Nydia Velázquez

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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

Puerto Ricans in Congress to Boycott Inauguration

Puerto Ricans in Congress are boycotting Trump’s inauguration, joining scores of mostly Democrats whose seats will be empty. / Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies

Three of four Puerto Ricans – all Democrats – in Congress plan to boycott the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump.

Luis Gutiérrez of Illinois, and Nydia Velázquez and José Serrano of New York have stated publicly they won’t be at the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States. Central Florida’s freshman congressman Darren Soto also added his voice to the growing boycott of the ceremony.

Raúl Labrador, the Republican Congressman from Idaho and a Trump supporter, is likely to attend the event.

“Looking forward to a productive partnership with . We must change business as usual,” Labrador tweeted earlier.

Growing Boycott

Most of the inauguration rejections – numbering about 40 mostly Democrats and still growing, as of this writing – came after Trump insulted veteran civil rights leader and Georgia Congressman John Lewis on Twitter right before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, stating Lewis was all talk, no action.

Gutiérrez, who attended George W. Bush‘s inauguration, made a floor speech which he posted on YouTube explaining that “this is different.”     

He continued, “The reason I’m not going is that I can’t bring myself to justify morally or intellectually justify the immense power we’re placing in that man’s hands.” Instead, Gutiérrez said he plans to march with women in Washington on January 21.

New York Congresswoman Velázquez tweeted, “@repjohnlewis is a national hero and I stand with him! I also am not attending inauguration given the tone of @realDonaldTrump‘s campaign.”

Serrano also tweeted but didn’t mention Trump by name. “I will not attend the  next week- cannot celebrate the inauguration of a man who has no regard for my constituents. .”

Central Florida Representatives

Central Florida’s Soto sent a text to Nancy Alvarez of WFTV-Channel 9, stating  ““I am deeply disappointed with Trump’s attacks against civil rights hero John Lewis and will not be attending the inauguration as a result.”

Soto, who represents Congressional District 9 which includes Osceola and parts of Orange and Polk counties, got some immediate pushback on Facebook from Myrna Benítez de Vivaldi.

“This is what happens when you serve your own agenda and not the people. Mr. Soto, you were elected to SERVE a community, people from both parties voted for you because they thought you were a better option so do your work and stop acting like a brat. #Please #HeIsOURpresident #SuckItUpButtercup.”

Benítez is married to Peter Vivaldi, who once ran for the congressional seat that Soto now occupies.

Demings and Murphy to Attend

Unlike Soto, fellow freshman Congresswomen Val Demings of Congressional District 10 and Stephanie Murphy plan to attend, according to Channel 9. However, neither Demings nor Murphy have made public statements about the inauguration, as of this writing.

Demings and Soto are in fairly safe districts, in which either African-Americans or Latino voters, respectively, predominate. They are likely to be re-elected two years from now without much of a hitch.

Not so, Murphy, who ousted veteran Republican Congressman John Mica from Congressional District 7, which includes Seminole and parts of Orange and Volusia counties. 

Seminole County is mostly Republican and party supporters have already targeted Murphy,  looking to recruit a viable contender to take back the seat. By not attending, Murphy would be providing Republicans strong ammunition against her come re-election time.

˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor