Archive for January, 2017

Looking to be a One-Person Army Against Trump? Here is Your Roadmap

Posted in Uncategorized on January 26, 2017 by thebluebros

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The recent protests by over a million Americans who stand against Donald Trump (and for everyone else) are incredibly encouraging for our democracy. Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of these protests is the number of people coming out for them who have never before been active in politics; and I am not referring to just young people, but people of all ages who are being moved for the first time to become politically active and make a difference. This is critical.

What is not encouraging is that the Left is failing to capitalize on these rallies to the extent it should. There have been reports of thousands of protesters in locations but no one there to sign them up, or let them know what they can do tomorrow. If you ask most activists what the plan is (including myself), few will have an answer. This passion is only useful if it can be harnessed and maintained.

Luckily, Republicans have largely shown us the path forward. The Tea Party movement, which many on the Left were quick to dismiss, has been a tremendous success. While the Tea Party unquestionably cost Republicans a few Senate seats, its overall goals have been achieved. The Republican Party has lurched incredibly far to the right; Congress is now controlled in both chambers by Republicans who 20 years ago could never have been elected in the most conservative of districts; and the Tea Partiers have one of their own, Donald Trump, in the White House. The Movement has succeeded beyond its wildest dreams. So how did the Tea Partiers—a relatively small proportion of the electorate—do it?

The first thing the Tea Party had was tremendous financial backing by Big Tobacco and the billionaire Koch brothers, which is why the movement is sometimes referred to as “Astroturf” rather than “grassroots” (for those not familiar with these terms, “grassroots” refers to people-powered political activism from the ground-up, while “Astroturf” refers to corporate-powered political activism masquerading as grassroots). The Tea Party also had a tremendous right-wing media empire ready to broadcast its message in the form of Fox News, the Christian Broadcasting Network, and AM talk radio.

The Left in this country will almost certainly not have the money or media platform enjoyed by the Tea Party. While there are wealthy Democratic contributors, they are fewer in number and wealth than the right-wing contributors. And second, Democrats do not have anything like Fox News, CBN, and talk radio. Democrats also lack a devoted group of listeners (e.g., “dittoheads”) who will believe anything and do anything for their leaders. Liberals and moderates are sprinkled more broadly among diverse and often-times non-partisan news sources such as the nightly news, CNN, and NPR. Having said that, there is still much we can do. Much of what the Left lacks in the way of money and doctrinaire-thinking can be made up for via social media, greater numbers, and just working harder.

So here is the roadmap I propose:

Step 1: Do not lose interest. How do you feel right now? Angry? Ready to take on the world? Great! Keep in mind that this feeling is going to wane as you get somewhat used to a Trump presidency and the constant assault on what you care about (it will happen). Your passion and outrage will wane even further when you realize you still have to keep your job, pay your bills, maintain friendships, etc. Fight this waning! Keep your fire lit. Step 1 is the most important step.

Step 2: Give Money. This is something some can do better than others, but each of us should strive to give something, even a little bit if that is all one can afford. Small monthly contributions are better than big lump-sum contributions. And do not give to the Democratic National Committee or any other organization that you do not entirely trust to use that money effectively. This is admittedly a tough decision. Keep your eyes peeled for a future article from The Blue Brothers attempting to address the very question of where to give (and not give) your blue dollars.

Step 3: Hound your elected officials. This is a great way to make a small group seem big, and a big group seem enormous. This is something we need to adopt from the Tea Party’s playbook. Call your elected leaders, and voice your concern. A good thing to do is to block out 2 minutes each morning to make one phone call to an elected leader who is adopting some form of Trumpism. If you have an elected leader who is holding a town hall, show up and ask a question. If an elected official is going to be in a parade, be ready with a sign that will end up in his line of sight. If you are really devoted, and know of a particularly problematic elected official, you can dress up as something that mocks him or her, and follow that person around to all of their public events. This was done to George H.W. Bush in 1992 when a man in a chicken suit followed Bush everywhere because Bush refused to debate. It drove Bush over the edge, and the chicken-suit guy became a story himself (just don’t break any laws). A chicken suit is awesome, but obviously not appropriate for every poor official. Get creative. An important side note is to only hound the people that represent you. If you are out of district, the elected leaders will understandably not care what you say. Finally on this point, if you are represented by a good elected leader, call them and thank them. Positive reinforcement goes a long way.

