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Learn from How Italians Ultimately Defeated Silvio Berlusconi

This OTYCD entry originally posted in January 2017.

 

Trump has been likened to Hitler, Mussolini, and other 20th-century autocrats, but his closest analog is Silvio Berlusconi, the blustering, womanizing media mogul who served as Italy’s prime minister from 1994 to 2001.

 

In this November 2016 New York Times op-ed, Luigi Zingales shows us how to avoid the mistakes of Berlusconi opponents, which had the effect of prolonging his grip on power.

The key point to remember:

 

Attack what Trump does, not who he is. Yes, he’s morally bankrupt. Yes, he’s an awful human being. Yes, he’s unbelievably ignorant. Yes, his view of women is horrific. Yes, his twitter-squawkings are insane. Yes, he looks goddamn ridiculous.

 

If you need to complain about things like that, vent in a private Facebook group, or some other protected space. Empty it from your mind, then go out and shine a light on what he is doing, and explain why what he’s doing is bad.

 

You need to do it in a way that spotlights the consequences of his actions as president, and not on why Trump, the man, is repugnant. The instant you start attacking his character, you make him sympathetic. It’s not fair, but it’s what it is. The anti-Berlusconi crowd made that mistake and got seven years of his rule. Do you want eight years of Trump? Then lay off.

 

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Help Build and Strengthen Your Resistance Community So It Survives Life After Trump

This OTYCD entry originally posted in October 2017.

 

Help build and strengthen your resistance community so it survives life after Trump.

 

Trump will go, but you must not. The resistance infrastructure–the local and national groups that sprung up after Trump’s election–will take a hit when he’s gone. Without such a powerful villain in the White House, at least some people will drift away, and some of those who drift away will never be as politically involved again. That’s inevitable.

 

You need to do what you can, now, to build and strengthen the fabric of your favorite local resistance group to help it survive in the post-Trump era.

 

How do you do that? You need to help your group build a life outside politics. Barbeques, bowling leagues, coffee klatches, pub crawls, gaming nights, concerts, parties, you name it–you need to help your gem of a group develop as many facets as possible.

 

Robert Putnam, in his classic 2001 book Bowling Alone, recognized and examined the decline of social groups that used to hold communities together–clubs such as the Elks, the Lions, and the Rotary Club, as well as churches, parent-teacher associations, and the like. It’s worth a read even though it appeared before social media really took hold. He makes it clear that these groups increased civic engagement and that civic engagement has declined with their disappearance.

 

But here’s the larger point: You need to do whatever you can to help make your Indivisible group, or whatever you joined that was born after November 9, 2016, become the new Rotary Club, the new PTA, the new church. And that means expanding its scope beyond the merely functional and giving it a social aspect.

 

Let’s be dead clear–the social aspect of the group should never be allowed to eclipse the functional aspect of the group. But you absolutely, definitely need to develop that social aspect. It’s vital. Why? Right now the function of the group is to stop Trump. What happens to your group when Trump is stopped? What then?

 

Yeah. You’ll need the social stuff to hold the group together while you revise and revamp your post-Trump mission. And that social stuff has to be in place and well-established by the time Trump goes, or else your group could go with him. And that would suck, because we need as many of these local groups as we can sustain.

 

Consider this example. Merrick Garland should be on the Supreme Court right now. It’s complete and utter bullshit that he is not. Obama did what he could, but he’s just the president, and he could only do so much.

 

Now imagine what would have happened to Garland if the resistance infrastructure that we have now was in place when Mitch McConnell refused to hear out a SCOTUS nominee in the last year of a president’s term.

 

We could have bombarded our senators with emails, phone calls, and letters demanding that they give Garland the hearing he deserved. We could have kept it up, stop-Trumpcare style, until enough senators relented. And because it’s only reasonable that the senators at least hear him out, it probably would have happened. And if the senators had heard Garland, they would have realized he’s a good guy who deserves a SCOTUS seat, and he may well have gotten it. Because that’s really why McConnell pulled that garbage move–he knew if the senators heard Garland, as tradition prescribes, they’d probably end up approving him.

 

We need to have that resistance infrastructure up and running in case we have another Garland situation. [Note inserted in October 2018: Ahem.] We need to have teams upon teams of folks practiced in the art of calling their members of Congress and ready to do it on a second’s notice. We can’t risk letting it all rot and fall apart after Trump goes.

 

So, while the notion of Trump leaving office is still abstract and without a fixed date, you need to identify and shore up the columns that (metaphorically) hold up your group. If all of those columns have Trump’s name on them, start (metaphorically) mixing and pouring concrete to make some columns that don’t.

 

Now, you don’t know this, but we at OTYCD can sometimes read your mind. We can hear you thinking, ‘But I’m an introvert.’ We get it. So are we. We’re not asking you to host monthly catered dinner parties with china and sterling silver and linen napkins for 36. We’re asking you to think about what social stuff you’re willing to do on a regular basis, and commit.

