Thinking Beyond Resistance

I'm not sure whether the goal should be "converts" or, rather, energizing non-voters who are basically with us already. My instinct - and that's all it is at this point - is that an energized, organized resistance will help drive a respectable number of people to the polls who didn't show up in 2016. Enough? Dunno. But the presidency was decided by a hair. Congressional elections are a bigger question, IMHO. - promoted by david

The resistance is important since it stops unlawful and immoral actions before they can become law. It also keeps the opposition organized and focused. But is it converting enough supporters of Trump into opponents to make an impact? The reality is, it’s critical for the resistance to win converts without compromising its values. I am not sure how we do this, but asking ‘how?’ is a discussion we aren’t having that we probably should.

UPDATED: Heather McGhee over at the American Prospect asks the same question.

Recommended by jconway, betsey, methuenprogressive.


11 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. I resist the word resistance

    We’re the opposition.

    • Every POTUS has an opposition...

      …this is beyond that, and rightly so.

    • legitimate governments have opposition

      Trump is not legitimate. He was not elected legitimately, given everything we now know about what’s gone down between the Trump campaign and Russia, and — whether it’s calling the free press the enemy, dismantling government agencies, or attacking the credibility of the justice system — he is not behaving legitimately, either.

      This is not and cannot be a regular old opposition. This is a resistance movement fighting for the very life of our Republic.

  2. Misunderstanding the resistance

    The Resistance is not the campaign, and its purpose is not to convert Trump supporters.

    The Resistance will not have wholly failed if anything passes through this night that can still grow fair or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. Or, less poetically, to do its best to preserve a decent and democratic America in the face of resurgent fascism.

    When we are faced with plans to use the National Guard (which is to say, the US Army) to round up undocumented immigrants into deportation facilities (which is to say, concentration camps), the first task is not to convince Trump voters; the first task is to do what is necessary.

    When we are faced with a patent madman with the nuclear codes, the first task is not to oppose foul legislation; the first task is to do what is necessary.

    Yes, 2018 and 2020 will come, and we need to win. But, in the meantime, we need not to become Hitler’s Willing Executioners. It won’t help us to win the election if we have already lost ourselves.

    • Sure

      My post didn’t argue otherwise. It did argue that there will come a time when we have to expand our ranks in order to win, and asked how we should go about doing that without compromising our values. Still interested in hearing suggestions on that front!

      A friend from elementary school has been in the community organizer game a lot longer than I have, she and her cohort will be canvassing the West Philly suburbs that voted for Trump just to ask people who they are, what their values are, and to get information. I think that’s one first step.

      I think the commentary misunderstands the notion of people living in bubbles-a lot of Trump voters are living in bubbles where they don’t encounter people of color, feminists, or pro-union Democrats and going into those communities is a great way of bursting those bubbles and building up the movement. Both/and always.

      • Poor James...

        My post didn’t argue otherwise. It did argue that there will come a time when we have to expand our ranks in order to win, and asked how we should go about doing that without compromising our values.

        … Poor, naive, James. He still thinks the only thing repudiated was the way in which we presented our values to the electorate. If we just present our values, he thinks, in a different, more Republican-friendly, manner we’ll emerge victorious. Poor, naive, James: he thinks that if people are not ‘converted’ away from Trump by Trump’s own behavior, some protean effort on his part could possibly by persuasive.

        It is progressive values that were repudiated (though, not wholly, as the popular vote tally can attest….) and it is Republican themes that are wholly antithetical to liberal values. So, there is no way — no. possible. way. — Republican tinged liberalism can be so much as coherent, never mind suasive.

        “Thinking beyond resistance” doesn’t mean converting. It means confronting. It means to carry our values — which are true values — everyday and always and holding dear to them and not selling them for a pittance and a hollow victory. At some point, you actually have to demonstrate the values you hold dear and not just talk about them in the abstract.

  3. the best use of disruptive and vocal forms of protest, IMO

    is to grind things to a such a halt that non-protesters demand that politicians (or whoever the protesters are protesting) actually listen to the protesters and negotiate with them in good faith.

    Obviously it would be great for any protest movement to snowball, but that is not necessary. A relatively small number of extremely dedicated and courageous people stopped Keystone, DAPL, etc., and they did it without significant resources or press coverage.

