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Alexandra Erin @alexandraerin
, 75 tweets, 12 min read Read on Twitter
Okay, babies, it feels like it's been a while since I've really buckled down and done this, but I want to talk a bit about the State of the Union, so to speak, and what is a bit scary to me right now but what fills me with hope.
As many of you know, I met with journalist and fellow weird Twitter pundit @KillerMartinis yesterday and we had a pretty wide-ranging conversation that did touch on politics and where we might be heading.
Right now trying to look ahead to the November elections kind of feels like staring in shock across a blood-drenched battlefield. There's a lot of horror likely to continue unfolding between now and then.
I'm not going to mince words: the fascism is getting more open. Each time it does and we try to sound the alarm and are told "It's too early, you're exaggerating", it helps set a new baseline by which the *next* level will also be treated as no big deal.
But we've got the syllogism of "undocumented immigrants are gang members and gang members are animals" going out in official White House statements and publications, and the less explicit one between "immigrants" and "undocumented", also "Spanish speakers" and "brown people"....
...and the only reason to classify a group of people as animals is to excuse treating them as less than human, and that's where we're at on immigration. Dehumanization and "warehousing" in camps.
I've talked before about how Trump's methodology -- and more generally the fascistic methodology -- is to always double down, always accelerate. The only victory they care about is total victory, so they will push until they fall apart or they win everything.
This is why Trump never walks back these kinds of statements and won't let his PR people walk them back for long, and why it feels like the rate of change itself is changing. We're not just accelerating, we're accelerating by more and more each time.
This is what scares me. I said this the other day, when the White House put out the release with the repeated references to "violent animals", that it downright terrifies me. Because of how open it is. How little hesitation the political apparatus is showing in embracing it.
This, on the other hand, is what fills me with hope.

It is not possible for Trump to miscalculate in his power grabs because he's not calculating. He *must* keep grabbing more and more, faster and faster all the time, because the whole thing falls apart if he stops.

But it also might fall apart if he keeps going.
The prospect of a GOP defeat in November... look, to be very bluntly honest, not only is it not a sure thing we're going to win, but we don't even automatically win even if we do win.
The rise of fascist autocracy could mean that six months from now, the White House feels perfectly secure declaring any unfavorable election result invalid and enough of the country goes along with it to make it either real, or a real problem (as in: civil war).
But right now, the story is that the GOP is in trouble and expecting a defeat or at least a terribly close contest for control of Congress in November. And as long as that story is still being told, it will be hard for them to convincingly claim they were robbed come November.
I don't want us to be complacent. Our biggest weapon going into November is going to be ENTHUSIASM.

Confidence that we WILL win can be a great way to deflate turnout, sadly.

Confidence that we CAN win might just make it happen.
The GOP in disarray going into it -- fighting over who is going to be Speaker even if they *do* manage to keep the House, and already portioning out blame for a loss -- is a great early indicator of where we might be heading.
Right now the GOP establishment is facing open revolt from two different wings, both the far right extreme of the Freedom Caucus and the "moderates" who would like something resembling immigration reform.
Usually the narrative is that it's the Democrats who are the house divided among themselves (if only because they by nature have more ideological diversity) and I don't see that the meta narrative in the media has really caught up to reality here...
...nor do I have much confidence that it ever will, as the mainstream media really loves its set pieces and formulaic stories.
A lot can happen in six months, including a further slide into autocracy. But it also includes: a complete, almost-completely-undeniable failure of Trump's attempts to get a credible deal in North Korea, even more public souring on the GOP tax scam and Trump's tariff attempts...
...and more public exposure of the corruption and malfeasance of Trump appointees at the highest levels of power.
There's a lot of room for things to go badly wrong for Trump and for the GOP between now and November, and while I hate to suggest we count on bad luck... I mean, some of this is just law of averages stuff.

Things *have been* getting bad for them. Expect that to continue.
The answer to your question is:

I don't care.

