16. Accentuate the positive
Take heart and continue to work for what is right, no matter how bleak current circumstances may appear. As Peter Leyden points out, this is probably just the darkest hour before the dawn. A distinct majority of Americans did not vote for Trump, and do not approve of policies currently being enacted in Washington.
We should not only think positively, but communicate positively. Publicize not only the administration’s atrocities, but the resistance’s successes in countering them — and indeed there have been some. We must focus more on what we want to achieve than on what we want to avoid or get rid of. For one thing, it makes it less likely that we’ll slip into tribalism and combativeness. Notice that item number 10 is “avoid tribalism” rather than “don’t indulge in tribalism”. It’s a subtle difference, but many small differences add up to one big one.
And here’s where it gets really tricky. We want to put more energy into what we want to replace Trumpery with than on Trumpery itself; but at the same time, it’s important to be informed about his outrages. Just be cautious about repeating his lies, even to denounce them. As noted linguistics professor George Lakoff observes, repeating his words just helps give them legs. Don’t provide Trump a free ride on the public’s train of thought. Discredit his outrages without quoting his lies. (President Obama was rather masterful at debunking lies without repeating them.) In fact, some people are refusing even to say his name, but are referring to him instead as 45. You must admit that it evokes far less revulsion.
17. Hold up the mirror
Notwithstanding the above, people in power sometimes utter phrases that make them sound very foolish. We all remember “I didn’t inhale”, “They misunderestimated me”, and “I was for it before I was against it”. (Sometimes propagandists distort such phrases — e.g.,”You didn’t build that” and “basket of deplorables”; or just fabricate them altogether — e.g., “I invented the Internet”.) The 45 administration promises many such gems: “alternative facts”, “grab them by the pussy”, “disagree with the facts”, etc. Make sure they get repeated and circulated as often as possible. This is not you attacking politicians; it’s politicians attacking themselves. You just provide the hashtag.
18. Quell fake news
In one word, the key to Forty-Five’s victory in the election is misinformation. Voters relied more on bogus stories and silly rumors spread online than on real news and real issues. The term “fake news” came into vogue; and not surprisingly, 45 stole it and has been applying it to respectable journalists who dare challenge or criticize him (while himself maintaining strong ties to tabloid website figures like Alex Jones and Steve Bannon).
Actual fake news, however, is a deliberately false or misleading story presented as fact. It has had a devastating effect. And it’s still going strong. (One notable example: the claim that Obama issued a “stand down” order during the siege of Benghazi.) Because it’s very profitable — fake news gets lots of clicks that pay off handsomely for advertisers. So contact the advertisers you see on sites that carry fake news and urge them to stop sponsoring such content. In most cases, they will be unaware that they have been doing so, because advertising is arranged through a third party.
19. Greet the elephant — and repackage it
There has been a huge elephant hanging out in America’s living room for many years now, and it has really damaged the furniture. Because manipulators have been using it as an extremely effective wedge issue that persuades citizens to vote against their own interests. That issue is abortion.
Many of us make the mistake of framing abortion as a matter of a woman’s right to choose what she does with her own body. But that has become, to an increasing degree, a losing proposition in the public forum. Because the manipulators have presented themselves a “pro-life”, and labeled pro-choice individuals as “pro-abortion”; and they have succeeded in redefining the debate as a question of whether it’s right to “kill babies”. When people are convinced that they are on a holy crusade to protect the sanctity of life itself, they aren’t terribly interested in hearing about women’s rights.
What we really need to do is emphasize that nobody thinks abortion is a good thing — and most certainly not women who’ve actually had them. We need to get the message out that you can’t ban abortion, you can only ban safe abortion; and that the only way to prevent abortion is to prevent unwanted pregnancies; and that “pro-life” politicians tend to enact policies that have the opposite effect, and increase the toll of human misery.
20. Keep your edge
Part of the 45 strategy is to bombard you with so many outrages and lies that you become numb or distracted, and just accept the new normal. (This is sometimes called gaslighting.) We must never allow this to happen.
Stay focused and stay outraged. This might mean taking occasional breaks from 45, and from social media, just so you can catch your breath and then plunge back in with renewed vigor. And look for ways to make resistance fun and invigorating. The nation, and the whole world, are depending on you.
A couple of these ideas are borrowed from the book 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Fight the Right (Earthworks Press, 2006) which was written back in an innocent era when we figured Dubya was as bad as it could possibly get. Despite the title that hints at tribalism and combativeness, it’s still worth reading.
Srdja Popovic’s book is also worth checking out. The title alone should tell you that: Blueprint for Revolution; How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Just Change the World.
No Labels is a timely movement that encourages people to overcome their differences and work toward common goals.
An evolving Resistance Manual is available free online.
Indivisible is another useful guide you can download.
Swing Left is a movement dedicated to breaking up the Republican monopoly by targeting swing districts.
Dan Rather has a new website, News and Guts, to counter fake news and “alternative facts”.