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A Toolbox for The Resistance

Above:#PlaidShirtGuy mocks Trump at a Montana rally. He (and friends)
were eventually shooed off-camera, but the video is internet-immortal.

An old joke asks, “What’s the difference between ignorance and apathy?” 

And offers a demonstrative answer: “I don’t know and I don’t care.” 

Republicans worked those two tools—alongside fear and anger—for many years before Donald Trump came along.

Ignorance. Apathy.

For the 2010 midterm elections, Republicans exploited their voters’ ignorance about ObamaCare with lies such as “Death Panels.” Another persistent lie was how Obama would come after their guns—he never did. And Democratic voters were caught apathetically napping after their 2008 triumph. The usual opposition party midterm advantage became a wave and then a tsunami: 75 House of Representatives seats went from blue to red.

Fear. Anger. 

George W. Bush toured the country for more than a year following the 9/11 attacks, operating in campaign mode, wielding both weapons, and the action transformed what should have been a devastating blue wave in the 2002 midterm elections into Republican gains. 

Think about it: the Bush Administration had been blindsided by the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor. His party’s immediate future looked dim. But Bush’s campaign-all-the-time strategy worked so well that it became the norm. Check out Zell Miller’s speech at the 2004 Republican National Convention to see fear and anger pitched perfectly. And don’t think that you have to endure the entire 16-plus minutes. For me, once (live in 2004) was plenty.

Finally, let’s not forget gerrymandering and voter suppression, very old tools that Republicans have leaned on heavily since Obama’s election, to counter the decline of white electoral dominance. The Old White Men In Charge are fighting the coming demographic reality as hard as they can.

I’m here to suggest that We The Resistance should be dipping into the same toolbox, to oppose Trump and limit the damage that he can do to our country. 

I’ll make this clear right off: impeachment won’t remove him. Impeachment is nothing more than charging Trump with “crimes and misdemeanors” and bringing him to trial. If the Democrats win the House, they can impeach. But the trial would be held in the Senate, and you need 67 votes to convict and remove him from office. You can do that math: it’ll never happen in this political climate.

Even more important: remember that Republicans got drubbed in the 1998 election, as they closed in on impeaching Bill Clinton. Democrats would be wise to avoid that dark pit. 

So let’s look back inside the toolbox.

Fear and Anger…

We’ve got those in abundance, and if they drive Democratic voters to the polls in November, I’m for them. Just take a look at the anger-fueled results of special elections since Trump took office: Democrats either winning or coming close in places where they lost “bigly” in 2016. 

Despite those encouraging results, I fear that we’ll never have a fair general election again. And it’s not just the Russians meddling. Trump has accused China, and I read that Iranian hackers have been busy as well. Perhaps even worse are some Americans in our own government. Wisconsin and Florida are poster children for disenfranchisement of minority voters (who tend to vote for Democrats). Add that to the damage Trump has done to our country’s reputation. Folks, there’s plenty to fear. 

Of course there’s a downside to this strategy. Fear and anger will get people out to vote, but after awhile, all your followers are paranoid. There’s little hope of bipartisan governance when you were elected based on hatred of the opposition.  

But I’m not just talking about elections. I want to leverage the anger and fear that rake at Trump’s psyche. If we can’t get rid of him, maybe we can neuter him by keeping him bothered and distracted. 

Actually, I’m surprised that he hasn’t neutered himself by now: his diet and sleep habits make him an ideal candidate for a heart attack or a stroke. Add them to the anger and fear and pressure and frustration that he feels every day, and you have him on a path to personal destruction.

But a stroke or a heart attack that gets him out of office would plant us firmly in the middle of a different nightmare: President Mike Pence. Have you noticed how most Republican presidents seem to guard their own safety by selecting worse-than-me Veeps? Since WWII: Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Dan Quayle, Dick Cheney, and now Pence.

IMO the best thing for the country is voting them both out following two years of investigation. After winning the House of Representatives in November. So, vote! Without a win in 2018, we might have Trump for six more years.

The Trump Administration’s personnel infrastructure, which already orchestrates a lot of governing because of the Chief Executive’s neglect, could be neutered by a Democratic-majority House of Representatives. A steady stream of investigations and subpoenas would keep the Trump White House busy on defense until 2021.

