An interesting read from Religion Dispatches today from some cat named Thomas Warming about problems members of his small, rural congregation have been having thanks to the president’s executive order banning Muslims from entering the nation. Sounds familiar. So should this part:
But it always seems like when I’m in a truly black mood about the future of the American project, a bit grace drops in like a sunbeam to restore my confidence. Today it was a few dozen people gathered on the main corner of our little city to protest the executive order, waving signs saying MUSLIMS WELCOME and JESUS WAS A REFUGEE. The darkness can only last so long before the light comes again. We’re going to be okay, I think.
Who is this guy and why is he stealing my bit? In RD, no less. I need to ask them about that.
Anyway, I share Warming’s optimism. There’s a lot of energy out there waiting to be harnessed somehow.
Here’s a good example: Greg Sargent had an insightful interview yesterday with Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee about fighting back against the administration’s agenda.
Inslee, of course, brought the first state-level lawsuit against the EO, which so far is holding up pretty well in court. That leads Sargent to this kicker:
This first victory in court, by operating as an inspiration to further action, perhaps points to more ways that Democrats can seek to channel the passion and energy unleashed by Trump’s agenda into constructive efforts to limit the damage that it threatens to do on so many fronts.
“Channel” is right. Incredible as it may sound, the biggest story of 2017 isn’t anything the president, Steve Bannon, or the Congressional GOP have done or tried to do. It’s that wave after wave of citizen action has thoroughly driven back their agenda.
Even bigger, this action has been directed and powered by the grass roots. That doesn’t mean that it’s all been spontaneous: extensive planning and preparation has gone into a lot of it. But even in the absence of a unified Democratic leadership, citizens are organizing themselves and stepping off the sidelines. In fact, the leaders are having to play catch-up, which prompts bold action like Inslee’s.
It’s a virtuous cycle if you’re a liberal, and I don’t know that Republicans really have an answer to it. Instead, we hear story after story about how they’ve been rocked back on their heels by constituent calls and protests, even in unexpected places. Some Congressional Republicans even fear for their safety.1
It’s not just on a national level, either. Look at how these guys get grilled on a lawsuit related to Republican gerrymandering in Wisconsin:
There is also concern about taxpayer money being used to hire private attorneys to represent Republicans in the legislature in a recent lawsuit. In late November, a court ruling stated that the Wisconsin legislative voting maps were unconstitutional after democrats argued the drawn districts diminished their voice in state government. The Republican legislature, who is planning on hiring private attorneys, and the state, defended by Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, may appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court and argue that the districts are constitutional.
Thiesfeldt and Feyen argued that the legislature needs someone to represent them, and if it decided to hire someone in the Department of Justice and not spend taxpayer money on private attorneys, that takes a Department of Justice attorney away from his or her normal duties. Those duties may, in turn, have to be done by outside council, which also comes at a cost.
Feyen said the easiest way to solve this problem is to drop the lawsuit.
"If the lawsuit never happened, this wouldn't be costing us any money at all," he said.
In reply, someone in the audience shouted, "If (the voting districts) weren't draw illegally, it wouldn't be costing us money," to which many audience members applauded.
That was right here in our neck of the not-exactly-radical-left-woods. I can’t help feeling like we’re not very far from a fundamental change in how ordinary citizens relate to their elected officials. The emerging anti-trumpism agenda is far more popular than the Tea Party ever was, and the people marching on its behalf are not interested in waiting any more. Danielle Kurtzleben diagnoses this as a case of relative deprivation—that is, the fear of having something taken away from us. Whatever the cause, something different is in the air. Darned right I’m hopeful.
1.↩It’s a matter of some debate whether those fears are justified, but just to be clear: don’t do anything to scare your Congresscritter.+ + +