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Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Causes > Social Justice > Part II: How to ‘resist’ constructively, peacefully and Be Heard

Part II: How to ‘resist’ constructively, peacefully and Be Heard

LatinaLista — Since the immigration ban was imposed by the Trump administration, resistance has erupted from all corners of society. Protests organized at airports across the country. Immigration lawyers rushed to defend pro bono the rights of those who were detained, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has received record donations and lawyer groups and tech companies have created special crisis funds or task forces to help those caught up in the ban.

However, it’s not necessary to go to the airport or be a lawyer to show that you disagree with how the White House is implementing this immigration ban. Two very useful articles appeared on Facebook recently by people who know how to effectively get their voices heard by the decision-makers.

Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez is a professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. She spearheaded the campaign to get PBS to recognize the omission of the Latino experience in the Ken Burns WWII documentary.

Rivas-Rodriguez shared on her Facebook page the following:

IMPORTANT NOTES ON HOW TO RAISE YOUR VOICE EFFECTIVELY
I know you’re getting a lot of mandates and calls to action, but heed this guidance from a high-level staffer for a Senator. I’ve made some calls but am going to commit to doing more and better.

You should NOT be bothering with online petitions or emailing. Online contact basically gets immediately ignored, and letters pretty much get thrown in the trash unless you have a particularly strong emotional story – but even then it’s not worth the time it took you to craft that letter.

There are 2 things that all those with a conscience should be doing all the time right now, and they’re by far the most important things:

1. The best thing you can do to be heard and get your congressperson to pay attention is to have face-to-face time – if they have townhalls, go to them. Go to their local offices. If you’re in DC, try to find a way to go to an event of theirs. Go to the “mobile offices” that their staff hold periodically (all these times are located on each congressperson’s website). When you go, ask questions. A lot of them. And push for answers. The louder and more vocal and present you can be at those the better.

2. But, those in-person events don’t happen every day. So, the absolute most important thing that people should be doing every day is calling. You should make 6 calls a day: 2 each (DC office and your local office) to your 2 Senators & your 1 Representative. Calls are what all the congresspeople pay attention to.

EVERY SINGLE DAY, THE SENIOR STAFF AND THE SENATOR GET A REPORT OF THE 3 MOST CALLED ABOUT TOPICS for that day at each of their offices (in DC and local offices), and exactly how many people said what about each of those topics. They’re also sorted by zip code and area code.

And this is IMPORTANT:

Republican callers generally outnumber Democrat callers 4-1, and when it’s a particular issue that single-issue-voters pay attention to (like gun control, or planned parenthood funding, etc…), it’s often closer to 11-1, and that has recently pushed Republican congressfolks on the fence to vote with the Republicans. In the last 8 years, Republicans have called, and Democrats haven’t.

SO, WHEN YOU CALL:

A) Call the DC office, ask for the Staff member in charge of whatever you’re calling about (“Hi, I’d like to speak with the staffer in charge of Healthcare, please”). Local offices won’t always have specific ones, but they might. If you get transferred to that person, awesome. If you don’t, that’s ok – ask for their name, and then just keep talking to whoever answered the phone. Don’t leave a message (unless the office doesn’t pick up at all – then you can…but it’s better to talk to the staffer who first answered than leave a message for the specific staffer in charge of your topic).

B) Give them your zip code. They won’t always ask for it, but make sure you give it to them, so they can mark it down. Extra points if you live in a zip code that traditionally votes for them, since they’ll want to make sure they get/keep your vote.

C) If you can make it personal, make it personal. “I voted for you in the last election and I’m worried/happy/whatever” or “I’m a teacher, and I am appalled by Betsy DeVos,” or “as a single mother” or “as a white, middle class woman,” or whatever.

D) Pick 1-2 specific things per day to focus on. Don’t go down a whole list – they’re figuring out what 1-2 topics to mark you down for on their lists, so, focus on 1-2 per day. Ideally something that will be voted on/taken up in the next few days, but it doesn’t really matter…even if there’s not a vote coming up in the next week, call anyway. It’s important that they just keep getting calls.

E) Be clear on what you want – “I’m disappointed that the Senator…” or “I want to thank the Senator for their vote on…” or “I want the Senator to know that voting in _____ way is the wrong decision for our state because…” Don’t leave any ambiguity.

F) They may get to know your voice/get sick of you – it doesn’t matter. The people answering the phones generally turn over every 6 weeks anyway, so even if they’re really sick of you, they’ll be gone in 6 weeks.
From experience since the election: If you hate being on the phone & feel awkward, don’t worry…there are a bunch of scripts (The Indivisible Guide has some).

After a few days of calling, it starts to feel a lot more natural. Put the 6 numbers in your phone all under Politician, which makes it really easy to click down the list each day!

The following is another good piece posted on Facebook. The author of the piece is unknown.

Make Resistance Great Again

These pointers are actually helpful–people have been looking for something, these are a starting point. Especially #2 and #7 (which is not a pollyanna point, THINK ABOUT IT: movements require social ties among their members–if everything is awful and hopeless and gray it won’t last, get to know people, feel good just being with them).

