Practical Action

April 15, 2017

This is a short commentary with a specific goal: to suggest concrete action and to introduce an organization which many of you probably know about, but in case you don’t…

On April 12 Trump gave a rambling, almost incoherent, interview to Fox Business News. It was full of the usual self-inflating intensifiers, about how very, very great his first 100 days had been. He returned, as he often does, to campaign mode, his rant about Hillary Clinton, the “lock her up” trope. He said that she was very guilty of all the charges, failing to either specify which charges or noting that she has not be charged with anything. He also failed to recognize that for the President to enter his opinions and preferences into any criminal matter by declaring the defendant guilty is such a gross violation of judicial procedure that the case—with the jury so prejudiced—would be thrown out of any court in the land.

Trump understanding of the limitations imposed by law, or by treaty, or by decency, is limited. He has always done what he wanted. One thinks of the Queen of Hearts, in Alice in Wonderland, a chilling parody of totalitarian justice, flailing about, shouting “off with their heads.” And that because they, the knaves, had planted roses of the wrong color. It was not funny in Alice. Donald Trump is not funny. Ridiculous, yes, but dangerous.

But what struck me as more immediately serious was his statement that he was going to make another attack on the ACA, Obamacare, before tackling his next great project, tax reform. (His other projects&mdashthe wall, illegal immigrants, for instance&mdashare on-going and I will address them in later issues.) For Trump the destruction of Obamacare is politically about feeding his base and personally about winning. He doesn’t like losing. The failure of the first assault on Obamacare, the Ryan-Trump debacle, exposed the rifts in the Republican Party. There were those, the radicals in the Freedom Caucus, for whom Ryan–Trump was not harsh enough, but there were other Republicans who were almost thoughtful, who were concerned by the prospect of 25 million Americans losing their health insurance and that some of those might be their constituents.

The Affordable Care Act was a first step toward an equitable and humane health care system. It should be and must be defended. Which brings me to the action recommendation. For those who do not already know about INDIVISIBLE, let me introduce you. When Trump won the election a group of former (and soon to be former) congressional staffers pooled their knowledge and experience about how the American political system really works. They had studied the success of the Tea Party movement. The result, INDIVISIBLE, is not so much an organization, but an organizing principle built around a comprehensive “operating manual” for a representative democracy like America’s. What the rifts in the Republican Party revealed is that the entire Trump agenda could be attacked and resisted.

The INDIVISIBLE guide to political action is the best I’ve ever read and their remarkable website shows how to make the regional and local cells of resistance function as a whole, how to become indivisible. To donate to Indivisible is a positive action; to follow their guidance to greater involvement is even more so. I have attached the link. And to this I have attached key House of Representatives voting information: the Republican Whips’ vote count, Congressional district by Congressional district. Using this information, the undecided Republicans who can be moved further from the hardcore can be identified. The more moderate Republicans, those already a bit uncomfortable with their party or with Trump, can be identified and supported.

Defense of Obamacare in an important battle. If it can be defended again, the disarray in the Republican Party will become positively contagious. Episodes of reasonableness and fairness may break about among them. You may not live in a district susceptible to change, but perhaps you know someone who does. Spread the word. Send them these links:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/03/20/us/politics/health-care-whip-count.html

https://www.indivisibleguide.com/download-the-guide

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