Top tips for Trump taunters
#1: Hush up and do something
To Trump supporters who are about to delete this story in disgust, you might want to read on for insight into the dark side.
To those traumatized and paralyzed but eager to help resist the Trump regime, read this to explore options for joining the civic fray.
Lawyers are asked for free legal counsel, doctors for diagnoses, brokers for tips. Washington hacks — pols, reporters, consultants and policy wonks — are asked for the real story behind the fake story. Most of the time, though, the questions we get are really just opinions in question form.
Not so this year.
Like many colleagues and acquaintances, I have been bombarded with a single earnest question: What can I do, however small, to help save the country from Donald Trump?
I have the liberty in my job to argue for my own opinions. I have opposed Trump futilely, but with all my might, for the past year, so I don’t get many questions about helping President Trump succeed. Nor do many people in my orbit.
When Bill Clinton was first elected, tons of people in my world were disgusted and embarrassed for the country. But no one asked me how he or she could resist him. Same thing when George W. Bush was elected. I endured many outraged sermons about the injustice of the Florida recount, but no one asked how to join the Bush resistance.
This year is a whole different ball game, a different mentality. Many people are scared about what Trump will do, depressed, disgusted by the anti-values he flaunts and unable to tolerate their feelings of powerlessness. Perhaps if Hillary Clinton had won, the Hillary haters would feel the same way. Regardless, we got ourselves a genuine phenomenon here.
So I thought I would offer a short sample of activities that might be effective right now that I have gathered from my fellow creatures of the old DC swamp.
Protests 2.0. Spies call this technique “psy-ops.” Trump is barely able to tolerate in-his-face attacks and mockery. He rages at hecklers. Live demonstrators instantly inspire Trump to wax nostalgic about the olden days when police could knock the livers out of longhairs, black people and other malcontents.
So there should be organized protests every single time Trump leaves his many compounds. Every protester should have an American flag to signify they are not there primarily because they are Democrats, female, gay, Hispanic and so on, but because they are Americans protesting Trump’s un-American positions and values.
Subvert the NRA. This one is devious. How cool would it be if massive numbers of African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, city slickers, LBGT folks and members of the clergy became dues-paying members of the NRA? The NRA leadership would freak out at the idea of so many of their enemies becoming gun lovers. And maybe the subversives could gain control of an organization so important to GOP politics.
Mass pressure on GOP “moderates.” Trump’s key source of power right now is that the GOP has Stockholm Syndrome and quivers at his every bark. Until that changes, Trump’s power is hard to constrain. Waiting for the 2018 elections is too risky. There is a small group of Republican senators with moderate dispositions and remnants of a spine. They need incentives to stand firm against Trump. Voters in a few states have the power to create that incentive by relentlessly engaging their senators with phone calls to their offices, appearing in number at all town meetings (a tactic that already is showing promise) and working all the local press, using social media and registering voters. Out of state Trump resisters can help through donations and contributing skilled work such as graphic design, programming, data management, research and plain old grunt work.
Indivisible. A group of Democratic congressional staffers and alumni has put out a crowd-sourced how-to manual on effectively engaging and influencing your own representatives. It is very clear, simple and practical. The key point: When it comes to voters, members only care about voters in their districts or states.
Young people. Stop calling them Millennials and Gen-Xers — and don’t make up a new nickname for the next cohort. Young people did not turn out in 2016 and that was a disaster for the Democrats. There are signs, maybe, that there is substantial abstainers’ regret on campuses.
I don’t know what might spur more dopey kids — oops, I mean young people — to engage politically off-campus. From my limited observations, I’ve been discouraged that the issues college students seem most intensely involved with are insular and focused on their “safe spaces” but not on genocide in Syria, opioid addiction in rural America or Donald Trump. Political correctness, which I find irritating, is not the big problem as conservatives maintain. Self-centeredness is. Non-academic, politically savvy people need to do a better job of bringing the great national and international arguments to the academy.
This is a dinky sample. An hour on social media and the web will add dozens of others ideas.
That leads me to a final sermon: “Virtual action” is not action, it is self-soothing. Thumbs do not persuade; eye contact, listening, good manners and complete sentences do — sometimes.