- Jim Hightower
RESISTANCE WATCH--In high school, I had a girlfriend who was involved in student government and all sorts of good works. While she paid attention to all that was happening in those years of the early '60s, she essentially was a moderate — certainly not some movement rebel. Or so we thought ... until one lazy, Sunday afternoon. As we aimlessly "cruised the drag" of our small town in a '54 Chevy, we were paused at a red light across from a root beer stand where some teens were hanging out. Suddenly, my "moderate" girlfriend lunged halfway out of the backseat window and shouted "Wake up and piss, kids, the world's on fire!"
I stared at her wide-eyed and whopperjawed, wondering where that came from.
I've thought of that moment recently as I've seen instance after instance of the innate rebelliousness of the American people erupting across the country in surprising ways, unexpected numbers, and with astonishing intensity. No need to wonder where this comes from, however. The outbursts are a spontaneous, rapidly expanding mass rejection of Trumpism.
Our Twitter-president plays to his most frenzied partisans with his daily rata-tat-tat of executive orders and public fulminations — firing at refugees, federal judges, Chuck Schumer, the media, Nordstrom, the EPA, Mexico's president, Elizabeth Warren, laws that protect consumers from Wall Street greed, Sweden, Arnold Schwarzenegger and ... no telling who's next.
But while some delightedly squeal at his wild moves, many more see Trump as not merely unpresidential, but bull goose bonkers! And dangerous — recklessly using the enormous power of the presidency as a personal cudgel to attack, stigmatize and seriously harm individuals, entire religions and races, the Bill of Rights and our nation's basic values of tolerance, fairness and opportunity for all. In a twist of ironic justice, The Donald's deep darkness has sparked a prairie fire of mass opposition, raging political activism and movement organizing for the long haul.
Many of us are activists already, ranging from occasional campaigners to us warped gluttons for full-time, full-tilt punishment. No matter your past involvement, with our ship of state entering dire straits, each of us must do a bit extra. And we can help focus the anger roiling the countryside by sharing some how-to-make-a-difference tips to friends, co-workers, et al. "Traump-atized" by Washington's new extremist kakistocracy (government by the worst).
After all, millions of our neighbors have long been disengaged, viewing the political scrum as somewhere between irrelevant and repugnant. But, suddenly they're back — alert not only to Trump, but to their congress critters and to that menagerie of freaky, rightwing corporate mutants that Trump-Pence has put in charge of our government. In January, one red-district Texan told a reporter: "I think of politics the way I think of my car. I just want it to run [without my spending] a lot of time." Only a few weeks into the Trump-Does-Washington spectacle, he learned a fundamental lesson: "You get the politics you work for."
So, it's time to get to work. This is not just a one-time, resist-and-dump Trump campaign we're undertaking, but the mobilization of a long-term grassroots movement to reject the systemic corporate takeover of our elections and government at every level, from our local school boards to our White House.
Simply ousting Trump won't do that. The job, then, is as simple as it is difficult: To have a People's government, we must build it.
Democracy requires us common folk to join together, with each of us doing as much as we can, as strategically as we can, for as long as we can. IndivisibleGuide.com, OurRevolution.com, and MovementVote.org are just a few organizations you can check out to help you get active and start building a more democratic way of governing.
(Jim Hightower is a columnist for OtherWords as well as a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also the editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown, and a member of the Public Citizen board.)
- Lauren McCauley
RESISTANCE WATCH--After fierce nationwide opposition forced the Obama administration to halt the Keystone XL pipeline, President Donald Trump has given it the green light and the climate movement has vowed to fight it once again. (Image via Rainforest Action Network)
Kicking off a week of actions targeting the institutions financing the controversial Keystone XL (KXL) tar sands pipelines, activists on Saturday protested at banks in 25 cities to shine a spotlight on the roll they are having on climate destruction.
"It's back—and so are we," reads the call to action. After fierce nationwide opposition forced the Obama administration to halt the project, President Donald Trump has given it the green light and the climate movement has vowed to fight it once again.
The peaceful demonstrations are "designed to shine a spotlight on the the four key financial institutions bankrolling the KXL pipeline— Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and TD Bank—and pressure them and the broader financial community to pull out and 'defund' the project," said the Rainforest Action Network, which is organizing the week of protest.
In addition to demonstrating outside banks, activists across the country are also planning a banner drop in Los Angeles and a protest targeting local government in San Francisco throughout the week of action, which will culminate on Earth Day. Find an action near you here.
