Thursday, December 1, 2016

Joining the Resistance

I recently read one of Jean-Paul Sartre's early novels, Troubled Sleep.  It is about the defeat of France by Germany in 1940.  The French were totally dispirited, and pessimistic about their future.  Many tried to escape the German onslaught by fleeing to the south.  Others simply surrendered to the events of the moment; some choosing death, others accommodation.  It all seems rather familiar.  Fortunately, however, we have the advantage of hindsight and are able to look beyond France's low moment to what transpired over the next five years.

Once past the initial period of shock and grief, many French people, including Sartre, were able to pull themselves together and begin to work toward the day of liberation, no matter how distant that goal may have seemed at the time.  Their efforts were certainly encouraged by the increasing resolve of the Allies to confront the German aggression, and the combination ultimately triumphed in what seems now a relatively short time, though not without great sacrifice.

So, what I am suggesting as a possibility is to follow the advice of Bernie Sanders: to band together and fight.  As he says, there really is no other choice, and there are many precedents which point to the power of the people to resist an oppressive regime, regardless of its perceived strength at the moment.

A consensus is developing rather quickly around the most effective ways to organize a response to an aberration of democracy in which the winning party falls short of a majority by over two-and-one-half million votes.  First, old alliances and their leadership must be rejected.  Second, whatever is going on at the national and international level, local initiatives can still prevail to produce progressive results.  A useful perspective on these possibilities appears in The Nation under the title,  ‘All Resistance Is Local’: A Plan of Progressive Action for the Trump Years. The implication of The Nation article is that people need to look closely at their own communities to see clearly what are the main obstacles and opportunities for effective citizen action.

New Mexico is a good case study; the economy is in shambles and the State ranks near the bottom among the States on nearly every important metric including employment, health and education.  The Republican governor has lost all credibility and the Dems have retaken a congressional majority, though they have not really shown an awareness or the determination to take the kind of initiatives needed to turn around the state's sorry condition.  There are, however, great and obvious opportunities available.

For starters, New Mexico has a lot of sunny days.  A right-of-way for power lines to support renewable energy distribution has recently been established, and there is no good reason not to move away from fossil fuel production which has kept the state riding a boom and bust rollercoaster.  A move away from corporate favoritism in the taxation regime may have to wait for the governor's exit in two years, but her failed education secretary will be jumping ship before year's end, and local school districts will have a clear opportunity to assert their authority.  Minimum wage initiatives have had some success already, and more progress in that direction seems very likely.  New Mexico is one of the states that has benefited most from health care reform, and its citizens are not likely to easily accept the destruction of Obamacare.  New Mexicans currently have access to medical cannabis, and the tax and entrepreneurial advantages of recreational approval are easy to see just across the northern border.  So, no shortage of things to do, and no time like the present to start.

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