Every time we glance at our phones, browse a media site on our computers, or turn on the television, we are punched by another breaking news update. It may be about Russian interference in our elections or an unqualified cabinet nominee, a bigoted executive order or policy proposals reeking of personal business gain, or some other illustration of swamp-festering corruption. The news overflows with disturbing examples showing how the Trump Administration, with the Republican leadership marching in lockstep behind it, is failing our country.
It would be easy, while absorbing current events in twenty-four-hour news feeds, to feel worn out and hopeless.
Yet that’s not what I’m seeing.
People are ready for action. We are ready to resist each new violation of our values. Everywhere I go, in my home district in southern Wisconsin or in Washington, D.C., people come up and ask me what they can do to push back against this new age of President Trump.
Our office is getting more calls than ever and many of you are more determined than ever to be an effective part of stopping the Trump/Republican agenda. Our resistance broadens with each new piece of evidence of bigotry, hatred, misogyny, racism, or xenophobia on display. Our resistance deepens as we hear it from cabinet appointees, presidential advisers, executive orders, and even statements (or tweets) from the President himself.
Coming from Wisconsin, where we continue to fight against measures that make life harder for workers and struggling families while helping the wealthy, I’m no stranger to resistance. Even so, I have always found ways to work with Republican colleagues to get things done, and I’ve developed friendships across the aisle.
Out of respect for the office of the President, I had planned on attending the January 20 Inauguration. That changed after I read the alarming classified briefing on Russian election interference and saw how the President-elect degraded the accomplishments of U.S. Representative John Lewis, a civil rights hero. Further, President Trump continued to show unwillingness to separate his business interests from the office of the presidency, leaving us with an entire executive branch and Cabinet filled with conflicts of interests.
At the time, I said that while I respected the office of the President, I was not certain this feeling was shared by the man about to take that office. He was acting like an immature, undignified reality TV star with questionable friends and a Twitter addiction.
I had hoped for better. Those hopes faded fast. But they’ve been replaced with new hope in what I am seeing every day—in your acts of resistance, both great and small.
As a progressive elected Representative in Congress, I am part of the legislative arm of the resistance. My hope comes from the fight and the compassion I see demonstrated by the American public. Organized and together, we have the power to shape the solution, because in America, the people are the government. It is simple, but true.
Here is the advice I offer everyone who asks me what they can do: Pick one or two issues that you care about, things that you think are in jeopardy in the Trump era. Find the local or national groups working on those issues—reproductive choice, civil rights, health care, workers’ rights—and get involved. Volunteer, support, do what you can with and for them, because this is the way we win.
We need to lend a hand to groups that are working to fight back and be heard, even if we don’t agree on every detail. That’s where our power is. And if that group happens to have a legal arm to sue the government when this administration does something that infringes on people’s constitutional rights, all the better. Poll after poll shows that the majority of people in this country agree with us—not with Donald Trump or the Republican leadership—on the issues.
Meanwhile, the legislative center of the resistance in Congress is organizing and growing. The Congressional Progressive Caucus, on which I serve as first vice-chair, has more than seventy members, making it the largest values-based caucus in the Democratic Party. We support equality, trade that benefits workers, a green economy, progressive tax reform, a $15 minimum wage, and expanding Medicare and Social Security. We are working on an alternative budget based on the concept of prosperity for all.
Our work is not just opposing bad policies; we must offer an alternative vision forward. And you can help us advocate and advance these alternatives: write letters, use social media, ask to meet with your representatives, get family and friends involved, march, volunteer, organize.
As progressives, we believe in the rising tide that lifts all boats and see a role for the government ensuring equal access and opportunity under the law. It’s disheartening to wake up each day to find out about the new ways in which the Trump Administration is infringing on our rights and spreading fear and hate. We are rightly upset as the President pushes our country down the slippery slope of corruption for his self-focused business gains.
I get that. But don’t mourn, get organized. We have to use all our energy to push for change because the administration is behaving like childish bullies, creating alternative facts and attacking the media. Our democracy is in serious danger. To them, business domination and the accumulation of personal wealth appear to trump our well-being, our safety, our privacy, and even strategic security concerns.
But against these grave threats, there is unprecedented resistance. And I believe that this resistance is working. We, the people, are winning. Let’s be clear: the majority of Americans are not on the side of Trump and the Republicans right now. Rather, they stand with political leaders who seek a clear alternative—one based on respect for our country, its values and democratic traditions.
Some days, I know, it does not feel like winning. But our resistance has already notched victories worth noting.
On the first day of this new session of Congress, Republicans tried to gut the ethics law in the dead of night. But amid a huge backlash, they pulled the rule back.
House Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz, Republican of Utah, was forced to withdraw his bill to sell public lands to the oil and gas industry after a public outcry.
In rallies all across the United States and even the globe, millions of people have taken to the streets to protest the Trump agenda.
Steadfast opposition to the confirmation of private school voucher proponent Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education forced the Vice President into the Senate to break a tie vote.
Andy Puzder, nominated to become the most anti-worker Labor Secretary in history, was forced to withdraw his name from consideration.
The American Civil Liberties Union has earned record membership and financial support as it battles bigoted immigration bans.
Pressure and embarrassment over Russian interference in our elections forced the President to dump one of his earliest supporters, Michael Flynn, as National Security Adviser. The public is demanding answers as new revelations about contacts between Russian officials and Trump’s campaign are coming to light.
I remain vigilant, but retain my optimism as I see the forces of resistance unifying against these threats. We are the solution and we have the power. Social movements take time and work and optimism and unity. Fighting back together, we are undefeatable. Resist. Persist. And let’s get organized.