Opposition Needs a Bigger Boat

Scene from the movie ‘Jaws’ in which it’s clear the ‘opposition’ boat is too small for bagging the shark. /Universal Pictures

The opposition to the Trump administration is going to need a bigger boat. In fact, it’s going to need more than one boat.

It should be clear by now that the old order – whatever that was – is being washed away in a torrential tide of presidential actions – border security and immigration, Obamacare, ethics, sanctuary cities, environmental reviews, Keystone and Dakota pipelines, and much more.

No matter if you are pro or con, understand that the pace of the executive orders is no accident. It is a deliberate attempt to overwhelm the country in order to (a) please supporters and (b) swamp the opposition so they can barely keep up.

More than One Boat

The times require a multi-pronged approach, a real attention to detail and lots of follow up. Street demonstrations are a vital and valid manifestation of opposition. It’s your right. People need to “see” opposition because people believe what they see, creating a wave effect. That’s what we saw with the airport demonstrations.

But that’s not all.

Opposition also requires people to be in the sea weeds of policy, in the words and the actions of orders and proposed legislation. That’s what we saw with the American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the immigration move in court. Some people may be more comfortable on the street than in the backroom. But both are needed on a large scale.

More than one boat is needed, to borrow a well-known line from the movie Jaws. The great, big shark is not going to fit in one boat.

Federal Agencies Become ‘Fly-Overs’

The Trump administration is engaged in a frontal attack on the Washington bureaucracy as much as it is undoing specific policies. The Trump folks are not engaging the federal agencies, creating a sea of chaos. Under Trump, the federal agencies have become “flyover country,” an area to be look down upon but not a place to land.

The Democrats don’t know how to respond, except in the way they always do – with House and Senate minority leader polite press conferences and talking points. This will not do.

Shadow Government

The British model of forming a shadow government may be a better strategy to emulate. Designate representatives or senators who will “shadow” a particular policy area, such as health care, education, environment, justice and civil rights, agriculture, etc. And go to it. Hook, line and sinker.

Hinterlands and Swamplands

The Democratic Party also needs to go on a reconnaissance mission: Visit the hinterlands and swamplands and stay out there as long as possible. Listen to how local people and organizations are mobilizing. Watch and observe. Ask questions.

It’s not a mistake that Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (D) was on her home turf of New York and able to respond to the airport detainees. (Worth noting:  Velázquez and Anthony Romero of the ACLU are Puerto Ricans.)

That may have been a fluke. The Democrats have no idea what’s happening out here. And it’s clear they have no answers. At this point, they have nothing to lose – they’ve lost it all – and everything to gain.

˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor

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