Across the country, people are marching, calling, emailing, suing, resisting in every possible way. And it is working. Here are three ways to know that all the effort you/we are making DO HAVE AN IMPACT. We will not win easily. We will not win quickly. We will win ground one inch at a time, and the cost will be high, but we will win. So – testimony from Pennsylvania, a list of wins and partial wins, and Winona LaDuke on Native American resistance to pipelines.
Thanks to Kendrick Wronski for sending this testimony from a Mennonite pastor:
Just got back from a visit to Senator Pat Toomey’s Johnstown office with 15 other Borough of State College & Penn State area people to talk about the immigration ban.
Here are my takeaways:
- Everyone we spoke with was rattled. They have never experienced this much constant feedback. The phones haven’t stopped since the Inauguration and they admitted they can’t check voicemail because there is no pause to do so.
- Letters are the only thing getting through at this point. Regional offices are a much better mail destination because the compile, sort, and send everything. DC mail is so backed up right now it takes twice as long to send things there.
- Toomey’s staff seem frustrated with Trump. They said his barrage of Executive Orders are not how government is supposed to work, and was what they hated during moments of the Obama era. One of them said, “we have a democratic system and process. Trump needs to stop behaving like a Monarch.”
- Our representatives are listening because people are raising their voices. This feels like no other political moment in recent time for them.
- Toomey’s staffers are far more empathetic than I assumed. Also far more technology illiterate (one asked me how to use twitter, and how we already knew about Toomey’s published statement). They resonate that the immigration ban feels immoral and unAmerican.
- Regional offices are not designed to handle this volume of unrest.
- Personal stories matter. Tell the stories of people being impacted by arbitrary religious and ethnic legislation (I got to tell a bit of your story, Baraa). Staffers want to know.
- Don’t stop. Do whatever small part you can do to keep raising your voice to your representatives. Not just this issue, but every way marginalized people are being (or will be) exploited under this President.
Winning this week
Yesterday’s big win: U.S. District Judge James Robart, who was appointed by George W. Bush, temporarily blocked Trump’s executive order ban on immigrants from seven mostly-Muslim countries. The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the attorneys general of Washington and Minnesota, which said, in part, that the ban was “separating families, harming thousands of the States’ residents, damaging the States’ economies, hurting State-based companies, and undermining both States’ sovereign interest in remaining a welcoming place for immigrants and refugees.” Litigation will continue – Trump is already fulminating and filing appeals. But make no mistake: this ruling is a big deal.
Facebook friends have been circulating a long list of “wins,” including the Uber CEO’s resignation from a Trump advisory council, two Republican senators saying they will vote not to confirm Education Secretary nominee Betsy Vos (still need one more, keep calling!), and Republicans backing away from outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
We can celebrate these wins, but never stop working.
Lessons from Native American pipeline resistance
Winona LaDuke summarizes years of protest and action against pipelines by Native American communities in an article in YES Magazine. These battles are fought simultaneously on many fronts: direct action, demands for Environmental Impact Statements (EIS), the Chippewa Cumulative Impact Assessment on the proposed Line 3 tar sands pipeline, legal challenges in courts and through administrative channels, divestment actions that target investors in the pipelines, canceling leases between Native governments and pipelines, and more. LaDuke concludes:
“Much of the groundwork for the movement to stop Dakota Access was laid in the years of intertribal resistance to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which was stopped in 2015. And in September, more than 50 tribes formed a historic alliance against tar sands expansion that directly targets Enbridge’s Line 3 and Northern Gateway pipelines, TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline, Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion. The Trump administration has now reopened the Keystone XL battle and is trying to push DAPL forward, but the upcoming months promise intense new fronts of conflict as tribal nations are united as never before and taking action.”
Even if Trump succeeds in restarting DAPL and Keystone XL, resistance will continue in many ways and on many different fronts.
Resistance works. We need to continue.
Resistance takes multiple paths. Direct action – marching, civil disobedience, massive protests – is one path of resistance. (Here’s a link to a ResistMpls, a new website listing direct actions in the Twin Cities.) Pressure on elected officials, through visits to their offices, conversations at town hall forums, calls, calls, calls – that’s another effective form of resistance. Put their numbers in your cell phone and call while you’re waiting for the bus, or for your kids to get ready for school, or for your washing machine to finish the last three minutes so you can put the clothes in the dryer. And remember your state representatives – important and dangerous legislation is pending at the state level, too.
Resistance also means supporting one another. If I march, and you write letters, we are both finding ways to resist. If your representative’s statement condemning the latest outrage comes out 24 hours later, thank them instead of criticizing them for not getting on Facebook in the first two hours.
From direct action to personal conversations across the political divide to legal challenges in courts across the country to running for political office to baking cookies for a neighborhood meeting to posting uncomfortably political requests on a neighborhood forum: resistance takes many different forms. No one can do them all. Choose something you can do and keep on doing it.
We will not win easily. We will not win quickly. We will win ground one inch at a time, and the cost will be high, but we will win.