Contempt is a form of blindness. It is arrogance made of a story we tell ourselves because we wish to be superior or because we are afraid. Whatever long-form the opposition to President Trump eventually becomes, it cannot be contemptuous of those who voted for him.
To fall into contempt for his voters is a terrible mistake, one HRC made with her comment on “deplorables”. It assumes the worst of millions of Americans. It simplifies others’ motives. It debases them. It dismisses them. If a mass movement is to come to fruition to oppose this President and the Party that supports him, it cannot begin by throwing out a whole piece of the electorate. It must begin by asking what it believes in and by listening to voters, no matter who they voted for. It cannot embrace ideological purity, the mistake made by too many on the right. Ideology is exclusionary, essentially theological instead of political. It sees those who disagree with it as enemies and heretics. That path leads to Fox News, Breitbart, the execrable Bannon, Ryan, McConnell, Conway, the nihilists of our political culture. It leads to this President.
One must preserve his or her ability to see clearly. One must fight against being consumed by rage.
The opposition to President Trump must accept compromise, give and take and humility. It cannot assume it has all the answers. It must be open. It must listen. And, it needs an ethos. What will it fight for? What does it value? You cannot beat something with nothing.
Maybe these: that human beings are not commodities or obstacles or things; that wilderness and animals should be protected for generations to come; that children and the very old should be priorities; that the vote is a sacred right and should be guaranteed, without obstacles, to every American citizen and that color and income level should never be a barrier to the franchise; that Americans should have access to universal health care; that Democrats* will create good jobs and design policies that will produce them.
The words liberal and conservative no longer have meaning and have not for some time now, not in an irony-laced age, not in this realm of so much propaganda presented as fact. Ideas matter, labels do not. Integrity matters. Common sense matters. Evidence matters. Science matters. As do compromise and human decency and a belief in fairness and a willingness to sacrifice for others and honor and kindness and a faith that Americans have more in common than they do in opposition. An opposition to totalitarian ideas and policies and orders matters.
Political ideas flow from whatever ethos comes into consensus. Then organizing may begin with a set of ideas behind it. Organizing is key. If both Houses of Congress are not captured, then little can be accomplished. That means Democrats winning in Oklahoma, Wyoming, Nebraska, Indiana. That means knitting the biggest tent possible and then packing it. Lives depend upon doing so.
Every day President Trump is going to do or say something incomprehensible or enraging. Every_day. He, and his followers in Congress will create the opportunity to win, but we cannot be forever enraged. We cannot see clearly through fury. A genuine anger at injustice is a better fuel, that and a willingness to learn from others and a unifying sense of what we hold to be true.
*What ever its many failings, it is the only political force in the short term that can challenge this President and his policies.