 

That doesn’t mean you, personally, have to open your home or pay to hire a hall. It could well mean helping someone else in the group host a social event. That works. And if you do open your home, you can set limits and enforce them: “You must RSVP by X date and the maximum I can accommodate is 12.” Really, you can do that.

 

Think about what you can do. Then do it, with an eye toward serving the future of your group.

 

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Support Your Local Library, Always and Forever

This OTYCD post originally appeared in January 2018.

 

Support your local library, always and forever. 

 

Libraries are many things to many people. They’re often the heart of the community, or at least a vital organ that helps it survive and thrive. Its employees respect knowledge and provide the tools to fight back against fake news and attempts to undermine the truth.

 

Librarians are also foot soldiers in the resistance, both the capital-R Resistance going on now and resistance efforts in the past. When Trump declared his Muslim travel ban, librarians pushed back with “Libraries Are for Everyone”–imagery, book displays, and declarations that underline the fact that libraries are, indeed, open to one and all. Several leading library organizations also condemned the ban.

 

You have many options for supporting your local library.

 

The biggest and most effective one is to use it regularly.

 

Don’t have a library card? Get one, and make sure everyone in your family has one.
Go to the library often. Follow it on social media. Attend library events that interest you, and bring friends.

 

Spend liberally at library book sales. Check out books and other media, and bring them back on time.

 

If you don’t use your library you do run the risk of losing it.

 

You can also volunteer, join a “Friends of the Library” group, or donate money. Please stay alert to state and local legislative efforts that might affect library funding and access.

 

As for donating books–first, ask the librarians if they’re accepting book donations and if so, what types of books they’re currently seeking. They may not need what you have; don’t be offended if they turn you down.

 

Also, run the used books’ ISBN numbers through Amazon’s trade-in link to see if they’re actually worth anything (see link below). Don’t donate them unless they are. And don’t be offended if the library ends up selling your donated books.

https://www.amazon.com/Sell-Books/b?node=2205237011

 

 

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Read about how libraries and librarians have been leading the resistance to Trump:

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/art/librarians-protesting-trumps-executive-orders/

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/feb/21/us-libraries-join-struggle-to-resist-the-trump-administration

http://mashable.com/2017/02/21/library-donald-trump-resistance/#h2S2kJpDDmqV

Librarians must resist trumpism

 

 

Read this GOOD article on how librarians have historically been in the forefront of resisting Nazis and other enemies of the truth:

https://www.good.is/articles/rogue-librarians-save-history-and-the-truth

 

 

Follow the Libraries Resist account on Twitter:

@LibrariesResist

 

 

Read about ways to help libraries:

http://www.ilovelibraries.org/get-involved

https://mastersreview.com/8-ways-to-support-your-local-library/

https://www.bustle.com/p/7-ways-you-can-support-your-local-library-47363

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Believe It, You Matter, Part XIV: Feel Your Feelings and Vote Anyway

This OTYCD post originally appeared in June 2019.

 

Believe It, You Matter, Part XIV: Feel your feelings and vote anyway.

 

Hi, I’m Sarah Jane. I write all the Believe It, You Matter entries. I’ve long since forgotten what Roman numeral I’m up to so I apologize if I’ve used 12 before.

 

Anyway. I’m here to talk about voter suppression, in part because the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) bizarrely (and irresponsibly, IMO) threw up its hands (well, five of the nine did) and essentially said it couldn’t do anything to stop gerrymandering, not even the ludicrously extreme gerrymanders drawn to explicitly corral and nullify the votes of one party.

 

This is the latest bit of news that could dispirit us. And hey, it’s OK to feel dispirited about such a thing. But please, please, do not let it stop you from voting, ever.

 

No matter what, show the fuck up and vote, and help others vote, too.

 

Republicans know, and have known, they can’t win if they can’t stop people from voting. Blatant, flagrant cheating, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis attempting to defang Article 4’s re-enfranchisement of more than a million felons by requiring them to pay assorted fees before they can cast a ballot, is one such move.

 

But the vote-suppressors work in subtler ways as well, ways that get less attention.

 

One of those ways is fostering despair and disgust with the whole voting process.

 

They try to make people feel that voting doesn’t matter, and it’s not worth the trouble.

 

It does, and it is.

 

As we advance into 2020, be alert to attempts to dispirit you and yours about the act of voting. It’s already happening, it’s happening in particular on social media, and not all of it is the work of bots, btw.

 

They’re doing it because it works, even if it’s kind of oblique and hard to quantify. The vote-suppressors don’t have to get everyone to stay home, or specific people to stay home. They need just enough people to stay home to make a difference.

 

You need to carry on talking to you and yours about the importance of voting, and removing obstacles to voting, both literal and figurative.

 

You need to tell people they matter, and their vote matters, and there are people out there who want them to give up and stay home. Fuck those people.

 

Now, when you talk, you should be straight with them. Acknowledge that fuckery is likely in 2020. Trump has explicitly said he would accept information foreign governments offer him about his opponents, which prompted the chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission to issue a statement saying that accepting anything of value from a foreign government is a crime. Mitch McConnell has consistently refused to advance bills that would protect the integrity of the 2020 election.

