Fighting Bob LaFollette
1. Come out as a progressive! Join the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, become a card-carrying progressive—join the Progressive as a Sustaining Member, get the magazine that tells you what is going on at the grassroots every month, and, more importantly, join the movement!
2. Support Native Americans struggling to defend our water and land against the overpowering power of corporations and the police state: people are gathering blankets, flashlights, etc to take to the #NODAPL encampment at Standing Rock—donate, volunteer, help out!
3. Show solidarity with immigrants and Muslim Americans: no one is more horrified and frightened by the white supremacists in the Trump Administration than recent immigrants and Muslim Americans. If Trump makes good on his plan to register Muslims, Americans of every religious faith and background have pledged to register as Muslims, too. Show you care about immigrants, including the undocumented members of immigrant families who now fear a knock on the door more than ever. Many cities are creating sanctuaries to resist mass deportations. Join the movement and be ready to stick up for our immigrant neighbors—both by showing solidarity and friendship now, and by pledging to help out should someone need to be protected from government overreach.
4. Embrace a nasty woman! Women’s reproductive rights are under attack as never before under the Trump/Pence administration. It’s time to give money, time and support to Planned Parenthood, and let your elected representatives know that you support women’s health and oppose the destruction of clinics that served more than 2.7 million women in the last year alone.
5. Make sure the world knows that black lives still matter, and American citizens will not give in to police violence and terror in black communities. Join the activists demanding police accountability and the demilitarization of local police forces in communities across the country, show up and be counted when BLM demonstrates, let your city officials know where you stand, and support local leaders who are pushing for a better vision of civil society-- without authoritarian and racist violence.
6. Keep fighting for economic justice. Bernie Sanders’s revolution is not over. Millions of people across the country fueled the Sanders campaign, not because of his unique charisma, but because he connected with activists fighting for a better life, including those who started the Fight For $15 movement—a movement that has gained momentum and won victories in local and statewide ballot measures across the country even as the Democrats experienced an electoral wipeout. We must fight for economic justice for workers—the true driver of politics this year, as inequality reaches staggering levels. The billionaire New York real estate tycoon/reality TV star who will be splitting his time between the White House and his luxury digs in New York is not going to bring economic justice to America. The fast food workers who kicked off the most energetic campaign of the last year are. Support their efforts in your local community!
7. Show some kindness. There is enough hatefulness in the world right now. We need to embody compassion—to be the change we want to see in our country and in the world. You don’t have to be doormat to model love, tolerance, and community values. Get involved in organizations fighting homelessness, food banks, and other service providers, build community, and set national politics aside to connect with your neighbors in helping make the world a better place.
8. Get out of your comfort zone. One of the lessons for the national Democratic party of this election is that too many politicians did not understand how ordinary voters—especially rural voters—were feeling. We don’t have to give up our multicultural values or our commitment to our own political activism to connect more with people who feel alienated by politics and either did not vote this year or voted for Trump. We progressives are not the Democratic Party. We are just people, and so are the many other people who find all politicians too slick, and Washington too far away and unconcerned, to connect to national politics. If we are going to make politics better, we are going to have to get out of our in-groups and build a mass movement that demands representation for the interests of the great majority of non-wealthy Americans. That means we have to reach out to other people who share our values, even if (or especially if) they are turned-off by the language of politicians and academics.
Ruth Conniff is editor-in-chief of The Progressive.