We are making a difference!
Monday night 6 members of our group attended a forum sponsored by Rockville Resistance, an affiliation we formed creating the multi group letter to our MOC’s. The ethics of this administration is nonexistent so there was plenty to learn and understand as a panel of leading experts were enthusiastic to share. Over 250 tickets were available and by the day of the event there was a waiting list of 50. You can see how hot this topic is in this crazy time.
The panel consisted of: Robert Weissman with Public Citizen and lawyer; Stephen Spaulding representing Common Cause also a lawyer; Virginia Canter from CREW, lawyer who worked in the Office of Ethics and various presidents; Michael Kazin a Georgetown professor, expert in US History and US Politics;and finally Jamie Raskin US Congressman from MD 8th district. Unfortunately Mr. Raskin was ill but sent Stae Attorney General Brian Frosh who received a warm welcome before the forum began.
Each panelist made a presentation on what their concerns were, how they effect us and what actions we can do to change the conversation. Overwhelmingly, the consensus was that President Trump is the Poster child for the Emoluments Clause. There is a prediction that there will be at least two trips by the legal community to the Supreme Court. Laurence Tribe, Harvard Constitutional Law expert, predicts an 85% success in stopping the destruction of democracy. Ethical issues are especially difficult to garner public support because most people are just plain not interested in them. Not surprisingly, Trump’s administration is the most corrupt in history.
Each organization represented has been aggressively and persistently laying groundwork to defeat the corrosive ethical issues that have been the foundation of this administration. Legal actions have been ongoing and will be continued. Legislation has been introduced to require every presidential candidate to provide tax returns in several states. The public is well served by CREW, Common Cause, Public Citizen and our States Attorney and our Democratic leaders in the state and federal government. Integrity in government is of the highest concern by all the panelists and their agencies. At times the conversation was emotional and moving as the speaker spoke of the ethical issues we face now for the first time in history.
So, although this all sounds bleak you must be wondering if anything good can come from these dark days. Yes, is the short answer.
**First, we must have confidence that there are many honest, hardworking, dedicated people sacrificing time and effort to saving democracy. Ms Canter is a perfect example of this attitude. She worked in government for most of her career, she decided that after the inauguration she would best serve our country by working in the public sector. Clearly her emotional testimony about our situation was convincing of her loyalty, patriotism and dedication to our interests. She stared: “I remain optimistic.” We have to share her optimism and hope in order to sustain our resistance.
**Second, what we are doing is working. Mr. Weissman impressed that upon the crowd over and over. He as well as the panelists assured us that immigration and healthcare have been influenced by our efforts. Grassroots has its place and it is effective. It gives the establishment pause and gives agencies such as the ones represented hope that they are not fighting in a vacuum.
Understanding how to have a successful political movement is helpful. To be successful, according to Prof Kazin, changing the common sense of society is the goal. The movement must be independent with a connection to people in power. There must be an inside and outside strategy, meaning there are those working on the grassroots level working with people in power, for example, government. Our grassroots efforts are considered an uprising rather than a movement. A movement takes a longer period of time. We seem to be at the infancy stage of a movement at this time. Kazin states that we must be careful to be inclusive and not dismiss anyone who sympathizes with our position; we need to push, control, and lobby the Democratic Party, keeping in mind that they also need us. Kazin cautions us not to demonize Trump supporters. And lastly to think and talk about the world we want, focus on the issues. Keep your eyes on the prize!
**Third: phone calls, letters with personal stories, protesting, and education are the best tools we have. Mr. Weissman emphasized the power of personal stories and making issues relevant to people’s lives. Talking to people about what matters to them and how their lives can be improved or changed positively are effective tactics. Resistance groups have very well organized and informative educational events. Educating ourselves as well as others who are not activists cannot be overstated.
Our proximity to Washington D.C. is a unique responsibility. Weissman made it clear that because we are so close to the center of government, we must be the ones to be on the streets protesting. Our elected officials see people on the lawn of the Capitol and in the parks, around the White House. They are wary of ignoring our presence. If we had not been protesting the healthcare bill, trumpcare would already be law. Keeping the pressure on our government is imperative. Our Maryland Congressman are great but they can be better if we stand behind them and push them further.
The confidence that the panelists had in our grassroots efforts should give us renewed energy and enthusiasm for our agenda. We can be reassured our instincts are good. We know what must be done, we have goals, and we have adopted great techniques to become successful. We are educating and we all continue to educate ourselves. We make calls, write letters, support our fellow resistors and our representatives, we take care of ourselves and our new friends. Even when we become discouraged, we answer the call to protest. We are doing what we need to do. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Our work is appreciated and recognized. As Mr. Weissman so eloquently said: Do what you are doing!
Just a note: I forgot to mention in my post about a day in Washington: Mr. Van Horne, Senator Cardin’s staffer, made an important point of saying that local politics and electing young qualified people is important to change the dynamics of government. Local and state politics lead into national government. Getting people to vote is just as important as any resistance methods we use. Fighting gerrymandering and voter suppression is an ongoing agenda.
Thanks for all who read every word. I hope you feel that your efforts are important and necessary to protect our democracy. I found it reinvigorating and refreshing to hear such influential and powerful people say how important we are and how surprised they have been to discover the public’ outcry since the 2016 election. Overwhelmingly these powerful people have started our conversations with a thumbs up to our activism!