Last Friday, I went out to dinner with an old friend. Patty and I first met when we both worked for Portland Parks in the late ’90s, lost touch after I left in ’01, and reconnected on Facebook a year or so ago. I always enjoy her company and look forward to our occasional dinners.
As is common these days, our conversation soon turned to politics. Patty voiced her concern that those of us on the left are fragmented in our approach to what’s going on right now, and that it would be better to be cohesive if we hope to have electoral successes in 2018 and 2020. The question is: How do we do that?
Right now, we do have a lot of fires that we’re trying to put out. The Trump administration has mounted assaults on LGBTQIA rights, Women’t rights, immigration and human rights, our national lands, our ecology, education, and with the “get tough on crime” stance, a certain assault against people of color. And, really, that’s only part of the things we’re fighting against. The lack of qualifications and sheer incompetence of Trump’s cabinet is frightening and threatens the very foundations of our nation.
I don’t think anyone has all the answers, but I agree that we do need to work together. The most important thing we can do for now is continue to voice our objections, to attend marches and protests, to participate in Town Halls, call our representatives, and as we are able to provide financial support to those politicians whose positions most closely match our own. We also need to continue to support our representatives who are taking a stand against the current administration’s appointments and policies. There is an abundance of resources available on the internet, and most anyone can find a cause to support.
I believe the great danger is stretching ourselves too thin, or exhausting ourselves with outrage. For me, the decision of the 9th Circuit Court last week caused me to breathe such a huge sigh of relief that I became fully aware of just how wound up I’ve been. When I realized that the action of a court on just one issue seemed so monumental, I knew that I need to find a way to pace myself. I can’t do everything, so I’ve had to make hard decisions about just what to do. My choices are going to focus on particular human rights, even though that decision necessarily means I can’t focus on the environment, education, egregious cabinet choices, or even the Supreme Court. Of course, I can still make phone calls on those issues – and I will – but my volunteer time will go toward protecting vulnerable people.
Other people – those with more experience and more knowledge – might find that focusing on DAPL, NAFTA, SCOTUS, or any of our alphabet of issues fits more comfortably into their lives. The important thing to remember is to not burn out. Take some time away from Facebook and the news, even if it’s just a few hours or even a day or two. Treat yourself to a massage or a nice dinner out. Pet your cat. Walk your dog. Appreciate the view out your window. Whatever it is that brings you joy and peace, do that thing – even if it’s just for a few minutes.
This week I’m going to a campaign kick-off for a woman I know only through Facebook. She’s running for the school board, and although she isn’t in my district, I’m supporting her with my presence even though I can’t support her with my vote. We need new blood in politics and those who are willing to put themselves out there deserve more than just an attaboy – they deserve our presence and where possible, our dollars. If you’re thinking about running for office, good for you! Let me know and I’ll publicize your campaign.
Each time I blog I will try to post new links to information that will help you find your place. If these links are useful, please let me know. If you know of other opportunities, put them in the comments and I’ll highlight them in my next post.
And to respond to Patty’s concern: Yes, we are fragmented to some degree, but the bottom line is that human rights covers everyone’s rights. Concern for the environment covers pipelines, fracking, drilling, loss of Federal lands, and animal protections. So really, we aren’t that divided. We just need to hold the umbrella a little higher and let more people into the shelter of our concerns. I’m optimistic that before the mid-terms roll around we’ll have identified a more cohesive message. And in the meantime you can still make those phone calls, send postcards, and show up when you can.
And still we persist!