Every so often I hear from Mike Stafford, a former Republican and a former member of Coffee Party USA. Today he speaks with an essay that gives me hope in navigating the next four years of Donald Trump.
It gives me great hope when a former Republican speaks about real activism that involves dissent and nonviolent civil resistance. Mike Stafford wrote the following in his must-read piece titled "Blessed are the dissidents."
As I write this, reports are circulating that Donald Trump, our President-elect, intends to follow through on some of his most divisive campaign promises and actually create some sort of registry for Muslim immigrants. More broadly, regardless of whether this specific plan is put into action now, there can be no denying the fact that Trump is busy populating his incoming administration with bigots, xenophobes, and conspiracy theory peddlers in addition to the usual crowd of corporate courtiers. Indeed, an anti-Semitic white nationalist, Steve Bannon, now sits literally at the right hand of secular power. None of this should surprise us, and we should believe him.
Trump’s campaign involved not the mere violation of established norms of political behavior, but rather their outright desecration. It featured overt appeals to racial fears, xenophobia and misogyny. He winked approvingly at acts of political violence and vigilantism. He mocked the disabled. He re-tweeted quotes from Benito Mussolini. He threatened to jail his opponent. And despite all of this, he was elected.
Mike points out that there is nothing normal about Trump. Yet the normalization process is in full vogue. Mike like many others who know that acquiescing to evil is in itself evil implores that we take action.
Make no mistake- Trump represents a decisive break with everything that has come before. This election really is different. Hence, the imperative of dissent and nonviolent civil resistance. Dissent challenges the false, but comforting, narrative of continuity with the reality of rupture.
At the dawn of the Trump regime, dissent and nonviolent acts of civil disobedience are the two essential mechanisms for preserving our own integrity and avoiding complicity in a newly emergent form of radical political evil. In this regard, the greatest challenge we face isn’t overcoming our fear, but rather, the conscience-dulling effects of our comfort and complacency. This is the inertia that keeps us silently at work in our offices and cubicles, and out of the streets. But be warned: in the Age of Trump, silence is complicity in the lie! Silence makes accomplices and accessories of us all.
Mike ends his piece with an admonition.
As Pope Francis has taught, “blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others.” And we might go further: in Trump’s America, blessed also are the dissidents, blessed are those with the courage to make a start!
My brothers and sisters, listen to the voice of warning in your hearts. The day is coming when you will rend your garments and lament not what you have done, but that you did not do more. Truly, “[w]e must love one another or die.”
When you have a five-minute break, read Mike Stafford's piece and some of his excellent work.