[This article first appeared on billmoyers.com on April 7, 2017. It’s the eighth in my series. You can read the earlier installments here.]
“The cause of America is, in great measure, the cause of all mankind.”
— Thomas Paine, Common Sense (1776)
Donald Trump’s presidency threatens two central pillars of democracy: free elections and the integrity of the office he holds. As the Trump Resistance continues, tactics will adjust to changing battlefield conditions. A few key principles can guide the overall strategy.
Tactic #1: Remember the Audience
Donald Trump and his minions aren’t the audience. Every American patriot is. In the near term, the most important targets consist of a few Real Republican senators. Once three courageous Republicans step forward consistently, Trump will have to deal with Senate Democrats representing the majority of citizens who never wanted him running the country.
Tactic #2 Define Victory
Trump must become weaker than a lame duck. Real Republican members of Congress will realize that only bipartisan actions will carry popular federal legitimacy until the next presidential election. Losing his compliant Senate won’t stop Trump completely, but it should slow him enough to save the country until his replacement arrives. And remember, even the drastic step of impeachment won’t cure the problem because Pence was on the Russia-supported ticket, too.
Tactic #3: Keep The Heat On
Keep the heat on the Trump Party. They don’t care that Russia interfered with an American election, and they don’t believe that Presidential corruption matters. Don’t let them pretend that calling Trump a Republican makes him one. He never has been, and he never will be. He’s the founder of a party to which no Real Republican can ever belong.
Tactic #4: Begin the 2018 Offensive
The future is imminent. In 2018, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for grabs and primary elections are already underway. Get to work now because the payoff will be enormous. With Trump’s popularity in the tank, even supposedly “safe” districts will become increasingly less secure for any Trump Party member of Congress. Unless they disavow his attacks on the two pillars of democracy, go after them – along with any of the eight Republican Senators also facing re-election who remain hitched to their Trump albatross. Remember, every Republican in the Senate voted to help Trump blow it up. They wiped out that body’s longstanding filibuster rule so Trump could name a U.S. Supreme Court justice whom some have predicted will be the most conservative member of the bench. Beating out Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito for that prize is no easy feat.
To recap, the eight senators up for re-election are: Nevada’s Dean Heller and Arizona’s Jeff Flake, Texas’s Ted Cruz, Nebraska’s Deb Fischer, Wyoming’s John Barrasso, Mississippi’s Roger Wicker, Tennessee’s Bob Corker, and, if he runs, Utah’s Orrin Hatch. If Jason Chaffetz seeks Hatch’s seat, Democrats can register as Independents for the primary and join Real Republicans in voting him out of office.
Tactic #5: The 2018 Defense
Protect the Democratic flank. Twenty-five Senate Democrats face re-election in 2018. Those uniting in the cause of repelling Trump’s assault on the two pillars of democracy deserve all the support that the Trump Resistance Plan can provide. Those who refuse to fight deserve primary challenges – just as their Republican counterparts do. When it comes to the nation’s survival, party labels no longer matter.
Tactic #6: The 2020 Mission
On Inauguration Day 2017, Trump filed for re-election in 2020. He never stopped campaigning, and neither can the Trump Resistance. Equally important, a new U.S. census in 2020 will provide state legislatures with another opportunity to gerrymander districts that will last through 2030. Attorney General Sessions will do what he can do help them. Republicans won only 51 percent of the votes cast for House of Representatives candidates in 2016, but they hold 67 percent of the seats. The Trump Party will do much worse. Republicans also control 32 state legislatures and 33 governorships. Until they opt-out individually, they’re all presumptively Trump Party members. Work with Real Republicans to turn them out of office.
Tactic #7: Stand Up for Victims
Don’t look the other way. Trump exploits a vicious circle of fear and anger to divide Americans. History will judge all of us by how we react to a bully who abuses our most vulnerable citizens. When Trump attacks, fight back as if he were attacking you because he is. Call, write, visit, march. Contribute what you can in time, money, or both to a cause of your choosing that makes America a better place, even as Trump makes it worse. There are plenty, including those listed at the Moyers & Company website and here.
Tactic #8: Make Your Voice Heard
There are no bystanders in this war. The Trump Resistance Plan provides tools that every citizen can use. Organize and protest publicly at every anti-Trump opportunity, regardless of the particular issue. Whatever your sign says, carry it proudly and add these: “Russia interfered” and “Presidential corruption matters.”
Tactic #9: Remain Vigilant
Beware of the ultimate diversion. Trump won’t be able to deliver on most of the promises he made to the disaffected. Their lives will get worse in ways they couldn’t have imagined. When the same people who cheered his divisive campaign rhetoric become unhappy, frustrated, and angry, Trump will manufacture excuses that shift the blame to others. That’s what he does. That’s who he is. He’ll point his angry mob toward new targets – immigrants; political opponents; the media; anyone who disagree with him; maybe even a foreign country with whom he starts a war. That is when America will face its most perilous hour.
Tactic #10: Embrace former Trump supporters
Over time, millions of Trump voters will recognize their mistakes in casting their 2016 ballots. Trump’s dismal approval ratings prove that some of them have already seen their calamitous error. Welcome them to the Trump Resistance Plan. Inclusiveness in promoting the TRP’s message – even in the face of disagreements over almost everything else – will help to inoculate the populace against the venom that Trump will increasingly inject in an attempt to turn us against each other.
This concludes the Trump Resistance Plan, but not the Trump Resistance. Perhaps the Batman villain, Bane, inspired Trump’s inaugural remarks about giving power “back to you, the people.” If so, Trump missed the most important point: The people already have it. As citizens mobilize, he’ll see what happens when they use it. And he won’t like it a bit.