"The KXL is a bad idea, full stop. It's bad for the climate, for clean water, and for communities all along the route of this pipeline," said Rainforest Action Network's Scott Parkin.
"This is part of the Trump plan to 'unleash fossil fuels' in the U.S., which is terrible on every level—it flies in the face of science and the very real climate change crisis; it shackles the U.S. to an outdated and dirty energy system; it sets us back in the race to lead in clean energy technology; and it's an environmental disaster waiting to happen," Parkin continued. "Because pipelines fail, all the time. And we will be stuck with the toxic mess and the bill—while the oil industry friends of the president and the secretary of state get even richer."
Activists will share updates and images from the week of action on social media with the hashtag #defundKXL.
(Lauren McCauley writes for Common Dreams … where this report was first posted.)
- Gabriella Landeros
RESISTANCE WATCH--Planning and coordination for the May 1st march and rally, "Resist Los Angeles," is full steam ahead as more than 60 organizations have joined the May Day Coalition of Los Angeles making it the most diverse since 2006. The Coalition meets every other Tuesday.
- Tom Jacobs
RESISTANCE WATCH--Did the many protests against killing the Affordable Care Act — including loud demonstrations at public forums — convince moderate members of the House of Representatives to vote no? A number of left-leaning commentators, including New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait, argue they did.
Newly published research provides hard data that backs up Chait’s anecdotal evidence. It finds protests can and do change lawmakers’ minds — if they are well-organized and well-behaved.
“Can protesters — by who they are, and how they behave — send cues to politicians that affect their opinions? Our results suggest they can,” write Ruud Wouters of the University of Amsterdam and Stefaan Walgrave of the University of Antwerp. Their study is published in the April issue of the American Sociological Review.
The study, conducted in 2015, featured 269 Belgian politicians — members of the national parliament, or one of two regional parliaments. As part of a larger survey, all indicated their position on the issue of asylum for refugees.
Then they watched two short video clips of a demonstration in which protestors called for faster, more humane, and less arbitrary rules governing asylum claims. After watching each, they were again asked their opinion on the issue, how important they considered it, and whether they contemplated any action to address it.
The vignettes were manipulated to convey high and low levels of participation, unity, and “worthiness.” Low worthiness was depicted by images of broken windows and demonstrators getting into altercations with police, indicating the protest had turned violent. High worthiness was depicted with images of peaceful demonstrators, including parents walking with their children.
“Unity” was depicted as either high (with all banners conveying a single message) or low (with different demonstrators airing various grievances). “Numbers” were manipulated to show a small demonstration (about 500 people) or a large one (more than 5,000, shown in aerial photographs).
“We found that who the protestors are, and how they behave, influences elected representatives’ opinion formation,” the researchers write. “Protests that mobilize demonstrators who agree among themselves, share a single claim, and bring many people to the streets impress elected officials. “Unity and numbers significantly change representatives’ opinions regarding the importance of the underlying issue. These cues even alter representatives’ positions, and make them willing to undertake action.”
The effect of these images was relatively small, compared to that of the politicians’ pre-existing beliefs. Nevertheless, the results suggest “elected officials’ opinions are not entirely stable,” but rather are affected by “signals coming in from society” — including protests. This held true for politicians on the left as well as the right.
The fact that the lawmakers’ shifted their stances, at least somewhat, is more impressive when you consider that “the demonstrators show in the clip, and mentioned in the voice-over, came across mainly as being foreign and poor.” In other words, they weren’t likely voters. This suggests protests by “stronger societal groups, such as teachers or employers,” could have even stronger effects on lawmakers’ opinions.
In announcing the study, Wouters directly addressed the anti-Trump protest movement in the United States, suggesting it will be most effective if people turn out in force and convey a single, unified message. He adds that “violence will further polarize the situation and burn bridges.”
Resisters: You have your — literal — marching orders.
(Tom Jacobs is a staff writer with Pacific Standard magazine … where this piece was first posted.)
- Julie Butcher
RESISTANCE WATCH-"I do not want followers who are righteous, rather I want followers who are too busy doing good that they won’t have time to do bad." -- Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk
So I added to the opening of the Butcher Haggadah (guaranteed shorter than ten minutes) the main point of Passover: We were slaves then and now we’re free, and a good friend said: “Are we really?” (I have very cynical friends.)
Lots of folks are freaked, scared, and/or overwhelmed about the future and the world. Action is the only answer, the best antidote.
