Instead of the Cruelty and Corruption Being Dumped upon Our Nation,
What Better Values and Policies Do We Want the U.S. to Affirm?
Let’s Actively Work to Restore Truth, Compassion, Fairness and Democracy!
Glen Anderson wrote this article in the spring of 2017, a few months into the Trump regime. Its message is still valid.
Hard realities are settling upon us. It’s not just the new Executive Branch filled with ignorant and corrupt people who want to destroy the government’s ability to serve the broad public interest. It’s also most of Congress, which is fully complicit. And it’s the mainstream news media, which (almost entirely) are “normalizing” this oppression.
Fortunately, a few parts of the media are waking up and recognizing the crisis and the need to expose the lies and protect honest democratic values. But the mainstream population is way ahead of the so-called “liberal me-dia.” We people must take leadership at this moment of crisis – and we are!
• Women and others worldwide marched in solidarity in the largest inauguration weekend protests in history.
• The U.S. Capitol switchboard received almost twice as many phone calls in early February 2017 as at any other time in U.S. history.
• Republican attempts to repeal our national health care law and replace it with a cruel alternative provoked massive protests from across the political spectrum. Huge crowds of voters are lambasting negligent Congress members at (or in the absence of) local town hall meetings.
• Massive public pressure forced the Trump regime to reverse some of its worst actions.
• Colleges, religious congregations, cities and states are fighting back against anti-Muslim executive orders, be-coming sanctuaries to protect immigrants, and taking other bold, defiant actions to support human rights.
• A few parts of mainstream media are finally starting to expose “alternative facts” as the lies that they are.
• And I compiled this list less than two months after the inauguration! We are still building public resistance.
Instead of being merely reactive, let’s get vigorously proactive:
Trump is a psychologically disabled narcissist who craves attention. He gets attention by saying and doing outrageous things. Then people react defensively and get stuck in reactive mode. Our reactivity keeps him in charge of setting the agenda. Instead, we must become proactive. Briefly point out the lie and note the facts, so the public will hear the truth. Then we must promptly move on with our own positive agenda and our own strategies to achieve our goals. Trump’s psychological disability prevents him from hearing any criticism. Our real audience must be the general public – to inform and organize people – in light of our best values – to accomplish positive goals that will serve the broad public interest.
Reactivity and defensiveness deplete the human spirit. People will burn out. But if we take the initiative to organize strategically and nonviolently for our positive agenda (e.g., raise the minimum wage to $15, enact universal single-payer health care, reform the criminal justice system in humane ways, enact strong protections for the environment and climate), we empower ourselves and bring out the best in people. This will grow and sustain the movement until we win!
Many people and non-profit organizations are stuck in reactive mode. Getting stuck in a reactive, defensive mode will wear people out. To energize and mobilize and sustain people, we must be working for very bold positive solutions. Let’s become pro-active and work for the bold positive changes we want instead. This is what Olympia FOR’s April 2017 TV program pursues. You can watch it from anywhere and/or read a thorough summary of what we said by visiting the “TV Programs” part of www.olympiafor.org
Gandhi’s “constructive program” can give us insights:
People who have studied Mohandas (the “Mahatma”) Gandhi know that besides seeking political independence from England, he also sought a more profound independence and self-reliance (swaraj), and he also worked to improve local people’s nutrition, health, economics, the rights of women, and other positive elements of the new society he was building. Gandhi kept affirming that this “Constructive Program” was an equally important part of his overall movement. He did not want merely political independence from England, with Indian elites simply re-placing English elites in dominating the nation. He recognized that true swaraj would improve ordinary people’s daily lives in many ways, and he wanted equal rights for women and local economic self-reliance and public health and what we now call environmental sustainability.
Nowadays, while progressive people oppose the bad stuff promoted by Trump and the Republicans (and the neoliberal, hawkish Democrats), let’s ask ourselves and each other:
1. What role do you see for a “Constructive Program” that could build the positive local-based alternatives that we need for a better society, economy, environment, etc.?
2. What would be the elements of a “Constructive Program” for the USA at this moment of history?
3. What potential – and what strategies – do you see for recruiting and activating more people (especially people who do not see themselves as progressive activists, and people who are not already fighting Trumpism) to promote some part(s) of such a “Constructive Program”?
