The biggest challenge for any resistance movement isn’t formulating policy.
Nor is it utilizing media, old or new.
Throughout history, successful efforts to resist detrimental changes to society have come from mass galvanization — hoards of individuals coalescing around a common cause to push back against a diabolical figure or movement.
Inversely, the lack of effective collective action has always been the undoing of any movement.
As one survey’s the landscape of the current political resistance, it’s clear efforts to blunt the actions of the current administration have failed.
Since 2016, countless resistance organizations have formed, countless words have been scribed condemning POTUS 45, and thousands have marched in a number of organized protests.
All of this has only emboldened those who support the status quo and solidified non-coastal communities faith in far right policies. The current President has the largest approval rating from his party in modern history and down ticket candidates are doing their best to duplicate his demagoguery.
In instances like these, it’s easy to put forth solutions to ramp up support against our Orwellian Megalomaniac. However, since all of these suggestions have failed, I will refrain from suggesting any more.
What can be done is understanding what acts have failed to thwart an aspiring despot.
University of Chicago Finance Professor Luigi Zingales wrote a Times op-ed on how not to battle the new Commander-in-Chief, based on the Italian experience challenging Silvio Berlusconi. Zingales warned the perils of focusing on personality or the man. Luigi argued that will deify the current leader and further bolster his case against the Washington order. Instead, he suggested the resistance focus on the social problems that gave rise to the current political climate.
Additionally, resisters must not conflate short-term satisfactions, such as publicly berating a government official, with substantive policy achievements. Forcing civil servants out of a public setting (which is a fair and justified act of resisting) neither curtails their power or highlights their abuses. It may even distract from their nefarious deeds and galvanize their supporters.
Further, sitting out of elections is no longer an option. There is no time for self-centered delusional moral superiority or a fruitless protest vote. The humane treatment of illegal immigration, sound environmental regulations to curb unnecessary deaths, lower-income individuals receiving healthcare, education grants, and sound political institutions are all predicated on those we send to Washington.
Finally, resisters mustn’t become the devil they wish to destroy. There is no doubt the discussion of civility is a double standard — a means so the privilege can be abdicated from the consequences of their action by constructing false equivalences to show they too are victims. Nonetheless, the reasonably disgusted and disgruntled do not have to indulge in the misplaced anger that has given rise to Trumpism. Granted, there are short-comings to taking the high road instead of going low, but as historian John Meachem noted, “Fear and hate have short term success, but history remembers and rewards hope.”
Hate cannot be cleansed by hate. Only reason and collective altruism can do that. I hope those in the resistance will remember that.