    I think the Trump resistance will continue to grow at a rapid pace, but even at just the numbers it is right now, if those resisting stay dedicated and focused I think they will be very effective. I think enough of us understand we have no other alternative, because if we fail the Republic may go down with us.

    • I'm not sure

      I’d like you to be right, but I don’t know that you are.

      I can’t tell you how many folks around the country have complained that BLM slowed their commute or their drive to wherever. No sympathy for BLM or their cause, just anger.

      The greatest 20th century movement of protest was fighting Jim Crow in the South. They didn’t win support from non-protesters because people who wanted to sit at Woolworth’s counter demanded that politicians listen to the negros so they’d finish up there and make space. They won support because the imagery of beatings, of dogs, of fire hoses showed the horrible mistreatment, and non-protesters found that to be unacceptable. (fn 1)

      Fn 1 Of course, the Civil Rights movement was complex, had lots of moving parts, and achieved success for a wide variety of reasons

      • The story goes...

        I can’t tell you how many folks around the country have complained that BLM slowed their commute or their drive to wherever. No sympathy for BLM or their cause, just anger.

        … that Harriet Beecher Stowe was given to question a sermon or series of sermons given in defense of the fugitive slave act of 1850 that attempted to portray slaves as little more than beasts and slaveholding concerns as benevolent and kindly. Therefore, it is purported the sermons said, that to return slaves to their bondage was a most Christian duty and an act of mercy. Coincidentally, or not, it also removed the slaves — and therefore the problem– from the North and kept it in the South.

        It was the loss of her own child that caused Harriet Beecher Stowe to empathize with sundered slave families and her natural inclination towards abolition which propelled her to write “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” a book that, whatever you think of its literary merits, did much to light the fire that became the Civil War… and she deliberately attempted to provoke empathy amongst here Norther neighbors who, in sympathy, simply accepted the status quo as Christian duty. Until the publication of her book many Northerners were unaware of the true nature of slavery and believed it to be of a far more benevolent cast than it, indeed, was.

        Or, put another way, as a dear dear friend once asked me: “don’t you know that sympathy lies between shit and syphilis in the dictionary?” Her point being that sympathy depends on a hierarchical notion of human interactions and, as such, solves few problems and creates more, whereas empathy requires an egalitarian view and it’s very presence obliterates some of the problems it is invoked to address.

        They won support because the imagery of beatings, of dogs, of fire hoses showed the horrible mistreatment, and non-protesters found that to be unacceptable.

        Although there are instances of daylight lynchings and other depravities the greater part of that which was found to be unacceptable happened at night, and behind ridiculous robes and masks. MLK Jr, in his famous “letter from a Birmingham Jail”, notes the differing behavior of police in public and behind the closed doors of the jail.

        There is a long tradition of <i<sub rosa complicity held at arms-length — or maybe a leash-length away… or even the distance a firehose will go — and I don’t think things have changed all that much. I think that the very notion of a ‘dog whistle’ makes very little sense without a great deal of unspoken, indeed unspeakable, hostility… I think the Civil Rights movement went as far as it did in large part because racists don’t (present tense) have the stomach to oppress openly and so they lost that battle. Our mistake may have been in thinking we won the war.

        As long as racists are masked and held at arms length… as long as what is unacceptable happens at a remove (which is the very definition of ‘sympathy”) we’ll have racists in this country and, it turns out, a lot more than we thought and black lives will continue to not matter…

      • Yes and yes

        Sure, the SCLC and SNCC always sought to force an overreaction from those in power to gain sympathy from everyone else, greatly magnifying the power of what they were doing, but their efforts were also designed to be as disruptive as possible as a means to force bad actors to the negotiating table.

        The lunch counter sit-ins, the bus boycotts, etc — if all that was just about capturing images on the cameras, they wouldn’t have been as successful. But they all made it very, very hard for businesses to do business, which forced those bad actors to the negotiating table.

        Of course, we should take an all of the above approach. My only point is that if we just think having nice, big protests at Copley Square every couple of weekends is going to win us anything, we’re going to lose a helluva lot. If we’re not disruptive and getting in the Trump administration’s and the GOP’s way, Trump (and Steve Bannon) will roll over all of us.


    the only rational patriotism, is loyalty to the NATION all the time, loyalty to the government when it deserves it.” MARK TWAIN

    Fred Rich LaRiccia

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Thu 27 Apr 11:21 PM