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Updates from the Road

Five ways to avoid burnout and make resistance sustainable

As we round the corner into the 18th month of Donald Trump’s so-called presidency, the resistance is burned out. We’ve been working hard since before the 2016 election to avert catastrophe and the constant barrage of scandal and cruelty is starting to feel normal. It’s tempting to check out; but it is essential that we stay engaged.

I’m struggling with this myself, so I thought I’d share five of my favorite ways to cultivate a sustainable resistance practice without losing my mind in the process.

1. Grieve

Grief is the body’s natural way of processing loss. If we are to move forward, we must fully grieve the setbacks we have sustained and the setbacks still to come.

Grief is different from despondency. Despondency is a perpetual “freeze” state of unfeeling numbness. Grief is like a river that you can feel pouring through your heart and it clears the air like a thunderstorm on a humid day.

Fascists like to mock our grief. They call us “snowflakes” and wear “fuck your feelings” tee shirts. Their mockery isn’t just cruel, it serves a purpose. They know that depressed and despondent people are easier to control. They want us to freeze, so don’t let them win. Cry. Grief is a revolutionary act.

2. Practice Shame Resilience

When we become aware of our own complicity in state violence, notice the temptation to check out, or find ourselves on the receiving end of online and offline bullying from MAGA trolls, we might find ourselves feeling ashamed.

Like grief, shame is a natural part of being human, but it is so painful that many people stuff it down and try not to think of things that might bring it up. Like grief, shame is something we must allow ourselves to feel fully to function in the world.

My favorite thinker on the topic of shame is Dr. Brené Brown. (For those of you who are unfamiliar with her work, you can learn all about her shame resilience theory here.) In brief, Dr. Brown argues that to cultivate shame resilience, we must notice our shame, think through why we feel that way, and then share our feelings with our most trusted confidantes. We must be vulnerable with ourselves and one another if we are to get through this with our sanity more or less intact.

It is worth noting that Donald Trump has absolutely no shame resilience. This is why he can never be wrong and why he requires constant adulation and validation. Without these psychological crutches, he feels no sense of self worth. Don’t be like Donald. Develop shame resilience.

3. Remember that the “new normal” is not okay.

There are a lot of anti-authoritarian pundits that are reminding us that none of this is normal, but it is human nature to adapt to new circumstances. We wouldn’t survive if we responded to the routine as if it were new because we’d be running on a state of high alert all the time.

You will inevitably catch yourself adjusting to the new normal. That’s human nature. But remember that “normal” does not necessarily mean “okay.” You can stop being surprised by something, but don’t lose your moral compass in the process.

4. Use your anger, but don’t linger there

Anger is a powerful emotion that motivates us to change our circumstances, but sometimes circumstances are so much bigger than us that we cannot immediately, personally make the change we want to see.

If we remain in a perpetual state of anger about the things we cannot change, we will become numb to the motivation that anger provides and grow complacent.

When you catch yourself feeling angry, take action. Call your legislators, donate to SwingLeft, go to an Indivisible meeting, act locally by extending kindness and fighting for justice on issues impacting your hometown. Do something that you can do and then let it go. Remember that you’re an individual and it is not on you alone to solve this. Do not let the fascists steal your joy.

5. Focus on what we’re for

Resistance is a perpetual state of “no” by definition. It’s very easy to get caught up in what we’re standing against, but this will keep us stuck in anger and overwhelm.

We need to define what we stand for and continually move forward on those priorities wherever we can on a local, state, federal, and global level.

For me, those values are:

  • Democratic norms
  • Global stability
  • Human rights
  • Scientific truth

Since our Federal government is FUBAR at this juncture, the Federal level of action needs to be focused on taking back the House of Representatives this November. We need to be registering voters, promoting Democratic candidates in flippable districts and pushing back on voter suppression efforts through the courts. On that front, I highly recommend that you engage with SwingLeft and support the ACLU’s voting rights program.

At a State level, we can stand with De-Escalate Washington and focus on getting their police accountability initiative over the finish line and regroup and push forward on passing a carbon tax here in Washington State.

Locally, we can get behind city and county-wide efforts to address our homelessness crisis. Call your City Council member today and let them know that you support the Employee Head Tax before their vote on Monday. Reach out to King County Executive Dow Constantine’s office and let him know that you support the $400 million annual budget to address homelessness.

So to sum it up…

A sustainable resistance practice requires us to:

  • Feel our feelings fully so that they don’t weigh us down.
  • Connect with other people so that we don’t feel alone in our grief, anger, or shame.
  • Define our values in terms of what we’re for rather than what we’re against.
  • Adapt to the new normal, but hold onto our understanding that the new normal is not okay.
  • Use our anger to propel action that centers our values every level of government.
  • Rest. Remember that it’s not all on you to solve. We’re in this together. You are not alone.

    Emotional Labor

    Writing songs, speeches, and essays, researching and synthesizing information, and organizing and performing at protests are all emotional labor. Please consider making a contribution to my work.

    $1.00

What happens in Seattle if Trump fires Mueller?

