Tuesday, April 18, 2017

How to convert the "Resistance" movement into something real

Complaints with Trump have to have deeper meaning

In the first few months of Donald Trump’s tenure as president, we have seen quite possibly the worst first 100 days of any modern U.S. chief executive. His administration’s foibles and gaffes have demonstrated that the president and his underlings weren’t prepared for the job on day one; his failed policies and unpopular positions among the citizenry show that he’s set to lead this country in a direction it doesn’t want to take.

The “resistance” movement against President Trump has picked up considerable steam since January. Protests, some of them larger in stature than Trump’s own inauguration ceremony, are indicative of a true grassroots movement coalescing among the American populace.

But the resistance cannot choose a message that is simply “we are against Trump.” That line of thinking is appealing to a good chunk of Americans, to be sure, but if we want to go beyond “preaching to the choir” about why Trump’s policies are bad for the nation, the resistance has to provide its own set of ideas, independent of Trump’s, that will be beneficial as well.

Fortunately, there is a good place to start forming these ideas — with the complaints themselves. In every complaint, there exists an alternative vision of what should be offered. Instead of saying “here’s why Trump is wrong on the issue of X,” resistance leaders should embrace saying “here’s what we propose to fix X.”

This is basic human psychology, evident in politics as much as it is in childrearing — if your four-year-old daughter doesn’t want to watch Elmo, you can offer Bob the Builder instead. If you don’t like Donald Trump’s vision for immigration, offer an alternative idea that voters will support, that includes a pathway for current immigrants who have been here for decades. At the basic levels, people desire choices.

There is certainly a place for outrage to exist. The marches against Trump, demonstrating support for reasonable immigration reform, science-based governance, women’s rights and more, are fast becoming fixtures in our politics, and deservedly so. It is thrilling to see so many Americans take up these causes, and to become more involved in the conversation than they have been in the past.

These demonstrations, however, cannot be both the beginning and the end of the discussion. Lawmakers and community leaders who embrace the resistance movement against the Trump administration must also provide guidance beyond these marches, showcasing the alternatives that will push our country forward in a positive direction.

Their messages must be appealing as well, succinct and to the point. We cannot defeat Trump by going into a 12-point policy discussion. In this age of social media, 140 characters are all we have to explain why we’re on the right side of history. Policy papers and longer explanations are still necessary and have their places in debates, but selling a product, whether it’s a can of soda or a political movement, requires brevity.

The resistance has had an enormous first round of success, but in subsequent rounds more thought has to be given on what should be done for the future. Resistance has to evolve into reform and action if it is to convert anyone away from the current path we’re on.

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