Resistance From The Right–Resistance From The Left?

One of my alma mater’s former football coaches had a “24-hour” rule.  The team had 24 hours to celebrate a victory or to mull over a defeat.

That period has expired for the defeat of “Trumpcare“, and it’s now a matter of taking a closer look at how this may show splits on both sides of the aisle.

The major obstacle to the bill was that Trump could not convince a “Freedom Caucus”, made of remnants of the “Tea Party”.  These Representatives, many likely backed by groups with the ties to the Koch Brothers, did not feel the bill went far enough.  What may be ironic is that these corporate-backed candidates may be relying on the same white, male, lower-middle to lower-class, less-educated, rural voters that Trump drew support from.  But those voters are the same folks that would have the sting of “Trumpcare” the most, as many reports showed the bill would have affected rural, low-income voters the most.  The “dog whistles” that the GOP relies on may not have been heard so well.

While the GOP may be wrestling with trying to balance the “Corporate Penthouse” crowd with the “Trailer Park Caucus”.  Democrats may find themselves struggling with a rift that they have not healed.

Much of the real work to defeat this was done by some elements of “The Resistance”, the members of the Sanders/Warren wing of the Democratic Party who made phone calls and stood up at the town halls.  These activists still seem to be seen as a fringe by the pro-corporate National Committee.

This whole mess may show a sign that Trump does not understand how the process works.  This is not a reality program or a boardroom.  You cannot bully people, and the people can and will resist.  I wonder how many more defeats it will take for Trump to learn that lesson.


The First Of Many?

IN 1991, the Youngstown State University Football team found their backs to the wall.  They went into a game against their division’s defending champions with a record of 4-3.  They would emerge victorious that day and never look back, winning 8 straight games and their first National Championship.

Today, the resistance to Donald Trump won their first true legislative victory.  The act designed to replace the Affordable Care Act could not muster enough Republican support to pass.  Much of the opposition did come from a group of Republicans who felt the bill was not radical enough, but the phone calls to the few moderate Republicans left in the party cannot be overlooked.

I can only hope that this is the first of many legislative defeats for Trump.  It will be kinda fun to watch him be frustrated at the democratic process at work.

Are You Happy Now?

My work schedule is prohibiting me from watching the Supreme Court confirmation hearings.  I can’t help but wonder how many of the #BernieOrBust or #Demexit crowd are watching, as at some level they are to blame.

I began as a Bernie backer, I phone banked, and even attended a march/rally/concert.  But after the convention, I knew that my energy needed to go into defeating Trump.  As someone old enough to remember the election of 2000, I remembered that one of its aftermaths was Bush being able to select a justice to the Supreme Court.   We are feeling the effects of that today; Citizens United, Hobby Lobby, Heller, Shelby v Alabama. 

What decisions will we see if Trump’s choice gets confirmed.  A recent article in The Nation by former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold may lay out the stakes.  Further efforts to erode the power of labor and increase the power of corporations.  Making it harder for urban minorities, women and youth to vote.  Continuing to expand the rights of both police and citizens to use lethal force, often against people of color.  Denying access to women’s reproductive rights.

And how many Sanders or Stein supporters will be willing to resist?

Limits of Dissent

When you have been publishing for over 150 years like The Nation has, you could say you’ve seen it all.  This magazine has seen robber barons, segregationists, and now Donald Trump.  They have also seen various resistance movements rise up; labor, women, homosexuals and immigrants.

The March 27 issue featured a “Field Guide” to the new resistance.   To no surprise, there was one segment of the movement missing.  There was no mention of groups like One People’s Project or It’s Going Down.  The groups that are fighting the Trump agenda, especially its attacks on refugees, immigrants and people of color.

To me, it’s been a common theme of the long-time voice of the American Left.  Since the election the magazine has called for resistance, but been reluctant to support much of the organizations taking direct action.  An annual list of groups to support did not even include the National Lawyers Guild.

But why is there is reluctance?  Part of it may be with the nature of traditional media in this digital age, much of the readership of The Nation may simply be too old to take to the streets.  At 42, I may be at the younger end of the magazine’s readership, but I also realize that I am too old to “take to the streets” with the black block. But the readers could at least contribute money to aid efforts.

