The birth of the Resistance.
One day we were at the precipice. We had a candidate, love her or hate her, that was going to shatter the biggest glass ceiling. But then, blah, blah, blah…
We all know what happened next.
As we near the one year mark, I wanted to take a look back. But not a look back on Trump. Who wants to relive all that anyway? We get it. He’s the worst. And when the Secretary of State calls him a “f#$king moron” there’s not much more I can add.
Instead, I wanted to take a look back at us. At what we’ve learned in a very short amount of time and what we’re building in every county in the country. How a group of people, many with zero political or activist experience, are posed to recreate the Democratic Party. As Kenneth P. Vogel puts it in The ‘Resistance,’ Raising Big Money, Upends Liberal Politics:
“It started as a scrappy grass-roots protest movement against President Trump, but now the so-called resistance is attracting six- and seven-figure checks from major liberal donors, posing an insurgent challenge to some of the left’s most venerable institutions — and the Democratic Party itself.”
If Hillary Clinton would have won (and in many alternative realities she did), I would be sitting here complaining about how the press keeps focusing on her fashion choices. I would probably be interested in how she’s keeping her campaign promises to improve the ACA. I would not be involved in a national, grassroots movement that is helping shape future generations.
But that reality doesn’t exist. Instead, I learned that I can’t sit quietly on the sidelines while our country burns. And I’m clearly not the only one. Here are a few of the very hard lessons we’ve learned since November 2017 and why this is about US.
It’s always been about US.
The Resistance is STILL Stressed
It’s not a secret that we’re stressed out. Unfortunately, it’s not going away anytime soon. In The Resistance Answers: How Are You Handling Stress in the Trump Era?, I explained:
“Those of us in the Resistance can barely remember a time when we weren’t stressed out. It’s a full-time job saving Democracy. It can be exhausting and overwhelming. Many of us have struggled to balance our new found activism with all our responsibilities. It’s extremely hard to stay focused on soccer practice when planning a protest if Trump fires Special Prosecutor Mueller.”
Months later and we’re still struggling with stress, anxiety and finding our balance in a new world. One Resistance member explains her new life:
“I like stability more than I expected; I believe in women and the next feminist movement; I am afraid of misogyny and still working on my fight-song.”
Got you covered there, Kim. May I suggest:
Regardless of our commitment to the Resistance, Jackie explains our new reality perfectly:
“I can’t set myself to the right rhythm to resolutely move ahead on resistance and rebuilding when it seems we lose more every day. If it were just about putting the election behind us, that would be one thing. But this is like walking over some line and trying to deal with the new reality of zombies. And oops, now there are werewolves. Oh, nuts, ghouls. It’s hard to belt out a consistent and strong heartsong when every day is an unwelcome new heartbreak.”
We’re still struggling. Some days are worse than others.
But we’re still here.
The Resistance HAS to Act
Some people freeze. Some people ignore or deny the obvious. Some can’t process the daily barrage of negativity and shut down.
That’s not us.
Here’s how one Resister puts it:
“I can’t just vote and sit back before and after an election. I need to pay more attention to what is going on “politically”–something I used to avoid. I can make a difference–by going to rallies, signing petitions, calling my representatives. I need to educate my 13 yo daughter not just tell her she has an obligation to vote in an educated way but about how social media can influence elections, and so much more.”
Taking action is now part of our daily life. As Susan puts it, we’re running a marathon not a sprint:
“I have learned that I need to participate more in the political arena by calling, writing, and marching to make my voting requests known. I have done this since 1/20/17…and clearly this needs to be a life-long commitment.”
Beth shares exactly what so many of us have come to understand:
“There is “power in numbers” only if the numbered participate and that means me, participating and paying attention.”
This is our time to step up. It’s our responsibility, our country, our future and our families at stake. It goes back to the old saying:
“If not us, who? If not now, when?”
We know what we have to do. And we’re ready to do it. There is no path forward where we don’t play a role, regardless of who wins the next election. We’re here to stay.
We’re here to stay.
We Found the Time and Strength
Go back a year ago. I had never gone to a rally, filmed a promotional ad for a political campaign, and I’d never started a grassroots movement in my hometown. But I got on a bus and headed here.
I haven’t looked back.
