Let’s organize around the good
Resistance is important, especially under our current legislative conditions and with the president’s authoritarian tendencies. It ground away the American Health Care Act, and it will continue to consolidate and grow. It will have to. The Trump administration lives beyond the pale — the next insult or assault is just around the corner.
Resistance is a necessary and powerful thing. But it can’t be the only thing. Let’s organize around the good that we love rather than the bad that we hate. We know we won’t get perfect, but, with focus and energy, we will get more perfect.
Here’s what I expect from my elected officials and my own actions going forward.
- Love for and support of my neighbor. I want an America, a state, and a city that care for their people — through laws, policies, and regulations that support the marginalized and help everyone to build lives of meaning, self-sufficiency, and hope. I say support and love. Because if it’s support without love, you end up with distance and resentment.
- Pluralism. Love for and support of our neighbors are easier when we’re a homogenous society. Tough — that’s not who we are, and it’s never who we’ve been. We are not all the same, and there’s tremendous power in that.
- Deeper and more active citizenship. I’d put things on cruise control, ignored that things were ugly, and treated politics like a sport, interested only to have a team to root for and tactics to second guess. It was a mistake, and we’re suffering for it. I will not just understand the issues. I will not just have an opinion on the state of play. I will voice those opinions and try to influence outcomes. It’s Citizenship 101, and I’m done skipping class.
- Transparency, accountability, and responsiveness. Our elected officials will only give us as much detail as we demand, and they will only be shaped by the guidance that we we offer. They will reflect those with influence and those who have explicit expectations. We can whine about that fact — complain that deals are done before they’re even discussed publicly, that no one ever listens anyway, that it’s all rigged. But there is influence to be exerted, and change to be forced. I used to vote and then go silent. I’m now a squeaky wheel — embarrassing as it is.
- Candor. The extremes of the political spectrum share a foundational lie — the idea that the solution is simple. Whatever the problem, they argue that any alternative solution is not only flawed or counterproductive, but evil. As citizens, we need to be willing to do our homework and think deeply. We need to admit that public policy isn’t about breaking into tribes but about working toward a solution together. We need to embrace a new humility. From every corner, we need to hear a lot more “I don’t know,” “I haven’t decided yet,” “I was wrong,” and “What do you think?” It’s the sort of thing that costs politicians seats. It’s also the sort of thing that brings us back from our separate corners. One of those is a lot more important than the other.
Much of this can, admittedly, be in tension with resistance. Some ideas are simply abhorent and must be treated as such. But authentic, well-intentioned public policy should still be our goal, ultimately. And that will require something more than just resistance. Disagreement and distance can be bridged. But only with active citizenship and constructive work. Let’s get to it.