It’s Time to Quit Taking the Bait

Donald Trump’s first ten days in office have made it clear that he plans to govern as he has run his businesses and show: create chaos and let the “winners” claw their way to the top. It was probably unrealistic to hope for anything else. As should surprise nobody who knows me, I’m not willing to play that game. Knee-jerk reactions to a verbal bomb thrower simply play into the dynamic he or she prefers and deliberately creates.

I’m also doubling down on my refusal to play the partisan political game. All that’s gotten us here in America is a polarized society where our best and brightest never talk to one another, preferring to build the barricades around their entrenched positions and spend their time fending off “the barbarians”. In that environment, new ideas that might work don’t appear, or die for lack of support.

While I have my limits (racists and race-baiters, sexists and gender-baiters, religious or anti-religious hate, verbal bomb throwers, etc), I will talk to almost anybody. We don’t have to agree on very much. If you want a free and just society and those words mean to you anything close to what they mean to me, I expect we can work together.

First, we need new tactics; the current dissent/protest playbook is out of date. I’m not in principle hostile to demonstrations, petitions, and other types of activism. I’ve participated in all of those things in the past, organized several, and expect I will do both in the future. Unless we want Trump to control the public conversation entirely for four years, however, we need to quit taking his bait.

Marches and petitions in response to whatever outrageous statement or executive order the administration issues today usually amount to taking the bait. When we do this, we let the administration set the agenda and direct our focus. The risk is that, while responding to some outrageous but trivial statement, we will miss some quieter but important action.

It’s time for a different approach: quit talking so much and started listening, watching, and *thinking* more.

What I’ve just written probably sounds like an introduction to a manifesto. It isn’t; it *is* the manifesto — for the moment at least. Below are a few articles I have recently read about the current presidential administration’s activities in the past ten days, and found worth my time.

  • A Shock Event: Historian Heather Cox Richardson on Trump’s Muslim Ban. Short, to the point, and a brilliant description of how an administration can use a shocking event to destabilize a society, preveting effective opposition to what they actually do. It is telling that Richardson, a left-of-center Boston College historian, published this article on the blog site of John Fea, a right-of-cente Messiah College historian. They’re both seeing it.
  • Jake Fuentes: The Immigration Ban is a Headfake…. Longer article that takes a different approach to the same issue as Richardson’s but arrives at a nearly identical conclusion.
  • Center Right to Trump: It Did Not Have to Be This Way. article on the growing opposition to the Immigration Ban among Republican lawmakers and center-right political figures. None of this was news to me, but it puts the picture together in one place for those unfamiliar with the conservative political landscape.

As I run into good stuff elsewhere, I’ll blog about it. Those of you with blogs might consider doing the same, and telling me about what you find. :)

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