In an event with campaign atmosphere, but with no campaign to be had, a capacity crowd filled the First Parish Unitarian Church in Arlington tonight to hear Attorney General Maura Healey. She spoke to her actions as specific role as the state’s attorney, but also entertained topics in a Q&A session that went rather outside her bailiwick. Still, she was game to stand in as the stand-in for Massachusetts progressive pols, taking advice and entertaining action ideas from the crowd. She was introduced by Isabel Vargas, a Hillary Clinton campaign volunteer and “Dreamer”, a longtime undocumented resident allowed to stay under President Obama’s DACA policy.
Healey’s theme throughout the evening was the best way to react to the election of Trump is to speak up, show solidarity with each other, and act locally on issues we care about.
As AG, Healey said her “playbook hasn’t changed”: She mentioned the hate crimes hotline set up by the office, in response to the wave of harassment after the election; she committed to help immigrants, and mentioned that Boston Bar Association had offered help; she pointed to continued work on financial sector crime and on behalf of students with regard to predatory lending and for-profit schools; and fighting opioid over-prescription.
In other words, she assured us she’d still be doing her job — and it’s a huge one, since AGs will be the people to put sand in the gears of the Trump machine. But the job itself may change. She mentioned the 2007 Massachusetts vs. EPA Supreme Court decision, which forced the EPA to regulate CO2; what happens if Congress passes a law that simply forbids the EPA from doing so?
I confess I’m not sure what to make of statements like this, that assert that the response to this catastrophe is to just keep doing what we’ve been doing, only better! We don’t know exactly what the incoming administration is going to do, but it strikes me we should actually prepare for the worst.
Healey took questions and entertained action ideas from the crowd, in a sort of group brainstorm. Several speakers asked how to protect groups marginalized and targeted by Trump and the racists that feel enabled by him. Healey said to speak up and call out unconscious bias, without being antagonistic; find and rely on support networks; support organizations that fight hate and bigotry; find candidates to take up the fight; and use the law. An activist from the climate-change-fighting Mothers Out Front gave encouragement for Healey in Exxon’s lawsuit against her (“For the record: I didn’t sue Exxon, Exxon sued me”). Healey acknowledged the grave danger of climate change, and praised Massachusetts’ leadership and new energy bill. She advocated expanding the successful Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to more states.
- Support good candidates, at every level: Identify them early on, especially women and people of color.
- Write letters to the editor and op-eds;
- Donate money to organizations;
- Divest from companies that support Trump;
- Support news organizations to counterbalance “fake news”
- Support ballot initiatives, like the Fair Share Amendment.
- Meet your Congresspeople and local electeds;
- Get out in real space.
Healey mentioned the Women’s March on Washington on January 21, “in solidarity with communities most affected by the hate, intolerance and acts of violence being perpetrated throughout the nation.” There will be a Boston Women’s March on the same date on Boston Common. Details as to message are a bit sketchy so far.
I might add we’ve got a Governor’s race in 2018. I suspect it’ll be more competitive than is widely thought.
In any event, Healey and the crowd did point out the power of solidarity, the various points of resilience, leverage, and resistance to a Trump administration; and the opportunities for action and improvement that we still enjoy in Massachusetts. The action is now here.