Saturday, November 19, 2016

Note to Self: My Resistance Journal - Nov 19, 2016

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A lot of this is new. We’ve never had someone in office so unqualified, so careless of political norms and customs, so eager to wield authoritarian power.

But a lot of this is also very old. This country has, at times, been among the world’s leading practitioners of slavery and genocide, and Presidents presided over these atrocities. For all his many loathsome qualities, apparent President-Elect Donald Trump, if he takes office, will not be our most racist President, or our most misogynistic, or our most homophobic.  

These horrors are baked into our culture and are excised slowly and haltingly, if at all. Many of us still remember when our open existence was itself radical, threatening act. It hurts to go backward, but we learned things long ago that we can still apply today.  

And I do mean today. Each and every today is another opportunity to resist the madness that has gripped our body politic. Each today is a chance to do better, be better, and stand up taller because I know I can. The sheer volume of things to resist can seem overwhelming, but if I take half an hour every day and just do one thing, I can add my voice on every single matter.

To that end, I’m going to keep a daily public journal of each day’s act of resistance. I’m doing this for accountability’s sake, and in the hope that others might join me, even if we choose different battles to fight.

This journal, like many, begins with a Daily Affirmation, then a few Core Principles, then a space for specific Daily Actions that I can take to resist Trumpism whenever and wherever I can. The Affirmation and Core Principles might change over time, as my knowledge and needs change.

You are expansive; you can rejoice in the world’s pleasures even as you fight their enemy. You are indomitable; you can mourn each loss while you rise above despair. You are strong; you can love and work and grow in the context of resistance. You are small, but part of a mighty number sufficient to the task at hand. You are at one with the Source of your strength, and your happiness alone is a subversive act.

1. Resist “Wait and See.” This is my strongest urge to confront. “Maybe it won’t be so bad,” my brain says. “He hasn’t sent the National Guard after anyone yet.” But that’s not how it works. People who've lived through it say that fascism moves 3 times faster than you expect it to move, but that it also moves gradually, testing resistance, establishing new norms, and letting people get comfortable with them. Each disgusting appointment, each provocative statement, each hateful bill is a test to see what we will tolerate. We have to nip that shit in the bud, starting yesterday.

2. Empathy Sucks. Do it Anyway. I’ve a few Trump voters left in my life and I intend to talk with them. Not on Facebook or in front of their friends, but privately, and with great care. This sucks to have to do. Why should I care about the feelings of racists, xenophobes, and bigots? Well, because they still have a strong voice in this country, that’s why. Sucks, but that’s reality. But this is not new. Remember when you had to befriend people who believed your love was inferior? Remember when you had to come out and persuade people who were very nice to you, but thought you were going to Hell? If we want more empathy in the world, we're going to have to be the ones to put it there.

3. The Enemy of My Enemy Is My Friend. Most of the arguments I see on Facebook are of the Circular Firing Squad variety. I don’t have the stomach for that. Being right about Bernie or Hillary or Stein doesn’t keep the meds coming to my friends with HIV. It doesn’t keep marriages intact, families together, or the Bill of Rights working for everyone. There will be plenty of time to argue about the future of the Democratic party, once we’ve saved the democratic process. So I reach out to Libertarians, Greens, Berners, Bros, Bitches, Bad Hombres, Romney Republicans, and #NeverTrumpers of all varieties, and even those who did not vote. I have no beef with anyone who will help kick Trump’s ass.

4. Lose Early; Lose Often. There’s a lot of defeatist talk, and a lot of it is correct. Trumpers now control all the big levers of power and have no moral compunction against setting them how they like, then breaking them off. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t dog their heels at every step. They are in charge, but they are still a minority. We have our voices, our money, our art, and the ability to organize and participate. If we need an example of how many small voices can change the world, we need look no further than our own opposition. Tea Parties and Town Hall Meetings are a lot of what got us here. We can do the same. We can do better.

5. Fuck the Sidelines.  “That protest is stupid.” “The Electoral College was always there, crybaby.” “Give him a chance.” “That safety pin is embarrassing.” “You’re doing it wrong. You can’t change this. You can’t change that. To even try reveals how stupid you are.” These “moderate, rational” voices have, intentionally or unintentionally, aligned themselves with the status quo, and the status quo is our enemy. Actual demonstrations and protests are, in this moment, among the most powerful things we can do, because they help to drown out the forces of normalcy. The press and opposition and even some Democrats will want to find a way to get comfortable in the new status quo. This impulse toward normalcy be just fine if any of this were normal, but it’s not, and anyone suppressing your activist urge by claiming that it is should either stand with us or go sit down.

Daily Action Rules
  1. Do (at least) One Thing Every Day.
  2. Social Media Doesn’t Count. Twitter and Facebook care about your eyeballs, not your voice. Use them as tools to enhance your One Thing’s specific actionable connection to the real world, or you’re just contributing to the daily buzz. There are stamps that need licking, House Reps that need calling. In the time it takes to compose that perfect FB retort, you could have done something already.
  3. Journal it, or it didn’t happen. Write down exactly who you called, what you did, what you said. Give enough information that someone else could do the same thing.

Daily Action Journal for Saturday, November 19
1. Signed up to protest Trump on Saturday, Dec. 10. Promoted it on Facebook

2. Joined the Stonewall Democratic Club in my area.

3. Went to and found out who my Congressman was. Just had to enter my address. The site says I’m in the 48th district and my representative, whose job it is to represent me, is Dana Rohrabacher. He’s a Republican, which is good. It means I can exert influence on his side of the aisle as a voter in his district and potential donor by contacting him. A lot. His name and contact info are:

Dana Rohrabacher
2300 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515

101 Main Street, Suite 380
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

Email is one thing, but real world contact is rarer and therefore more valuable.

I composed the following letter, printed it, and mailed it to both of Rohrabacher’s offices.

Dear Representative Rohrabacher,

I’m reaching out to you as a CA 48th district voter who shares your passion for human rights and your interest in National Security.

Firstly, I’d like to urge you, as an advocate for Human Rights, to vote “No” on House Bill 2802, entitled the “First Amendment Defense Act.”  While the bill’s intention might be to protect the rights of religious people to refuse wedding services to same-sex weddings, it is written to allow the refusal of a broad range of important services for an impossibly vague set of reasons.

Under this bill, Federal grant money, provided by taxpaying United States citizens who are entitled equal protection under the law, will continue to flow to businesses or agencies even after they refuse services such as medical care, health insurance, or even rescue services to a specifically targeted subset of the electorate. The United States must not sanction inhumane neglect of its own citizens. Please vote against this bill.

Secondly, I ask you to support Senator Lindsay Graham’s call for an investigation into Russia’s role in our recent Presidential election. NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers has clearly stated that Russian-lead Wikileaks attacks were conducted to achieve “a specific effect.” While the outcome of the election may be settled, what is not settled is the question of how and to what extent Russia and former Soviet spy Putin have influenced our electoral process and how they might influence it in future elections, to the detriment of either political party. Our national security depends on an electoral process free from Russian interference.

As a voter, I respectfully ask that you carefully consider these two decisions and act in the interest of human rights and national security.

Wayne Self




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