In the interest of keeping our heads in the game while maintaining a sense of humor, here are some of my favorite twists on citizen action lately:
alternativefacts.com Whoever did this is a genius, in my opinion. Shortly after the pollster-turned-presidential-counselor Ms. Conway lit up social media and set thinking people’s heads spinning backwards with her reference to “alternative facts” (as though this is a real or plausible thing!), someone linked the domain alternativefacts.com to the definition of “gas lighting” from the magazine Psychology Today‘s website. While I would never deny or minimize the powerful danger of normalizing lies, I do appreciate the wit and initiative behind this response. It’s creative, it’s positive, it’s smart. Hats off, and here’s to more resistance like this.
Speaking their language. A relatively old one, which I still think is a good one, is the twitter ‘mirroring’ with which Walter Shaub, Jr. encouraged the then President-elect to divest from his assets and set up a blind trust. The United States Office of Government Ethics (OGE) Director took to the twitter-verse with enthusiasm, sending multiple messages with a rhetorical style reminiscent of the man he was addressing, congratulating him on a great decision to proceed with divesting as recommended, kind of ‘cajoling’ and creating cover for actions to reduce his conflicts of interest. He did so anonymously (the messages came simply from the “Office of Government Ethics” twitter account) at first, and was eventually credited with the tweets, to mixed reviews – which to me only meant some people did not understand the high level of wit underlying his work. Call them conflicts or call them emoluments, there is a real problem here. Unfortunately, the administration has still not seen fit to comply. Our OGE leader tried his best to bring them into compliance, then resorted to more conventional expressions of concern. Speaking in the language of the people who will not hear us… seems like a great idea.
Crowdfunding to buy back our legislators. These efforts could be a creative AND real trend moving forward. The first I was aware of was an initiative out of Philadelphia to raise as much money as Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey (who has not been an unmitigated supporter of the current president) had received from the DeVos family, in a citizen-led effort to have as much influence on his vote as the DeVos investment seemed to assure them, particularly in regard to his decision about whether to support Betsy DeVos’ nomination to be Secretary of Education. The actual funds go to charity, fyi. Citizens in North Carolina, Arkansas, and Ohio have launched similar campaigns, proving that great minds sometimes really do think alike.
We do have to keep vigilant and continue the work.
There is everything right about infusing creativity, invention, and fun into this very serious business of defending our democracy.
Thank you to all those who infuse the work with wit, grace, style, and humor.