You can do something, a small but effective thing, every day. Trump reads his own Twitter feed when he’s sending. Best time: early morning on the East Coast. Go to the twitter.com account @realDonaldTrump, and respond to one of his tweets. He’ll see your response, maybe for only a moment—A LOT of people tweet back at him. But tweeting at him takes so little effort, you can respond often to increase your chances of being seen.

What to put into that response tweet? Videos of Trump looking bad. My personal favorite is the Polish first lady snubbing Trump’s handshake. Check out his expression! So: respond and paste this link inside your response to Trump’s tweet: https://twitter.com/Stop_Trump20/status/976554634847408129 

Even if all he sees is the photo that begins that video, with the “click-to-play” wedge, he’ll react. You can apply this strategy to numerous videos where he’s made a fool of himself—and having read the media’s reports of his public shame, he now hates. 

While you’re on Twitter, you can find countless more of these tweeted videos that you can retweet at Trump. Just look for hashtags such as #antitrump, #dumptrump, #TheResistance, and so on.

Ignorance and apathy…

By “ignorance” I mean actually ignoring Trump. He’s a vampire for publicity of any kind, and an expert at news-cycle dominance. The New York Times puts his tweets on the front page; in 2016 his campaign bragged that it was like owning the Times without the overhead.

The Times and other news media gave Trump an estimated $1 billion in free publicity during the 2016 campaign, by repeating his lies. Easily proven lies. I don’t buy the argument that now the news media must print his tweets because he’s the president, or that they had to publish  campaign tweets because he was a candidate. Easily disproved lies do not deserve to be repeated. (And you know that FOX News will anyway.)

If I owned a news organization, I would demand a fact check on any communication from Trump—a tweet, a press conference, an answer to a shouted question in a hallway—before I published it. And I would decline to print any communications found to be false, or at minimum print them leading with the evidence of their falsehood. 

And for god’s sake, news anchors, PLEASE STOP reading his tweets to us as you display them on the screen. I’m not illiterate. Display the tweet and paraphrase it, or simply describe its essence (if indeed, it has one).

“Trump again falsely criticized the Mueller investigation, in this tweet.” See how easy that is?

Consider not reporting what he says at all. Denying him publicity would be like withholding blood from a vampire. This guy lives to see his name in the news. Stop feeding him! He’ll rage his blood pressure up thirty points.

For “apathy,” I mean the mental state of Trump voters. Ignoring him would feed that feeling. Disillusioned and apathetic voters will belong to a couple of very different groups: moderates who are angry that he is more corrupt than the swamp he promised to drain, and far right voters who are upset that he’s accomplished so little of what he promised. So shut up and let these people stew in their own juices. Instead of voting.

Am I obsessed with the most obvious Resistance tool? Oh yes. VOTE, damnit! As minorities in both today’s House and Senate, the Democrats have no real power. They can’t schedule hearings or subpoena witnesses, can’t force a floor vote on anything (such as an existing bipartisan bill designed to protect the Mueller investigation).

With a  majority in the House—a very do-able result in November—Democrats can call hearings, issue subpoenas, and keep the Trump White House on defense for the rest of Trump’s term. 

The less his administration gets done, the better off this country will be. It’s that simple.

There are numerous Resistance forces at work in and around our government. We can only watch and cheer their actions. In some cases, we can donate money. 

A partial list:

Barack Obama and Eric Holder have been working on boosting voter registration and countering gerrymandering since early last year. Obama will be campaigning hard until the election.

Regional Courts have overturned Republican gerrymanders in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and other places. And voters did the same in Ohio!

Members of Trump’s administration are trying to thwart his worst impulses from the inside, right down to disobeying his orders. This could be the start of a soft coup! Bob Woodward’s book Fear details several jaw-dropping examples, beginning with Economic Advisor Gary Cohn snatching from Trump’s desk documents that would have pulled the U.S. out of the trade deals NAFTA (with Mexico and Canada) and KORUS (with South Korea).

