists. One popular weekend slogan held, "Make America Think Again." Let's call out willful stupidity and not worry about hurt feelings. This is America, not an episode of Mr. Rogers. These people are not your friends

Win Some New Allies

It is, though, a very bad idea to assume that every white person is part of the trashlash! A yuge hole can be poked in the Orange Crush if more attention is paid to the working class. You know Trump doesn't give a rat's elbow about these folks, but neither do most Democrats. Both parties are controlled by the pampered: the GOP by an economic elite and the Democrats by professionals and intellectuals. To recapture wage earners Democrats need to stop looking at how globalism swells their stock portfolios and pay attention to how job loss and sinking wages affect people in the parts of town where they never hang out. Building allies with labor, community advocacy groups, and working people is the first step in isolating the trashlash.

Less Clinton and more Sanders is the ticket. Start talking to blue-collar folks—dialogues, not lectures! Validate their anger, but challenge how they've directed it. How hard is it to make workers distrust their bosses? Put some faces on the bosses behind the bosses and the people who ship their jobs overseas.

Rethink and Link, or Sink

Reframe the game. It is (way) past time to put identity politics to rest. Practice this phrase until you can say it without stammering: "The rights of all Americans." Good! Now STFU about your pet cause because what many people hear is: "I want special privileges for me and mine; to hell with you and yours."  People on the Left can't get out the way of their own rhetoric. As a result, for millions have come to think that Affirmative Action means "anti-white;" feminism is "anti-male," LGBTQ is "anti-straight," etc. None of that is true, but particularism is the path to stereotyping and backlash. If you cherish your cause but don't link it, it will perish. Think I exaggerate? How the hell did anti-abortion activists became "pro-life" rather than "anti-choice?"

Start talking in broader categories. Link reproductive rights, marriage, and sexual identity to the broader issue of privacy. Lots of people uncomfortable with transsexuals are even more uncomfortable with the government regulating Internet access or regulating  "private family matters." How about bundling women's equality, a workers' bill of rights, health care, a living wage, and minority civil rights under the broader umbrella of fairness for all Americans?  See the difference? (You'd better, or you're talking only to yourself.)

Only Fight Battles you Can Win

Another vocab word to learn: compromise. Sanity begins with accepting that some things are going to change. For example, there will be changes in immigration policy, so get over it. The good news is that there is plenty of wiggle room between draconian Deport/Build the Wall and the fantasy Lalala Welcome Them All camps. Aside from Argentina, almost no one has an accept everyone policy (and even Argentina has some restrictions). The World Court recognizes that nations have the right to set and enforce immigration policy, which is exactly what is done.

I admire the big hearts of the Sanctuary movement but though it might be sad commentary, the United States already has one of the world's most liberal immigration policies. Don't believe me? Pick three of four places, research what you'd have to do to immigrate there, and explore what would happen if you were detained as an illegal. U.S. policy is a mess in many ways, but not many nations ignore illegal immigration to the degree we do. We need something like the Dream Act to address past inadequacies of the law, but it's not unreasonable to assert that a reformed law should be enforced. It is, however, unreasonable to think the public will accept blind acceptance of anyone–be they immigrant, refugee, or tourist. So compromise a little instead of expending anguish over fantasy. 

Think Globally Act Locally

Your local and state leaders can be pressured, even if they are Republicans. Many are just as nervous as you about D.C. firebrands on issues like health care. If Congress dismantles the ACA, millions will lose coverage immediately and tens of millions more will follow when price caps disappear and insurance premiums skyrocket. Guess who will bear the brunt of figuring out what to do with patients without insurance? Hint: It won't be the US Congress. Think locally and make sure those concerns reach Washington faster than the Acela.

Also make certain local reps hear your concerns. Start now—the entire House of Representatives is up for reelection in 2018. Let reps know they won't have your vote for a regressive agenda. Put pressure on the Senate as well. Republicans will need 60 votes to avoid filibusters and the only way they can get them is to flip at least eight Democrats. If you have a Democratic senator, hold that person accountable. If not, badger Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to crack the whip and maintain party discipline.

Millennials Must Lead

This will be hard for seasoned activists, but recruit and cede control to youth. Message to Millennials: Put on your Big Boy/Girl/Whatever Pants and lead; this is your hunt more than anyone's. If you want reproductive rights, get organized. If you hope to see a Social Security check, make noise now or there won't be any cymbals to crash when you start turning gray. Maybe you're in great health right now, but if you think you'll ever get sick, you'd better care about the health care system. Infrastructure? Ponder the fact that many cities use sewer and water treatment facilities built in the 1930s! Scores of Flints are on the verge.

See "Rethink and Link" above, or your concerns will be buried one by one. Sorry, but you need to stop worrying about micro-aggression because you're facing  macro now. There's a bigger storm raging than campus debates over who gets to use which bathroom, what gender adjectives are acceptable, and dining hall offerings. If it seems like I'm being mean, toughen up because you ain't seen nothing yet. Start a Millennial new New Left. Opposing the Orange Snollygoster needs Millennial energy and commitment.  

Don't Forget to Laugh

In the difficult days to come, joy and laughter will keep us in touch with our better angels. Enough said. 

No comments: