Tuesday, January 3, 2017


While the Trump presidency scares the hell out of me, the idea that we are part of resistance movement might do more harm than good. I say that because a movement permits one to cede personal responsibility to progressive organizations.

Don't get me wrong. Organizations like Center for American Progress, People for the American Way and MoveOn do great work. However, their primary responsibility is to keep us informed. It is up to us, as individuals, to keep Trump in check. There are four things that we can all do:

Stay informed

Progressive organizations give us insight; the mass media give us depth. It also helps to understand what the opposition is saying.

Hold your elected representatives accountable

It is my opinion that the best way to do so is through snail mail. I have been informed that nothing gets their attention more than a letter with a return address in their state of district.

Be concise (and polite). Essentially, tell them what you want and why it is good for the country. It also helps to cite what opponents claim and why, in your opinion, they are wrong. The first line of a letter to a Senator or Congressman should look something like: “I am writing in support of (or opposition to) [fill in the blank]. Passage of this measure will …” I send mail to the D.C. office with a copy to the district office. Hell, it's just a stamp.

Hold ranking members responsible

Most of our allies in Congressional committees are going to be ranking members, a title for the Democrat most senior in authority on a committee. I am composing a list of questions that I want Trump nominees asked by the responsible committees. For example, I would like to know Betsy DeVos' views on the teaching of Evolution in the public schools. Does she want to run the department in order to disband the department? What about access for transgender students?

Other than an eventual Supreme Court nominee, the person most likely to affect us is Jeff Sessions at Justice. I would like to know his views on enforcing certain Supreme Court rulings. Roe v. Wade, Obergefell v. Hodges and Employment Division v. Smith are just three. I will have more. The committee questionnaire is here. Read that first. His hearing begins a week from today.

When addressing a ranking member it is critically important to include the title along with the committee name on the envelope and letter. For example:

Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont
Ranking Member
Senate Judiciary Committee

Vote every damned year

Seriously. If all of our allies had voted for Clinton in the last election we would not be in this sorry state. Off-year elections often include important ballot initiatives. Just do it!

This all seems rather time consuming. It can be. However, most of you are already well informed and can state your position to your elected representatives. After all, progressives tend to be more intellectually curious than conservatives. I do not care how busy you are; you must vote. No excuses.

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