How to Tea Party like it’s 2009
If you’re not a member of the electoral college, you’re probably wondering what you can do to resist the coming of the least qualified, most unpopular president of our — or likely any American’s — lifetime. Since most of us aren’t professional pundits but play them on the internet, we spend much of our time pondering and pontificating on what elected Democrats and big donors can do to stop Donald Trump and the GOP from uninsuring and deporting millions while making our twin crises of income inequality and climate change exponentially worse.
But what about us — the activated citizens who can’t believe that this is happening here but feel as if we have little-to-no power to stop what’s coming next?
Well, I finally have some ideas that go beyond telling the most powerful and busiest people I can find that they should start some sort of 50-state Moral Mondays movement. The answers, my friend, are blowing in a document called “Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda” — a comprehensive blueprint for creating a movement strong enough to resist a guy who seems determined to become our Putin and party that’s craven enough to let him do it.
From the introduction:
We believe that the next four years depend on citizens across the country standing indivisible against the Trump agenda. We believe that buying into false promises or accepting partial concessions will only further empower Trump to victimize our fellow citizens. We hope that this guide will provide those who share that belief useful tools to make Congress listen.
Put together by “former congressional staffers who witnessed the rise of the Tea Party” Jeremy Haile, Angel Padilla and Ezra Levin, the guide lays out a local and defensive approach built on “advocacy tactics that actually work.”
These tactics revolve around focusing on your Member of Congress (MoC), even if s/he represents a safe district because “The reality is that no MoC ever considers themselves to be safe from all threats. MoCs who have nothing to fear from a general election still worry about primary challenges.”
This strategy has the added advantage of getting the focus off Trump, since progressives have a bad habit of helping our aspiring Putin with a weave by repeating everything he says.
In 2009 President Obama was incredibly popular but the Tea Party help zap that by taking the attention off him, putting it on Congress and on policies like the Stimulus and Obamacare, which they distorted wildly with their relentless focus and framing.
Unlike Tweeting, Facebooking or telling Chris Savage all the things he should be doing with his nine free minutes a month, the work described is hard and requires dedication. Politics is about power and power comes from influence and organization.
Like it our not, Trump has the powers of influence and attention nabbing and his party has spent decades building up both a party and a shadow party with organization that towers over the left, largely thanks to the right’s efforts to destroy organized labor and undo democracy whenever they get power.
The Tea Party was aided by a massive investment of outside resources and millions in free advertisement from Fox News. The left won’t have that.
The left also doesn’t have the vitriol that fed many who joined the Tea Party movement. As mad as you are that a corrupt narcissist who is planning on using the office to loot the public in direct violation of the Constitution while outsourcing his administration to corporate America, you’ll never be as mad as many Tea Partiers were at the idea of a black president getting people health insurance.
We can’t match their rage but we can offer our own passion with empathy as the guiding principle.
“The best way to stand up for the progressive values and policies we cherish is to stand together, indivisible — to treat an attack on one as an attack on all,” the guide says. Which is like a defensive version of Senator Paul Wellstone’s credo “We all do better when we all do better.”
[Image by Fibonacci Blue | via Flickr]