There is a Twitter protest (#idesofmarch, #idesoftrump) which suggests that angry citizens deluge the White House with postcards on March 15th. Julius Caesar was assassinated on that day in 44BC as we remember from Shakespeare’s play in which a soothsayer warns the emperor, “Beware the ides of March.”
This is a really bad idea for several reasons. No good purpose would be served by such an action. We already know that the 45th president has a very thin skin, and would react badly with the attendant storm of press commentary. He uses the drama of such moments to cover actions that he doesn’t want headlined, and the press obliges in the interest of keeping ratings and circulation up.
The act itself is purely rage – an act of hate and cruelty toward someone who evidently can’t help himself and may be mentally ill. “Darkness can not drive out darkness, only light can,” as Martin Luther King famously said. We may be furious with 45’s actions and words, but we must respond with clarity and with words and deeds that promote resolution. Our outrage must be channeled to influence our government representatives positively. They are beginning to see that the game has changed, and that the Trumpists (19% of people eligible to vote) will not suffice to reelect them if the other 80% is mad as hell and organized.
President Trump prides himself on counter punching. His instinct, when attacked, is to attack back. I know of no instance where he has paused and looked inward when confronted. In fact he wants the world to see him that way. Much to the dismay of his would-be political handlers, he strikes out on twitter and in public discourse.
He does understand leverage and power. The real leverage he respects is the 2018 election, and a congress that
balks because so many of their constituents oppose his policies.
Many of my friends are engaged in issue specific calls, visits, and letters to their elected representatives. This is how and where to strike back. Get the contact information for all of your elected representatives at this League of Women Voters site:
Check out the Indivisible Guide written by congressional staffers about how to influence your elected officials:
Sending nasty postcards to the White House will squander your time plus half a dollar’s worth of postage and postcard. Worse, in doing it we become that evil we hate. It is essentially a personal attack, a publicity stunt, … exactly the behavior we deplore in our 45th President.
Although as educated people we like to think of ourselves and others as rational — we aren’t. Most of what we say and do is only loosely informed by fact and logic. In reality, we self-construct a story about reality and then conform to it. Understanding how we do this explains our social and political behavior. Continue reading Trust the Story?
Some people see an injustice in our tax system because they see it as stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. They resent “Confiscatory” taxes — those they pay for the benefit of others that they don’t think they should be forced to subsidize. They resent public spending on welfare of all kinds: unemployment benefits, public education, parks and recreation, … it’s a long list.
Libertarians are often the most outspoken critics. And the GOP, enabled by the Trump administration, is likely to savagely gut existing programs. The American Dream is predicated on a healthy work ethic. Hard work, thrift, and personal sacrifice in the early lean years are rewarded by abundance and leisure later on. Continue reading The “Welfare” Mentality?
Dr. Timothy Snyder is a historian; he knows whereof he speaks. Like me, he fears the political trend that brought Trump to the threshold of the Presidency riding an explosion of hate, prejudice, and denial of accepted reality. Continue reading Twenty Lessons from the Last Century
You’ve gotten viral email like this. The vertical bars in the left margin signify that it has been copied and forwarded at least eight times. It resonated with many people who wanted to share it with their friends because it says something they wish everyone got and understood. I’m posting it because it reveals a lot about how Donald Trump won the hearts and minds of so many who venerate the “Angry Man” in America. (Don’t trouble to read the tiny print of the image, I’ve quoted it all below.) Continue reading The “Angry Man” Has Spoken
Fear has been a major component in the 2016 political campaign and continues to be a tactic of the Trump team as they prepare for him to take office. All of us need to understand how fear can cause us to make bad choices. But we also need to learn how to combat it. What follows is an excellent video that demonstrates how fear was used as a tactic in the campaign. The remainder of this post is remarks about Fear and Faith shared by Marguerite Chandler, my spouse, at the Newtown Friends Meeting this morning. Continue reading The Power of Fear
This week one of my conservative friends and I had an email exchange about “Trump’s Landslide” numbers. He and his peers are gloating over the geographic dominance by the GOP in the election, and the wisdom of the Electoral College devised by the founding fathers. Here’s the thread:
A couple of days ago this photo showed up on my Facebook timeline.
I’m a Navy Vet and, frankly, I’m offended by such disrespect of the US Flag. My first reaction was seething outrage at the two women. When I read the caption, it said something like “take back their welfare checks.” Continue reading Who Sent This and Why?
Many of the pundits are saying, “nobody saw this coming.” They go on to describe the revolt of the less educated white working-class male, or some other demographic that has been marginalized by globalization, or income inequality.
There is no denying that they are at least partly right. But I know that I personally missed something that’s context for Trump’s win – it’s political gaming of the system that’s been a GOP strategy for decades and was happening big time in this election.
As I was puzzling out loud over the fact that Hillary won the popular vote, and Trump won the Electoral College. Marguerite said, “It’s gerrymandering.” I scoffed at her interpretation. I think of gerrymandering as a way to guarantee seats in the House of Representatives by, in effect, picking your voters by demographic mapping.
However the reality is much subtler. Gerrymandering helps a party that does not have a majority of voters support at the congressional level. The “red” minority (see chart) can get three of the five districts (60%) by clever carving. The “blue” majority can draw districts to give themselves all five (100%).
This simple example illustrates how the US political system can be modeled like any other complicated set of interdependent rules and variables. Consider that each state makes the rules about how it runs its elections. It is the governor and the legislature that also define political boundaries. So if a political party can optimize boundaries to get the most seats in congress, it can lock in some districts without having majority of the votes. In addition, it can target the campaign money on districts where there is no such lock.
Another gambit is voter suppression. Voter ID rules, polling hours, polling locations, number of voting machines, early voting, absentee ballot rules — all the many aspects that are controlled at the state level can be played to the advantage of one party over another.
Those tactics will be reflected in not just the House of Representatives, but also the Electoral College.
The GOP figured out how to game the system long ago. The book “Rat F**ked” explains how it happened. The title is a vulgar expression for political sabotage.
The process is ongoing. When the smart money in the GOP campaign pulled back from supporting Trump, it refocused on supporting GOP candidates for state legislatures and governorship. Already the GOP has a lock on the US House. They are working on voter supression strategies to gain wider control.
If you believe in democracy you should be concerned. But even if you are concerned you may not be able to change it. It will take a super motivated electorate to reverse the many ways our political system is being corrupted.
The Citizens United decision is another element of the strategy. Now that huge amounts of money can be targeted at particular state and even local races, it has become possible to hammer any candidate that opposes your interests. The NRA is perhaps the least subtle. It wants politicians to think that taking a stand on gun regulation is just not worth it. But the tactic can work to defeat a popular candidate who opposes any moneyed interest.
Partisan news networks are another facet. Fox News learned how to game the system and President Elect Donald Trump became a master at playing the system to his advantage. Propaganda does not need to be grounded in truth to have devastating effect.
One of the tragedies of public education is the evident lack of discernment and critical thinking exercised by massive numbers of people. Another is the dumbfounding ignorance of basic civics – most people don’t know how our government works, don’t know who the current leadership is, and don’t understand their role as a citizen and voter.
When most of us are indifferent and ignorant to civic processes, the field is wide open to those who want to game the system at our expense.
Bless Save America!