I listened to Michael Moore say:
“You have to run for office. Yes, you! I can see your faces. ‘No, no Mike. Not me. I’m shy.’ This is not the time for shy people. Shy people, you have two hours to get over it.” – Michael Moore
Lots of people said incredibly motivating things that day. Stuff that will stick with me for a lifetime. But Michael Moore’s call to action perfectly explained why we just needed to get over it. We have busy lives, and some of us were nervous. We wondered “What’s so special about us?” but nothing is special about us. And that’s exactly the point. We were just the ones brave enough to stand up, even when we didn’t know what we were doing.
But we all knew we couldn’t sit on the sidelines. Not this time.
One of our guiding mottos this year has been “The world isn’t going to change itself. That’s up to you”. And we figured out how to incorporate activism into our already busy lives because we know it’s our responsibility.
Lori shuts down the “I don’t have time” excuse:
“I DO, in fact, have time to contact my senators and rep; and I CAN figure out what to say. It’s better to make the call than not, however imperfectly phrased.”
Bekah shares how she takes action even when it’s scary and hard:
“My voice matters, in public and private matters. And putting my body on the line for what my mouth says I believe in is important, and fulfilling. Also, scares the shit out of me sometimes to step out of my comfort zone!”
And Deb explains how she pushes through the chaos and still gets things done:
“I marched in the January 2017 Women’s March on Washington. Set up a twitter account and tweeted against repeal #1, #2, #3. Called my MoCs. Answered Angus’s surveys. Told myself to ‘suck it up, buttercup, and don’t give up’ when I felt like it was way too much to deal with.”
Anyone paying attention has been through the wringer this year. But we put aside our despair, anger, frustration, and fear and kept fighting. Somehow we found the strength to do what needed to be done anyway.
And that says a lot about who we are.
We Still Have a Lot to Learn
Last year at this time, we were talking about whatever new pumpkin thing Dunkin put on the menu. Laughing about the latest SNL skit, secure in the knowledge that we would soon have a woman president. This year, we’re casually throwing around phrases like CBO score and keeping track of our congressional member’s recesses.
What a difference a year makes!
We’ve crammed a few semesters worth of political science into a few short months. We’ve learned how our government works and we’ve memorized our MOC’s phone numbers. We devour new trainings, webinars, books, and spend our weekends attending meetings, workshops, and summits. That’s our new normal.
Yet, we still have a lot to learn. As Anne Marie puts it:
“Learned? This is a fun question. That congressional committees have phone numbers, apart from the chair of the committee, and those staffs are very helpful and full of useful information about upcoming committee hearings and things. That our legislature doesn’t actually vote on bills. It votes on whether to accept the committee’s recommendation on the bills, so a Yes vote on a committee’s report recommending the bill not pass is actually a No. What a reconciliation bill is. What closure votes are. That Congress can hold votes in the middle of the night. That some members of Congress are doing their jobs with incredible integrity and desire to foster the common good. That there are a lot of things I thought were laws but really are just customs (we need to make them laws).”
So while we’ve come a long way, we’re not quite political experts.
We Are Stronger Together
Jackie’s simple statement explains it all:
“We really are stronger together. It wasn’t just a slogan.”
We have lost a lot. We see an America that is divided and damaged. And we’re still under attack by a foreign government and learning new ways Russia influenced our election. We’ve seen basic decency go out the window and our neighbors slide easily into accepting authoritarian rule. We’ve lived for many months feeling that the next tweet could be the one that tips us into nuclear annihilation…
But we haven’t just learned how to survive 2017. We’ve learned how to find our voices and speak out. And perhaps most importantly, we’ve learned that we’re stronger than we ever imagined.
One Resistance member shares:
“That you are never to old to be tough, to be vocal, to get involved in things that matter. I have never felt stronger than I do today.”
We’ve defined our own kind of patriotism and refuse to let someone else tell us how to be Americans. Anne Marie explains:
“My proudest moment as an American, ever, and not just in 2017, was the weekend of the first Muslim ban and people flocked to airports all over the country to protest.”
This year has been a turning point in our lives, but we refuse to be defined by Donald Trump’s insanity. He may be the catalyst that ignited the Resistance but we’re the ones with the power. So we can either define our 2017 by him, or by us.
I choose US. I will always choose US.
As we move into the second year of our new reality, keep in mind one of Kay’s favorite quotes:
“They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.”
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see what we do in 2018.