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“Indivisible” Movement Joins NOW – Focuses on Congress To “Resist The Trump Agenda”

South Jersey NOW meeting (2/15/17)

This is what Democracy looks like. South Jersey NOW meeting. Dr. Blessett is standing on the left. (Apologies for the poor quality photo) (2/15/17)

[Update – 1/18/17: NY Times:

I listened to the NPR radio show “Indivisible” the other night and was curious about their politics and strategy, so when my friend Margo gave a bunch of south Jersey folks a heads up, I jumped at the chance to attend a South Jersey NOW meeting last night and listen to the newly formed local “Indivisible” group.

Over 150 people jammed the meeting – a far larger crowd than the regular NOW meeting I was told – to hear two superb speakers.

First up was Eileen G. Hill, MD, from Mount Laurel, NJ who, in a recent LTE, decribes herself thusly:

I am a retired 62-year-old physician with no previous political experience. I am an ordinary citizen but I am every citizen. Though I have no previous political experience, I, like many people, have been horrified about what is going on in Washington since Jan 21. I started a chapter of “Indivisible” through South Jersey NOW-Alice Paul Chapter. (read link to full letter)

Eileen impressed me as a powerful, focused, passionate, and well organized woman. She clearly presented the “Indivisible” “Resist the Trump Agenda” strategy and political target (Congressman MacArthur) to the NOW chapter and many others who came along, perhaps, like myself, a first time attendee of a NOW meeting!  (but not my first women’s protest!)

I live in MacArthur’s district and share these concerns – in fact, I was appalled by MacArthur’s cowardly and false comments about people “hijacking” any public constituent meeting as an excuse not to hold one. I let him know that in an email to his Office.

If this group can build on the Women’s March, expand their coalition and focus to embrace a broader progressive/left agenda – particularly on the economic versus cultural/identity politics front – and sustain their current efforts, they could have a significant impact.

But they must avoid at least three traps: first, they must resist capture or manipulation by timid folks like the “No Blame” Citizen’s Campaign” and the Democratic Party and their usual suspects (MoveOn, et al). As Greenwald wrote:

Trump did not become president and the Republicans do not dominate virtually all levels of government because there is some sort of massive surge in enthusiasm for right-wing extremism. Quite the contrary: This all happened because the Democrats are perceived — with good reason — to be out of touch, artificial, talking points-spouting automatons who serve Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and the agenda of endless war, led bymillionaires and funded by oligarchs to do the least amount possible for ordinary, powerless citizens while still keeping their votes.

What drove Bernie Sanders’s remarkably potent challenge to Hillary Clinton was the extreme animosity of huge numbers of Democrats — led by its youngest voters — to the values, practices, and corporatist loyalties of the party’s establishment.

Second, avoid being narrowly cast by The Trumpists as just a sour grapes Hillary Clinton feminista faction of elite liberals; and third, while rejecting the timid “No Blame” approach, do not emulate and embrace the ugly tactics of The Tea Party. (yes, I can recall and attended those despicable Tea Party “Town Hells”).

The regular NOW meeting lecture topic was Inclusive Feminism in a post-Obama Era presented by Brandi Blessett, PhDAssistant professor in the Department of Public Policy & Administration at Rutgers University-Camden.

Dr. Blessett presented a broader black, left, feminist perspective. She was superb!

Women's March, Wash. DC (1/21/17)

Women’s March, Wash. DC (1/21/17)

I was particularly impressed with how she challenged – without chastising or scolding – the overwhelmingly white, upper middle class, female, and straight audience, with the question: where were all the Muslim travel ban airport protesters and Women’s Marchers when police were shooting unarmed black folks and the Black Lives Matter movement emerged?

She urged folks to expand their horizons and embrace different perspectives and experiences, what goes under the banner of “intersectionality”:

Intersectionality (or intersectional theory) is a term first coined in 1989 by American civil rights advocate and leading scholar of critical race theoryKimberlé Williams Crenshaw. It is the study of overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of oppressiondomination, or discrimination.

I managed to say hello after the meeting and complimented Dr. Blessett on her remarks.

I encouraged her to more explicitly bridge the cultural agenda with political economy, a critique of Neoliberalism, and a bold challenge to corporate power. She seemed to agree with those sentiments. As was just written so well in a piece I read this morning (emphasis mine):

And this brings us back to the most diabolical predicament of all. For the purpose of winning our votes while advancing a neoliberal agenda opposed to our interests, Third Way Democrats have appropriated and transformed identity politics, emptying it of all substantive content and building it back up again as a flashy celebrity-driven PR tool that bears little resemblance to the radical Civil Rights era discourse on which it was founded. …

… the place for issues faced by the marginalized and dispossessed is absolutely central – they are our guiding light. Or, to put it more strongly, in a political landscape where politicians routinely exploit issues of social identity to turn the dispossessed against each other, the only way out – the only way that does not lead us further down the dark road of fascism – is the return to a Civil Rights era version of social and economic justice that aims at the systematic radicalization of the dispossessed across the entire American electorate against a neoliberal political establishment that has united against us.

I am also very  concerned that the grave nature of the Trump threat is not well understood or is being underestimated:

Scholars knew much more than we know about the 1930s – whether we are speaking of National Socialism, fascism, or Stalinism.  But publics are much less interested.  And we lack, for whatever reason, the concepts that we used to have that allowed us to connect ideas and political processes.  When an American president says “America First” or proposes a political system without the two parties or attacks journalists or denies the existence of facts, that should set of a series of associations with other political systems. We need people who can help translate ideological utterances into political warnings.  Thinkers of the middle of twentieth century are now being read again, and for good reason. The American canon included native and refugee ex-communists who came to this country of the 1930s, refugees from fascism and National Socialism in the 40s, and the Cold War liberals of the 1950s. There was this time where we engaged in political theory and history, where people thought about what fascism and communism meant for democracy. Now, one reason why we cannot forget the 1930s is that the presidential administration is clearly thinking about them – but in a positive sense. They seem to be after a kind of redo of the 1930s with Roosevelt where the Americans take a different course. where we don’t build a welfare state and don’t intervene in Europe to stop fascism. Lindbergh instead of FDR.  That is their notion. Something went wrong with Roosevelt and now they want to go back and reverse it..

Here are additional useful links:

South Jersey NOW Chapter

Indivisible – “How to resist the Trump Agenda”

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