Yes, I'm using the president-elect's name today instead of an * because we are getting down to brass tacks now and we need to be certain about whom we are resisting.
A personal note: I am 75 years old. I have been interested in politics since I was in grammar school. I don't make a fetish of it, but I follow American politics closely, have read a variety of histories of the beginnings of our country and believe deeply in the genius of our founding fathers and, as they pointed out, the fragility of our democracy that must be carefully tended to survive.
Certainly I have disagreed with some of our past presidential administrations but never before in my three-quarters of a century have I worried about the potential destruction of our American values, beliefs and way of life.
All right. That's where I am and perhaps you too. Actually, I am alarmed for the future of my country and not incidentally, for elders and others who depend on Social Security and Medicare.
In the past couple of weeks, I have written about how we can resist the alarming changes the new president, his shocking cabinet appointments, the Republican-controlled Congress and soon, far-right-leaning Supreme Court can wreak on us.
My suggestions are good as far as they go but now I have found the bible, if you will, of political resistance for our 2017 circumstances. I first read about it at Talking Point Memo last week in a story titled Ex-Hill Staffers Put A Spin On The Tea Party Playbook In Anti-Trump Guide:
”In an online guide made public Wednesday night, a number of...onetime Hill staffers say that the best way for individuals to derail the policy agenda of Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) is to organize locally and badger their own congressional representatives to vote against individual pieces of legislation.
“The guide contains tips on getting members of Congress to listen to their constituents’ voices, such as showing up in groups to town hall meetings and looking 'friendly or neutral' to ensure staffers will call on them and allow them to ask pointed questions.
“The authors also recommend flooding lawmakers’ offices with calls on specific issues and targeting weak Republican candidates ahead of local elections.
“The emphasis is on consistent, coordinated, grassroots action that focuses on nitty-gritty policy specifics and individual elected officials.”
As the authors note, the Tea Party was effective. It
• changed votes in Congress and defeated legislation
• it radically slowed federal policymaking
• it forced Republicans to reject compromise
• it paved the way for the Republican takeover in 2010 and, now, Trump.
We can learn a lot from the Tea Party strategy and tactics these former Congressional staffers are telling us about and after reading their Guide, I believe them.
What is hard for you and me is that like many old people, some of us cannot get out of the house as easily as we once did, may not drive anymore or readily travel distances for demonstrations.
(That's one of the reasons for the depth of my anger about the war on Medicare and Social Security. It is really nasty to target people no longer as physically capable as the ones who are intent on killing the programs we rely on and earned.)
Over the next four years, we must make the effort to attend demonstrations and town halls when we can. But we have the internet and we can organize at home. As I mentioned last week, when I wrote about telephoning Congress, you are free to forward, copy, reprint, email and distribute these stories to other who you believe will be helpful.
The Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda has been posted online and these former progressive congressional staffers who wrote it tell us on the front page:
”You should use this guide, share it, amend it, make it your own, and get to work.”
Yes, and mine too. We're supposed to be retired now but we elders are nearly 60 million strong and we need to do our part (and more) to save Social Security and Medicare - even our country – for ourselves and for future generations . It's going to take all of us working together to do that.
You will find the Guide in a Google document here. It is long, 23 single-spaced pages. I printed it out to read the whole thing carefully and highlight what is important and useful to me. You might try that too.
Not all of it will apply to all of us. It is a step-by-step guide for individuals, for groups and for organiations to, as they write, “replicate the Tea Party's success in getting Congress to listen to a small, vocal dedicated group of constituents.”
Perhaps in your free time over the coming holidays, you can make yourselves familiar with the Guide and after the new year, we will be prepared for the work we need to do.