Instead of a look back at 2017, because you would have to be legally insane to want to relive the nightmare, here’s what I want us to take into 2018: A healthy dose of skepticism with a shot of fortitude and a hope chaser. Believe love is the answer and manifest, cross your fingers and pray and chant for change to your heart’s content. But, more important, have your boots at the front door ready to be laced up to march and your phone charged to call and email Congress, and save your dollars to donate to the organizations working to uproot the Orange fungus.
Ambivalence has no place in 2018. Neither does neutrality. While there may be two sides to every love story and truth somewhere in the middle, the fight against fascism presents a take-it-or-leave-it proposal. It’s the grown-up version of the passed note in class to determine if your beloved returns your affection. “Do you believe in freedom, liberty and equality? Check yes or no.” Despite Andrew Sullivan’s takedown of tribalism in New York Magazine recently as potentially fatal to our still-proclaimed republic, choosing between fascism and anti-fascism is mandatory to our survival.
This is how we do it:
1) Educate yourself — What seats are open in 2018? Am I registered to vote? Can I vote early? How do I register others to vote? What legislative district am I in? What congressional district? What issues are most important to me as a citizen, and how did the candidates vote? Did the current representative or senator file any bills at the local, state or national level and to achieve what outcome?
2) Educate others — Join the ACLU People Power movement, or attend trainings to be a citizen advocate. Volunteer for a political campaign that is aligned with your values. Don’t worry if the candidate is pretty, charming, witty or likable. Look at the candidate’s experience and ask what organizations with which the candidate is affiliated. Has the candidate ever filed legislation? Lobbied? Been a part of a grassroots movement? Been outside of their district for any purpose other than to campaign? Suddenly joined a church in the opposite end of town prior to announcing their candidacy? Report your findings to others and encourage them to vote on issues versus popularity, gender or white teeth.
3) Focus — Pick a freedom to defend and stay the course. 2017 was a Whack-a-Mole game on crack. Too many attacks on civil rights, so little time to devote to all of them simultaneously. Make your home page a trusted news source, use keywords to filter your searches to eliminate clickbait, quizzes and Kardashians. Pick your social media time-suck of choice and set a timer on how long you view it, or log in on only certain days. Don’t feel compelled to explain, justify, deny or defend arguments or controversies designed to take your head out of the game. I am experimenting with timer apps this year for myriad reasons (OK, deadlines mainly) since I can’t self-cattle prod when I step into the news vortex and can barely escape. Randomly Remind Me, Stand Up! The Work Break Timer and Awareness are three that look interesting.
4) Use your voice — Gov. Matt Bevin is up for reelection in 2019 if he chooses. He is a zealous antiabortion advocate, enemy of legalizing marijuana and has no strategy to solve a single problem that plagues the state. I look forward to his departure. In the interim, he will continue to attempt to foreclose real economic progress and reproductive choice and sign legislation to limit speech, assembly and the right to organize and voice disagreement. Call your legislators during the session to tell them to vote for or against pending bills. Be aware of laws designed to curtail your autonomy or ability to criticize your government, and laws that would criminalize your truthful speech about your own belief, opinion and experience.
Buckminster Fuller wrote: “We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims.” Having spent the prior year of truth being stranger than fiction, it’s incumbent on us to blindly accept nothing and to examine everything as we work to make change. Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of our country.
Happy New Year, everybody. Gird your loins.