This OTYCD post originally appeared in July 2020.
Believe It: You Matter, Part Now; Don’t Go to Sleep.
Sarah Jane here. I write all the Believe It: You Matter entries. I can’t remember what Roman numeral we’re on, so I made one up.
I’m drafting this in late June 2020, probably to go live in July. It looks like all of Trump’s faults are finally teaming up to destroy his chance of being re-elected.
Dedicated readers of OTYCD know better than to assume anything. But I have allowed myself half an ounce of hope while sticking rigidly to my efforts to force this feral clown from office.
I feel the need, hell, the urge, to say this now:
If we all succeed, and Joe Biden becomes president, do not go to sleep.
Yes, celebrate. Yes, get some rest. But don’t go to sleep.
Now I can almost hear you saying: “Go to sleep? GO TO SLEEP? WTF, Sarah Jane? I’ve been an insomniac, on and off, since this asshole got elected. I’m not going to sleep! Fuck you for suggesting it.”
OK, fair enough. But let me explain what I mean.
I was a grown woman when Bush the Younger was president. I voted in both those elections, for Gore and then for Kerry.
The W years were fucking exhausting, and, fwiw, they foreshadowed the Trump years, if you ask me. (I am So Not On Board with the weird nostalgia some liberal/left/Dem/resistance folks have expressed for W. No, just, no. But that’s another topic for another day.)
So after eight years of serious and scary norm-breaking, and 9/11 and the laws that were passed in its wake, and banks running amuck and tanking the economy, and STARTING TWO FUCKING WARS, we get Barack Obama. And we keep him for a full eight years.
And too many of us went to sleep during the Obama years. Now, I mean that metaphorically, and I count myself among those who went to sleep. I am just as guilty as the rest of you.
What I mean when I say that I went to sleep is that I kept on top of the news, I watched Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show regularly, and I voted in presidential elections.
I thought I was pretty plugged in, and pretty responsible as a citizen. But I now know I wasn’t doing nearly enough to hold up my end, from a civics standpoint.
When I tell you, “Don’t go to sleep,” I mean don’t forget the lessons you all learned from the Trump years.
Trump will go, but you must not.
“Not going” means continuing the activism you began during the Trump years, and continuing to vote in EVERY ELECTION that affects your community, which means VOTE IN ALL OF THEM, EVERY TIME, WITHOUT FAIL, NO MATTER HOW SMALL AND INCONSEQUENTIAL THEY SEEM, DAMMIT.
I don’t expect or demand that you be as active post-Trump as you’ve been during the Trump years, though that would be great.
I want to be realistic, though. Trump has been fucking exhausting, more so than W ever was, and he’s been so on purpose. Exhausting you with forty gazillion Dumpster fires is part of his strategy, and it’s straight out of the authoritarian’s playbook.
We’re going to be unpacking his evil deeds for decades. His administration is a political version of the TV show Hoarders–so much awful shit that needs to be gone through and dealt with, with so many unfathomable horrors lurking within the stacks, and it seems like there’ll be no end to it.
When Trump goes well and properly, you will feel the need to rest. And hey, you will need some rest. Please plan on getting some.
But with Joe Biden in office–smiley, familiar, good-natured, decent Joe Biden–you’ll be tempted to up and quit your activism, because everything won’t be on fire anymore, and Biden won’t be running around saucing the fires with gasoline, like Trump did.
Rest, but come back. It’s important.
Here’s the thing, y’all–we fucked over President Barack Obama. We did.
When he got in, after eight exhausting years of W and his fuckery, we collapsed in a heap and went to sleep. Metaphorically speaking.
And we slept like Sleeping Beauty. We slept like we were meant to stay asleep until someone gently and lovingly brought us back to civic consciousness.
We can’t afford to do that. We couldn’t afford to do that under President Obama, and we can never afford to do that again, ever.
Because we slept, the Republicans, who are fewer and angrier and have more money, did their damndest to disfigure and warp things in their party’s favor.
They did this in many ways, on many fronts, but mainly by getting their people elected up and down the ballot in non-presidential years.
They took control of state legislatures and governorships. They used that power to gerrymander and purge voters from the rolls and prevent Obama’s judicial nominees from being accepted, by the dozens. They put their collective thumbs on the scale for themselves and their party.
They did this in the open, it just didn’t get screaming headline coverage.
Once they’re in the minority again, they will go back to that playbook.
They are relentless. They are craven. They cannot be shamed. They will do it even though they maneuvered the most corrupt, venal, incompetent, and thoroughly reputation-damaging person into the office of the presidency, and they stayed silent as his sins and outrages piled up.
The damning legacy of the 45th President of the United States will not stop those same Republicans from squawking 24/7 on Twitter and Fox News about the mote in Joe Biden’s eye when they resolutely refused to remove the beam from Trump’s.
They’ve had years’ worth of chances to check and balance Trump, including a Senate trial that could have ended in removal.
They had ample time to do what the Founders assumed elected officials would do when faced with a president like Trump.
Instead, they cowered. They ducked. They bobbed and weaved. They sputtered. They muttered. They stayed silent when faced with perversions of law and bold flouting of the principles of the Constitution, no matter how absurd and grotesque they got.
The few who spoke up in defense of Trump were invariably the loudest and most loathsome fringe elements of the GOP, and their defenses ranged from laughable to downright offensive.
Congressional Republicans violated their oaths of office to keep Trump in his.
And when Biden is in office, those same Republicans will act like he’s worse than Trump could ever be. Instantly. Before Biden is inaugurated. Hell, they’ll start doing it in the twilight time between polls closing on Election Day and news organizations formally calling it.
Do not go to sleep. Do not.
Do not fuck over Biden the way we fucked over Obama.
Rest, but come back, and carry on doing what you were doing in the Trump years–just do it on defense, instead of offense this time.
Between now and Tuesday, November 3, 2020, I want you to sit down and work out what you will do–how you will maintain your activism–after Trump is gone.
If he’s re-elected, well, there’s your answer. You keep doing what you’ve been doing, at the rate and the intensity that you’ve been doing it.
If he isn’t, you need to plot some explicit vacation time from activism (you might want to wait until some point in 2021, because if Trump gets booted, he and his minions WILL indulge in rank and flamboyant sabotage during the transition, because that’s just who they are).
You need to choose specific dates for a vacation from activism–an explicit start and end, just as you would when planning a vacation from a job. And your vacation time should be about as long as a vacation you’d take from your main job.
Then figure out what level of activism you want to maintain.
You may not want to carry on as intensely and as all-consumingly as you will in the lead-up to the 2020 Election. That’s perfectly OK.
But you do need to pursue some level of activism post-Trump, and you need to point your brain at the question of what, and when, and how much.
No matter what happens, and no matter how you choose to proceed, you’ve got to stay here and carry on the fight.
No more Merrick Garlands, people. No more. Stay alert and alive.
Come to Joe Biden’s aid early and often and with fierce purpose.
Do. Not. Go. To. Sleep.
Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!