2018-06-28 – It’s been a rough couple of weeks for America. Probably the worst time so far in an unbelievably nasty time. Our government has been separating families at the border. Obamacare protections for people with preexisting conditions are under attack. The GOP wants to pay for billionaire tax cuts with huge cuts in Medicare and Medicaid. The Supreme Court ducked challenges to gerrymandering, struck a blow against labor unions, and approved Trump’s Muslim ban. And yesterday, the so-called “moderate” Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from that court, handing Trump another chance to appoint a justice who is hostile to American values.
Learned helplessness is a psychological condition that results from exposure to repeated aversive stimuli in circumstances that make it difficult or impossible to flee or fight back. It is related to depression and is frequently seen in abusive relationships. If you are appalled by what has been happening in American politics the last couple weeks (or last couple years), you are at risk.
But you don’t have to despair. There are ways to fight back.
Last night I attended the monthly meeting of Swing Left Northside Chicago. The folks there were angry at the same things that you are, but there was no despair in this meeting. Our group makes it our mission to unseat Peter Roskam who is the six-term congressman from nearby Illinois District 6 and Trump toady. Our candidate is Sean Casten. I’m not going to talk about the candidates here, though (you can look that up at the link provided). My purpose today is to talk about his supporters. About us.
Last week our little group held a benefit for the candidate, an improv comedy show called “Dem Nuts” together with a silent auction. It was a lot of work for a lot of people. Everyone pitched in and we raised more than $10,000 for the candidate. That may not seem like a lot when you compare it to the kind of fundraising billionaires do for their candidates, but we have people. Every day, there is something you can do. Some people are doing voter registration. I am writing postcards to get out the vote and I’m doing canvassing. I was chair of the recruiting committee for the show, though my committee members were committed volunteers and had little need of anyone to organize them. Everyone at last night’s meeting had a job or was looking for one. There are big jobs and there are small jobs. They all need to be done.
There is no learned helplessness at a Swing Left meeting.
Of course, our group is not the only group. Swing Left is looking to flip districts all across the country. (Find your closest group here.) Another group working to resist the Trump Agenda is Indivisible. (Get involved in Indivisible by clicking here.) And of course, there are the individual campaigns and other organizations. We’re all working together.
Yammering on Facebook or Twitter can lead to learned helplessness if you’re not also doing something on your feet.
I am #Resist (and #YouCanToo).
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