Another theory has to do with an idea that I noticed during the anti-war movement of the early 2000s.  There seems to be almost an East Coast and West Coast divide in terms of activist tactics.  The Nation, being based out of New York City, may be more along the Eastern lines of focusing on political action.  The activists in the streets are more along the Western model, with an emphasis on direct action.

Am I going to drop my subscription to The Nation?  No, but I may look to augment it with publications like Jacobian or In These Times, to go with my subscription to 2600.


A Cold Wind Blowing In?

Today, Saturday, is the day I usually head to a local farmers’ market to pick up organic produce, yogurt, etc.  Today, as ICE raids continue in Harrisburg, I took it upon myself to check in to hear if any reports of agents at the market had been reported.  I am pleased to report that my sources have not heard of any activity.

On my way back to my apartment, I got to thinking that ICE will soon expand their reach into my area.  They may have already, and I just don’t know.

There are reasons for concern, in my opinion.  There’s a hotel, which is an industry that especially the cleaning staff, tends to rely on immigrants.  There is still a place that makes hot dogs in my area, at least I think.  Meat packing is an industry that makes use of immigrants as laborers.  There are several warehouses in my area, and a farmers’ market.

Of course, I don’t think an ICE presence would be a real concern.  The area I live in is called by many the “White Shore”.  Save for an Indian and Pakistani,  community that seems to be based mainly in my complex, the area I live in is almost lily-white.

Now if ICE starts going after folks in that community, there may be some opportunities to act.

Breaking ICE?

On March 9, 2017, ICE came to Harrisburg.  Raids were reported in the largely minority Allison Hill neighborhood, so a training by PICC and Juntos on “Deportation Defense” took on even more importance.

The event, in the International Service Center at Market Square Presbyterian Church, attracted a diverse crowd.  Members represented several races and groups and came from as far as Pittsburgh.

The presentation began with a look at the current raids, and what can be done to stop them.  The simple question of “Do you have a warrant?,” seems to go a long way.  The idea of making immigrants, etc out to be criminals, and the need to build community resistance through education were also topics.

The presence of ICE agents in courts, and handling checkpoints on the roads, brought the collaborations between police and ICE into some focus.

After a lunch of Chinese food, the second half of the training, focused on the actual defense, began.  This was a three-pronged approach beginning with a plan for deportation.  The next, and main component, was having a “Defense Packet” at the ready.  This packet, consisting of documents like pay stubs,  passports, and other records and information, would be useful should deportation proceedings begin.  A final component is a temporary guardianship for minor children.

I came to this event in a panic over hearing that ICE had come to Harrisburg.  I left the event with ideas on how I can perhaps join with other activists to resist.  One idea would be to educate people on what their rights are.  A second is to assist people in creating their “Defense Packets”.  The final, and most, radical option may be to make Harrisburg a “station city” in a modern “Underground Railroad”.





A More Organic Brew?


Last Wednesday, February 22, I assisted in a search.  Our missing person, Senator Pat Toomey.  I joined with two fellow activists to see if we could locate him and bring our concerns, and those of Planned Parenthood, to the Senator.   Our search proved futile, as the Senator was nowhere to be found.

Senators and Representatives being absent was a common theme it seems during this Congressional Recess, of course those who did appear in public, especially in “Town Halls”, often got a earful.  Even is places like Utah, Congresspeople found themselves dealing with voices of the opposition.

The whole thing reminded many of the “Tea Party” allies who gathered at events after Obama was elected.  The fact that they were loud and in large numbers is one common thread.  But there are differences as well.

For one this “Resistance” seems a bit more organic.  There is evidence that the “Tea Party” was a movement bankrolled by specific interests and individuals and groups.  The folks that gathered at the town halls, are not, as a whole “paid protestors”.  They aren’t really protestors even, they are constituents.

A second issue is also a concern.  The “Tea Party” took their anger, even if it was manufactured, and turned it into political action.  Since many members of the “Resistance” see the system itself as flawed, if not failed, getting them to become an electoral force may be easier said than done.