'Resistance' is Futile Without a Foundation of Community Service - by Richard Haas
On Sept. 19,1796 George Washington wrote in his farewell address “… [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”
One hundred seventy-five years later on Earth Day in 1971, Walt Kelly’s beloved cartoon character Pogo said, “I have met the enemy, and he is us.” Both were prophetic statements as they clearly expressed the place where we find ourselves in the new world unleashed by Donald J. Trump. We may be facing the end of the American Experiment.
Over 85 percent of declared Trump voters still support him, despite his provable lies and many policies that will, without question, negatively impact their own lives. His outrageous attacks on anyone who dares challenge him, or who does not express fealty, are unprecedented for an American president.
I am a 73 year-old white male who learned, thanks to my wonderful queer daughter, that I benefited from un-asked-for white privilege. I also was fortunate to be able to attend a state university where my annual fee was $220.00 – not $2,200 or $22,000. This year the in-state tuition is $13,260.
Based on CPI over the past 50+ years, the tuition I paid would be just $1,663. Thank you California taxpayers. But Trump and the congressional Republicans want to cut even more aid for students and public universities. I say shame on them.
Unity is as rare as unicorns. It did not exist in 1789. But being indivisible is possible: “one nation indivisible.” Those who negotiated the Constitution desired a “more perfect union,” recognizing that we were not then perfect,” and our republic would require a new experiment with a constitutional, representative democracy that would require compromise — unlike the unanimous consent required by the Articles of Confederation.
Sadly, the compromises required to create a document that would attempt to “form a more perfect Union” to date have not been satisfactorily resolved.
The American Experiment has been one of 230 years of debates, disagreements, negotiations, compromises, and a Civil War. The election of Donald Trump, and his continued support by those who voted for him (regardless of his bizarre behavior), make the effort to create a “more perfect union” very difficult.
The unexpected election of Donald Trump further fractured the country. Resistance formed, and before his inauguration a national resistance movement started. The largest grass roots group that emerged was the Indivisible Project with more than 5,800 local independent Invisible groups throughout the country.
Most are based solely on resistance to Trump and his policies, but one local group has decided there is more to “indivisible” than resistance. There is community.
Orchard City Indivisible was started by four local activists on Jan. 14 in downtown Campbell. There are over 1,250 in the group. What makes OCI unique is that its efforts are more than resistance. The members strive to create community and outreach.
Every week they start with a potluck and collection of packaged food that is donated to the local church’s food kitchen. Reinforcing OCI’s community commitment beyond the weekly food donations is a monthly volunteer program for members to work with local charities doing cleanup and other projects in the area. They believe Assistance is Resistance.
Hopefully, with the efforts of groups like Indivisible, the American Experiment can survive.
Richard Haas, who served in the Peace Corps and established the Fistula Foundation, is a volunteer with Orchard City Indivisible in Campbell. He wrote this for The Mercury News - PUBLISHED August 12, 2017