Some years ago, I attended a work-mandated multi-day scrum/agile training course. It was almost entirely useless and I let the certification lapse as soon as the Scrum Alliance started trying to charge me money for it.
I say "not entirely useless" because the trainer related an anecdote that has stuck with me. He told the tale of going to his manager years prior with a software engineering issue he had encountered. "Ok," replied his manager, "Is it a problem, or is it just work?" The manager was suggesting that often, we frame challenges as complicated riddles that require a lot of thought, investigation, and deliberation, when what is actually required is to do the slow and sometimes grinding work of fixing whatever has gone wrong.
This anecdote comes to mind as I read posts and essays lamenting the incoming Trump administration and Republican congressional majorities. What will we do, we wonder. How can we stop this parade of fascists, goons, kleptocrats, and sycophants from wrecking the country and making life materially worse for us, our families, and our society as a whole?
Donald Trump is the biggest popular vote loser in history to ever call himself President- Elect. In spite of the fact that he has no mandate, he will attempt to use his congressional majority to reshape America in his own racist, authoritarian, and corrupt image. If progressives are going to stop this, we must stand indivisibly opposed to Trump and the members of Congress (MoCs) who would do his bidding. Together, we have the power to resist — and we have the power to win.
We know this because we’ve seen it before. The authors of this guide are former congressional staffers who witnessed the rise of the Tea Party. We saw these activists take on a popular president with a mandate for change and a supermajority in Congress. We saw them organize locally and convince their own MoCs to reject President Obama’s agenda. Their ideas were wrong, cruel, and tinged with racism— and they won.
We believe that protecting protecting our values, our neighbors, and ourselves will require mounting a similar resistance to the Trump agenda — but a resistance built on the values of inclusion, tolerance, and fairness. Trump is not popular. He does not have a mandate. He does not have large congressional majorities. If a small minority in the Tea Party can stop President Obama, then we the majority can stop a petty tyrant named Trump.
Want to stop Trump and his GOP enablers? The Tea Party movement basically wrote the book for us on how to do it. It is not rocket science, but it is going to take a lot of time, attention, and effort—at least, a lot more than we are used to devoting to this sort of thing, anyway.
If you don't know who your Congressional and state representatives are, look them up on the web. Find the phone numbers for their local offices and give them a call. These offices are staffed with people whose job it is to know their bosses' positions and listen to their constituents' concerns. If you read an article about the latest thing Trump has done that pisses you off, call your representatives and ask them what they plan to do about it. If you live in a "safe" blue state or city and your representatives are doing a good job, call them anyway and let them know they've got your support. They probably hear from noisy angry Trump people all day long, and if you don't speak up, that's all they hear.
Instead of sharing the latest outrage from Occupy Democrats on Facebook, look up the schedule of your local school district committee meetings or your town council meetings or the local Democratic committee. Post those instead. Find a few friends and go to one of the meetings, or even just go yourself and maybe find some people you can work with.
This sort of thing is work, but that is all it is. Calling your representatives takes time (although not that much time), and finding out about legislation you would like them to support takes more time. Sitting through committee meetings is tedious, but that is exactly how things get done. Republicans have gotten very good at this stuff over the years. We need to get good at it too, and we need to use it block everything Trump and the GOP want to do, to make every single step excruciating and time-consuming for them. We need to make sure our representatives know that we are paying attention and that we will remember when their next election (or better yet, their next public appearance) rolls around.
Social media is great for building awareness and finding fellow travelers, but on its own, it is worse than useless for actually effecting change at the local, state, and federal levels. Same thing for online petitions. I think we get this idea across a wide swath of the Left that if we just find the right big-bang solution, The People will obviously agree with us and flock to our cause. If only we could pass single-payer healthcare, that will get everyone on board. If we nominate Bernie Sanders, there will be a revolution. If we elect Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, that will end racism and sexism. If we eliminate Fake News, people will hear the true facts and vote for the better candidates. If we fix the education system, everyone will have the proper critical thinking skills and then they will see through the lies the other side is telling. If we understand the concerns of the white working class and figure out the right way to speak to them, they will vote the way we want them to.
Some parts of those assertions may be true for some people. Mostly, though, people just disagree for all sorts of crazy reasons. Some of them can maybe be brought around, but a lot of them probably aren’t going to buy what we’re selling. There is no one golden thread we can tug on to make the opposition unravel, but that doesn’t mean there is not a lot of work to be done.
Get informed. Get involved. Go talk to the people who are supposed to represent you. Tell them what you think and why. Give them solid suggestions about what you want them to do. And then tell them again, and again, and again. Work with your friends to do the same thing. It is easy to say the system is stacked against you, and in many ways, it is. Money buys the wealthy more access, but while the rich keep getting richer, they are still a vanishingly small minority of the population, and you can light up your representative’s switchboard just as easily as they can.
Doing nothing is not an option. Doing nothing means the Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act and millions of people lose access to healthcare. Doing nothing means Trump and his cronies loot the government for their own profit. Doing nothing means the next rich asshole that comes along can twist the ratchet even further. Doing nothing means that people’s names go on lists because of their religion. Doing nothing means that the global climate is wrecked even further, probably irrevocably so.
We should not be afraid to stop all forward progress if the goals are terrible. We should not worry about gumming up the gears if that means Trump and the Republicans are unable to implement their agenda, because their agenda is awful.
We know how to do it. We just have to do the work.