Giving thanks for, or, How Donald Trump is making me a better citizen

Not too long ago, somebody I followed on Twitter was wondering basically where and how our dystopian novel hero would arise. A decade or so ago it seemed we were getting fed a steady diet of dystopian young adult novels and movies, and now here we are seeing the evolution of religious-pandering, right-stealing, corporate swamp-building kleptocracy, and so what are we doing about it besides wringing our hands?

Well making phone calls doesn’t make much for action heroes, but I guess I’m too privileged to start blowing shit up, or too old and fat to be an action hero anyway . . . or maybe I still believe we haven’t quite gone over the precipice yet, and that it’s not too late for raising our voices and demonstrating and asking our representatives to actually represent us instead of their corporate sponsors. I’m probably na├»ve, but what the heck.

So my answer to the question “What moved you from outrage to action” was, because it basically took away every excuse I had for sitting on my butt and doing nothing. (Obviously 5calls shares my biases, so I don’t know what you do to be more civic-minded if your biases lean in a different direction from mine. I suppose issues are issues, so you could still use 5calls but change the script to reflect your POV. I customize all my scripts anyway.)

Some other online resources that I’ve been using include Town Hall Project and Indivisible. Which brings me to another point. It’s not heroic to spend five minutes making a few phone calls. It’s slightly better than nothing, is what it is. But what is more heroic is the people who are organizing these and other resources, along with the people organizing marches and protests and other actual civic action. And the people setting the example. A big part of what’s gotten me started is watching my friend Mike, who has formed a local resistance group and updates a facebook page with scripts every day on the major issues that are of interest to his group. I don’t live in his area, but I get his updates anyway, and each day’s update comes with an unspoken question from me to myself: What the hell are you doing, Joe?

And to bring this all the way back around to the title of this blog post, no, I’m not grateful to Donald Trump for a single thing, but it’s interesting that all of these years I could have been a more active, vocal supporter of the things I believe in. I donated money to politicians and to causes and groups whose mission I believed in, but I never called anybody, and I never showed up anywhere. I’m reminded a bit about how I got to know my neighbors in Miami so much better after Hurricane Andrew destroyed all our houses and we had to pitch together to share resources. Maybe it takes a disaster, like Donald Trump, to make us see what we’re capable of.

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3 Responses to Giving thanks for, or, How Donald Trump is making me a better citizen

  1. Jonathon says:

    I really should try calling my people in Congress, but I’m afraid it won’t accomplish anything. My representative is Jason Chaffetz, who has shown zero interest in investigating Trump and who is spontaneously retiring anyway, and my senators are Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, who occasionally cluck their tongues at Trump but are taking the opportunity to help to lead the charge on taking people’s health insurance away.

    So maybe I should call just so that I can be an engaged member of society, but I just can’t imagine Chaffetz saying “Okay, maybe I’ll suddenly become less of a weasel” or Hatch saying “Hey, maybe I’ll suddenly decide to stop being a corporate crony and start serving my constituents” or Lee saying “Gee, maybe I’ll stop being such an anti-government Tea Party nutjob” just because a few citizens made some phone calls.

    I know that cynicism and disillusionment like mine are part of the problem, but sometimes it’s really hard being a liberal in utah.

  2. Joe Iriarte says:

    I hear you. For me, one of my senators, and my representative, already can be counted on to vote like I want more often than not. And then there’s my other senator, Marco Rubio, and my governor, Voldemort Rick Scott.

    It helps me to calibrate my desired outcomes: as you say, Marco Rubio isn’t going to say, gosh, Not only is Joe right, he’s so eloquent that I have no choice but to change my ways. My understanding, though, is that their aides are keeping tally of how many calls from constituents they receive, and using those calls to basically gauge how far they can push their awful agenda. So Rubio will not be progressive no matter what I do, but I can be a grain of sand trying to help top the scales, and if there are enough of us he may decide to pick some other battle.

  3. Jonathon says:

    That’s a good point. I guess I need to stop making excuses and actually start making my voice heard.

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