 

Republicans, in particular, are doing whatever they can to suppress the vote.

 

Go out and vote anyway. Go out and vote, faithfully and always, and help others vote, too. Every time. No matter what fuckery abounds.

 

Hell, go vote IN SPITE OF the fuckery. Flip the bird by throwing the lever for a Democrat.

 

Also, keep talking to your friends and family about the importance of voting.

 

Talk about how excited you are to vote for specific candidates, and say their names, out loud, often.

 

Do this even if it feels like it’s not enough.

 

Do it even if you feel like no one is listening to you.

 

Do this even if the crisis du jour is turning your mood grim. If you need to take a break to work through your feelings, do it, and come back.

 

Vote even if the Democratic candidates look like they’re running away with it.

 

Vote, because you matter, and your vote matters.

 

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Think: What Three Things Are Most Important to You?

This OTYCD entry originally posted in January 2017.

 

A lot has happened since the inauguration. Too much, really. And that’s just what Trump and his minions have done or tried to do–that doesn’t even get into the misinformation that’s been floating around, and the various calls to action that are well-intentioned but wrong.

 

You can’t stay on top of everything. It’s physically impossible. Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to stay on top of everything. (Can you imagine all the stuff we at OTYCD have to let go, in the interest of limiting ourselves to one post a day?) You need to conserve your energy for what you are best-equipped to fight.

 

You need to sit down and figure out which three things are most important to you.

 

Is it fighting the effects of climate change?

Protecting access to abortion?

Pushing back against voter suppression?

Defending net neutrality?

First Amendment issues?

Keeping public schools strong?

Defending laws that safeguard our air and our water?

Supporting the protestors at Standing Rock?

Doing your damndest to make sure that black lives matter?

Sheltering and assisting immigrants?

Protecting LBGTQ rights?

Stopping the government from selling public lands for a pittance?

Upholding the Paris agreement?

Standing up for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities?

Defending Obamacare?

Resisting cuts to Medicare and Medicaid?

Fighting attacks on American muslims?

Defending and extending mental health care services?

Protecting the rights of the disabled?

Undoing the damage of gerrymandering?

 

…those are just some that leap to mind. We cut eighteen more, and we probably didn’t name at least three dozen that matter to you.

 

But that’s the point. It’s worth sitting down and list as many political topics as you can. Then go through them and figure out which three matter most to you.

 

Embrace those three. Learn all you can about them. Become an expert.

 

Do something every day to advance at least one of the three. Rotate through them so that your attention to each balances out over time.

 

Trust that others will step up and cover the rest of the things that matter to you.

 

Fight for your three things as doggedly as you want others to fight for what you had to relinquish for sanity’s sake.

 

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Do What George Lakoff Says: Don’t Retweet Trump, and Don’t Repeat Trump’s Language

This post originally appeared on OTYCD in April 2019.

 

Do what George Lakoff says: don’t retweet Trump, and don’t repeat Trump’s language.

 

A key lesson in Lakoff’s classic book, Don’t Think of an Elephant! is to resist repeating the language of people such as Trump.

 

In fact, it’s extra-important to avoid repeating Trump in particular.

 

When you repeat his language, you reinforce it and you normalize it.

 

Don’t retweet his tweets, not even to quote-tweet him. Don’t push his words into other people’s feeds. You’re just injecting those words deeper into the brains of others.

 

Don’t repeat his slogans. Don’t riff on them, no matter how funny your riffs are.

 

To repeat Trump is to amplify him.

 

Don’t repeat him.

 

Push the message YOU want to push. Not his.

 

Find YOUR OWN language. Write your own slogans. Push those instead.

 

A tweeter using the handle @LuLuLemew summed it up well in a March 29, 2019 tweet in reference to the Mueller Report, which Lakoff retweeted:

 

Until we see the report, some advice from

▪︎Don’t use any of Trump’s terms, images, or videos.

Ignore his antics —  ▪︎if you retweet it you can’t defeat it

▪︎when you embed it you spread it ▪︎

To defeat, reframe, don’t repeat

 

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See Political Charge’s Landing Page for GOP Senate Seats to Flip in 2020

This post originally appeared on OTYCD in June 2019.

 

See Political Charge’s landing page for GOP Senate seats to flip in 2020.

 

We at OTYCD have an underbuilt but live page on all the Senate races of 2020. Yeah, yeah, we need to fill it in more, you’re right.

 

Political Charge, a smart and powerful blog we’ve plugged any number of times, has cut to the chase with a post about GOP Senate seats that are vulnerable to flipping in 2020.

 

 

See it here:

Here are the GOP Senate Seats to Flip in 2020

 

 

And while you’re at it, check out its post about Senate Democratic seats to protect in 2020:

Here are the Democratic Senate Seats To Protect in 2020

 

 

See the Political Charge blog (the subscription button is at the lower right, at the bottom of the page):

https://politicalcharge.org

 

 

Follow Tokyo Sand, author of Political Charge, on Twitter:

@DHStokyo

 

 

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