Resistance Portfolio: Practical Steps to Escape Normalization

We each need two types of list these days. One is the sort recommended by experts on nascent authoritarianism: a daily list of acts that are not normal but which the authoritarian is trying to normalize. This kind of list keeps us alert, prevents us from being lulled, tricked, or distracted into accepting incremental steps toward the unacceptable.Here is an example from Amy Siskind.

The other list we need is one that helps us keep track of resistance measures, especially organized and lawful ones. When millions of people are engaged in a political fight, concerted efforts come from many quarters. Nobody can participate in every one. Some efforts do not merit serious participation. People have to decide which efforts engage them, where they can participate meaningfully. They also need to remember what else is being done, to keep track of successes and failures, and to look for synergies. People’s lists of resistance efforts will vary, according to their particular interests and capabilities.

Here’s my own current list of resistance efforts.

  1. Promote efforts to educate and advise Presidential electors of the nonpartisan constitutional grounds that warrant a refusal to select Donald Trump unless he liquidates his current assets and places them into a true blind trust.(Further discussion here, here, and here.)
  2. Donate time and money to organizations with experience, expertise, commitment to safeguarding civil rights and/or combating misogyny, patriarchy, and white supremacy. (The ones I have chosen are discussed here.)
  3. Boycott retailers carrying Donald J. Trump and/or Ivanka Trump brand merchandise. Work to extend boycott to media that accept advertising from Trump companies. (Detailed information re targeted retailers, alternatives available here. See also my posts on concept and implementation)
  4. Watch for and publicize, via social media, inaccurate coverage of vote recounts and audits (example). Where possible, provide accurate information especially with links to primary sources (example). 
  5. Support the Women’s March on Washington.
  6. Work on practical programs to assist progressive young lawyers to run for office or to head campaign of a young progressive running for office.

This list helps me balance

  • short, medium, and long term resistance measures
  • measures more and less likely to accomplish their ends
  • resistance measures that require varying degrees and kinds of effort
  • measures in need of my particular skills and measures that will profit from anybody’s involvement

Thus my list functions like a financial investment portfolio. When aiming toward a financial goal it makes sense to to choose different kinds of investment and saving vehicles to optimize one’s chance of meeting the goal. If one investment fails, for example, the success of others can offset the setback. Same thing for my Resistance Portfolio. Like a financial portfolio, it will need revisiting and rebalancing over time if it is to (roughly) optimize my efforts to defeat Donald Trump, his appointees, the Republican politicians and others who have brought us Trump; and my work to preserve civil right, ensure a pluralist society, and to advance the liberation and equality of women.

Continually updated version of my own Resistance Portfolio.

I strongly encourage others to devise, maintain, and share their own Resistance Portfolios.

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Resistance Portfolio: Practical Steps to Escape Normalization

Actions To Be Taken

In the face of Donald Trump’s election and the Republican majority in Congress, we can exercise agency. We can resist the Trump era and the incoming Trump GOP regime. We can fight for the rule of law. Concrete actions that can be taken immediately:

  • Stop subscribing to or watching cable news. No cable news outlet delivers the sort of information we actually need. There are individual television journalists, such as Joy Reid and, sometimes, Brian Stelter, who are worth some attention. Follow them on Twitter and you can get what you need.
  • Subscribe to superior, although not perfect sources of information, and keep up with their coverage. These include the Washington Post, the Guardian, ProPublica, The New Yorker, Mother Jones, the London Review of Books. The New York Times has been a remarkably unreliable conveyor of information for years now. I am deliberately leaving them off this list. Paul Krugman, a NYT columnist worth reading, can be followed on Twitter.
  • Consistently contribute money and/or time to organizations with experience in and demonstrated success and commitment to civil liberties, rule of law, anti-racism, and anti-religious-discrimination. These include NARAL, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood, Anti-Defamation League, and CAIR. Consistency matters in this effort: even if you can only contribute a few dollars per month sign up to make monthly donations. This develops the habit of supporting these causes and, even more critically, makes it easier for them to plan their activities, based on steady inflow of dollars. Likewise, sign up to work in a field office or on a project on a regular basis, building that into your weekly, monthly, or daily schedule.
  • Wear the safety pin, and more generally, aid or get aid for vulnerable people. If you see something, say something. Report acts of violence and hatred to police, to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
  • Boycott all retailers that sell Donald or Ivanka Trump brand items. Follow the boycott on twitter at #GrabYourWallet. More generally, use your spending power to empower manufacturers, retailers, and brands who stand against oppression and subordination.
  • A longshot petition worth signing requests the electors of the Electoral College to vote for Hillary Clinton regardless of their state’s rules binding them to vote for Donald Trump.
  • Join and volunteer to help the Women’s March on Washington. The most up to date information is currently available on Facebook, a forum I generally recommend against, but needs must.
  • Support lawyers specifically fighting for rule of law. Organizations geared to this purpose include Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Alliance for Justice Action Campaign.
Actions To Be Taken

Doing #GrabYourWallet

#GrabYourWallet is the hashtag Shannon Coulter (@shannoncoulter) introduced on Twitter after the emergence of an Access Hollywood tape of Donald Trump discussing, in vulgar, mocking terms, his propensity toward sexual assaulting women. Many people, but women in particular, suddenly found that a simple thing like shopping for a blouse or pair of shoes could become a horrible experience, because the Trump name was suddenly in one’s face. For many women, that it was Ivanka Trump’s name just made it worse. She was a top campaign surrogate for Donald Trump, and as of this writing, the only woman on his transition team, a fellow woman who was using her voice to put in office a misogynistic self-avowed sexual predator. And she was promoting her brand at the same time.

Boycotting has a long history as a form of social protest, particularly resonant for Americans because of the great boycotts of racially segregated transportation organized by Martin Luther King, Jr. This year, Shannon Coulter realized that the target of boycotts must be the retailers who sell Trump brands. Retailers need to see that carrying items with the Trump name harms their own brands and hits their own bottom lines. Equally important, women and men resisting the Trump era and administration need to realize their own agency, even in the face of an oppressive regime. The marketplace is somewhere we can immediately exercise our agency, choosing to shop at stores that respect us and our values and refusing to give our dollars to those that don’t. Every time we make choices to give business to stores that do not carry Trump brand merchandise or to withhold business from those that do, we are demonstrating our agency, flexing our autonomy, refusing the Trump era in a tangible way.

To participate, consult this public Google doc, with updated information on retailers carrying Trump brands and also suggested alternatives. Of course many alternative shopping venues are local small businesses or sellers on Etsy; the alternatives list cannot be comprehensive. But discovering Trump-brand-free stores, online and off, is part of doing #GrabYourWallet. Develop the habit of boycotting and you develop your own agency and autonomy, in a time when people committed to justice, equality, and civility are going to need those character traits more than ever.

Doing #GrabYourWallet