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Resistance

Does the Progressive Resistance Need Our Own (Not the Tea Party’s) Tactical Playbook?

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They tell us we are a democracy. They tell us that we elected representatives who then advocate for the interests and well-being of their constituents, the voters—the people.

But our elected officials are following a radical agenda that would dismantle the government, depriving millions upon millions of Americans of needed services and safeguards, including healthcare. Furthermore, the administration of the 45th US president is enacting a white supremacist agenda while consolidating power into a fascist stronghold.

And the people are voicing their discontent like they have not done in generations.

All elected officials have a duty to listen to their constituents. This is called representative democracy, what they tell us we have. Instead, they are trying to silence constituents’ voices and words by portraying us as bullies, as radicals, as crazy—essentially, gaslighting us. They are attempting to discredit us because we are alarmed by what’s happening. They are portraying us as unreasonable and beyond the pale of public opinion.

This is what they say when they take part in town halls or allow their staff to answer their office phones—as many GOP elected officials are now refusing to take part in town halls and have stopped answering calls from their constituents.

Disparaging protestors for exercising their First Amendment rights and taking an active part in our own democracy speaks only to the truth of our criticisms. But it is also a form of abuse—refusing to listen to the people they have sworn to represent and instead disparaging them is an abuse of power.

And as usual, the GOP memory is short: these tactics of speaking directly and passionately to one’s elected officials have been taken straight from the Tea Party playbook. If it’s good for the goose, then it’s good for the gander, right?

Perhaps not.

Tea Party tactics are aggressive and encourage what is essentially intimidation. They got the attention of the GOP because (1) their forcefulness eclipsed all other voices, which also means that many people who deserved to be heard were drowned out and their needs ignored, and (2) they were advocating for elected officials to go further down a path that many of those officials were already on; they were not demanding their representative completely change course and veer far afield of their party’s agenda.

Are these tactics really what we want to do? Is this our most effective means to, at minimum, halting the white supremacist, fascist, relentless agenda of 45 and the GOP?

(I don’t have answers to these questions, by the way.)

The Tea Party of ten years ago is different from today’s progressive resistance movement. Ten years ago was a very different cultural and political climate from today’s sensationalistic, mud-spewing, struggling-to-woke-the-masses movement. Our relationship to the elected officials we’re trying to influence is different from the Tea Party’s relationship to the elected officials of their heyday.

Should we be creating our own tactical playbook not only to win these political battles (or at least score a draw) but also to change the narrative about the power of the people, the potential of building a truly compassionate society, reinforced by a government that enacts principles of empathy and communal growth?

The World Is Burning—So Let’s Talk About Yoga Pants

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Yoga pants.

Yes, I know: everything we hold dear about our nation is being flushed down the toilet, and I’m asking you to read about yoga pants.

Maybe because I’m so overwhelmed with the Bannon-puppet Trump and the rest of the GOP that I can’t sustain a cohesive argument without ending up in all caps. Or maybe this is connected. Bear with me, and we’ll find out.

A friend of mine recently shared a photo he snapped of alt-right (yes, I hate that term too) protestors at a chocolate fair. (You read that right: protestors at a chocolate fair—this is how we know there’s something supremely wrong with their perception: Who protests chocolate? Backward people, that’s who.)

The sign he held up, listing off all the kinds of people who will be spending eternity in fire and damnation, isn’t new; I’ve seen it on social media before, and my friends and I always joke that we’ll be having a great party in hell together.

On this list are homos (I’m assuming he means -sexual, not sapiens, but honestly, I’m not sure), feminists, porn freaks, pot smokers, atheists (okay, guys, atheists are NOT scared by threats of hell—however, we might cower into submission if you send in the clowns), thugs, yoga pants, cutters, Muslims, witches, idolaters, and masturbators. (And let’s take a moment to appreciate that they finally figured out how to use Spell Check.)

Oh, he’s also wearing a shirt that says, “This is what patriarchy looks like.” Yes, dude, we know. We’re very familiar with patriarchy and all its incarnations. You’re a patriarchist. Got it.

But back to yoga pants.

My friend approached the guy, looked at the sign, and asked, “Yoga pants?” The man responded, “DRESSING LIKE WHORES!”

And this is why I’m writing.

I don’t believe that patriarchists have any trouble with women wearing clothes that patriarchists see as too revealing—that is, “dressing like whores.” If they did, there’s a long list of clothing articles that should also be there: mini-skirts, plunging v-necks, crop tops, tank tops, leggings, thigh-high boots, spandex body suits…

Or they could just put “whores” on the list. That would be more succinct. But they don’t.

Because they like whores.

Patriarchists define women solely by their sexuality in relation to men—virgins, wives, and whores. And they have a use for each one of these categories.

But women in yoga pants? Well, a woman wearing yoga pants is doing one of two things (or perhaps both): (1) doing something solely for herself, for her own well-being, and/or (2) not giving a shit about whether or not random dudes want to fuck her.

AND THERE IS THE SIN.

A woman in yoga pants sees the value in self-care and, thus, likely sees herself as being a full and equal human being.

For patriarchists, this is a sin.

A woman in yoga pants is expending her energy on prioritizing what’s important to her. She is giving her care to what she loves and values. She alone defines herself and shapes her life according to her own self-determination and goals.

For patriarchists, this too is a sin.

A woman in yoga pants isn’t living her life for you.

SIN.

In fact, if we go back to that list, every group of people on there (and many of us fall into multiple categories…because we’re awesome) lives according to their own values, priorities, sexual identities and preferences, avenues for pleasure, and modes of empowerment. And none of these is being done in service and subservience to white, cisgender, heterosexual, Christian males.

If you are a patriarchist, and someone who is not white, cisgender, heterosexual, Christian, and male DARES to make their way through their own life freely and autonomously and—worst of all—without a care for your indignation brought on by their insubordination, then you know what you have to do: Tell them they’re going to hell. Eternal damnation. Fire. Demons. Torture. Clowns. (I just threw that last one in there—I don’t recall clowns being mentioned in any canonical descriptions of hell.)

Keep this in mind when we talk about white supremacy, Muslim bans, racial discrimination, defunding reproductive services and ending guarantees for access to women’s healthcare, and on and on and on. EVERYTHING Trump (aka Bannon) and the GOP are doing has one, overarching goal:

To reinstate themselves at the top of the chain of power, and to put the rest of us back in our places—in subservience to them and them only.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to go stock up on yoga pants, and I’m going to wear them Every. Fucking. Day.

This is what equality looks like.

We’re Not Fracturing the Resistance—We’re Identifying Our Warrior Leaders…And Our Judas Iscariots

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Have you seen the June 2015 article from Breitbart entitled, “Here’s Why There Ought to Be a Cap on Women Studying Science and Maths,” which argues that “there ought to be a cap on the number of women enrolling in the sciences, maths, philosophy, engineering…and perhaps medicine and the law, too.” You can check it out to get the details, but yes, it’s as bad as it sounds.

This is just one of the many things Breitbart—run by Bannon, the guy who is now calling the shots behind the scenes of our nation—thinks about women. This is how they talk about women to each other. This is what they say as they high-five each other and shake their heads, thinking about how so much has been taken from them when others demand equality.

But this isn’t just about women, because if you check out Breitbart, you’ll see that women aren’t the only ones in their crosshairs. There are also people of color, of course, and anyone not Christian. And anyone not firmly and unquestionably heterosexual and cisgender. And poor people—those lazy, good-for-nothing people living in poverty. And it’s about the people who may not fall into any of those categories but are nonetheless allies of the people who do.

In fact, when you really look at who is being targeted by the Bannon agenda—the agenda that is getting free reign as Trump does everything Bannon wants him to do—it’s most of us.

And this is why we need to start looking past identity politics and start seeing what brings us together:

What do they want to do to all of us, and how do they plan to do it?

How can we come together to protect each other and help each other?

There are a lot of poor people who voted for Trump and are sexist and racist and homophobic, but we need to see what they won’t see: they’re on the hit list too, just further down. So let’s ask ourselves:

Are we prepared to protect them too? Even if they want to hurt us and the people we care about?

And most of all—we need to identify:

Who are our warrior leaders?

Who are the people not willing to sacrifice ANYONE to the Trump/Bannon agenda, no matter what?

Calling out our elected officials for being willing to compromise in the face of this existential threat is not “fracturing our movement”—it’s making clear that the leaders we fight behind and fight with must be fighting FOR ALL OF US. They must be leaders who will serve up no community as the sacrificial lamb in the name of “compromise” with fascism.

Because something like caps on professions may seem like something small, and we have to choose our battles, but a warrior leader will know that we must fight every step the opposition takes toward consolidating power. Every single step. Even the little ones. And when they don’t, when they vote with those who are pushing this fascist agenda, then they are compromising our lives.

ALL of our lives.

We must reject the narrative that tells us that pointing out the Judas Iscariots among us fractures and weakens us. Until we know who our false leaders are, we cannot know how we can fight with our warrior leaders.

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