In these Trumpist times, we liberals have three essential tasks. Spoiler alert: I propose we all come together at a “table of brotherhood” — possibly including BBQ and beer — to appreciate the important things liberals can do to save our country and its people.
PROTECT • RESIST • REACH OUT
Protect individuals and groups under attack by the new administration and its fellow travelers. Whether through lawsuits challenging discrimination and harassment, representation of immigrants, trans* people, and others seeking to secure their rights, or simply standing up to bullies and showing solidarity with their targets, we need to protect our brothers/sisters/siblings from this administration.
Resist the legislation, policies, and nominees who threaten civil society. Call your congresspeople and tell them Sessions, Bannon, and other regressive choices are unacceptable. Prepare to work with agencies largely hostile to civil rights, the social safety net, the environment, and other important values and policies.
Reach out to marginalized populations whose sense of hopelessness or despair led them to vote for Trump. I’m not suggesting we reconcile with racism, sexism, ableism, or homophobia. Instead, we need to reach out to people — yes, poor white people — who are feeling so desperate that they were willing to believe Trump would bring positive change to their lives. People who rely on Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, or food stamps, and yet voted for Trump. People who have lost their jobs and are under the impression that Trump will bring them back. These people are going to suffer over the next four years and we need an organized effort to not only protect them (see Item 1) but to let them know that Democrats and liberals are on their side. My friend Carrie Lucas said it best: we need to take credit for the things that are helping people. We also need to be able to convey the ways that the GOP Congress and GOP governors made their lives miserable enough to make Trump attractive.
And we need to do all of this with a deep layer of mutual respect. One of Trump’s most successful lines was that he opposed “political correctness.” I personally hate that, because what I hear is opposition to attempts to be civil to traditionally oppressed people. For many folks outside the coastal/urban bubble — even many who are not themselves “ists” of any sort — “political correctness” has come to stand not just for the caricature of having to use specific words for specific groups of people, but for the entire perceived message from elites that they’re doing it wrong, that is, the class divide in a two-word catch phrase. Everything from “you’re not supposed to say ‘homosexual’ or ‘handicapped’ anymore,” to “you’re feeding your kids the wrong things and I can’t get a decent cup of coffee for miles.”
We need to formulate, promote, and distribute widely a plan to save America from Trumpism — and elect Democrats in 2018 and 2020 — that can be quickly and easily conveyed and understood. And then we need to convey it respectfully, compassionately, human to human; to to reach outside, drive outside, roll outside, get outside our coastal/urban bubble, connect with people, and talk about these important things.
Here’s the platform:
- Mutual respect.
- Medicaid for all.
- Massive investment in public education including vocational education.
- Free community college.
- Higher minimum wage.
- Sensible gun laws that treat guns like cars: readily available if licensed and trained.
- Progressive income tax and social security tax.
- Sentencing reform focused on drug and mental health treatment and education toward successful release.
- What else, policy wonks?
Let’s talk about these important points over BBQ and beer. Not kidding. My plan needs unifying food and drink. An army of Democratic-sponsored food trucks. It was no coincidence that Martin Luther King spoke of us “sitting down together at a table of brotherhood.” I see a plan starting to come together. Step 1: the Democratic party adopts my platform; Step 2: food trucks. Who’s in?