That’s why Ken has asked me to help curate a Resistance corner here. In my attempt to be most helpful and not duplicate efforts already underway, I’m continuing to reach out to determine our best place in this burgeoning movement. Keep your opinions, thoughts, suggestions, and criticisms (of course!) coming, please and thank you!
First, upcoming events:
Join MeetUp: Los Angeles #RESIST here to keep up with all of the various events happening nearby.
As you’ll note, for instance, on Friday evening (5 – 8 p.m.), Representative Grace Napolitano is holding a town hall forum on immigration issues in El Monte.
Many members of Congress are holding events or town halls while they’re home.
Have you attended a congressional town hall? Tell me about it, please!
Then there’s a Tax March in downtown Los Angeles this Saturday (Tax Day!) leaving Pershing Square for City Hall at 11 a.m.
From the event organizers:
April 15, 2017: Join us in a march from Pershing Square to City Hall, and demand Trump release his returns! Donald Trump works for us, and we demand transparency and accountability.
Speakers include U.S. Rep Ted Lieu, State Sen. Mike McGuire, U.S. Rep Brad Sherman, County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, Tudor Popescu from Indivisible, Justine Bateman, Kristina Wong, and leaders from grassroots and labor organizations.
There will also be awesome music and a YUUUGE CHICKEN DON!!
Way bigger picture, I’m finding the MoveOn.com recess resistance materials to be both complete and inspiring. I often avoid their stuff because they always ask for money but now that’s not nearly as annoying as the alternatives.
I’m loving the youthful, inspiring organizing of the Run for Something organizing.
Check out this story, as an example, complete with de facto organizing guide!
Nelson Roman serves as a City Councilor in Ward 2 of Holyoke, Massachusetts. Last year, he was elected on a community uplift-focused platform -- and as an openly gay, HIV-positive, formerly homeless person. Below, he talks with us about owning his story and proudly serving his community.
Note that these organizers are encouraging new people, young people, formerly apolitical people, to run for local office, not for Congress. In every city and community, there are boards and commissions, committees and neighborhood councils, union boards, religious leadership opportunities, service organizations -- all needing and seeking quality involvement and participation.
At an event I covered, ten outstanding women were honored as State Senator Anthony Portantino’s Women of the Year 2017; one of the honorees, Alta Skinner, called out to do just that and bring along a young person: “…[S]he was most proud that her three grandsons all volunteer in various ways, that they’ve experienced ‘the warm, cozy feeling of supporting the community.’ However, she added, ‘our organizations are all “graying out” and our number one priority must be to bring one young person along with you, onto a board or a committee. If we each turn one young adult on to the lifelong love of service, to community involvement and volunteerism, then we’ll have done our part.’”
In the recent Glendale City Council elections, the young, progressive candidate Mike Van Gorder picked up 2378 votes in an election where 7885 won one of three seats. He’s become active in the Democratic Party and we’ll see him again.
For sane, meaningful means of sustaining long-term activism, I’m loving the work of these two: Jennifer Hoffman’s Weekly Action Checklist for Democrats, Independents, and Republicans of Conscience and Dear Wendy's Weekly Steps of Activism.
The significant work of Swing Left is on point. Check ‘em out; put in your zip code and they’ll find the best, potentially swingable congressional district closest to you and offer you a specific, myriad list of easy and less easy ways to help organize in that district. For me, I’m thinking it’d be great to see Representative Stephen Knight face a viable challenger.
Please let me know what you think and what you’ve found and what would be most helpful. And keep sharing all of your thoughts, sources and resources. I am grateful to you all!
(Julie Butcher writes for CityWatch and is a retired union leader now enjoying her new La Crescenta home and her first grandchild. She can be reached at email@example.com or on her new blog ‘The Butcher Shop - No Bones about It.’) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.
- Beth Cone Kramer
RESISTANCE WATCH--Technology and social media have been at the forefront of Trump-driven activism. I sat down with Sean Howell, president of Hornet, the world’s premier gay social network and the only LGBT app serving as the official hub of June’s LA #ResistMarch and other marches throughout the country to discuss the role technology can play in the resistance movement.
“Social media is a tool for rallying and organizing, with protests on the rise,” says Howell. “We’re empowering grassroots activism by not only providing information and event details, using technology to bring people together, but also the opportunity for people to share images.”
