How do you solve a problem like the Donald?

There’s been a LOT of advice out there about what to do, and NOT to do, in response to the current American regime.

As someone who’s gone to more than a few demonstrations, and written some letters, in his time, some observations:

We all have different gifts; it’s Biblical. So it is unrealistic to suggest that we ALL should act on a list of ALL things ALL the time. Among other things, that will create burnout, which is the enemy of change.

Find the thing or things you can do. Be aware, though, that it may be something you’ve never done before. There was a guy on NBC Nightly News this month, who looked to be over 35, who had NEVER been to a protest march before 2017. Now he is getting guidance from the Indivisible guide every day. Or you could sign up for ACLU ACTION TEXTS. e.g.

Keep repeating the narratives, especially the ones you don’t think are getting adequate coverage, on social media. I was reading a piece in fivethirtyeight about what makes a story stick. Sometimes it’s just timing. “Persistence matters.”

One story I’d personally like y’all to beat to death is that the family’s elaborate lifestyle is a ‘logistical nightmare’ — at taxpayer expense. Some fiscal conservatives might be appalled to discover that we’re paying for the Secret Service for his two eldest sons to do business deals in Dubai, lining not only their own pockets, but their father’s. And at this rate, it’ll cost more to protect 45’s family for six months than it cost to protect 44’s family for eight years. If you want to mention how 45 ironically complained about 44’s Hawaii trips, feel free.

Get your Senators and Representatives to pledge to oppose his agenda. Whether flooding Congressional phone lines is the best use of your time, I can’t say. I DO love the fact that after accusing protesters of being ‘paid,’ Utah rep is getting invoices from protesters.

Demonstrations are good, and I think the energy of the already-planned women’s marches of January 21 has become a stimulus for more activity. The reactions at airports against the Muslim travel ban, I think, was fueled by it. The “day without immigrants” on February 16, which closed businesses, had a visible impact that showed up on the national news. The April 15 march to demand Trump report his taxes may not succeed, but it would make a lie of the notion that “nobody” cares.

Personally, I like actions when they are specific, such as when ICE agents threaten folks in the community. It’s important to make bug your local officials to make, or keep, your places sanctuaries. Push progressive causes at your state and local levels, and encourage people you know to run for office.

Not only boycott all Trump products, real estate, hotels, resorts, obviously, but consider tying up their phone lines for 10 minutes pretending to make a reservation; grab him by the wallet.

Write letters to the editor of your newspaper and op-eds. Contribute to the opposition, whether that be Planned Parenthood or reliable news feeds.

And this is what you ought not do: we mustn’t chastise our allies for our priorities if you are all working to stop the retrograde flow. We have different interests. Don’t say not to bother with new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, because EPA head, and former EPA opponent, Scott Pruitt is worse. They’re BOTH terrible.

I saw this when the former Breitbart “news” head Steve Bannon was getting on the National Security Council, and some people thought that all energy had to be directed there. But a writer, I recall not who, correctly noted: “Would the well-meaning and overzealous please stop talking about the Muslim Ban as a ‘smokescreen’ and STOP referring to what’s ‘really happening’ or forwarding articles that lead with ‘while you were protesting…’ and other such disturbing language?… There’s no smoke, friends. It’s all on fire.”

Someone else wrote: “Not only do those posts downplay something real and serious affecting people’s lives in devastating ways, but they also often imply somehow that protesting a really bad thing is less important than being the smartest one who has figured out ‘the real worst thing.'”

I must admit I am rather fond of the Ides of Trump, because it plays on his reality-show roots:

“Just as the Romans did for Julius Caesar, you and I will now do for Donald J. Trump — only with postcards …

“Each of us — every protester from every march, each Congress-calling citizen, every boycotter, volunteer, donor, and petition signer — if each of us writes even a single postcard and we put them all in the mail on the same day, March 15th, well: you do the math.

