Get Up, Stand Up

The "resistance" so far is woefully inadequate.
Capitol police detain a demonstrator as the Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing on repealing and replacing the Affordabl
Capitol police detain a demonstrator as the Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. September 25, 2017.

The first thing I want to say is that I am as guilty of whatever shortcomings I’m about to discuss as anyone. I don’t view my behavior as superior to anyone, or anything (other than those who’ve been actively complicit in the recent American horror show), and I’m aware there are those who have devoted tremendous amounts of their time and efforts in righting our reeling ship of state.

That said, I don’t think enough people are seeing things clearly enough ― still. And the groups that will need to coalesce in order to stave off further disasters have not, thus far, to my eye, made much of a move to do so.

I am consistently disheartened to see so many people celebrating to such an extent each incremental progression of the Mueller investigation, and proclaiming that a meaningful reckoning will occur upon the 2018 mid-term elections. That doesn’t mean I think these things are insignificant, or that people shouldn’t take some solace where they can. But frequent banners stating that it’s “Mueller time,” or proclamations that the Trump family will die in jail (I’d bet everything but my life against this), or that we just need to “hold on” until 2018, make me fear that people are still, in spite of nothing other than mounting evidence, failing to recognize the true anti-constitutional, authoritarian, totalitarian intent of those currently running our government.

Let me state it as clearly as I can: You haven’t seen anything yet. No matter how bad you think it has been, you have only been exposed to the initial, most timid, most limited, test-runs for everything yet to come. And, if common human nature proves consistent, each mounting victory by those without any moral constraint will lead to greater and greater deviations from anything those with functioning moral compasses consider to be norms. There are no grown-ups in the room. There never were. This has now been demonstrated (for, I would say, the N-th time).

And there is no one riding in to save the day. The results of Mr. Mueller’s work remain completely unknown. Even the scope and the aims remain matters of speculation. And, even if the most serious indictments imaginable are brought, convictions are an entirely different matter, dependent upon forces, including judges and juries, which are completely unpredictable – or worse. Even if the most astonishing, unprecedented level of “justice” were to be imposed, this would not occur for years.

As for elections, those who have just voted in favor of a bill reconfiguring massive portions of our economy without anything approaching adequate analysis or commentary (and inserting guidelines for everything up to and including when life begins), despite 75 percent public opposition, appear to care little about electoral consequences, or any consequences at all. I’m among those that do not consider this to be incidental, or unconsidered. They either suddenly don’t care about reelection and maintaining majority power (which I find unlikely), or they believe combinations of gerrymandering, voting restrictions/vote suppression, ideologically immovable conservative judges, and unwavering support by a conservative base immune to insult, will render them impervious to opposition. And I believe they have reason to feel safe in their assumptions (read a little Sarah Kendzior, active on Twitter, for some perspective on this; on second thought, read a lot).

So, what’s to be done? If the judicial branch of government and elections can’t save us from representatives who not only ignore their constituents’ interests, but aggressively grind them into compost to be lovingly laid upon corporations’ gardens of greed, what recourse do we have?

I think what’s been required for sometime (since precisely March 16, 2016, when Merrick Garland was nominated by Barack Obama to sit upon the Supreme Court Bench, through April 7, 2017, when Neil Gorsuch was instead confirmed for the seat; the lack of adequately aggressive public opposition to these acts is what demonstrated the public’s willingness to accept the unacceptable) is a uniting of forces opposed to the anti-citizenry takeover of the federal government, and an all-out campaign by that coalition to refuse to allow the degradation in process to continue.

To my mind, the few progressive groups in recent years that have demonstrated a willingness to actually put their safety and freedom on the line in significant numbers have been Occupy Wall Street, those defending lands against the Dakota Access Pipeline, and Black Lives Matter. This isn’t to diminish the importance and the impact of the organizers and participants in recent “Women’s” marches, or the actions and campaigns of any number of progressive, service-oriented, and opposition groups. I only mean to state my personal belief that signing petitions, and distributing memes, and making donations, and registering voters, and canvassing neighborhoods, and calling congressional offices, or even attending long-scheduled, permitted marches (which, I will sheepishly admit, have constituted most of my own “activism”) are not close to what is called for at this moment in history. “Woefully inadequate,” I’m sorry to say, is the phrase that comes to my mind. It’s just common sense. When the controlling party makes clear their utter disinterest in even overwhelming public opinion polls, what good is a petition? What use is a one-day demonstration? Meanwhile, most Americans of effective protest age haven’t got an instant’s experience with more vociferous, sustained, and adequately disruptive campaigns of resistance to anything.

