Sunday, January 22, 2017

From Protest to Power

Participating in the Women's March this Saturday was a powerfully uplifting experience. The March in my town, as in so many others, exceded attendence expectations, giving thousands locally a chance to stand in solidarity with millions globally. As so many of the speakers in Washington emphasized, we must now do more to move from protest to power. Resistance must be ongoing if we are to limit the certain excesses of Trump and his cadre of oligarchs.

To reemphasize some of what others have already emphasized, we need to join groups that are doing the things we think are important and are now at more risk than ever. The groups we choose depend on individual budgets and values, but could include the ACLU, the NAACP, NARAL, NOW, Planned Parenthood, labor unions and those advocating fair treatment of immigrants. One of the most important features of these groups is that they publish newsletters and other information about legislation and other government action affecting their members.

We need to invest time and energy in communicating with our representatives in state and federal government. Elected officials conduct a great deal of government business on the assumption that their constituents neither know nor care what is going on; it is up to us to let them know that is not the case. Every call, email, and letter counts. Too many of us, especially with more progressive values, are shy about this. Now more than ever we need to practice active citizenship.

Above all, we need to stay informed. Since Trump's opponents have been by far the better informed and more politically aware portion of the electorate, we are at risk of complacency. We need to rise above that. The battle is no longer just about the ignorance and inexperience of Trump and his appointees. The entire administration will be cutting and establishing programs, setting public policy, and spinning disinformation along the way. We need to make a conscious effort to consume reliable sources of news and information, to be willing to dig into the history of issues and debates, to understand how ordinary Americans are affected by the changes that are sure to happen. We need to bring what we know forward into our interactions with others, especially our elected representatives. Drop the crap from your Facebook feed. Set Google News, if you use it, to favor the sources you prefer. Spend less time reading the fringe news, whether on the Left or the Right, and put more time into reading deeply from the Center. Individual choices may vary, but I've come to rely heavily on the Washington Post, the Guardian, BBC, The Hill, and The Atlantic.

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