Indivisible leader Michael Burroughs assembled a group of speakers and protesters Saturday in downtown Raleigh in the shadow of the legislative building. Correct that: There were not many shadows or much shade to be had at all, and as the afternoon wore on, we all got plenty hot. Even so, attendance was excellent at the rally, and the requisite and crucial media coverage amplified the message. The “March for Truth” tackled head-0n the multiple dumpster fires that make up the Trump agenda: taxes, Russia, the Muslim ban, education, climate, and so on.
Many of us joined activist sites after the election, seeking solidarity but also some sense of it all, some meaning. We were looking for solace, but also a place to vent our outrage, and to begin an effort to reclaim the country we thought we knew. Strange and unsettling as this time has been, many of us have made new friends, new communities, even new identities. At the same time, many of us experienced strains on our existing relationships, as we filled our time with our new passion.
“What will happen in June?” many of us wondered, when summer comes, vacations are taken, kids and college students are off for the summer? We were worried, of course, that people would become weary of the Trump show, and be worn into submission by the barrage of tweets and lies. There was an optimistic fiction built into that worry. The fiction that Trump is going to somehow simmer down, become normal. That he is going to be like most presidents: someone you really only think about in a time of national crisis, unless you are a true political junkie.
Let’s put that to rest. Trump is never going to be normal. He has neither the temperament nor the political infrastructure to do it. His circle of nepotistic sycophants includes perhaps one-and-a-half grownups. Though the prospect is both loathsome and terrifying, no one in the resistance should worry that Trump won’t provide enough outrage to keep the movement going. And that is both the beauty and the flaw.
As a writer of daily calls to action, I am constantly on the leading edge of the news cycle. I need time to read, analyze, and integrate new information before I turn it into a coherent summary with a viewpoint. From this granular perspective, it is easy to be in a perpetual state of shock. Did you see what he tweeted? Or what unconfirmed sources just said about Jared Kushner? However, most people, even active readers of RISE and other sites, don’t go this deep, nor should they be expected to. People have jobs to do, kids to feed, passions to pursue. Therefore, action writers are always trying to split the difference between what they think are the most objectively important issues of the day, and what is going to get people actually calling their representatives. Each fresh outrage wounds me to the core as a citizen, but I know that interest will once again surge on RISE and other sites.
The dilemma for me is that I want to be involved in a movement that is sustainable beyond Trump. I want to resist, yes, and I will persist, of course, but I also want to stand FOR something. My great hope is that if Donald Trump and the entire awful machinery of his movement were somehow removed tomorrow, we could all stand together, a bit more aware, a bit more engaged, a bit more motivated.
It is easy to blame someone else for the predicament in which we find ourselves, and there is no shortage of bigotry and ignorance out there. However, I think the political and social nightmare of today was begotten in some ways by all of us. Were there signs of deep trouble with the Clinton campaign, and signs of division within the Democratic Party? Of course. Could I have done more? Absolutely, and I will take the blame for it. But never again. Now I see more clearly than ever that it is my patriotic duty to stay informed on a wide range of issues from multiple perspectives. It is my civic duty to not just vote, but to become involved in local politics all the way down to the precinct level. It is my social obligation to attend and support a wide range of events and causes in the local community and across the state.
Extremism and fascism can only flourish in conditions of ignorance and complicity. At least for now, we still enjoy unparalleled access to a robust, free press. No one censors our writing or limits our ability to assemble. Now it is up to us to make sure those rights do not atrophy from disuse. So even if the news cycle cools off, and there is no fresh outrage, keep writing and calling representatives. Engagement in the political process can and should remain as high even if we somehow flip Congress and elect a Democrat to the White House in 2020. Government should never be something done to us. Government should by of, by, and for the people.