• Stephanie Vigil

Beyond Trumpism, Beyond Resistance

It’s the last full day of the Trump years, and this morning I’m contemplating just how much political awakening was triggered by the onset of this administration four years ago, and how far we’ve come. I certainly wasn’t terribly political before. It was nearly impossible for me to be, to be honest. It happened to be the case that in 2015-16 I was just starting to break the negative feedback loop of poverty and illness that I’d been stuck in for many years. It became a viable option for me just in time, really.

It's important that we step back from our culturally enforced individualism, and recognize that it's a systemic failure to have so many citizens disconnected from the political process, not an individual failure. Do your best to get more involved, but know that many of us have been ill-equipped and are swimming upstream. Just stay curious and be persistent. It takes all of us.

As I’ve said all along about Trumpism, I believe the biggest threat to our democracy begins now that he is leaving office. That’s certainly been the case throughout this transition. I hoped it would be peaceful but knew that violence was likely; I was unfortunately right. I hoped that he would leave willingly, but assumed he would refuse to concede; I was unfortunately right about that, too.

And now we face our most trying dilemma: addressing that which made a presidency like this possible. He was never the main problem. It's the decades of right wing, nationalist propaganda passed off as “news”; gerrymandering that gives Republicans outsized power in state legislatures and the U.S. House, and encourages right wing figures’ worst impulses; the Electoral College and its tendency to give Republicans the presidency without a popular mandate; all culminating in a major political party that’s rotten to its core and running on pure cynicism.

Let’s be totally real here: the struggle against right wing extremism is not waning with Trump’s departure. It’s just beginning. Because now is the time when we need to get serious about structural democratic reforms and constructive civic engagement at a local and state level. It will be a challenging transition, because advancing a proactive agenda takes a different skill set than resistance. Many of you may find yourself in an odd twilight -- no longer a resistance fighter, but not yet a builder. But stay with us!

That’s right, I am once again asking you to attend some dry public meetings. To find a community organization that promotes democratic and pro-human values and help out wherever you can.

This coming Thursday the 21st, for instance, there’s a town hall at 6pm for Colorado Springs’ newly formed Law Enforcement Transparency and Accountability Commission. It doesn’t really have the teeth we need such a commission to have, but it’s what we’ve got, so we may as well show up. Email to be added to the attendance.

I’m also asking you to think seriously, today, about what you’ll do in 2022 to ensure we don’t lose a ton of Democratic seats in the U.S. House. It’s a distinct trend in the midterm after a new president is elected, and in the case of a Republican House majority, they’d simply refuse to pass any bill that President Biden is likely to sign, thus holding the people’s government hostage. Then they’ll either blame the gridlock entirely on Democrats or demand that “both sides” be held responsible for what they’re doing. We know it’s what they’ll try to pull, because it’s exactly what they did in the Obama years and it worked for them. We have to get ahead of it this time.

It's certainly clear that in Colorado, the Republican House caucus is going to play their obstruction card loudly and often. They started last week's soft open of the session by immediately attempting to block the vote on the new Speaker of the House Alec Garnett, an unprecedented attempt to claim more power than they have the votes for. They then proceeded to spend the better part of the day nitpicking about emergency rules and proposing endless amendments (which again, they didn't have the votes for), all while complaining that the minority is being "silenced" and not being given more of a voice in a chamber where the people's vote has placed them squarely in the minority. A few El Paso County Republicans, in particular, did a lot of the complaining. At the mic. About how they were being silenced.

So when the legislature reconvenes in mid February, it's going to be a fun session, is what I'm getting at. If you're a constituent in House District 14 or 15, you should know that Reps. Shane Sandridge and Dave Williams appear to be gearing up for a whole lot of grandstanding. Both seem to believe that their constituents send them to Denver for little more than fighting the majority. Let them know otherwise!

Until next week, stay safe, persist, and follow me on Twitter if you like.

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