Feb. 20: For a long and very good summary of the issues check this “weekly sift”, here.
Today ends the first month of the term of the 45th President of the United States. This means there are only 47 months – 98% of the term – to go.
In a one mile race, our country has finished about 100 feet. The next crucial election day is Nov. 6, 2018, about 19 months away.
We will not be living within a “four-minute mile” these coming months, and if the first month is at all a prelude, this will be a very, very long four years.
What does one write about when a consensus already is that a prudent person cannot believe anything that this President says, at any time, about anything? Certainly, on occasion this old man now and then in the White House occasionally tells the truth, sometimes even deliberately. But it is all but impossible to separate truth from fiction from his assorted declarations.
Best I can tell, lying has been the basis of his career “success”.
In my little corner of the world, I receive lots of “must reads”. One of them is here: by Andrew Sullivan. Sullivan spent most of his adult life, including now, as a political conservative.
People like me – liberals – are quite certainly despised by this President as losers, not even worthy of acknowledgment. Our issues are to be dismissed and ridiculed. We are ‘enemy aliens’. All one needs to note are his choices for Cabinet level positions, his closest political advisors and their orientations on issues. His truth is outing itself.
The temptation, even this early in what appears to be a very dark time in our history, is for the average citizen to say and do nothing, to stay “under the radar”, to keep from going mad ourselves.
Please don’t succumb to inaction.
The solution lies within each one of us, one small, positive, courageous action at a time, where we live. This has always been true. A favorite quotation of mine is this one from Margaret Mead: “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”
I hope we don’t give up; that instead we become and remain incessantly active, impacting on those who in turn can impact up the chain of power up the line.
To this end, former U.S. congressman Barney Frank recently authored some advice to citizens which is worth reading. (You can read it here, and it is also reprinted below.) Frank co-authored the endangered Dodd-Frank bill attempting to rein in, a bit, Wall Street and the high finance industry.
Earlier Posts about this Presidency beginning in 2017 here.
POSTNOTE: I was refining my always imperfect thoughts (above) early this morning, then I went back to bed. I awoke to a vivid dream, one of those one remembers, though the specific details are never quite as they appear while you’re sleeping.
Three of us were in some intense conversation about actions for change: myself, (born before WWII); an activist lady I know who’s about one generation younger than I, and a third participant, younger, of a millennial age (roughly 20s-40s).
Doubtless this blog generated part of the dream; perhaps it came from learning that Barney Frank’s column came from a very successful Millennial website; perhaps a Millenial-age speakers comment at a Thursday evening meeting I was asked to convene played into the dream, as did my own union history in my 20s and 30s in the turbulent 1960s and 1970s as well.
The dream ended with a realization that what people like myself bring to the table in the current year is the voice of experience; and we have to speak with that well-informed voice. But it is the people younger than us who are going to decide whether or not they are willing to learn from the successes and the failures of the past as they go into their own future.
The new U.S. President, who is younger than I, from early baby boom years, does not seem inclined to learn from, or value the past; nor do most of his “Make America Great Again” followers who represent his base and seem committed to the slogan on the bumper sticker I see now and again, “We’re spending our kids inheritance….”
It is, in reality, up to todays Millennials, who will rise or fall by their own actions now and in the future, to rise up, and really pay attention to future consequences of present actions.
I can only sound the alarm.
* * * * *
SOME POINTERS FROM BARNEY FRANK
received Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017 from Harold.
After 32 years in the House of Representatives, here is my advice on how people opposed to President Donald Trump’s assault on our basic values — a majority of those who voted last November — can best influence members of Congress.
Done the right way, communications from citizens can have a significant impact on legislators, even when they claim to be immune to “pressure.” (“Pressure,” in legislative jargon, is the expression of views with which legislators disagree, as opposed to “public opinion” — the term used for sentiments that reinforce their own.)
The key to doing it right is being clear about the goal, which is to persuade the Senator or Representative receiving the communication that how he or she votes on the issue in question will affect how the sender will vote the next time the legislator is on the ballot.
This means the following:
Make sure you’re registered to vote — lawmakers check.
Many office holders will check this, especially for people who write to them frequently. Elected officials pay as much attention to those who are not registered to vote as butchers do to the food preferences of vegetarians.
Lawmakers don’t care about people outside of their district.
You can only have an impact on legislators for or against whom you will have a chance to vote the next time they run. In almost all cases, this means only people in whose state or district you live. Senators or representatives whose names will not be on the ballot you cast are immune to your pressure. There is a small set of exceptions — representatives who want to run for a statewide office in the next election will be sensitives of voters throughout their states.
Your signature — physical or electronic — on a mass petition will mean little.
You are trying to persuade the recipient of your communication that you care enough about an issue for it to motivate your voting behavior. Simply agreeing to put your name on a list does not convey this. I have had several experiences of writing back to the signer of a petition to give my view on an issue only to be answered by someone who wondered why I thought he or she cared.
The communication must be individual. It can be an email, physical letter, a phone call or an office visit. It need not be elaborate or eloquent — it is an opinion to be counted, not an essay. But it will not have an impact unless it shows some individual initiative.
Know where your representative stands.
If you have contact with an organization that is working on this issue, try to learn if the recipient of your opinion has taken a position on it. When I received letters from people urging me to vote for a bill of which I was the prominent main sponsor, I was skeptical that the writer would be watching how I voted.
Communicate — even if you and your representative disagree.
On the other hand, even where you are represented by people whom you know oppose you on an issue, communicate anyway. Legislators do not simply vote yes or no on every issue. If enough people in a legislator’s voting constituency express strong opposition to a measure to which that legislator is ideologically or politically committed, it might lead him or her to ask the relevant leadership not to bring the bill up. Conflict avoidance is a cherished goal of many elected officials.
Say “thank you.”
If your Representative and Senators are committed to your causes, you should write or call to thank them — not frequently, but enough for them to feel reinforced.
Enlist the help of friends in other districts.
Your direct communication with legislators outside your voting area will have no impact. But you do have friends, relatives, associates etc. Find out who the potentially influenceable legislators are on issues of prime importance to you, think about people you may know in their constituencies, and ask those who share your views to communicate with those who represent them. On an extremely important issue, get out the list to who you mail holidays cards or important invitations and ask them to communicate with their legislators.
To repeat the essence of point 5, if a legislator who you might have expected to vote differently — e.g. a Republican who votes no on a Trump priority — votes as you have urged, send a thank you.
— Barney Frank, former Democratic representative for Massachusetts.
Feb. 20: For a long and very good summary of the issues check this “weekly sift”, here.