1. Avoid using his name
Every time you use his name, you make him stronger. He has developed a cult of personality around himself that thrives on your hatred. He wasn’t kidding when he tweeted, “I would like to extend my best wishes to all, even the haters and losers, on this special date, September 11th.” He really does extend best wishes to you, the hater, because you give him power; you make him seem like something bigger than he really is, and you are the object of hatred that motivates his supporters. You are his Emmanuel Goldstein (1984 reference — read it if you haven’t already).

2. Spread the blame
Don’t allow moderate Republicans to hide behind ambiguity and equivocation. They are supporting a President who is trying to destroy our democracy, and are therefore members of a regime, not an administration. If you focus all of your attacks on their leader, you are only reinforcing his message that “I alone can fix [our problems.]”. In reality, he requires the support of collaborators. Call it what it is — “the regime.”

3. Do not engage the regime’s base
Let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine your favorite song; hear the music inside your head. Now imagine someone telling you that the song sucks, and you should never listen to it ever again. How likely are you to be swayed? The regime is music to the ears of its most ardent supporters, and you will never convince them otherwise. Remember when their leader said, “we’re going to win so much, you’re going to be sick and tired of winning”? That statement was meant to appeal to a base of supporters who feel like they’re losers, people who get a high from being associated with a “tremendously successful” billionaire. Now try to imagine how good they must have felt when he won the election. Every time you get mad at them and argue with them, you remind them of how good it felt to win. You motivate them to work harder toward their leader’s re-election. If you deny them the pleasure of yelling at you, you will make politics less enjoyable for them, and thus more apathetic about the regime. You will never dislike your favorite song, but you might stop listening to it as much as you once did, and this is the best we can hope for with the regime’s base.

4. Focus on policies, not personality
Most polls showed the President’s favorability rating around 38% on the eve of the election, but 47% ended up voting for him anyway. That means 9% of his voters already think he’s an asshole, but, nevertheless, an asshole who’s going to do a better job than his opponents will. These are the people we need to focus on; if we can convince them that his policies suck just as much as his personality sucks, we are likely to flip their votes. So, stop focusing on the guy’s hands. Everyone already knows, and it didn’t work during the first time we tried it. Remember Einstein’s quote about the definition of insanity.

5. Keep it positive
The regime feeds on negativity. The policies they support are born from fear and anger. People filled with love and optimism generally do not support policies that are centered upon walls, torture, and deportation. This is why the leader of the regime didn’t tell a single joke during his convention speech. He wants the country to be angry and fearful because this is the soil from which his darkest policies will grow. Keep it positive, and spread love; it’s poison to the regime.

6. Don’t spread hopelessness
Whenever you say “we’re screwed,” you communicate hopelessness. Saying things like, “I don’t understand how this happened” is the same as saying, “I don’t know what the solution is and you shouldn’t listen to anything I propose because I just don’t understand.” But, you do have hope; otherwise, you wouldn’t have read this far. And, you do have a solution — resistance! It’s ok to be down and to seek out other likeminded people for comfort, but try to stay focused on spreading hope and confidence. We got this, ok?

7. Make resistance cool and fun
As the country becomes more political, and more polarized, Americans will feel increasingly pressured into choosing a side (sociology happens). We want healthy, positive people to choose the resistance because we ultimately don’t want the entire country to end up resembling one of the regime’s rallies. Besides, we ARE cool and fun; just look at all the musicians who boycotted the regime’s inauguration. The fact that the Resistance is responsible for the generation of almost all of our society’s visual and musical culture is one of our strengths; let’s maximize it.

8. Stop spreading fake news
Sorry everybody, but we do it too. Do you remember when Trump went on Oprah and said, “if I ever run for president, I’ll run as a Republican because they’re stupid enough to vote for me?” That never happened. And, you know how the regime deleted all the information about LGBT rights from the White House website as soon as it came to power? Actually, the regime deleted almost all information from the White House website, which is a common practice for all incoming presidents — Obama did it too. When we spread fake news, we contribute to the confusion many Americans are feeling right now, thus contributing to the problem. The regime doesn’t need everyone to believe its lies; it only needs 1/3 to believe the lies, and another 1/3 to be so confused that they don’t even know who to trust anymore. Let’s show them that they can trust us — educate yourself on the issues, hold other members of the Resistance accountable, fact check information before you post it, and retract anything you post if it is later proven wrong. Reality still exists, and we are the communicators of that reality.

9. Take care of yourself
The world will not end if you take a break or have fun doing something that’s not explicitly political. But, the world will end if the majority of the Resistance ends up too burned out to fight. Just remember — even when you’re sleeping or recreating, you’re only recharging yourself for more resistance.

10. Resist, resist, resist, and don’t apologize for it
Your constant political posts are not annoying; the regime is annoying, and they are the ones who are inciting us to raise our voices.

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