I don't expect anything will happen between now and November to make them turn on Trump and I don't care if they do or don't. I pin no hopes on that happening and I make no plans based on it as an outcome.
What we need to defeat the GOP in November is not a defection from anybody who currently supports him but an enthusiastic and concerted effort from everybody who opposes him.
Because the actual answer to your question of what it will take for them to turn on him is: he has to be useless and worse than useless to them. He has to be so past the point of being harmful to them to overcome all sunk costs and cognitive biases.
So why do I care that things will get worse for the Trump regime and for the GOP, if I don't expect anyone to turn on him?

Because it's going to affect their turnout.
People in the center just being sort of tired of Trump and vaguely disappointed that he didn't actually bring the change they expected is more likely than them turning on him.
If we win we're going to win based on an enthusiasm gap.
And some of the people who are now nodding along while the Trumpbots are saying "So what if Pruitt is corrupt? That's business as usual in politics." are going to find themselves thinking, "But Trump wasn't supposed to be business as usual."
We've got a better chance at this happening *because* it is a mid-term and no one has the ability to vote for Trump directly. This blunts the effect of both his cult of personality and the GOP tendency to rally around the leader.
The GOP is going into this election effectively leaderless. No standing Speaker of the House and no president who's on the ballot.
Meanwhile Democrats have the ability to run *agianst* Trump... something I think they'd be wiser to lean into more than they're doing, but something that the base is picking up on even when they're not laying it down.
The Democrats are going into this with the momentum from the special elections, which includes *superb* organizing done at the local level and a lot of grassroots internet organizing.
The best chance to stop Trump was before he was elected. The best chance that is left to us is November. Take away the complicity of Congress, smash the narrative of his will to power, punish the GOP so severely that they start conspicuously looking elsewhere for a future.
The ones who show up to vote will, sure. And historically they've been more enthused about midterm elections than Democratic voters. But if the special election pattern holds, I think this election's shaping up differently.
Again, let me be very clear: I don't expect anyone to swing left in noticeable numbers.

But I could see the electorate swinging left, in terms of who participates.
And to be even more clear: this is hope. It's not a prediction. It should be part of our plan. But it's a plan based on hope.

And we need hope. Psychologically. Practically.
Paul Ryan is retiring because he can't imagine a future for himself in Congress past 2018. Full stop. And he's in a pretty good position to know.
Now, it has been reported that Mueller says the probe will be completed around September.

I know a lot of people are thinking that will end in impeachment/indictment, and a lot of people are thinking it will mean nothing.
My best bet is what it will do is make things more *complicated*, not very far before the election.

And "complicated" is rarely good for the party in power.
All of this is to say that we've got a decent chance of delivering a significant blow to the Trump regime in November.

To get there, to be allowed to have a chance to deliver it, we've got to do what we can to slow the march of fascism between now and then.
Babies, it is *not* a coincidence that the message we're getting right now is about how Bad it is to talk about Nazis, to point out fascism, to sound the alarm on autocracy.
If pointing out fascism really didn't accomplish anything, they'd be encouraging it.
If pointing out fascism really made the fascists more sympathetic and the public more oblivious to it, why wouldn't we be drowning in trolls and bots that are calling Trump Hitler for us?
Julius Caesar, whose reign over Rome depended on the illusion that he was absolutely not reigning over Rome, had his own trolls offer him a laurel crown so he could refuse it, proving he had no aspirations of being a king. (Romans hated kings.)
If the key to slipping fascism in under the radar is to loudly point out that FASCISM IS HAPPENING so that everyone will laugh it off in disbelief, they would be doing it themselves.
"What can we do besides talk about it?"

Well... start with talking about it. We *can't* get people taking to streets to fight a problem that we're still denying.
So point it out, loudly and often. Don't be swayed by the arguments that this is somehow "playing into their hands". The rightwing trollswarm is out there everyday pushing back against anyone who points out what's happening. They fear it. They know it works.
So what we've got to do is keep talking about it. When we talk about it, we change the national conversation, which changes the story, which ultimately changes the world.

