Thursday, December 15, 2016

Indivisible: The Rise of the Constitutional Caucus

This document is "Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda." It was coauthored by a friend of mine and some fellow ex-congressional staffers as a how-to for exerting leverage on your members of Congress during the Trump administration. It's drawn directly from the hard lessons they learned enduring the Tea Party wave in response to Obama's election. It's very good: exactly the sort of realistic, practical, no-nonsense advice progressives need right now.  Read it, digest it, circulate it, live it.

To repeat if I wasn't clear: I highly recommend it, and I highly recommend you distribute it. That all goes double for those of you in even vaguely (and "vaguely" here is defined as broad as possible) competitive states and districts. It is far more important that you read it than you read the short addendum I put out below.

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Okay, now my far less valuable two cents. The above document is focused particularly on how to interact with one's own Congressperson -- a very worthy aim. I have two minor additions of my own that are mostly beyond the scope of the document, but I think supplement its advice nicely.

First, the Tea Party was successful in large part because it really transformed Republican politics on the local level. That meant getting its people onto school boards, county councils, and state assembly seats. These sorts of low-information, low-turnout elections are precisely where a small group of motivated individuals can make an outsized impact. They offer the opportunity to acculturate people into voting Blue. And they build up a Democratic bench for later on.

Second, names matter -- and the Tea Party was a great one. One reason it was excellent is that it evoked a classic protest moment in American history. Another was because nominally, it was not affiliated with a particular party. Obviously, in practice it was -- it operated as a faction and arm of the Republican Party. But I think it would have been far less successful had its name including "Republican" in it -- they weren't the Republican Party, they were the Tea Party! Much of its appeal was precisely to persons who styled themselves as independents (even if that's mostly a special-snowflake syndrome) fed up with party politics but who thirsted for an alternative avenue to participate in politics. One certainly can see a similar instinct among liberals in the Sanders crowd -- many very much liked that he was not technically a "Democrat" but an "Independent". Particularly for persons who have a dim view of politics generally but are attracted to a strong populist message (like many Sanders voters were), not branding oneself as a "Democratic" organization probably is a good idea.

Like the Tea Party, it would be great if there was a national label identifying the resistance movement being generated here. The document authors are fond of the name "Indivisible", and while I like it too, it's a bit abstract to be used as a group descriptor ("We're the Indivisibles" is a little harder to grasp than "We're the Tea Party"). Like the Tea Party, one wants a name that evokes a unifying element of American history that also resonates with the values we are seeking to defend and which Donald Trump clearly places under threat.

So my working recommendation for a unifying name is the "Constitutional Caucus". We are Americans from across every corner of the nation, united in common cause to defend the values and principles of constitutional law and liberty that today are graver peril than they've been in my lifetime.

Welcome to the Caucus. There's work to be done.

1 comment:

Dr. Puck said...

Founder's Party.

Constitutional Caucus has one term most people don't understand. Caucus.

United States boils down to "US" so if you could create something that distills the aims into terms everybody instantly understands, you're sparking resistance.