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Thanks, Obama

It’s easy to be disheartened—to think that Trump and his cronies currently hold all the cards and there’s no way to effectively fight back. That’s where you’re wrong. Time and time again, history has proven that winners are often those who have constructively used their disadvantage to their advantage. All it requires is a bit of energy (less than you’d think), some passion, and a solid strategy. And here’s some better news: There are already strategies in place to block Trump and the GOP, and they are already working. Here are just a few:

Related: Portland's Resistance & Solidarity Calendar

READ AND FOLLOW INDIVISIBLE: A PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR RESISTING THE TRUMP AGENDA

Created by a group of former front line congressional staffers who witnessed first hand the rise of the grotesque but highly effective Tea Party, Indivisible is the must-read tract for those who want to get involved and make their involvement count.

In 2008, Obama entered the White House on a wave of popularity backed by a solid Democratic majority—and yet the GOP and a very loud and organized Tea Party stopped him at almost every turn. Indivisible cribs from this same playbook, but loads it up with progressive values. These strategies include targeting Democratic members of congress (MoC)—the authors learned from experience that screaming at the opposing side gets you nowhere—and using the way MoCs think to get the most bang for your efforts.

Much of the Tea Party’s success was due to their ability to bend the national discussion in their direction. This guide offers smart, concrete, and most of all, completely doable tactics to slow down and hopefully block Trump’s agenda—and in four years, become the winners once again. Download Indivisible, read it (it’s only 25 pages), share it with your friends across the country, and get to work.

(Update: Now also in convenient video form.)

Another great resource is the brand new Resistance Manual (resistancemanual.org) from the Stay Woke project, which offers a variety of Trump/GOP-resisting topics, including policing, immigration, voting rights, and more. Since it’s an open source document, users can add to it making it even more informative and location specific. Check it out!


HELP CHANGE THE CONVERSATION

Many of Us have a relative or knows someone who carried hate in their heart for a certain group of people or progressive concept. (Hi, Grandma!) But after being exposed to the reality of those people or ideas, their hardline views often soften or sometimes even change completely. That’s human nature. Think of how your views have changed over the course of your life. That’s why educating people is so important—because if you’re successful in luring someone to the truth, they won’t be able to resist sharing that truth with others in their community—and the seed will have been planted.

Talk to your family and neighbors, or sit in with groups like seniors, PTAs, and church organizations—and politely make your position (whatever it is) known.

Changing someone’s viewpoint probably won’t happen in the first conversation, and may not initially give you the result you were hoping for, but again: How many times have you changed your mind overnight? Try to keep your frustration to a minimum, focus on your similarities, and give the person time to process the ideas you’re offering. They may eventually come around to your way of thinking—and will probably convince themselves it was their idea in the first place. That’s okay, too.


DON’T TURN AGAINST THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY

This is an important one, especially in Portland. You may be very disappointed in the way the Democrats handled this election—but before you throw too many stones, think back and ask yourself, “What have I been doing since 2008 (other than complaining) to help the Democratic Party improve?” If you’re anything like me, probably not a lot. But in our defense, we’re busy people, and we thought we were on the winning side—so yeah, maybe we got a little complacent. But times have changed and it’s time to fix up the party, rather than tear it down.

Could we benefit from a viable third American political party? Absolutely! But when you’re the scrappy underdog, it doesn’t do any good to quit your team and start a new one in the middle of the season. Trying to build the infrastructure of a brand new party from scratch is just the distraction Trump and the GOP led Congress are counting on—and is exactly the thing wishy-washy old-school Dems and liberals would do.

Go on and brainstorm your glorious new, idealistic, and untainted party in the back of your mind. But right now, become the Democrat you want the Democratic Party to be. Tell your congressperson you won’t stand for compromise. Start attending Democratic meetings and organizations, and make change from within. The only difference between you and the people who are currently running the party is they made the choice to step up and get the job done. And what one Democrat can do, another can do—maybe with even better results.


IDENTIFY AND USE YOUR TALENTS

You are smart and talented. And everyone has skills they can use to throw a blockade in front of Trump—or at least support and inspire those who do. Obviously you can volunteer for Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, or the Showing Up for Racial Justice movement (and if you can, you should), but there are certain things you are particularly well-suited to in these troubled times:

If you have a particular expertise that can help your MoC or local commissioner improve the infrastructure of your city or state, it’s your duty as a citizen to share it. You might even want to run for office. (See new Portland Commissioner Chloe Eudaly for further details.)

If you’re a brave person, you can speak up when someone is being racist, sexist, homophobic, or anti-immigrant. (Hint: You’re actually braver than you think.)

If you love spending money, you can support local businesses, and turn your nose up at corporations that support the GOP agenda. Business owners can support their employees and pay them a living wage.

If you’re a writer, you can write an op-ed and send it to your local paper. (For instance, email me at steve@portlandmercury.com.)

If you’re a musician, you can offer your talents to a progressive political campaign or event... or you know, just write great angry music that will whip the rest of us into a frenzy.

If you’re funny, say funny things. That will be more helpful than you could possibly know.

If you’re an internet troll, you can help, too—by using your formerly evil powers to influence Trump supporters. Maybe get a fake Twitter account, pretend you’re a booster for Trump, and sow seeds of discontent among his followers with stuff like, “Man, I really wanted change! Where are those jobs I was promised?”


WHAT YOU CAN DO EVERY DAY

Use your passion wisely. The next four years will be a marathon, not a sprint. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the daily barrage of unbelievable news and Trump’s incessant gaslighting tactics. Take regular social media breaks. And when faced with the specter of how much there is to do, simplify the decision: Pick an organization to support and stick with them. If everyone does this, all bases will be covered.

Educate yourself and support good reporting—but when you see clickbait, don’t click on it. Be skeptical about what you read in the news and demand verification—yes, even if it seems to make Trump look like shit. Especially then. Be better than those who refuse to think. Call out the press when they simply repeat what Trump says without question.

Most importantly, remember: This is not the end. This is just another weird, annoying bend in the road toward a more progressive society. History has taught us that many people won’t naturally veer toward the path of truth, they have to be escorted, and that takes time—so be strong, have patience, take care of yourself, and soon enough, this next piece of ugly history will be just that. History.