“No alternative fact or Russian translation will explain away our record-breaking, officially-verifiable, warehouse-filling flood of fury. So sharpen your wit, unsheathe your writing implements …

“Write one postcard. Write a dozen! Take a picture and post it on social media tagged with #TheIdesOfTrump ! Spread the word! Everyone on Earth should let Donnie know how he’s doing. They can’t build a wall high enough to stop the mail. Then, on March 15th, mail your messages…”

And the reason I like it is that it’s fun, even silly. Robert Reich wrote about the 4 dangerous syndromes of coping with him. “We need you in the peaceful resistance.”

Applaud articles that give hope: American institutions are pushing back: the bureaucracy, the press, the judiciary, and the public.

Watch and read things that make you happy, whether it’s John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, a newly energized Trevor Noah on the Daily Show or Melissa McCarthy’s spoof of Spicer on Saturday Night Live. Try a binding spell.

But don’t spent time with articles claiming that these things make him crazy. Or that he IS crazy or narcissistic or whatever; he may well be, but I’m not qualified to diagnose, and probably neither are you.

Don’t pass along stories that are false; there are plenty of accurate stories that need sunlight. Admittedly, it can be difficult to avoid the Milo trolling playbook, but we must stop playing right into it. And, in the sign of the times, label the articles from The Onion and the Borowitz Report in the New Yorker as satire, because – and this has happened to me – otherwise you may be labeled as a purveyor of fake news.

Try not to get too discouraged. I was watching Samantha Bee, and she had a segment about people who were at the August 1963 March on Washington, which was a vacation compared with trying to get black people registered to vote in the South, where they might get one person a month. The Montgomery bus boycott took over a year. Cesar Chavez’s lettuce boycott took much longer. Not everything will succeed, but it’s a long struggle, not a sprint.

I believe in peaceful resistance as a matter of course. Whether you end up choosing to break the law – which I expect will become easier to do over time in this iteration of America – is a very personal decision. Know that:

“Those who sheltered Jews in hidden rooms, attics and basements during the Holocaust were breaking the law. Those who smuggled 7,000 Jews out of Denmark were breaking the law. Schindler was breaking the law. The Underground Railroad broke the law. Harriet Tubman broke the law. MLK broke the law. Hell, the effing Boston Tea Party broke the law.

If saving friends, family and innocent people is breaking the law, break the law. If standing up for truth and justice is breaking the law, break the law.

The law is unjust. The law is morally wrong. Break the law.” — A.J. Tierney

And as Shane Claiborne, co-author of Jesus for President, noted on Presidents Day, resistance is Biblical:

“Every time the early Christians proclaimed, ‘Jesus is Lord’, they were also saying ‘Caesar is not.’ It was deeply and subversively political… It was an invitation to a new political imagination centered around the person, teaching, and peculiar politics of Christ. That’s why the early Christians were seen as a threat to power, enemies of the state, and accused of treason and insurrection.

“The norms of the Kingdom of God are the inversion of the world. It’s been called ‘the upside-down empire’ – where the poor are blessed, the last come first, the hungry are filled, and the mighty are cast down from their thrones. It means aligning ourselves with the prophets who speak of beating our weapons into farm tools, rather than conforming to the patterns of violence and the business of war. Our King does not rule with an iron fist, but with a towel, humbly washing feet.

“Jesus spun the whole political system on its head… He challenged the chosen and included the excluded. He said to the religious elites, ‘The tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom ahead of you.’ He was in constant trouble with authority, taken to jail as a political prisoner, accused of insurrection for claiming to be King. As he rides into his trial and execution, he enters Jerusalem on the back of an ass. It was wonderful street theater, and the fulfillment of prophecy (donkeys weren’t icons of power … it would have been like a President riding a unicycle into Inauguration).”
***
The Environmental Protection Agency shall terminate on December 31, 2018. That’s H. R. 861. Not the title of H. R. 861, it’s the whole bill.

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