Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Resistance expresses a moral stance

Yesterday morning, glancing through this Storify collection of tweets from political consultant Mike Hettinger about eruptions of dissent at Republican Congresscritters' TownHall meetings, I was jolted by this one:
On that evening, as were cleaning up the San Francisco headquarters from which we'd run a campaign against California's anti-immigrant initiative Prop. 187, a young woman from the Democratic National Committee wandered in, looking confused and sheepish. Our campaign had just lost statewide, horribly, by a margin of 59-41 percent. We had known we would lose -- California was in an immigration panic and our Republican governor had chosen to get himself re-elected by fanning xenophobia. But we also knew we'd mobilized and organized a huge mixed crew of Latinos, people of various Asian origins, and white allies; in our city we won well over 70% NO votes. The entire Bay Area was an island of NOs.

The woman from the DNC came with a question: how can it be that when we're getting creamed all over the country, you were able to bring people out? All I had to say to her was, "people cared!" The campaign against Prop. 187 was a moral movement; the flood of people who mobilized against the measure found the notion that some children should be barred from schools and denied basic hospital care to be viscerally repulsive, an offense against their deepest values.

I think about this when I see this polling:
According to CBS polling, 35% of us are Resisters to the Trump presidency. And another 21% (the "Curious") are doubtful about the Tangerine. The sum of those groups tracks closely with Gallup's presidential approval numbers yesterday (2/12): 55 disapprove, 40 approve.

Like the woman from the DNC in 1994, conventional political operatives risk being disconcerted by the energy and commitment of this large group of Resisters. We demonstrate; we mobilize; we organize -- and we lampoon and delight in each other's company. That is what a popular eruption which is essentially moral looks like: a little chaotic, seemingly unfocused, vigorous, determined, potentially powerful, and ready to work for justice. We want and believe we should make our country more fair, more equal, more generous, better than the sad future of fear and strife the Tangerine and his Republican enablers are offering. We've decided to make that future. Nothing will come easy, but we are numerous and determined.

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