This year’s LA Pride Parade has shifted focus to become #ResistMarch. Howell shares the vision of #ResistMarch founder Brian Pendleton. “It’s important that the LGBTQ community works with other marginalized groups,” says Howell. “Hornet will work with #ResistMarch and LA Pride to organize and mobilize.”
“The tone out of the White House is significant, especially for LGBTQ people. We’ve made great strides in history but this can be a step backwards,” says Howell (photo left), who adds that the Administration has attempted to set policies that negatively impact other groups, as well. “The policies about not funding birth control here and for overseas NGOs is concerning. The movement has us worried, even the appointments that have been made.”
“It’s important for the community to come together in a visible way. We’ve spent twenty years funding and fighting for rights in the Courts, in politics, in local elections. We cannot afford to go backwards or even maintain where things are. There’s still so much to accomplish in the U.S. but also internationally,” Howell adds. “The U.S. has always been looked at as a beacon of LGBT rights. Life for LGBT people is really dark in the rest of the world. Not only do we want to do what we can but whether we look at the Arab Spring or Black Lives Matter movements, we see how technology can empower voices.”
The Hornet app’s users are gay men across the world, many who do not have full equality. “All our users are unified in that way. We can disseminate information easily and can empower connectivity with each other and participants,” says Howell. Another function of the app’s involvement is to continue the conversation and the dialogue. “We are also opening a connection between what we need to say as a community -- and to connect in a human way,” he says. “Sometimes, in the courts, there’s a victory but people still have ideas against you. We realize that we have to persuade people through their hearts and we have lots of work to do.”
Why is technology such a powerful tool? Howell says social media makes it easy to disseminate information and to stay on target with messaging, as well as to make the goals of the march more accessible. “Lots of people are unable to participate physically, whether because of disability or they will be at work, maybe they live too far or are introverted so there will be ways to participate online,” says Howell. “Before technology, this did not exist. Now people can vocalize through social media. We can look to the President to see that social media does matter. It’s empowering to make your own messaging and that can be as important as an actual march.”
During the Obama campaign, developers worked to create a geo-specific app to connect with Obama phone bankers and Howell says in the coming year’s midterm elections, apps will help with fundraising and getting messaging out for candidates, as well as for Get Out the Vote.
Howell says Hornet will be supporting the West Coast and to make the LA march as big as possible but also to boost the virtual march so that everyone is supported.
“At the core, we want to let everyone know that Los Angeles is important not only as a media capital but it’s a big city in North America with a mixed voting record. It’s a great place to have visibility. The kid on the street seeing a large march and asking his moderate or conservative parents to explain -- that could be the beginning of an important conversation and it could be the renaissance of mobilization. We’ve had a little bit of paradise but in some ways, we have been taking things for granted. The task of our generation is what are we going to do? Are we capable of what happened in the sixties or the seventies? I hope so. -- Sean Howell, President of Hornet
During a recent visit to Taiwan, Howell says he was interested to see LGBT associations in a march for Tibet. “We’re learning that when minority groups stick together, we have louder voices. I would love to see that with the LGBT movement,” he adds.
It’s important for us to reach across to other groups, to think of ways to work together,” he adds. “For LGBT rights, there are different issues, different politics, low income, disabled, of every color. Different groups face different challenges.”
The one thing that can bring us all together is the current administration. My hope is that the #ResistMarch has huge visibility on the streets and through technology. It’s going to be fun. We are activists again. It’s not something I wished for but it’s the reality and it’s going to give us lots of meaning for this year. We’re just getting started. -- Sean Howell, Hornet
What’s next? Howell says it helps to know people are working to resist in the political and ideological battle in the long run. “That’s why we produce content, not only through our editorial team but talking about critical conversations of the day, covered as news at a time when media is imploding. We have niche media for LGBT that we are working on growing, so many nuances and we can disseminate this with our app,” he says.
Currently, the Hornet app is addressing the Trump administration’s move to drop questions pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity from the 2020 census. According to polls, between 3.8% and 19% of the U.S. population could identify as LGBT, a figure that will remain unquantified without inclusion in the upcoming census.
Hornet is encouraging “every LGBT person to stand up and #BeCounted. Using the power of technology and social media, Hornet wants to send a powerful message that the LGBT population is large, productive, and growing. Hornet is also asking LGBT people everywhere to sign its Change.org petition and to share far and wide,” says Howell.
NEED TO KNOW on the census issue.
(Beth Cone Kramer is a Los Angeles writer and a columnist for CityWatch.)
- Julie Butcher
ENGAGMENT--He always knows how to get me.