I, For One, Welcome Hillary to the Resistance
But she should be aware: neutrality is not an option, and we don’t take days off
When I first heard that Hillary Clinton stated she was now “part of the resistance,” I was a little bemused, unsure of what exactly that meant. Perhaps she was saying that she was with us ‘in spirit?’ Or was she really going to participate in actual resistance? I found it hard imagining her showing up at rallies or town halls with a “Dump Trump” sign in hand.
It all started to make sense, however, when the media reported Hillary Clinton was forming a new political group to raise funds for other organizations that are resisting Trump’s agenda. In an apparent attempt to play off of her 2016 campaign slogan, the new group will be called “Onward Together,” and, according to Politico, will “focus on sending money to other organizations at a time that Democratic donors are largely unsure about how they should be spending their cash.”
Needless to say, the progressive reaction to announcements about Hillary funneling donations around has been mixed, at best, with some lauding her initiative and others lambasting it. But there’s an old saying that politics makes strange bedfellows. And as the last few months have made abundantly clear, we are in a bit of an all-hands-on-deck situation at the moment.
So, in a gesture of good faith, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Hillary Clinton on behalf of those that didn’t have the luxury (some may call it a privilege) to wait out the first 100 days of the Trump administration before beginning their resistance.
Until proven otherwise, I’d like to remain optimistic about Hillary joining the resistance. Here are a few things about becoming a member of the resistance that should help her start out on the right foot.
The $64,000 Question on Everyone’s Mind
The first rule of joining the resistance is that you can’t make it all about you. Come to think of it, that’s also the second rule. One doesn’t get to cherry pick issues that only affect them, or hijack the movement for personal gain. Being in the resistance is about All of Us, standing together in solidarity with one another.
With that in mind, it would be prudent to put to rest the “Does she have plans for 2020?” question right now. Letting this question linger unanswered makes any sort of ‘resistance’ on Hillary’s part appear potentially self-serving. And nothing seems to bring moderate conservatives and the radical-right together faster than the thought of another Clinton reaching the White House.
If our goal is to divide the Trump administration, then conflating any sort of personal political aspirations with acts of resistance is not only a distraction, but potentially detrimental to the movement’s success. Putting to rest rumors that another presidential run may be in store would shield us from attacks that our struggle is merely being used as a partisan ploy to regain power.
Six-Figure Speeches to Billionaires are a Bit Tacky in the Resistance
While I’m sure that the executives at Goldman Sachs really enjoyed the last few speeches from Hillary, continued engagements would only muddle our efforts to resist the Trump agenda. That’s because, it seems, one of the best ways to get a position in the Trump White House is to have worked for Goldman Sachs. In fact, Rachel Maddow admits we need a new word for the amount of former Goldman Sachs employees now working at high levels in the administration.
It doesn’t end there — Newsweek recently published an in-depth look at the multiple CEO’s and billionaires who now control the levers of power.
To resist the Trump administration, we are quite literally contending with the billionaire class. Therefore, if the goal of Onward Together is to solicit funds from Wall Street and the 1%, it will inevitably be a counter-productive effort.
Likewise, Wall Street compensated speeches given by Hillary (or other member of the resistance for that matter) will likely appear as a conflict of interest. It would send the message that “She’s not really with us,” and would harm overall resistance efforts. One cannot successfully take on the oligarchy one day, while being handsomely rewarded by them the next.
After all, there are no “off days” in the resistance.
Drill, Baby Drill — or Spill, Baby Spill?
One of the most dangerous aspects of the Trump administration is its commitment to overturning environmental protections in the name of fossil-fuel profitability. To kick off his presidency, the president signed executive orders to advance the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines. The administration has also openly questioned the validity of science with regards to climate change, and is staffed by several prominent climate change deniers.
It would make sense, then, that as a proud member of the resistance, Hillary will have to be extremely vocal and open about her position on protecting the environment. Many environmentalists noted Hillary’s neutrality surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline during her presidential run. In the resistance, however, there will be more opportunities for her to participate in efforts to protect our environment, such as the upcoming work on the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline.
Being part of the resistance means that one cannot remain neutral. As Desmond Tutu once wrote, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” If Hillary would like to be part of the resistance to Trump’s agenda against the environment, then she should be expected, like the rest of us, to take a side on issues such as pipeline construction, fracking, off-shore drilling, and the like.
Politically, these positions have been tenuous for Hillary, as some labor groups have expressed concern about losing their source of income. The rapid growth of the renewable energy sector, however, should start to lay these concerns to rest. Business Insider is reporting that “Solar-energy jobs are growing 12 times as fast as the U.S. economy.”
What better way to resist the agenda to Make Coal Great Again than to support movements fighting for renewable energy that not only conserve our environment but also create more jobs?
Oh, the Places You’ll Go
Granted, Hillary has more political experience in her fingertip than most of us may gain in an entire lifetime. So while I don’t pretend to be more knowledgeable than her, as an on-the-ground member of the resistance I nevertheless have a perspective that she may not be able to see. And since there’s still a bit of mystery as to where the funds raised by Onward Together will be coming from and going, here are a few ideas about how to use that funding in order to keep our democracy robust:
- Voter Registration Drives, especially in battleground states — the lowest approval ratings in the world won’t mean a thing if people aren’t able to vote. Think of the message it would send for Hillary to organize a voter registration drive in Harrisburg, PA, where Trump recently held a rally instead of attending the White House correspondants dinner.
- Campaigns to End Citizens United — While we work on getting more people to the polls, getting rid of big money in politics would significantly hamper the Trump agenda in Congress. This wouldn’t be an unprecedented stance for Clinton to take, as she previously promised to overturn the ruling.
- Support Canvassing Over Mass Marketing — Research shows that personalized methods and messaging work better than impersonal ones (flyers, TV, radio, etc.) While political consultants generally like TV ads because they sometimes get a cut of the spending, building an army of door-to-door canvassers through training events could be more effective in defeating Trump in 2020. That’s the approach of Knock Every Door.
- Campaigns for Justice Issues — politics goes beyond electoral campaigns, and often outside pressure is needed before insiders are convinced to enact change. There are plenty of opportunities to support on the ground organizations who are working toward justice and equality.
- Special Elections in Traditionally Red States — Democrats need to be willing to take chances outside of their home turf if they wish to end the Republican majority in Congress. While James Thompson’s election has passed, Rob Quist and Jon Ossoff have special elections just around the corner that could help turn the tide.
- State Level Elections — State-level races have often been ignored in the national media, but they nevertheless constitute a major political battleground. Republicans now control 32 state legislatures, and while they won’t be flipped overnight, perhaps Onward Together could help shed a spotlight on these races as a long term plan.
- Small-Donor Fundraising Events— We now know that fundraisers don’t have to be limited to six- and seven-figure checks to be effective. The $27-per-person model can go toe-to-toe with Wall Street just fine. And since we keep getting reminded that Hillary won the popular vote by approximately 3 million people, the numbers are on the side of the resistance. A small donation campaign from resistors around the country would be representative of the people both literally and figuratively.
There are a few other issues that I expect we’ll have to talk about down the road. For instance, the Trump administration seems to have merged in a curious lock-step with Hillary with regards to military intervention. And if the president continues to trend toward escalation, a strong voice by a former Secretary of State could come in handy.
But we can cross those bridges as they come. For now, I welcome Hillary to the resistance. I expect she’ll be playing by the same rules as the rest of us. For as all resisters know:
It’s about all of us.
There are no “off days” in the resistance.
And we cannot remain neutral in situations of injustice.