Seems that like the woman in the back at that Obama rally, everyone is “Fired Up! Ready to Go!”
Hundreds of thousands of people have been attending rallies and demonstrations and protests. Congressional phones have been clogged with calls. And it’s been working. The House gave up on its plan to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics thanks to public outrage. Other House plans have been put on the back burner. Presidential appointments are facing a much tougher road to confirmation than expected. Members of the House of Representatives recently had a meeting to talk about how do deal with angry constituents when they go back home to their districts.
This is all very good, but one must keep up the pressure.
A few things to keep in mind….
1. Know who you’re talking to.
Don’t bother contacting people who do not represent you. Sure, you’d love to give Paul Ryan a piece of your mind, but unless you’re from Wisconsin’s 1st District, he’s got no obligation whatsoever to listen to you. Don’t waste your time – and theirs.
Don’t harass people who are already on your side. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is the Senate Minority Leader – the de facto leader of the opposition. While you should call and write his office, you probably don’t need to hold a protest outside his home.
By the way, knowing what your Congressmen (and women) can do can be key. Perhaps your rep in DC is on the committee that just happens to deal with the particular issue that concerns you? Also remember what Representatives and Senators can and cannot do. Don’t ask representatives to vote against cabinet nominees or Supreme Court justices; that’s the Senate’s job.
2. No matter how you contact them, be polite.
Your representative’s time is just as important as yours. Treat them with respect. Don’t yell, don’t insist or demand. Don’t be a bully. If you ask to meet with them at their office and say you’re a group of five people, don’t show up with fifteen.
Afterwards, send them a “Thank You” note. Not only is it polite and proper, it can also be a nice way to remind them of the issue you discussed….
3. Takin’ it to the streets
Again, be polite and behave yourself. Disrupt normal life as little as possible. If you’re working to organize a protest, march, or demonstration, be specific with your target. Remember the “Occupy Wall Street” protests? A major reason they came to naught was that they had no clear goal or demand. They couldn’t even come up with a basic manifesto.
Be proactive. Don’t wait for something bad to happen to protest it. Start planning now for Earth Day in April.
Welcome others to your action. So they don’t agree completely with your agenda. No big deal. The press notices numbers first, secondary differences amongst the protesters later…. As long as you all have the same core principle, there should not be a problem.
Needless to say, don’t get violent.
4. What if you live in a state and Congressional District where your Congressmen (and women) are all good guys, and are already fighting the way you want them to? Or you’re looking for something to do between marches? Put your money where your mouth is, and donate to an organization already in the trenches.
Care about a free press and basic civil rights?
Southern Poverty Law Center
Worried about the environment?
Natural Resources Defense Council
Minorities and refugees?
NAACP’s Legal Defense and Education Fund
Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
Council on American-Islamic Relations
The International Refugee Assistance Project
National Immigration Law Center
Center for Reproductive Rights
And you can contribute to the Democrats in general at
The Democratic National Committee
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
Try volunteering at your local Democratic office, too!
5. Support Quality Journalism
We’re going to need the press more than ever as Trump & Co lie and stonewall. Consider at least a digital subscription to a newspaper or news magazine. Remember, it was the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold who told us how Trump was using his charitable “foundation” as a personal petty cash fund. At Newsweek, Kurt Eichenwald untangled Trump’s overseas business conflicts of interest. Heck, even the bland, middle-of-the-road USA Today reported (credit where it’s due: the article was by Nick Penzenstadler and Susan Page, with contributions from David McKay Wilson, Karen Yi, John Kelly and Kevin McCoy) on how Trump was involved in over 3500 civil lawsuits primarily because he stiffed people on bills. Get your information from *real* news sources.
6. Be aware that you may have to compromise.
It seemed as if it was standard operating procedure for the GOP to oppose anything and everything that President Obama wanted to do. If he issued a statement saying “Kittens are nice”, you can bet that Republicans would be all over him complaining that he was biased against dog lovers.
So far, Trump has made some rather bizarre choices for his various nominees. Some of them are truly mind-boggling. But the business of the government must go on. We really can’t have a vacancy on the Supreme Court. And eventually, even by accident, Trump might actually nominate someone sane for a position or propose something worthwhile. Be ready to choke down your personal revulsion of him if he tries to do something that is actually good.
7. Don’t forget state governments!
Your own state has a great amount of influence. States draw Congressional districts and set voting access regulations. They write marriage laws and can set their own minimum wage. Don’t ignore your local politicians! They can fight just as much as you can, and often have a more immediate effect.
To help in the struggle, a couple of groups have put together “manuals” for the Opposition. Some former Congressional Staffers put together a little booklet they called the “Indivisible Guide” (“A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda”) where they analyzed the tactics used by the Tea Party, and recommended a similar strategy. They’ve effectively become the leaders of the opposition. The website is posting regular updates and “action items” drawing attention to upcoming legislation. Another group has created a “Resistance Manual“, which so far seems to be a clearinghouse/resource for information on the Trump/GOP policy agenda.
Get involved however you can, and good luck!