I believe that in addition to recruiting and activating more people to oppose Trumpism and fascism at the political level, we can make much more progress if we also promote a “Constructive Program” that will broaden the overall movement, bring more people together, and help several aspects of society.
Profound, principled nonviolence is crucial:
Extremely mean-spirited and corrupt policies are being imposed on our nation. I believe this is the worst crisis our nation has faced since the Civil War. We have already been working on a variety of issues, but now we must do even more. More people than ever are alert to the problems and looking for ways to take action. If we think strategically and organize nonviolent grassroots movements we can not only roll back the fascism but actually act make progress on some of the issues we care about.
I recommend the article at www.tinyurl.com/gp3rryc because its insights will help us be more effective in the various kinds of issues we are working on. The principles of strategic nonviolent action can be applied to a great many issues.
The article also provides a link to another smart, insightful article by the same author at www.tinyurl.com/gm683ea This article urges us to thoughtfully identify our strategic goal before devising specific actions that will help us make progress toward our strategic goal. The article includes this excerpt:
Nonviolent action works because of its capacity to create a favorable political atmosphere (because of, for example, the way in which activist honesty builds trust); its capacity to create a non-threatening physical environment (because of the nonviolent discipline of the activists); and its capacity to alter the human psychological conditions (both innate and learned) that make people resist new ideas in the first place. This includes its capacity to reduce or eliminate fear and its capacity to ‘humanize’ activists in the eyes of more conservative sections of the community.
People at Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh’s monastery offer wise, compassionate perspectives in a compelling 4-minute video: www.tinyurl.com/jz7hvha
I read Why Civil Resistance Works, the carefully researched and clearly written book by Erica Chenoweth (who gives this informative and inspiring 12-minute TED-X talk) and Maria Stephan, and I recommend that book highly. For a quick overview, watch this informative, inspiring 12-minute video: www.tinyurl.com/gukg3l5
Help people ground themselves in their own – and our nation’s – best values:
Some anti-Trump organizing is reactive rather than grounded, so it adds to the chaos, fear and depression. Solid grounding in humane values and profound nonviolence can welcome more people into our movement and help us organize more effectively.
Also, I believe that we can make more progress if we help other people (anywhere along the political spectrum) ground themselves in their very best values, including traditional American values (e.g., the First Amendment’s support for religious diversity and the Statue of Liberty’s welcome to immigrants and refugees). Indeed, this is the strategic approach I used for the Olympia FOR’s March 2017 TV program. You can watch it from anywhere and/or read a thorough summary of what we said by visiting the “TV Programs” part of www.olympiafor.org
If we are nonviolent and strategically savvy, we can reach out to the American people and bring many millions of them along to a more humane place, so we can affirm our best values and rebuff fascism.
Another strategy to undermine Trump’s policies:
What if – in addition to opposing Trump’s cruel, mean-spirited policies directly – we were to also take indirect psychological approaches based on underlying feelings and values?
To fight Trump’s cruel, mean-spirited policies, we must UNDERMINE:
1. his supporters’ support for these policies, and
2. the mainstream public‘s acquiescence of these policies
Therefore, we must address two different constituencies and devise different strategies for each constituency.
How should we proceed to do that? Trump’s cruel, mean-spirited policies can exist because of people’s feelings and values. Therefore, we must identify the feelings and values of each of the two constituencies.
Regarding Trump’s supporters:
1.A What feelings and values cause (or unwittingly allow) them to support his mean-spirited polices?
1.B How could we undermine those feelings and values (either directly or indirectly)?
Regarding the mainstream public that acquiesces in his mean-spirited policies without opposing them:
2.A What feelings and values cause (or unwittingly allow) the public to acquiesce (or fail to oppose) his mean-spirited polices?
2.B How could we undermine those feelings and values (either directly or indirectly)?
Michael Moore wrote a 10-point plan for stopping Trump: www.tinyurl.com/hrohm4w
Some people are organizing to use the Constitution’s 25th Amendment to remove Trump because his psychological disabilities make him unable to perform the duties of president. That would elevate VP Pence to the presidency, but at least it would remove the reckless extremist Steve Bannon, who has been guiding Trump’s decisions.
Other people are organizing for impeachment. See www.impeachdonaldtrumpnow.org
Remember: “The power of the people is more powerful than the people in power.”