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. 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.