More disturbing—but not surprising in the least—was Trump instructing Defense Secretary James Mattis to kill Syrian dictator Bashar Al Assad: “Let’s fucking kill him!… Let’s go in. Let’s kill the fucking lot of them.”

An understandable sentiment, but against both international and U.S. law.

Mattis, on the phone with Trump, assured the president that “We’ll get right on it.” And told his aide after hanging up, “We’re not going to do that. We’re going to come up with more reasonable measured options.”

ASIDE: The option finally chosen was extremely measured, it seems. We bombed the airport where Assad’s chemical weapons were fabricated and distributed with nearly $94 million worth of missiles. The next day, Assad’s people flew jets out of that same airport because the attack didn’t disable the place. Pathetic! But that night and the next day we watched dramatic cable TV footage of the missile launchings, bright flames against against a night sky, playing over and over and over again—and Trump’s approval rating climbed higher. Thus, the real goal was achieved.

The Department of Justice and the FBI defied Trump’s demand that secret documents from the Russia investigation be declassified and released un-redacted. 

Jeff Sessions proves that the world is a gray area by being partly responsible for the ugliness of ICE kidnapping children at the southern border, and at the same time doing the right thing by recusing himself from the Russia investigation. He was in the Trump campaign, so there’s no way he could investigate himself. “I don’t have an attorney general. It’s very sad,” Trump complained to The Hill.

For some reason, Sessions knows and wants to preserve the A.G.’s loyalty to the Constitution, not to the president. I’ll take it.

Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is a thorn the size of a bowie knife threatening Trump’s vulnerable underbelly. His team leaks nothing of their work but whenever the media learns who he’s been interviewing, the rumor mill buzzes like a giant beehive.

Omarosa Manigault-Newman has become a joke. Her secret White House recordings were supposed to get her weeks of TV coverage and massive book sales. She’d love to be subpoenaed and televised. Ain’t gonna happen in a world where the Trump news cycle eats its own dead the very next day.

Outsider Michael Avenatti may seem like a political gold digger—vocal cable news staple, lawyer for Stormy Daniels, and now lawyer for Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick—but he’s been highly successful at keeping Trump annoyed and on the defensive. We need him, even when he seems distasteful because he’s fighting Trump with his own tactics.

CBS “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert is annoying Trump nightly with his commentary and now with a children’s book, “Whose Boat Is This Boat?” about Trump’s obsession with a yacht that hurricane Florence deposited in a man’s backyard.

All of you folks I just listed: keep it up. We’re counting on you. As for us, there’s one YUGE thing we need to do, in the November midterm elections—and in every election: V-O-T-E.

I know, we hear the same urgent cry year after year: “This is the most important election of your life!” The irony is, it’s usually true if you add “so far” to the end of that statement.

A significant number of Republicans are abandoning their offices in 2018, or lost their primaries to more conservative candidates. Trump endorsed 17 candidates in the primaries and 15 of them won …an impressive record. Other successful endorsements—which presumably included economic support—came from the Koch brothers and the NRA. So we’re talking about some radically conservative Republican candidates. If they win and Democrats cannot take back at least the House of Representatives, liberals will have to walk around with a bright red “L” sewn on their garments. Just for starters.

VOTE! Get your friends to vote. Donate to get-out-the-vote causes in crucial states like Florida, Ohio, Missouri and West Virginia. Work for a phone campaign that calls people in crucial states. Drive people to the polls on election day. There are so many ways to do something.

I offer a grudging acknowledgement that Karl Rove was right: It really is All About The Base. In this, allegedly the greatest democracy on planet Earth, a shamefully small percentage of eligible voters actually vote. You can win simply by turning out more of your base than your opponent does. You can bet they’ll be out there getting their people to the polls. Let’s not get caught sleeping again. VOTE!

On that note, I’ll let Meghan Trainor play us out…

Written by

Steve Schlich is retired after 35 years of writing fiction about software: “easy to use,” “does what you want,” and the like. Hobbies include webmaster for www.RodSerling.com, writing songs and short stories. In 2004, he created www.NakedWashington.com, a website chronicling the naughty public art in Washington, D.C. He lives happily with his wife and cats, north of San Francisco.

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