Thursday, November 17, 2016

November 17, 2016--Don't Turn Off Your TV

Many of my liberal friends have been telling me that the results of the election and the current state of the transition are so upsetting that they've stopped reading newspapers and watching TV.

Having similar inclinations, I understand this.

In spite of this, I also feel we have to resist the impulse and make sure we're watching a lot of network and cable news, that we're reading all the newspapers and magazines we can tolerate, that we are spending time surfing the internet for political stories and insights, and are pushing ourselves to talk with each other about our frustrations and, much more important, what happened and what to do, to actually do, to make a difference, to recapture the agenda.

Republican conservatives have been adept at keeping in touch with who their people are and their issues and for decades have been organizing themselves to shape the discourse and gain power from the local to national levels.

Progressives? Not so much. Especially when it comes time to move beyond check-writing and self-referential smart-talk.

I'll be frank--what I've been hearing from liberal friends is that they are tuning off the news because dealing with it is making them unhappy. To quote many, "When I turn off the TV, I immediately feel better."

In response I have begun to say that, "With all due respect and affection, this sounds indulgent. Being an engaged citizen is not about feeling good. It's often about feeling bad and in spite of that, because of that seeking ways to become productively activated."

It's gotten to the point that some people I've known for many years don't want to talk with me anymore. Or, if we talk, want only to speak about happy, diverting things.

But unless more of us who opted out even before the election, pretty much having become disenchanted with politics, leaving the protection of our rights to governments, unless we reengage and get mobilized what we have seen recently is what we will likely experience for the rest of our lives.

One friend yesterday, finally exasperated by my unwillingness to stop hectoring him, said, "OK. I hear you. But what should we do? What should I do?"

Here's what I told him--
  • Write letters to the editor and op-ed pieces
  • Call in to radio talkshows, especially right-wing ones, and take on their demagoguery
  • Write to Democratic members of the House demanding they vote to replace Nancy Pelosi as minority leader
  • Write to whomever makes the decision about who you prefer to be the next head of the Democratic National Committee
  • Support, volunteer for, send checks to organizations such as the ACLU that are dedicated to promulgating and protecting liberal rights and values
  • Consider running for public office--school board membership is a good place to start
  • Spend vacation time driving the blue highways of America and talk with, listen to people at the lunch counters of local diners
  • Keep the TV on and watch not only PBS but Fox News, especially Fox News
  • Get started fighting back
  • Never give up!
Richard Nixon

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