Plus: A Few Thoughts About the State of the Resistance
By Doug Porter
The good folks at Indivisible have released a four and half minute video from Congressman Duncan Hunter’s Ramona town hall meeting over the weekend.
In it, the East County’s Republican Representative lays out the world in Washington as he sees it, condemning the thousands of “seditious Obama folks” who’ve infiltrated the Justice Department, the FBI, and the intelligence community.
You have to give it to Duncan, Jr. His arrogance is only exceeded by his ignorance, as he took a break from his “…very busy two months making America great again” to speak with the common folk this past weekend.
Here’s my favorite quote:
You guys have heard the term deep state?
You have tens of thousands – not tens of thousands, thousands of Obama appointees, people that worked under that administration who hate Trump as much as you do.
They’re trying to take him down from the inside…. I think that Donald Trump did have his phone conversations and emails intercepted.
And those of you who believe in democracy and free elections can’t tell me that a sitting president whose party is running for the presidency can wiretap and intercept another candidate’s phone?
I would think that you would be for freedom and liberty!
Not for an Orwellian government that controls us – which is what we have right now.
For other fun quotes from Saturday’s event, I recommend the Escondido Grapevine’s Duncan Duane Hunter town hall (annotated).
In For the Long Haul
Following two months of high-profile protests by Indivisible and other groups around the country, Serious Pundits are asking the question nobody wants to hear, namely ‘will the resistance to Trump’s administration continue unabated?’
Usually, these types of stories start off making some kind of comparison between contemporary protesters and the Tea Party. And while it’s true both groups focused on pressuring congress as a tactic, that’s about where the similarities stop.
The latest version of this template-style reporting at FiveThirtyEight.com posits the lack of Koch-style top-down professional advocacy and money groups, such as FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity as a weak link for Indivisible and affiliated groups.
The horizontal growth of modern day activism is troubling for those with a traditional view of politics. What they fail to realize is the possibility of bottom-up advocacy and fundraising created by the emergence of new technologies. When the organizers of the March 4 “Impeach” protest in Ocean Beach needed a drone for photographs of their artful event, they didn’t have to call Kansas for support. They passed the hat.
There are plenty of nationally oriented organizations working for causes large and small, and Indivisible-types have largely taken an ecumenical view of encouraging people to join with those groups as needed. As we saw with the recent anti/pro/Trump protest in San Diego, they are generally drawing a line at confronting individuals as opposed to officials and entities.
Also working against long-term viability for anti-Trump groups, according to FiveThirtyEight, is “the demography of its traditional constituencies – younger, more diverse — that tend to vote less than the older, white base of the Republican Party, particularly in special elections and midterms.”
Anybody who’s participated in electoral education workshops over the past year has come away impressed with the overwhelming numbers of formerly uninvolved citizens signing up. A training session for community planning groups held in February had to double its capacity by adding a second day and venue.
Involvement in progressive organizations across the board is way up. On a national level, a recent Los Angeles Times said the surge of activism on the left has tripled membership in the Democratic Socialist of America. The ACLU’s newly launched People Power activist wing saw 200,000 people sign up for 2200 events last weekend.
Anybody who thinks they can accurately predict the future should be directed to review the 2016 Presidential election results. Anything is possible. Speculating is simply a distraction.
Also from the FiveThirtyEight article:
The tea party’s symbiotic relationship with right-wing media was an important cohesive component of its success. In their 2011 paper on the tea party, [Harvard professor Theda] Skocpol and her co-authors noted the importance of conservative talk radio and bloggers, but also assigned a great deal of import to the role Fox News played in the movement’s success: “The best way to understand Fox News’ role is as a national advocacy organization actively fostering a social protest identity.”
My response to this point is to urge people to grok what’s really happening with the consumption of news. Social media and organizing apps give activism an opportunity for unfiltered dissemination of information, which, when added to more conventional media, are today’s way of building a ‘social protest identity.’ While fake news and clickbait are the downside of this new environment, the ability to instantly connect and provide feedback are its strengths.
Take Me to Your Leader
A common lament by pundits I’ve seen in coverage of the newly emerging anti-Trump movement is the lack of “inspirational movement leaders.” They all seem to have forgotten the destructive power of the state/establishment when it comes to undermining (and coopting) non-elected public figures who dare oppose their agenda.
The pages of history are littered with the dead bodies of inspirational movement leaders. In fact, it seems like death or incarceration are the most likely outcomes for those who become the face of a movement. I’m not saying they haven’t been important. I’m saying the traditional Big Name Leader doesn’t stand a chance in the 21st century, not to mention the inevitable failings of those who get consumed by the power of their persona.
One only need look to the reporters who speak truth to power these days to understand the risk of having a higher profile.
Teen Vogue reporter Lauren Duca, whose coverage of the current regime rivals the best of what I’ve seen in the ‘respectable media,’ received a torrent of threats after she dared appear on Fox News to defend her writing.
Messages like this — positioning sexual assault as a means of keeping women in line — make me want to fight even harder. pic.twitter.com/gtvMGQ9cpx
— Lauren Duca (@laurenduca) December 27, 2016
Pulitzer prize winning reporter David Cay Johnston, who on reported on the first two pages of one of President Trump’s undisclosed income-tax returns, says his wife and children were targets for harassment and threats following his appearance on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show.
Locally, an organizer for a recent anti-Trump demonstration in Ocean Beach backed out of leading the event following credible death threats against his family. A source of mine who works for a local Democratic elected official told me recently of receiving regular phone calls from newly energized activists asking for assistance in getting law enforcement protection.
We Don’t Need a Hero
I’m not saying that leadership shouldn’t exist in the resistance. It already exists. And, at least with Indivisible in San Diego, the many groups of newly energized people are building an infrastructure that meets the needs of both hyper-local and regional concerns.
The consolidation process underway is democratic, not autocratic. More women are leading the way than men. It’s sometimes painfully slow. I’m happy to see common sense winning out over egoism.
I wasn’t happy about the multiple fundraising emails I received from the San Diego Democratic Party as the town halls for Issa and Hunter were in progress. (Seriously, folks, you need to listen, and learn from what’s going on.)
Finally, I know, I know… all those newsroom types still think they need a human to dress up in the Indivisible brand to make their stories ‘credible.’ Don’t fall for the hype. Be the change you want to see.
Handy-Dandy Indivisible Guide
Speaking of change, here’s a list of 47 Indivisible-affiliated groups throughout San Diego County. Note that many are set up thru ‘closed’ or ‘private’ Facebook pages.
This is a necessary precaution against voyeurs, trolls, and other unwanted pests. If you really want to be active, (and live in the group’s area or are involved with its interests) ask and you will be admitted. Then it’s up you to get involved.
Full disclosure: I am involved with San Diego Invisible Downtown, and volunteer with its communications committee. They were not aware of my writing this article. (Though I hope they liked it.)
Looking for some action? Check out the Weekly Progressive Calendar, published every Friday in this space, featuring Demonstrations, Rallies, Teach-ins, Meet Ups and other opportunities to get your activism on.
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