Saturday, February 4, 2017

A National Speak-Out! Go For It!

It is possible that Feb. 17 could become a milestone in the history of popular democracy.

It is also possible that the national strike suggested for that date will fizzle and flop.

I asked a circle of friends, family and acquaintances for suggestions on how to observe the day.  Many hadn’t heard about it; most hadn’t thought about it.  Not a promising start.  The overall success, or failure, of the idea will depend upon participation outside the liberal enclaves on the coasts.  One of my responders noted that a strike by retirees like us wouldn’t be very effective.  We’ve got to find other, practical ways to express our dissent.

We should send a loud, clear message to the dangerous new regime that the American people disapprove of everything it has done since taking power, and everything it intends to do.  After all, in the recent election, voters by a margin of more than 10 million cast their ballots for someone other than the unfit person who occupies the Oval Office because of the quirks of the Electoral College.

Ten million is a lot of voices.  Add to that number the countless Republicans who voted out of party loyalty and now, like federal Judge James Robart  of the state of Washington, recognize that the new regime is a threat to the tripartite form of government mandated by the Constitution.  Robart, appointed by President George W. Bush and unanimously approved by the Senate fin 2004, is the sort of jurist who belongs on the Supreme Court. He issued the order that has temporarily halted the new regime’s Muslim travel ban. Of course, the titular head of the Bannon-Trump government publicly insulted him on an internet social medium. 

Titular Pres.
Such behavior is just one more small part of the reason why it is important for the national strike and protest on Feb. 17 to be an overwhelming success.  Sheer numbers on the streets have changed national politics before.  The Vietnam war protests are perhaps the brightest, shining example of this.  But the Bannon-Trump gang dismisses enormous crowds of dissidents with alternative-facts.  Rigorous intellectual arguments, truth, great ideas, history, precedent to them are mere bagatelles, trifles that they shrug off with a sneer and a bigger new lie.

But (and I thank my daughter, Laura, for arguing this point so forcefully) there is one language these rich and greedy crooks understand and react to, and that is the language of money.

And so, here are some suggestions for Feb. 17 actions that, if enough people participate, will not only make good television (big crowds on the streets with protest signs) but also have a powerful economic impact:

—Take the day off.  It’s the start of the Presidents’ Day weekend.  Or call in sick.

—Make it “Don’t Spend One Thin Dime” day.  Don’t buy that morning cup of coffee or donut.  Wait another day to top off the gas tank.  Eat leftovers and go to the grocery store some other day.  Don't eat out.  Pick up the dry cleaning a few days later.  The bars won’t go out of business if you have a beer at home, or a cocktail, or teetotal for a day.  Don’t do any banking.  Pay your bills on Thursday the 16th or the followingTuesday.    Don’t travel anywhere.  Hit the streets on foot  instead — but bring your own bottle of tap water so you don’t have to buy any. If millions of people spend absolutely nothing for 24 hours it will be an enormous monkey wrench in the gears of the oligarchs' economy.  That'll wake 'em up.

—Use your day off to compose brief, thoughtful messages protesting executive or legislative actions, completed or proposed, that you don’t like.  One issue per postcard.  Get it all off your chest. Mail them to the White House, the Congress, state legislators, government agencies.  Postcards are the most effective way to get your message across.  Telephone calls are good, but switchboards get jammed or ringtones in offices get turned off.  Letters are good, but many are held up in dark security rooms until they can be checked for dangerous substances.  Postcards get dumped on desks.

—Hold meetings.  Call like-minded friends and acquaintances to come to your house to sit around airing gripes and thinking up practical forms of activism that you’ll actually do. It would be great if every such meeting yielded a list of local people who would make good candidates for local public office: city council, county board of supervisors, judgeships, school board.  The right wing took over this country by starting local.  Fight back the same way.

—Stage group call-ins to right wing radio talk shows.  Speak truth to them.  It’s their Kryptonite.  Truth is the one thing — other than losing money— these people cannot stand.  Carefully marshal and rehearse your facts.  Some of these guys are slicky tricky.  Stand your ground.  Repeat your facts.  

—Devote at least one hour of the day — more if you can — to an act of visible public protest.  The women’s march was “yuge.”  Make this one even bigger. Crowd size does matter, even more than hand size.

This country as we knew it is being dismantled before our very eyes.  Let’s tell the scumbags to stop.