Habits of effective resisters
Cleaning up the cultural and civic debris left by Donald Trump and his right-wing helpers will require concerted effort. The “resistance” is determined to do that, but to succeed, its members must develop some effective strategies and drop counterproductive ones. Here are seven suggestions:
One. Stop retweeting him. Trump’s inflammatory tweets are designed to bait you, to draw you into his game. Angrily retweeting his inanities only amplifies the message. Despite his waning popularity, Trump retains the ability to entertain. He does this not only through the tweets themselves but through the passionate responses he provokes from critics. Without reaction, tweets would shoot out into space and quickly lose altitude.
When Trump tweets an obvious lie on a subject of national importance, an answer may be warranted. Keep the correction simple and clean of emotion. Don’t include his Twitter handle.
Two. Pick and choose what gets you angry. You really don’t have to care what he says about CNN or Rosie O’Donnell or the NFL. Trump’s babbling brook of bluster keeps him at the top of everyone’s attention all the time, which seems to be the point of it. Do you want to bring more audience to the show?
Many Trump tweets support positions with little public support. (The perfect example would be the Republican campaign to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.) Do not dignify them with your outrage.
Three. Question everything you read on social media. The Russian trolls helped elect Trump by creating an alternative reality built on a swamp of falsehoods. Trolls have also been found to impersonate progressives with the intention of a) making them look bad and b) fomenting fights among them.
A simple rule of thumb is to accept as fact information directly found on the websites of reputable sources. Information from elsewhere should be verified, its context understood.
Four. Don’t get suckered into Clinton distraction. Hillary and Bill Clinton are now private citizens in Chappaqua, New York. Trump’s attacks on them are of little consequence, serving only to rile up Clinton defenders. Continued nonsense about Uranium One, Benghazi or whatever would die out if progressives ignored it.
Five. Do not condemn Trump voters. They supported him for a variety of reasons, not all related to racist, sexist and otherwise unattractive sentiments. Trump’s crashing poll numbers mean a good number of his voters are up for grabs. Give them space. Drop the finger-wagging and the “I told you so.”
Never forget that the American people cast nearly 3 million more votes for Clinton than for Trump. Despite Russia, despite Comey and despite weaknesses in her campaign, Clinton received the most votes of any presidential candidate in history except for Barack Obama. Have faith in the people.
Six. Liberal resisters should make common cause with conservative resisters. You are on the same team now, defending the democracy and civic norms. The never-Trump Republicans are truly courageous in defending their principles while sustaining attacks by former allies. Don’t go ballistic over small differences.
Seven. Get out the vote. Fixing habits one through six should free up time to do what really matters, and this is it. The resistance has already scored major victories in Virginia and Alabama through improved turnout. Imagine the sweep in Virginia had Republican state lawmakers not gerrymandered the map.
The resistance must push its supporters to vote in down-ballot races as the conservative base does. Taking control of statehouses is key to drawing fair districts. So drum into heads the habit of voting. That’s how this all ends.