Originally posted soon after inauguration. Maintained on Home Page as it describes our strategies at local, state and national levels. Every day, I get asked: Did you hear what “he” just did? We’ve got to do something. Every hour I get an email with a plea to call my Senator or sign a petition or stand outside a building with a sign.
The Long-Haul Strategy to Oppose Trump: It Won’t Stop These Executive Orders, But It Could Retake Our Democracy
Calling Udall, Lujan, Heinrich, or Lujan-Grisham is unnecessary. They aren’t going to approve any of Trump’s appointments or ideas. Unless you live in Steve Pearce’s Congressional District, calling him is a waste of time. Signing petitions or calling the White House, also sadly, a waste of time. I fear that when well-intentioned people make calls and sign petitions, it gives them the impression that they are taking a stand, doing their part. But are they being impactful? I fear not. And there is a limit to our energy for nearly daily calls to march or protest. First, how much energy do you have for this over a long haul and second, do you really think Trump cares about our signs? We have to be strategic in the use of our time and we must think “long haul.” It’s hard to do that when you see the daily onslaught to our values, but we must build a movement that does more than react in knee-jerk fashion to the latest insult to our values and our future.
So what can we do? Put 80% of our energy into local action related to City and State government, and build a constantly growing community of engaged, educated activists committed to the long haul. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
At the state level, with the Democrats in control of both chambers we have a real shot at getting good bills on the Governor’s desk. And yes, most will die there, but I keep hearing that a few good bills could actually be signed, e.g., the industrial hemp bill. And I find it hard to believe the Governor would veto a bill (SB7) to fund eliminating the Rape Kit Backlog. Getting these things done will actually matter….far more than another signed petition to Trump. What’s more, our growing involvement in the Roundhouse produces emails like this (received yesterday): “I went to the Roundhouse for the first time and sat in on a committee meeting. I even spoke. It was tremendous just being there, and I will be back.” What happens when that email writer tells 4-5 friends about this and they all go the next time?
Almost as important as getting bills signed is that with so many good bills reaching the floor this session, we will have voting records on key issues to hold our representatives accountable. That is why Retake Our Democracy is creating a Roundhouse Justice Report Card comprised of how each legislator votes on a broad array of bills that are important to progressives. We will then have hard data on who is consistently with us and who isn’t — important information for the long haul.
At the City Level. Even more promising than the State level is working at the City level, because you can actually create change. This is why this blog has devoted so much time to issues such where the City keeps its funds (Wells Fargo), expansion of our Sanctuary policies, a soda tax to expand early childhood, and creating a Public Bank. Over the next few weeks we will unfold a citywide neighborhood canvassing strategy that will be organized by City Council district, and we will work together to develop progressive policies that will be formed through a participatory canvassing process that begins at the neighborhood level. While this effort is currently Santa Fe focused, as we build hubs elsewhere in the state, other cities will engage their city council’s with issues important to them. And we will develop Justice Report Cards for our City Council, as well.
Individual Activism – Taking on Trump. So the local stuff is 80%, what about the other 20%? Here is what we can do to resist Trump: I introduced SwingLeft, this cool little app in a prior post. Click here. You can plug in any zip code and it will show you the boundaries for a currently red-held US House Swing District nearby. Roxanne and I plugged in our zip code and found Colorado House District 3 as a swing district nearby. It includes Durango, where we have young friends who are well-connected in their community. We will be calling them this weekend. You may know someone who lives elsewhere in this district, and you definitely know family, friends, and former colleagues all over the country. The real power in this tool is that all of us know people across the nation.
So here is what you do: Make a list of a dozen folks you know elsewhere who are just as affronted by this crisis as you are. And I mean take out your laptop or a notebook, create a list of names, phone numbers and zip codes, and call 3-4 of these folks every day until you have worked through the list. In every call, you commiserate, you listen, you talk about what you are doing here in NM, you share the Swing Left tool, and because you’ve already done a search on their zip code, you tell them about the district near them that could swing Democratic in 2018, and you ask them to get started.
If they live in district with a GOP Rep or Senator, you can also tell them about 5Calls. This is similar to the above tool as it identifies the Congressional reps in your community and asks you to make calls. For us in Santa Fe and ABQ and much of NM, we don’t have Reps who need our calls, at least related to the Trump agenda, but your friends may live in states with a GOP member who could be swayed. Click here for 5Calls.
Through these conversations you will strengthen personal friendships and quite possibly initiate effective activism in communities throughout NM and the Nation. This will not stop Trump from his next Executive Order, but I am still waiting to hear about the strategy that will effectively do that. As I’ve said, this is the long haul and building these kinds of personal, long-distance relationships with folks throughout the Country is how New Mexicans can effectively build for the long haul.
So this is what you do with the other 20% of your activism time: reach out to distant and good friends and cement a bond around a moral-based progressive agenda. You keep in touch, you encourage and support them, and if they want to really get active you can start sharing our tools and our Neighborhood Activism Kit that is almost ready for distribution. You may learn some really interesting strategy being done in other community and you can share what Retake Our Democracy is doing here. What does this accomplish? You are making connections and in each connection you can form a shared commitment to a sustained effort. If you reach an old friend who has time and seems ripe for action, you can offer to help him or her set up an activist hub in their community, a swing state.
Please plan on coming to our next Town Hall, Feb 11 from 3:30-5pm. We will be discussing these and other personal activist actions that you can take to make a meaningful contribution to retaking our democracy. More on that later.
Paul & Roxanne