Step 4: Run for office. One of the great shortcomings of our system is that we have the wrong people running for office. This often takes the form of politicians who lack the skillset and temperament to hold elected office (e.g., Donald Trump), or we have people that are highly qualified to hold office, but lack the political skill and likeability to win office (e.g., Hillary Clinton). If you have the skills to win office and can do a good job once there, please seriously consider running. We need to start small, and build a bench of highly skilled leaders. This means you cannot start running for office when you are 60 and the kids are all gone. We need you running for office now. If you feel that you are not the proper person to run for office, find someone who is and draft him or her.

Step 5: Primary Democrats. This is related to Step 4, and equally important (especially in districts that are safely Democratic). The Tea Party’s willingness to go after Republicans has made Republicans more concerned about their primary elections than the general elections. The result is more conservative Republicans. If we want Democrats who are not so closely aligned with big banks, big tobacco, and gun manufacturers, we need to run Democrats against them in the primary.

Step 6: Adopt a Specific Cause or Candidate: Find one thing on the ballot that matters a lot to you at the state or local level, and do what you can do to assist it. This can be a candidate or a ballot measure. There are many things you can and should do to help this cause, including: (1) introducing the topic or person to an organization in your district to get the cause/person out there; (2) throw a house party for that person or cause; (3) help organize canvassing parties in your neighborhood where you go door-to-door talking about the issue or candidate; and (4) contact the organization directly to see what you can do.

Step 7: Win the Water Cooler Wars and Speak Up. Many of us are constrained from speaking up when we hear someone say something inappropriate like “Just send em’ all back to Mexico,” or something incorrect like, “Obama did nothing to stop illegal immigration,” or just plain stupid like, “If they’re gonna’ live here, they need to learn to speak American.” Educate yourself on the issues, and be prepared to push back against the inappropriate, wrong, and stupid. If you can do this in a thoughtful, respectful, and informed way, I promise you will win some people over. Do your best to get conservatives you know out of their Fox News echo chamber, and hear an opposing viewpoint. It is the only way they will ever change—to the extent they can.

Step 8: Engage your Friends and Family. Are you going to a townhall meeting on Thursday night? Post about it on Facebook and invite your friends? Did you meet a great upstart politician who is looking to get her name out there? Offer to let her speak at your rotary club (or whatever you do). Did your state representative just introduce a bill to require transvaginal ultrasounds of any woman looking to get an abortion? Tweet about it, and ask your friends to call that person’s office, and then post about how that call went. Be known as the person in your social circle that cares about your community.

Step 9: Vote. This seems too obvious to mention, but make sure you vote, and make sure everyone you know votes. Seriously, shame your family and friends into voting if they give any indication they are considering not voting. Let them know that if they truly value our armed forces, there is no greater way of saying thank you than exercising your most precious right—voting. The flipside of that is that if they choose not to vote, they are sort of pissing on our military and founding fathers, and who wants to do that? Finally, talk to them about the uselessness of casting a protest vote and the dangers of throwing votes away on candidates who have zero chance of winning. The time for “sending messages” is over. It’s time for actions and votes that will bring about substantive change.

Step 10: See Step 1.

This is certainly not a complete list of what you can do, but it is certainly a good start. Imagine if just 2% of us (that’s 7 million people) tackled this list with passion and determination. We’d live in a lot better country.

What’s that you say? You can’t help out because you have a full-time job and small children? With all due respect, drop the excuses and get off your ass. Who cares if you raise a couple of well-adjusted children if they have to find a way to survive in a police state ravaged by world war, global warming, mass extinction, and a President Eric Trump?

See you on the front lines.

– Dylan

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