Thursday, May 04, 2017

Not heros, but citizens: keep on calling!

With MayDay passed, the spring marching and protest season is coming to a close. Oh, there are various gay pride events in June. But barring unusual emergencies, marches and protests in this country take place in September and October (except in presidential elections years) and in March, April, and May -- with occasional eruptions around the MLK holiday in January. That's in usual times.

But as we know, these are not usual times. Here some reflections from Josh Marshall in his historian mode on how the Orange Cheato continues to show himself a danger to democracy:

The President’s fondness for foreign dictators is no secret. ... many of us console ourselves with the notion that Trump is just demonstrably too inept and incompetent to be a strongman or push towards some kind of Americanized authoritarian rule.

This is a misunderstanding.

Incompetence and authoritarianism aren’t incompatible or even in tension. Historically they tend to go together. Incompetence and failure borne of ineptitude tend to show up both as a cause and outcome of democratic breakdown and collapse. Small-d democratic government is hard, by design. It’s meant to be. It should be. ...

... What’s held Trump back are the invisible hands of public opinion. He [hasn't yet got] his bill or Ryan’s bill or whomever is claiming it at this point out of the House because Republicans are afraid of the electoral consequences of voting for it. They are afraid they will lose their seats if they vote for it. That’s democracy in its most immediate form. ...

Because Democratic politicians are in the minority in Congress, they can't lead the opposition to Trump's anti-democratic aspirations, even if they were clearer that is their job. It's up to us. We lead them.

So, though, the marching season is on break for a bit, it remains vital that ordinary people keep the heat on the political system. And that means keeping on deluging Congress in phone calls opposing Republican and Trumpian outrages.

There are several internet-based pages designed to make this as easy as possible. I've tried all these and they all help making these calls simpler and better targeted to influence the outrage of the moment.

Daily Action: Just follow that link, enter your smart phone number, and you'll get a text each day at 9am alerting you to the day's target and linking you through to your Congressperson or Senator's office. I've been positively impressed by the selection of targets; alerts have urged calls for investigation of Trump's personal corruption, demands that Congress oppose his bellicose gestures, as well as pushing representatives on the Republican attack on our access to health insurance. Daily Action also provides alerts to call about California specific legislation.

The 65: The name refers to all of us who voted for someone other than Trump in the 2016 election. It provides a weekly action (currently the health insurance bill), a menu other issues, scripts, and the phone numbers for your elected officials who need calls. It is a good one to use while sitting in front of a monitor or laptop.

5 Calls: Based on the zip code you enter, this link offers you a list of issues, scripts and phone numbers for your representatives. The screen asks you to enter whether you got through and tallies calls. In addition to the web portal, there are apps available for both Android and iPhone.

Does all this calling seem fruitless? It's worth recalling, as Mr. Trump does not, that this sort of citizen engagement is what it has always required to make this country the best democracy it can be. Jane Coaston responded to the Cheato's ill-informed enthusiasm for Andrew Jackson with a history lesson:

Fortunately, history does not move on the machinations of a select group of great people. It moves on the small movements of a great many individuals. For example, think of the thousands of abolitionists, the millions who voted for President Abraham Lincoln, and those who moved West and changed the calculus of slave versus free states.

We are among those individuals; our politics, our decisions, our very words will set us on a course of history we cannot possibly begin to predict. History happens while we’re not paying attention, even while we’re rehashing the history of something else.

We do not need to be Andrew Jackson (or, ideally, someone far less likely to commit crimes against humanity). We do not need to wait for a hero of our own making, either. We are what we’ve long awaited, the mover and shaper of history, the decider of our fate. If the arc of history bends toward justice, it is not bent by the greatest of us — but by the rest.

1 comment:

Brandon said...

This is off-topic but what do you think ofStephen Jaffe's primary challenge to Nancy Pelosi?

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