Overview

After the Justice Department ordered raids on the home and offices of Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, Trump and his network news mouthpieces have been rattling their sabers; indicating that Trump might move to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

For those of you just tuning in, Mueller is a special prosecutor appointed by Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein to investigate whether Trump and his associates broke any laws during their repeated contacts with members of the Russian oligarchy as Russia’s intelligence services worked to manipulate the 2016 Presidential election in Trump’s favor.

Given that the Special Prosecutor’s office is a product of Justice Department rules, rather than Federal law and Congress is only just starting to move to protect Mueller’s investigation from interference by Trump, we need to be the backstop protecting Mueller and giving him the time he needs to do this important work.

 

there will be nationwide protests if Trump interferes

In the event that Trump moves against the Russia investigation, MoveOn.org will trigger nationwide Rapid Response protests in over 800 cities and towns nationwide.

More than 300,000 people are already signed up to be part of these protests. If you want to join us, please text READY to 668366 and MoveOn will add you to the list.

There are four things that could trigger these protests:

  1. Trump fires Mueller
  2. Trump fires Rosenstein
  3. Trump fires Sessions, or anyone else in the chain of command who refuses to fire Mueller.
  4. Trump pardons anyone of a Russia-related crime.

Timing: If news of a firing breaks before 2pm Pacific Time, the protest will begin at 5pm the same day. If the firing takes place after 2pm Pacific, the protest will take place at noon the following day.

Seattle Protest Information

In Seattle, Rapid Response is being organized by organizers from multiple groups, including Seattle Indivisible, Indivisible Eastside, Indivisible Whidbey, and Indivisible WA-08.

Seattle protests will begin at at Cal Anderson Park. After a short program, protesters will march to the Henry M. Jackson Federal Building downtown.

Q&A with Seattle Rapid Response organizer Kati Wilkins

Q: How long with the protest take and how far will we march?
A: We anticipate that the first rally at Cal Anderson will be about 30 – 45 minutes, depending on how many speakers/performers are available at the time. We anticipate that the march will take about an hour, and the rally at the federal building will be about an hour. Programming is still in the planning phase, though, so this may change.

Q: What is your definition of success for this protest?
A: At the end of the day, this isn’t just about Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin. This is about protecting the very core of American democracy. We want to show the President and Congress that there is tremendous support for this critical investigation into meddling by a foreign government into our democracy. By having as many people in the streets as possible, Congress will be able to have the visual of how important this is. We will then follow up with relentless phone calls and engagement with their offices demanding that  Speaker Ryan and the House Judiciary Committee must immediately begin hearings into abuse of power and obstruction of justice by President Trump. Senators must move immediately to create a Watergate-style Select Committee to investigate Russia’s interference and Trump’s obstruction of justice.

Q: What can people to do help?
A: Bringing sign making materials to the protest would be great! Also, if anyone has medic and/or peacekeeping training and is willing to volunteer, we definitely need more folks who are able to go at the drop of a hat (or a tweet). We are in particular need of medics or anyone with first aid/CPR training. Please email me at kati.mwilkins@gmail.com if you’d like to volunteer.

For more information, please see this interview with Kati from KIRO 7 News.

What Happens Next?

I asked my friend Jayne Fagan, a national orgnaizer at MoveOn, what happens after the nationwide protests. Here’s her response:

“These events are only the first step. Our goal with these actions is to create an opportunity for anyone outraged by Trump’s abuse of power to engage immediately in voicing their concern. Together, we will communicate unmistakably that this is not okay and that this act to undermine democracy is not going to be allowed to become a new normal.

But that’s only the first step, and it’s far from the last one. Congress is the only body with the constitutional power and responsibility to hold a president politically accountable for major violations of the public trust like this. And “we, the people” are their backstop and source of legitimate power. And what people do next to force Congress to act is up to them!

Certainly, everyone at an event should also call their member of Congress to demand action. And everyone is encouraged to communicate that demand directly at congressional offices. Beyond that, it’s up to you! It’s a good idea to discuss possible scenarios in advance with the hosts of your event or with your friends to develop other nonviolent ways you would like to compel actions from Congress.

Here’s what groups will be asking Congress to do:

  • Demand members of Congress protect the special counsel’s office, including preserving its files and staff and ensuring it receives the full cooperation of all federal government law enforcement assets.
  • Demand the creation of a modern-day version of the Senate Select Watergate Committee to investigate all matters involved in the Russia scandals and Trump’s abuse of power and obstruction of justice.
  • Demand bipartisan hearings in the House Judiciary Committee on obstruction of justice and abuse of power.”

 

Statement from Tae

Like Jayne says, the next steps are up to us. MoveOn.org and the local Seattle organizers are not calling for people to occupy the public space after the official program has ended, but I believe that Seattle’s answer to the question of “what happens next?” should be to stay at the Federal Building until Congress acts to protect the investigation.

I will be posting updates as events warrant to my Twitter account.

Other accounts you may wish to follow for news include:

I am speaking with local organizers from multiple groups now and will update this post with recommendations and requests from the people on the ground when I get them.

Please dress warmly and stay safe, friends. I still believe America’s best days are ahead of us, but we all have to stand up for it together today to make tomorrow possible.

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