Saturday, January 28, 2017

How to respond to Trump

I am a regular reader of Josh Marshall's politics website, talkingpointsmemo.com.  Back in the early 2000s, I found him one of the most sensible and honest American commentators on both the Bush regime and its disastrous wars.

Recently Josh wrote an optimistic piece on the current political situation, optimism meaning "not primarily a prediction but an ethic, a philosophy, a way of confronting the world."  Granting all the terrible problems Americans (yes, and others) face, he also sees a positive challenge.  He does it by referring to the famous Lyceum speech made by the young Abraham Lincoln in 1838.  A theme in that speech was the apparent lack of opportunity for Americans to win the glory won by the founders of the republic.


[Sez Josh:]

 Lincoln explained that his generation faced a paradox. They were blessed with free government. But their dutywas simply to preserve it. They had no field for glory and great deeds like those who had lived during the revolutionary era, the last of whom were just dying at the time. To Lincoln, his generation was both immeasurably blessed and yet robbed of the chance for greatness, condemned to a competent and steadfast mediocrity.
 As Lincoln writes ...

The overall message:  Let's not be crybabies.


Elsewhere on the Web I have noted other people arguing for an equally important point.  Fact-checking Donald Trump at this point is going to be of limited utility.  Anyone who cares to know Donald Trump and his character knows what they need to know.  Getting involved in debates on his latest outrageous statement just lets him set the terms of the debate, and since he doesn't play fair, what does that get us?
.  A sense of our own virtue?  But that doesn't win elections, deal with climate change, or achieve any of a number of worthwhile goals.


What's needed is for that same fact-checking, critical energy to be put into organizing --  some of which will be reporting facts people need to know, but also in building organizations and movements to resist Trumpism and achieve real political goals. To Americans, let me suggest that the make-up of the House of Representatives and what to do about it should be something you think about ALL THE TIME.  The Republicans are in charge now.  Make sure, using tactics pioneered by the Tea Party, that they have to take responsibility for every disaster that takes place on their watch.  There will be no lack of them.


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