We don’t need anti-democratic tactics

Gazette file photo
Gazette publisher Alan Chartock says, “You don’t fight anti-democratic thugs with anti-democratic tactics. Much of the advice being offered to the resist groups comes right from the Tea Party playbook.”

We all know that Hillary won the popular vote so you would think that Donald J. Trump would get the message and maybe meet those in the majority who voted for her sort of halfway. In New York where I work and in Massachusetts where I live, there are many, many people who are really ticked off. These folks think that Trump and his cronies are leading America down the path to thuggish right wing fascism. They are determined to organize to do anything that they can to avoid what happened in Germany in the thirties. Based on President Trump’s appointments, they are convinced that a right wing putsch is underway but Congress won’t do anything about clear anti-democratic and sometimes illegal moves by the new administration. That includes investigations chairman Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) who would investigate Hillary Clinton for picking her nose. Let’s face it — news that General Flynn had fallen on his sword and resigned for likely and illegally, conducting conversations with the Russians and then lying about it to Vice President Mike Pence and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus should lead to serious trouble for the president.

The frustration level in this country is so high that “Resist” type groups are forming to do anything that they can to put a stop to Trump’s right wing moves. One contemporary method seems to involve loading the Town Meetings of Republican Congressmen with anti-Trump supporters. There is a national organization called Indivisible Against Trump (IAT) which gives detailed counseling on how to control a Congressional Town Meeting. They suggest written questions that are distributed to the people engaged in taking over the meetings. Some participants in the resist groups are allowed to bring in signs and others are not, with the clear understanding that if you are holding a hostile sign you will not be called on by the Congressperson’s staff. They think it is important for some people to appear not to have an agenda and then to lower the boom on the Congressperson. What’s more, resisters are counseled to make videos and recordings on their smart phones and to share all of that with the media after the event.

The public radio station that I work for regularly interviews all the congresspersons who want the opportunity to communicate with the public. We call this the “Congressional Corner.” Some of the protesters have let me know in no uncertain terms that they don’t want me to speak with Republican members of Congress. Obviously that is patent nonsense. When that happens I tell them that they have crossed the line. Look, most people know where I stand on Trump. He scares the hell out of me. Nevertheless you don’t fight anti-democratic thugs with anti-democratic tactics. In fact, much of the advice being offered to the resist groups comes right from the Tea Party playbook.

The result of this Resist strategy is that most Republican congresspersons will just stop holding Town Meetings. As one recently put it to me, “I wasn’t born last night.” Now I am being regularly implored to help insist that members of Congress hold Town Meetings, even when they don’t want to. One Congressman, John J. Faso, has been more than willing to come on our “Congressional Corner” program and even more interestingly, on our “Vox Pop” hour long call-in show. The last time he appeared, callers were respectful but held their own in the debate. Faso knows that his constituents listen in large numbers to WAMC. He knows that he will not be subjected to yelling and screaming and booing on the radio. He also knows that some of his colleagues have had to be escorted from Town Hall meetings by state police to protect them.

Hey, I understand clearly why people are so frightened by Trump and his followers. I daresay I’ve been pretty open about this. Things are very scary but we sure don’t want to throw the baby out with the dirty water.