The War of 2018

It’s not even July, but 2018 has already been the year that changed everything. I won’t go into all the policy fuck-ups Republicans are responsible for, you know them all too well.

The bigger change, though, the one currently rearing its ugly head, is tribal conflict unleashed on a massive scale. On one side are the greeders, grifters, and bigots who will do anything to hold onto privilege and power. On the other side is pretty much everyone else, mostly thoughtful people trying to find a way through the madness.

I consider myself part of the “everyone else” tribe, and until recently, I simply wanted my family and friends to be left alone. But that is apparently too much to ask. Religious zealots like Dan Forest want me to bow down to their twisted view of god. Autocrats like Phil Berger want to remove my voice from the democratic process. And Republicans like Donald Trump are making truth unrecognizable every time they speak.

As the conflict grows, greeders are cheering the rise of fascism and violence, daring everyone else to challenge them. We are slowly, cautiously taking that dare.
From what I can see, we are doing what we usually do, pushing back gently in the only ways we know. With pens instead of swords, with words instead of violence, and with polite requests that they find somewhere else to eat their chicken dinners.

But even this modest resistance seems unwelcome among many on the left. “Don’t stir them up,” they say. “Republicans will dig in their heels and fight back harder. We have to show that there’s a better way, we can’t just condemn their ugliness.”

I understand this instinct to “go high,” but I don’t see how it gets us where we want to go. Unicorns and rainbows are wonderful things, but they don’t stop bullets targeting black men or abortion doctors. Greeders are getting uglier and more violent. Today’s unicorns need flak jackets.

As is always the case, there are no magic formulas. No single tactic has ever carried the day. Winning requires a messy mix of gentility, aggression, outrage, and compassion, and even then there are no guarantees.

But one thing is almost always true: Attacking allies is NOT a good thing. Direct your public anger at Paul Ryan, not Maxine Waters. Focus your rage on Sarah Sanders, not the Red Hen.

I welcome anyone and everyone who will join the fight against Republican extremism. We’re all in this together.

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Comments

I stand by my Facebook post

on Maxine Waters. As I tried to explain with that (and apparently failed), when an elected official tells supporters at a rally to go after a certain group of people and harass them in public, a line has been crossed. Just because Trump crossed that line before she did, it doesn't mean it's "okay" or even an unfortunate necessity.

I believe (and I may be wrong) that, in addition to pushing back against Trump, Democrats need to present an alternative. Different policies, and different behavior. That first part is relatively easy, because emotions play a very small role. It's the second part that's hard, because fear and anger are incredibly strong and hard to suppress.

And who knows, maybe we shouldn't suppress it? We are told that's not healthy. And maybe it isn't for an individual. But for a community, for a group of people, succumbing to fear and anger is definitely not healthy. Don't have time to list all of the atrocities that were driven by those emotions, but the invasion of Iraq is a prime example. And so is the Rwanda genocide, quite frankly.

All that said, I don't have many (if any) answers on *how* we can better fight back. But while I'm trying to figure that out, I will keep trying to put information in front of people so they can make more sound decisions and choices.

Your FB post gave me a lot to think about

And here's the rub. Maxine Waters did not call for anyone to "harass" Trump officials. And if she did, I can't find it. She said "confront" them. She said "protest." She did not say "harass."

The harassment claim is a matter of semantics, and semantics matter enormously. People are using the workd "harass" because hundreds of media headlines are using it, fed by the Trump machine.

But if you take that word out of the discussion, there is nothing Maxine said that I disagree with. Trumpsters should be called out at every level of government, all the way down to the clowns in Raleigh. They are destroying this country and they are stacking the electoral deck so they can't be held accountable.

I say we should confront them at every turn, all day, every day.

The 3%

I would disagree - peaceful resistance, which some can interpret as "harassment" - is really required here.

The truth of the matter is that the Trump administration - and the NC GOP - are acting from authoritarian playbooks. Studies by experts in dictatorships and authoritarian regimes have found that it only takes about 3% of the population, steadily and unwavering in peaceful protest, to topple a regime.

A group of people shouting an authoritarian figure out of a restaurant makes a statement that they're ignoring the will of the people who elected them and that their complicity in the regime is completely unacceptable.

If no one is allowed to make these statements for fear of offending someone or being "polite", then how does one show opposition to a regime except through public protests that the regime ignores and dismisses as "paid protestors" or "professional agitators"?

Seeing some protestors in a picture on your Facebook feed or a short news clip is one thing. Seeing a large group of people uniting against an authoritarian figure in a common public place, like a restaurant or theater, conveys a much stronger message.

Extremism is not rational.

...and can't be dealt with rationally.

I also refuse to dignify extremists with terms like "Republican", "Conservative", "Religious" or any other term. They are simply extremists.

extremis malis extrema remedia !