Readers of a certain age will remember President Lyndon Johnson’s “credibility gap” in which the American public, by increasing numbers, came to believe the White House issued and believed what we now call “fake news” about the war in Vietnam. Because the President and key administration figures said these things, we needed to keep track of them. However, because we in the antiwar movement wished to witness and publicize reality, we had to find other sources of information. We used to joke that the best way to read the newspaper was back-to-front, because little factoids right at the end of the news sections tended to reveal what had really gone down across the globe. And we kept a close eye on unconventional sources as well.
Those days are back. Happily, those tools are still available. Over the past few days, I’ve been reconnecting with them, and reflecting on how to use them in the current fight against fascism.
Ironically, the best information comes from the government itself. Two easy sources are https://www.govtrack.us/ and (keep your cool here) https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions. On the latter, skip past the glitzy stuff and scroll down to things like Executive Orders and Appointments and Nominations. Other good sources are http://www.rollcall.com/ and http://thehill.com/. When you look at these, you immediately see that there are way too many topic areas for one person to follow and still lead a normal life. It’s going to take continuing community.
Continuing community and topic complexity are where the left beat itself in the antiwar and thereafter. As the war began to wind down (ha!) and its refrains wore out their welcome, huge fights developed over the next top priority. Sadly, as now, all these concerns deserved full attention. The women’s movement, empowerment for various cultural groups, the environment, queer rights, disability rights — which of these would we give up now? And yet, they were won at a terrible price, for the left splintered into so many factions that we lost political power for several decades. Our country cannot afford for us to repeat that error again. We’re going to have to treat each other like spouses, listening to other voices and showing up in support. The “allies” model has given us the several legs we’re going to need to walk this body forward.
In the absence of a credible national media, going local is more important than ever. Talking to neighbors, attending local groups — all the techniques already in use — will have to replace the trust and comfort we briefly enjoyed in the Obama years. But to keep ourselves grounded on paths that need to blocked, the first step is to seek out mundane information where the fascists look to plan their working days. And then, we’ll be able to shift back from outrage to obstruction on a wider range of topics. We also need to watch the states, where so much of the damage has taken place.
But this time there’s one thing we need the national media to do for us. Now that we know Trump is not running the country, we need to demand a detailed and disciplined Pence-Watch. He’s the one doing the dinners, the liaisoning, the phone calls, that make the difference. I hope some DC nerd will appoint themself his shadow and BLOG BLOG BLOG.
I set up this blog to advocate for integrity in governance of a single small religious movement. These days, like so many, my governance integrity interests focus on secular institutions.