Simple Steps to Overcoming Trumpery: an Action Guide

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This time it’s not mere partisan hyperbole. Fascism really has come to America. (If you still have any doubt, look at the role of Steve Bannon.) And it’s not going to be pretty, even if you’re white, Christian and middle class. But you needn’t despair. There are steps you can take that will lessen the damage, and get the country on a healthy course again. It’s possible not only to survive Trumpery, but to “overcomb” it.

People who say that we should “give Trump a chance” are really, really missing something. He’s already been given a multitude of chances, and he’s blown them all to smithereens. All throughout the campaign, he was very consistently an absolutely horrible person. Since the election, he has consistently continued to be an absolutely horrible person. And he immediately began making absolutely the most horrible decisions imaginable. How much damage should we allow him to inflict before we speak up?

Following are 20 points of action. These are steps that just about anyone can take, though some require more time and effort than others. Some are general approaches that you can follow all the time.  Others are specific actions that you should do as often as possible. Only the most dedicated full-time activist would be able to pursue all of these actions; it’s fine if you single out one or two to devote your efforts to. The important thing is to act.

We will begin with the most obvious and progress to the less obvious.

1. Protest

This is the most obvious, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. Donald Trump has made it very clear, for his entire life, that he will do absolutely anything he can get away with. We can’t afford to let him forget for one minute that we’re still out here watching his every move. And we must make it as difficult as possible for the media to ignore us. That means that a large crowd of dissenters needs to greet every one of Trump’s public appearances, and respond to every one of his horrendous actions in office.

Bear in mind that if you protest without a permit, you may provoke the displeasure of law enforcement, and may even risk arrest. And it should go without saying that you should be on your best behavior. If there is even one unruly or destructive individual in even the largest group of protesters, it is one hundred percent guaranteed that this person will be singled out as representative of the entire crowd.

Trump supporters are very eager to label dissenters as “whiners”, “crybabies”, “sore losers”, “welfare bums”, etc. etc. Make sure that such labels are absolute bullshit.

2. Bug the hell out of your elected representatives

Yes, it really does work. Even, sometimes,  if the representatives are of the opposition party.  Phoning is more effective than writing, and better still is dropping in at the representative’s local office. In no case will you be able to actually talk to your congressperson or senator, but their staff will pass along your concerns about proposed government moves. Be presentable and be prepared. And let them become well acquainted with you. You can also connect with them at town hall meetings. If nothing else, picket their public appearances with signs conveying a crucial message.

3. Pressure the media

This is perhaps the most crucial step of all, since the media have had, to an ever greater degree, an influence on the public’s beliefs and actions. The media put Donald Trump in the White House in the first place, ignoring his excessive faults and flaws while greatly exaggerating and over-covering false narratives about Hillary Clinton. Since then, he’s been viciously biting the hand that fed him, maneuvering to stifle media scrutiny and dissent. It’s essential that we have their back, and call them out on every single shortcoming.

Monitoring the media can be an enormous task for one person, but you can form teams to divide the responsibility. You can keep track of media missteps via watchdog sites like Media Matters for America, which sometimes even issues action alerts advising you to contact media outlets and urge them to correct their course. Be courteous and precise, letting the media know how they have let the public down, and suggesting an appropriate corrective action. (“Hate mail” is counterproductive.) Specific journalists often list their email addresses to facilitate feedback.

4. Write letters to the editor

Many people read them, and they can have an impact, particularly in newspapers with large circulations like The New York Times or USA Today. Focus on facts rather than opinion; anybody can form an opinion quite easily, but solid facts are often in short supply.

5. Use social media — but use discretion

Facebook, Twitter, etc. are excellent vehicles for keeping people informed and mobilized. Unfortunately, they’re also awash with misinformation and useless prattle. Many users are suffering from political burnout, and may just unfriend you or tune you out if you overdo it. Post only the most relevant and crucial material, and intersperse it with more lighthearted fare, so people don’t come to think of you as a gloomy Jeremiah.

(continued on next page)

4 thoughts on “Simple Steps to Overcoming Trumpery: an Action Guide

  1. Good to see your recommendations for how to overcome “Trumpery.”
    Personally, my own preferred way to express activism is to write and write, to all the local newspapers, politicians, pundits, and news outlets like CNN and MSNBC. The area I live in does often include organized protests on a much smaller scale than those in larger cities, and we also have many citizens who are not now, nor ever were, Trump supporters. But what I often find frustrating is that the local newspapers seldom allow letters of opinion to exceed 300 words, so I can often provide only a very general outline of my views, which should contain more facts and figures that can be verified in order to give them clout. I don’t believe this limitation is the newspaper’s fault, because short letters make for opinion pages containing more letters than do those with high word limits. Yet when I am only allowed a bare-bones reply, to me, I might as well be reduced to saying something like, “Trump very bad man.” Which I hear Stephen Hawking’s uttered about him, partly to be satirically cheeky in response to the mentality of Trump and his supporters. That’s a good reply in itself, but sadly does not include many facts and figures, or even a decent slew of adjectives.

    I do think you’re right about the fascist elements in Trump’s administration, as well as the glaring conflicts of interests which are bound to exists concerning his various appointees. Then there is the fact that some nominees apparently know very little about the Posts they have been nominated to fill. The Department of Education Secretary (you know, what’s her name), reportedly has never attended a public school and home schooled her own children. So at the very least, she’d be a cabinet member who would most likely attempt to replace the public school system with a bunch of private ones, (as long as they have “the freedom,” to teach their students about Jesus). So, she Is about the most absurd choice possible. Then there’s Trump’s choice for head of the EPA, who flat out denies that climate change exists, as well as his choice of a billionaire oil executive to serve as secretary of State? In the face of such lunacy, many of us (not just liberals) commonly display puzzled looks on our faces and seek assurances from our friends that what we are seeing with our own eyes is really happening, while Trump’s surrogates on various news broadcasts, have been given the daunting daily task of making ugliness and stupidity sound normal.