What I wish would occur, in my own fantasy land of imaginings, would be for the Occupy/Bernie Sanders/Jill Stein sects, to unite with the Black Lives Matter members and supporters, along with Native American and environmental land protectionists, and all join forces with the (let’s call them) more centrist, “traditionally” progressive Democratic party forces, realizing that each of their essential, individual goals – some as urgent as repeated, retribution-free murders at the hands of police – are all dependent upon at least a façade of functioning democracy. Which has, in recent months, been deteriorating further and further from its already troubled, pre-November 2016, state.

This, by itself, would require almost unimaginable selflessness by the groups and people I’ve described. Many of them continue to believe they were no better off prior to November 8, 2016, and wouldn’t be any better off if the election results that day had been different (though, personally, I disagree with that assessment; but it’s hardly mine to make on their behalf). How on Earth could they therefor be expected to join forces with those they consider equally grievous to our current cabal of caretakers? The only answer I can give is, how can you not? Wouldn’t it make sense to join forces, at least temporarily, until some semblance of order has been restored (along with, oh, say, the Voting Rights Act), and split up in rancor then?

If such a coalition could be created, and maintained, the work at hand would still include all the efforts I mentioned earlier (phone calls, petitions, canvassing, etc.), along with urgent, immediate, massive, sustained campaigns of civil disobedience and disruption adequate to overwhelm those currently in power, who have proven impervious to more “normal” political pressures.

Because time is running out. This so called “tax bill,” coupled with removal of net neutrality restrictions, coupled with aims of curtailing honest, in-depth reporting, coupled with an impenetrable “voting irregularities” commission, coupled with an unprecedentedly immoral and authoritarian executive, add up to only one logical end game – and it doesn’t include a sharing of wealth, or powers, with anyone.

The most recent campaign I can point to, as an example of the kind of resistance I’m trying to describe, is that of Act Up, the AIDS advocacy and action group that succeeded in forcing the FDA to change its stance on releasing drugs more quickly for those in dire need. Doomed and imperiled men, along with their very sparse allies, staged theatrical demonstrations, disrupted civil functions, occupied government agencies, and – lo and behold – achieved their aims (Act Up’s occupation of the FDA occurred in 1988, so I’m reaching back quite a bit; their website today boasts, “30th Anniversary. We’re not celebrating.”).

Some of this appears to have begun. I see that some hundreds of people have been protesting in the hallways of Congress, attempting to disrupt the work of their representatives. I’m advocating for this to swell into the thousands. At least. On an extended basis.

What seems to be missing from the hearts and minds of massive number of Americans today is the acknowledgement of their own dire circumstances. There seems to be a lack of understanding that the current slate of Republican party representatives, who have embraced Donald Trump and his administration as their ticket to ride roughshod over the American public, mean them no good, and – in fact – are quite indifferent to their pain, suffering, and even their demise. Because, make no mistake about it, pain, and suffering, and massive numbers of premature deaths are on their way (as they have already occurred, and remain underreported, in Puerto Rico). I, for one, am a cancer survivor, who is in touch with other cancer patients and survivors. I know the workings and language of the EPA, as it was imperfectly implemented, and operated. The effective elimination of this agency alone, which has already occurred, will cost thousands of people their lives each year.

It’s really a question as to whether or not today’s U. S. citizenry has got it in them to insist upon accurate, and legal, representation. When the inaccuracy is severe enough to endanger actual existence, and the people still won’t do more than state their outrage in response, it doesn’t bode well for a democracy, or a nation, or even, I’m sorry to say, for a species. The time for well-spoken opposition (like this screed, if it even qualifies as such) passed some time ago. It’s time to put up a much more literal fight. It’s time to take to the streets, and to congressional offices, and to the halls of power everywhere, in massive numbers, and to stay there. Because – and here comes about the only optimistic thing I’ve got to say – if enough Americans demand something, there is no way they can, or will, be denied. Everything is possible, if the tactics are appropriate, and effectively implemented. But, signing petitions, and calling offices, are, I’m sorry to say, the equivalents of dipping one’s toes in cold water.

So, who’s ready to stop imploring, and start insisting? Who’s ready to take to the streets, and stand in the rain, and spend time in jail, and take turns replacing each other, 24/7, until sanity is restored? I’ve got no experience with organizing it, myself. Are there those out there who do, who are prepared to begin? Consider me signed up to attend.

I’m sorry, but I don’t see any reversals happening any other way.