The right (or at least operatives and masterminds on the right) understands this in a way the left doesn't.
"But what about organizing?"

Well, if you don't know how to organize and you don't know any organizers, talking about the rise of fascism -- denouncing it as it happens, labeling specific actions as fascism -- is going to put you in contact with others who agree.
It's like being queer. If you grew up in a small town and you had no safe place to talk about being queer, you might have felt like you were all alone in the world.

But once you start talking about it? Other people around you know that they can talk about it with you.
We are in the Land of It's Going To Get Worse Before It Gets Better, and we have been there for a while now, and we're going to be there for a while longer yet.

We can slow down the worsening. We can speed up our progress towards better.

But not by biting our tongues.
And that is why, even though I'm not done with my current travels, I am back. As of this moment, in a very real and present way, I am back. On duty, on call, on the beat, whatever.

That was my biggest takeaway from my meeting yesterday: we've got to keep pushing.
Trump's approval rating has inched up a bit (though we're still in the "low bar for praise" territory there, he's still pretty underwater) and I think part of that is that there has been less talk, less counter to the narratives he depends on.
There have been times in the past weeks and couple months when I've felt really, truly powerless and hopeless, and there will be times in the next six months that I feel that way, too.
And I can't promise anyone that we will win, but I will promise all of you that we can win.
All we have right now is hope, but what a gift we have in hope, for as Augustine of Hippo said: "Hope has two beautiful daughters, and their names are Anger and Courage."

Be mad.

Don't get defensive when they say you're "triggered".

Be mad.

Stay mad.

Use it.
And be brave. Courage is not the state of having no fear, but the ability to move and act in spite of and against that fear.
"Unafraid" is how Trump feels in the moments of his most casually sadistic acts. In those moments, he's not brave. In those moments, he is at his most cowardly, moving to crush someone because he knows they can't threaten him.
I am terrified. I think many of you are, too, and even more are just weighed down by an omnipresent sense of dread.

We can't change that, not directly.

But we can deal with it. We can keep moving. We can keep on keeping on.
There is an experience that many of us have had, being poor or sick or disabled or oppressed, where something both needs doing and seems impossible.

And sometimes, it really is impossible.

And sometimes... just sometimes... we do it anyway.
It's not true that you can overcome *anything* with a little pluck and grit and the right attitude. We know that. Oh, do we ever know that.

But it is true that you can overcome things that feel overwhelming, some of the time. Enough of the time to survive, for those who have.
How many Trumps have had these experience?

How many people around Trump do you think have this knowledge of survival and the limits of human endurance?
We have knowledge they don't. We have experiences they don't. We have powers they don't. We are capable of things they would never suspect anyone was capable of, and the savvier among them are trying to make us forget this.
Ivanka Trump wrote in her self-help book of the time she overcame her inability to sell lemonade from her childhood lemonade stand by ordering the servants to buy it.
This is what we're up against. This right here is it in a nutshell. The ruthlessness of it, yes. The cruelty of it, yes.

But think about your own childhood and compare it to that.

Who would you bet on, in a fight? For any value of "fight"?

It might seem like hope doesn't get things done. But anger does, and courage does. Hope helps get us there.
Believe we can win.

Believe we can slow things down enough that it will matter in November.

Believe we can hang on until then.
And if you can't make yourself believe it, then allow yourself to hope it.
I love you.

I love each and every one of you who are still around and still willing to fight, every one who has made it this far.

I don't believe in heroes and I don't believe in leaders and I don't believe in visionaries and I don't believe in Great Men.

But I believe in us.
So guard your hope. Feed your spirit. Marshall your energy. Look out for your neighbors. Make it through the summer. Make it to November.

And then go to the ballot box and make them pay for everything you could not stop.
Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of civic participation.

Because if we can't manage that, we might find ourselves in a situation where we have to start turning to those other dogs.
But for now, we have hope, and her beautiful daughters, and we have each other, and that might be enough.
And if you feel like it, please tip your weird politics mom friend.

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