by Sarah Roark, reprinted from Medium
Democrats ARE badasses — so why are we still holding back half our power?
(A call for uniting all who can be united to stop Trump and Kavanaugh now)
“When the time comes, I’ll be there!”
This is something I’ve heard more than once from brave, selfless, hardworking, and beloved friends who are Democratic Party stalwarts. They mean “there” as in, “there in the streets, with you.” Right now, however, they have phone banks to run, doors to knock on, fundraisers to table at, farmers’ markets to pass out buttons at, local grassroots candidates to support. They acknowledge that there could come some point when yes, it will be time to do as MLK, John Lewis, Medgar Evers, and Bayard Rustin did to end Jim Crow; as the flower children did to end the Vietnam War; as the street-theater activists of ACT-UP did to end death by silence. And when that time comes, they assure me, they will be there with bells on.
And I believe them. I’m one of them, after all. I’ve been in the campaign trenches beside them. I’ve seen how hardcore they are and I know that once they decide to do this, they will do the hell out of it.
I just wonder when “the time” is, and why it’s not now?
I get it. We’re liberals. We’re fans of doing things the slow but steady way. We want results, not glory. We’re happy to be unsung little worker bees, doing the unglamorous little things that no political campaign can happen without. We believe — rightly — that that’s where a lot of heroes for freedom and justice are truly to be found. We also know that elections have consequences (…fair or not), and we are determined to do whatever we can to have the best outcome possible in November.
And you know what? I’m not going to ask anybody to stop doing that. Because that’s all true and fine.
But what I will ask you to do is — hang on, put down the clipboard for just a second — and let me ask:
What’s still stopping you from supporting Refuse Fascism as well?
It’s not that you tire easy: I’ve seen you go hours canvassing in very hilly neighborhoods for the chance to talk to, like, five or six people. (And hang a bunch of door hangers. And get shouted off by the grumps.)
It’s not that you’re greedy: you’d give your last dollar to help a friend. I’ve seen you contribute to all kinds of causes, even and sometimes especially the ones you don’t have time to volunteer for. You’re a positive sucker for GoFundMes. (Don’t even try to deny it!) You’ll risk your own crap-paying job to go on strike when you have kids at home, because you want them to see their parents standing up and speaking out against injustice.
And it’s not that you don’t care: you’ll lose what little sleep you get during a campaign worrying about the people who’ll be hurt if this bill passes, or that bigoted slimebucket gets elected. I know those kids in cages are haunting you. You just feel helpless to stop it as yet. You’re not helpless. “November,” you tell yourself in bed at night — but you know November will at best slow the damage, not stop or reverse it; because the executive branch will still be in the hands of literal fascists, and they will have been able to appoint many more federal judges in addition to taking possession of the Supreme Court for decades to come. And you know, even if you won’t admit it, that 2020 will be far too late to save our withering democracy. That’s why you’re having such trouble just gritting your teeth and hanging on till November. (The good news? You don’t have to!)
It’s not even that you really think, as you’ll sometimes suggest to me, that “street protest changes nothing.” Who was that out in her pink pussy hat at the last Women’s March? Who was that heading to the airport (with snacks and water bottles for everybody, natch, because staying hydrated is important) to personally physically demand that they “LET THE FAMILIES GO!”
You’re going to tell me the only reason you were out there was ‘keeping up morale’ or whatever? That the sight of all those streets in all those cities filled to the brim had no practical effect? I know you better than that.
And yeah, the Women’s March was wonderful and then it was over. That’s true. But here’s the thing. That’s the Women’s March. There’s no law saying such events can only happen once a year. Sustained nonviolent protest applies a form of disruptive pressure that a single event, no matter how huge, cannot. It takes more than one gathering on the National Mall and one “I Have a Dream” speech. You of all people understand that. You of all people understand the need for endurance, for pure cussed stubbornness, for getting knocked down and standing back up as many times as it takes. And you know that powerful people who can weather even a very dramatic storm of censure as long as it’s over quickly can be brought down by a steady drip, drip, drip of opposition. That those drips will add up over time to a watershed. You’ve seen it happen.
And finally, you know that you can’t personally do it all, and you don’t need to. You of all people know the power of one phone call, one contribution, one endorsement. You know how much even one small act of support can mean to an underestimated but determined organization that is going to be in this for as long as it takes…
…like Refuse Fascism.
So I really want to know, what is it that’s still holding you, and all the collective might I know you have, back from supporting us? Kavanaugh is about to sail to confirmation despite all the gallant efforts of Democratic legislators to call attention to the many alarming facts about him, because the GOP simply doesn’t care. They specifically want to get this done before the election because they know the election cannot overturn the appointment. They also specifically want to have judicial protection for Trump in place — from the highest court in the land — as soon as possible. More or less by definition, November is too late to stop this debacle for human rights and the rule of law.
But now isn’t too late to stop Kavanaugh. Even if you missed the August 26th and September 15th protests, the nonviolent resistance, from individuals and groups both small and large, that have been ongoing since his nomination will continue — for as long as there’s still a chance to keep Trump from remaking the SCOTUS in his own horrifying image.
And Refuse Fascism will continue not only to fight Kavanaugh’s appointment, but to cry out with every breath in our bodies for the people of this country to rise up, in wide coalition, and put down the specter of American fascist rule once and for all. (See our website or our Facebook page to donate, find your nearest chapter, or see planned events.)
Fellow Democrats, I know in my soul that we have power that extends far beyond the voting booth or the Senate seat. We can give a tremendous boost to the one organization that has tasked itself with growing a unified — nonpartisan — clearly defined — nonviolent resistance to Trump, that has shown it won’t give up even in the literal face of Nazi threats, and is sworn to continue for as long as it takes to see both Trump and Pence out of office.
We of Refuse Fascism are #Resistance too (nothing, if not that!) and we share, not just with Democrats but with all people of goodwill, what may well turn out to be the most vital human cause of the 21st century.
Let’s act like it, today, every day, and beyond. “Stronger Together” was the Democratic motto for 2016…it may not have prevailed in the Electoral College, but it can and must prevail for humanity now.