    As far as social media goes, its sometimes truly laughable to glance at the list of recent comments posted on the forums in News outlets like Media Matters, and not just break out in laughter, as one reads one childish taunt and insult after another used mostly to vent a writer’s frustrations, rather than actually suppling a cogent position to be debated. The only trouble is that, almost everyone who tries to explain their positions eventually becomes frustrated and angry, and even the most well-meaning of us, keeps slipping up by answering with insults—thus making our comments a completely fruitless endeavor.

    Your suggestion to bug the media is something I have been doing for a long time. But, one can hardly include enough information in a 250 or 300-word letter to adequately express one’s own opinions. Consequently, I have been sending more informed letters made specifically for the perusal of opinion page editor and those who worked for particular news outlets. I have sent many debunking the views expressed by AGW deniers, along with a polite reminder that I only hope they can read my letters when they have the chance to, and that they are not obligated to answer them in any way—as well as the fact that my letters are not meant for publication. My feeling is that most opinion page editors and the higher ups working in most of our newspapers, are not denying global warming out of spite, or for political reasons—they have merely been convinced that the existence of AGW is not a fact, and therefore, remains a topic that needs to be vigorously debated. It’s just too bad more of them don’t realize that we have been vigorously debating this issue for many years, and have not gotten anywhere—due to the very well-funded campaign of denial run by big coal and oil, via artful deniers and Republican think tanks. However, the scientific consensus simply regards the basic facts that global warming exists, and that man is its primary contributor. But, as in any field of scientific study, climate scientists are always going to be challenged with different pertinent questions to answer—unfortunately, we have been debating the basics with deniers for more than three decades, and as long as any small peripheral issue is presented as a major rebuttal of AGW, we have apparently been expected to keep on “discussing,” the issue for many more decades—while more and more damage to the climate is being done. The editors and reporter for many news outlets, remain unaware that this kind of endless uncertainty is precisely the result that big oil and big coal want us to be caught up in—because even doubts about a peripheral issue can be quickly used to criticize distinguished PhDs worldwide (who come from many different political systems, religions, and social or ethnic backgrounds) yet all agree that AGW does exist, and that human beings are its primary cause. My wife and I are both disabled and so it’s hard to physically attend rallies and protests, but we are doing everything else we can.

    One thing I have got to say, so as not to present myself as a “liberal drone,” is that I don’t think Trump likes to attack and/or rape women—I see him as an alpha male with a jock achiever’s mentality who never really grew beyond that stage of development. In the old school he comes from, men typically like to brag about their sexual conquests in the locker room, and women have been seen primarily as objects of men’s desires. So gross as he may be, he is probably that way from following the unspoken macho playbook that so many men read and share. Yes, its wrong, but it’s a far cry from being a wanton rapist, or someone who attacks and hates women.

    In a larger sense though, what is truly upsetting is the way our American electorate can be so easily swayed by any candidate who promises to create jobs and put money in their pockets—even at the exclusion of everything else.

    What exactly does make so many people accept a man of such obvious low and immature character? —perhaps the fact that he’s perceived as the good dude standing up for the average forgotten man—one who just wants a job and a means to provide for his family. In this light, electing a President who has insulted disabled reporter, offered to pay the legal bills of any supporter who punches anti-Trump protesters in the nose, stated that he likes hero’s that don’t get caught, insults the family of a fallen war hero, insults women, wants to deny illegal aliens the chance to stay with their families, says only HE can beat ISIS since he knows more than our generals, and refuses to admit the many times he had been wrong, etc. etc. etc.—somehow became acceptable?

    I could go on forever, but I think the most crucial issue with Trump is that he won votes on the basis of promising American’s jobs while adhering to a chauvinist right wing sense of self-righteous Superiority! I can’t help but be reminded of a statement I have heard often, but cannot verify the origin of—an outsider asked German citizens after WWII why they were coaxed into following someone as evil as Hitler? One citizen answered quite simply, “The trains ran on time.”

    What moral price are we willing to pay, just to have a President create jobs and defend “us first” policies which frequently have negative results. How much do we really need financial security, without requiring that our elected official also display a modicum of morality and ethical behavior? Would we rather have the trains run on time, work jobs minus living wages, permit our children to be educated to reject science, allow employers not to provide safe work places, deny health care to those who are too poor to afford it, or hold a superior attitude about ourselves just because we were smart enough, not to go broke? –etc. etc.

    Remember that in Nazi Germany the trains did run on time, but they also made regular stops at Dachau, and Buchenwald. So how much are we willing to risk for the opportunity to receive long awaited economic benefits while sacrificing our own human dignity—without even caring if our leaders strive to act morally as parts of the human race? Is there really any reason not to support a candidate who displays morality as well as a sound path to economic progress?

  2. I found that it was Mussolini who was given credit for making the trains run on time, However, I don’t know if he originally said it. However, HItler could just as well represent a greedy Fascist who sought to win over the public by pointing to supposed improved efficiencies like this, none of which has anything to do with the spiritual ethics of a Nation.

    Hitler—Mussolini—apples to oranges I guess.

  3. Pingback: Modern American Tribalism | The Propaganda Professor

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