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On Sunday, July 29, the clock started ticking on 100 days to the Senate and House midterms.
Sue Dailey presented compelling evidence in the July 27 “Local View” (“Are we now a Soviet bloc country?”) about the anti-democratic inroads made by the Donald Trump and his willing collaborators in Congress.
Among other things, her article should make us all thoroughly aware of the urgent need to take meaningful steps to turn around that narrative of destruction through our active participation in the political process.
The time has long passed for Trump foes to quit stoking our outrage by breathlessly posting his latest iniquities on Facebook, emailing snarky remarks and caricatures about Trump and allies, and commiserating with like-minded friends about Trump’s daily violations of civic norms and truth. (I’ve been guilty of doing all of the above.)
That ticking clock should energize us to mobilize every sector of the population to vote as never before, and to support organizations that are doing the same on a large scale. This is the single most important, most strategic thing we as citizens can do to ameliorate the damage of the Trump Administration.
When long time conservative columnist George Will – George Will — relinquishes his Republican party affiliation and titles his June 22 Washington Post column, “Vote against the GOP this November,” it is clear that this will be no ordinary mid-term election.
But I still find that when I ask friends or acquaintances horrified by the Trump administration, “Well, what are you doing about it?” I have been surprised that their response is most often a variation of “There’s nothing I can do about it.” Whether the reason is temporizing (“I’ll just wait four years and hope things get better”); fatalism (“Nothing I do will make a difference”); fear (of standing out or becoming a target); cynicism (“All politics are dirty”) or magical thinking (maybe a representative from another galaxy will beam down, save us and establish good governance on earth)—these are all excuses for inaction. And I can relate, because I have used one or more of them for years. Sure, I voted regularly but I was unwilling to put much effort into being an active citizen in the political process. I still find it a tough learning curve, but there is a range of organizations of resistance, from venerable institutions to new, grassroots ones, that educate and involve new players in the process.
For example, MarchforourLives.com, organized by the Parkland FL High School students to demand gun reform, is a burgeoning movement carrying out a voter registration drive across the country. These young people are inspiring not only because they broke onto the national scene identifying as citizens, i.e., potential or actual voters. They also put politicians with an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association — (overwhelmingly Republicans) — on notice that the student leaders would be coming after them, i.e., organizing to vote them out of office.
Every adult who loathes Trump’s policies should be backing these students. The strategic genius effect is if that the Marchers’ efforts succeed in helping to defeat the NRA-controlled politicians, it would simultaneously remove the same lawmakers who have condoned and enabled Trump’s disastrous policies, appointments, and executive orders.
Unfortunately, young voters are notorious for their low voting turnout and so, if you know any young people, make a special appeal to add them to the electorate in November. Remind that 20-year-old niece of yours who couldn’t be bothered to vote in 2016 that the Trump victory has led to a possible overturn of Roe v. Wade (point out, also, that the anti-choice zealots won’t stop at abolishing abortion; they want to extend control over other aspects of women’s reproductive lives, including birth control.) Your tech-head nephew who lives in cyberspace? The curtailment of net neutrality that occurred under the Trump administration could affect the wide-ranging freedom of Internet content, and could also burden new, young entrepreneurs now that Internet access increasingly favors the big pay-for-play companies. Is your son or daughter facing crushing college debt? S/he should know that Trump and his Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos proposed $200 billion in cuts to financial aid in the 2018 budget that would make it harder for students to seek debt relief due to fraud. Motivate the young people in your life to defeat and replace the Republican politicians who have backed these and other measures that negatively affect them.
Numerous other organizations that have sprouted since the 2016 election have set their sights on the coming mid terms. All can use more volunteer energy and/or donations.
SisterDistrict.com connects progressives to winnable races within their own states and supports key races in other states through phone banking, sending postcards, text banking, and data research analysis.
Only If You Run.org supports Democratic candidates running for seats held by Republicans in our seven target states: Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
RunforSomething.net encourages under-35-year-olds, particularly women of color, to enter down-ballot races and helps raise funds.
SwingLeft.org. Swing Districts are those in which the winner of the last House of Representatives election was determined by a thin margin. Swing Left helps you find and commit to supporting progressives in your closest Swing District so that you can help ensure Democrats take back the House in 2018.
I do not expend one brain cell trying to convince Trump voters to believe otherwise (again, because I have to use time strategically). But since they are constantly yammering on about their patriotism, you might ask your Republican relative or neighbor how they can stomach their Party’s documented voter suppression of fellow American citizens. This was widespread in Republican-led states in 2016, with more of the same planned for 2018: reducing early voting days and hours; ending same-day registration; ending preregistration of 16- and 17-year- old high school students; making it harder to restore voting rights for people with past criminal convictions; removing eligible voters from the rolls if they haven’t voted in the past two years; and requiring new, and often difficult to obtain, forms of voter identification. In Texas, for example, residents could vote with their concealed-carry handgun licenses, but not with IDs issued to students attending colleges and universities in that state. (Ahem, these are anti-democratic actions that we can’t blame on the Russians!)
Can you forgo one summer trip to “The Lake,” to help campaign for a progressive candidate, or make a donation to one, or break out of your normal pattern to confront the abnormal political situation we’re in? While doing so, it is imperative to keep our strategic focus and not inflict self-inflicted wounds by applying political purity litmus tests or replaying recriminations from the 2016 election.
Frank Bruni of the New York Times summed up our charge as citizens now. He wrote, “Does our discipline rise to the level of our anger? Does our will? A large-enough showing by voters opposed to Trump would overcome the forces of gerrymandering and overwhelm the Koch brothers. The fight may not be fair, but its outcome isn’t foreordained. There’s a chance here –an excellent one – to establish a check on the president’s worse impulses and a limit to the harm he’s doing. But we have to seize it…To blunt Trump’s attack on our democracy, we have to use our democracy. We can restore faith in it by showing faith in it. For all its corruptions and imperfections, it still gives us a power — through our ballots — that exceeds even the most power-hungry president’s.”
It’s 100 days and counting and there is work to be done. If not now, when? If not you, who?
Gerri Williams lives in Duluth
Sources “Vote against the GOP this November,” by George Will. Washington Post, June 22, 2018 https://www.consumerreports.org/student-loans/cheated-students-may-find-harder-to-get-college-loans-forgiven/