June 27, 2018

Tactics in Opposing Trump

chess game

I wanted to share a few quick thoughts on the increasingly important subject of tactics in opposing President Trump's agenda.
And if you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.
What do you suppose Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) meant when she said that? Our political opponents aren't welcome anywhere? Isn't this their country too? I think she's wrong to suggest otherwise (if that was in fact what she was suggesting).

Many younger Democrats believe that conventional politics are insufficient to the threat posed by a would-be authoritarian — and that their millennial and nonwhite base must be assured that the party is doing all it can to halt Mr. Trump.
Yes, and they may be right. But what is the alternative to conventional politics? It seems to me that non-violent protests have long been part of conventional politics. I think that's a good thing. Ultimately, activism should be about doing what is effective. I'm not sure that doing all one can to oppose Trump should include efforts that may strengthen Trump and make the problem worse. After all, that would not be effective.
Older and more establishment-aligned party officials fear the attempts at public humiliation are a political gift to Republicans eager to portray the opposition as inflaming rather than cooling passions in the nation’s capital.
Yep. Except for the establishment-aligned part, you can put me in this camp. I think that the crazier and more out-of-control the left looks, the more likely it is that this will benefit the right. I think Trump is counting on this, and I am disappointed to see how many on the left are dutifully playing their part in his plan.

I think those on the left who are equating civil discourse and reasoned argument with inaction, apathy, support for the status quo, privilege, or lack of passion are making a serious mistake. Those of us who have been calling for civility are not saying don't protest; we're saying protest in effective ways. The civil disobedience isn't the problem. We could probably use more of it. The problem is that the more we lower ourselves to Trump's level, the more we are normalizing his behavior and strengthening his support.

But sadly, that isn't even the most significant problem those opposed to Trump are facing. The bigger problem is that the far left cannot elect a president by themselves. They don't have the numbers. To win elections, the far left needs the moderate left and even the establishment left. But even that is not enough. They also need at least some centrists/moderates/independents. The crazier Trump and his supporters look, the more likely these groups will end up supporting whoever the anti-Trump candidate is. But if the far left manages to approach similar levels of crazy, the advantage disappears.

Update: At the time I wrote this post, it had not ocurred to me that some people on the right were going to interpret Rep. Waters' comments as advocating violence. I don't think that was what she was doing. I disagree with her suggestion that her political opponents are not welcome anywhere and her apparent embrace of efforts to publicly shame people in this manner, but I don't think she was promoting violence.