The Top 5 Reasons to Burn your Indivisible Guide
The left is getting its ass kicked by the GOP and the Trump Administration. Hard.
Back to the 1800’s hard.
These losses from the left are translating into the destruction of the federal government, the dismantling of our leadership in the global community standing, the complete dissolution of our Civil Rights, and the transformation of the nation into a white nationalist, isolationist entity marching the world into a new era of global warfare.
Of course, the GOP must be held accountable for driving the Trump Train. But white supremacy, racism greed and corruption have always been forces on the political battlefield, especially in the United States. It is the left’s job to ensure that the right does not advance on its political territory or its people. And the left must take responsibility for completely failing to do this job.
Political accountability must include admitting the strategies being used to contain and counter the advances of the GOP have failed and addressing why they failed so that more effective counters can be designed and implemented. In this spirit, SIIP presents the Top 5 Reasons to Burn your Indivisible Guide.
5. The Indivisible Guide was written by people WITH power, not people that fight it.
As described in the Indivisible Guide, “The authors of this guide are former congressional staffers who witnessed the rise of the Tea Party.”
Let’s pause there.
Not trained, qualified strategists. Not experts from communities that are career-professionals in confronting abuses of authority. Not people that have ever spent a day in their lives confronting power, especially the advances of federalized white power, from a position of severe disadvantage.
Congressional staffers. Oh, and witnesses.
They watched. They didn’t use their positions of authority to confront the Tea Party effectively under a Democratic president; however, they believe they have the key to confronting the GOP from a minority position as they illegitimately occupy all 3 branches of government, the federal government is being dismantled, our global alliances have been destroyed — and tens of millions of men, women and children’s lives are actively at stake. Including mine and my children.
Because they sat in a tower and watched.
It makes as much sense to ask them how to perform an appendectomy on your child or how to fly a fully loaded passenger plane as it does to ask them to tell you how to confront the GOP. The authors of the Indivisible Guide are strategists as much as they are surgeons or pilots. And their ineptitude puts lives in immediate danger.
4. The stated goal of the Indivisible Guide is to shape the left in the image of Tea Party.
As the Indivisible Guide explains:
“We saw these activists take on a popular president with a mandate for change and a supermajority in Congress. We saw them organize locally and convince their own MoCs [Members of Congress] to reject President Obama’s agenda. Their ideas were wrong, cruel, and tinged with racism — and they won….To this end, the following chapters offer a step-by-step guide for individuals, groups, and organizations looking to replicate the Tea Party’s success in getting Congress to listen to a small, vocal, dedicated group of constituents.”
This goal makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. None.
The left does not share the same goals, constituencies, histories, opportunities, challenges, resources or positions of influence or political context as the right. There is no strategic value in ignoring the already organized underclass and minority grassroots in order to focus on creating an ethnically cleansed network of organizers whose goal is to be more like the Tea Party — not to stop Donald Trump and the GOP.
Even without a strategic analysis, though, it should absolutely go without saying that those fighting white supremacy — especially people of color, people living with disabilities, poor folks, members of the LGBTQ community and non-Christians — should not seek to replicate it. Ever.
What the left can and should do, though, is analyze losses, victories, and stalemates from particular political positions in very specific contexts and use that information to adopt strategies that suit the current context, resources, networks, actors, and communities in play.
The left and right are operating on the same battlefields, but we do not operate under similar circumstances. The left needs to have a very clearly understand of the offensive and defensive maneuvers being used by the right, how they have been countered and failed to be countered historically, and what cautions need to be taken to adapt those strategies to the current context. Without this basic level of understanding, an effective counterstrategy cannot be designed.
But I’ve seen people put more thought into their fantasy football teams than they do into their resistance. The authors of the Indivisible Guide are among them.
As the Indivisible Guide sees it, the left just needs to shapeshift into the alt-right, beat it at its own game and claim its rightful victory — even though it doesn’t know what that game is, how to play, where the stadium is located or what team they are even on. Rather than design an accurate strategy to confront the GOP, the authors of the Indivisible Guide suggest that the left plays the shadow game — with white supremacists.
This approach is strategically incorrect. And beyond creepy.
3. Even in the context of replicating the Tea Party, they Indivisible Guide does a really shitty job of it.
As the Indivisible Guide inexplicably proclaims, or rather misinforms:
“The Tea Party’s success came down to two critical strategic elements:
1. THEY WERE LOCALLY FOCUSED.
2. THEY WERE ALMOST PURELY DEFENSIVE.
- Groups focused on defense, not policy development. In response to the 2008 bank bailouts and President Obama’s election, groups began forming to discuss their anger and what could be done. They eventually realized that the locally based discussion groups themselves could be a powerful tool.
- Groups rejected concessions to Democrats and targeted weak Republicans. Tea Partiers viewed concessions to Democrats as betrayal. This limited their ability to negotiate, but they didn’t care. Instead they focused on scaring congressional Democrats and keeping Republicans honest. As a result, few Republicans spoke against the Tea Party for fear of attracting blowback.
- Groups focused on local congressional representation. Tea Partiers primarily applied this defensive strategy by pressuring their own local MoCs. This meant demanding that their Representatives and Senators be their voice of opposition on Capitol Hill. At a tactical level, the Tea Party had several replicable practices, including:
- Showing up to the MoC’s town hall meetings and demanding answers
- Showing up to the MoC’s office and demanding a meeting
- Coordinating blanket calling of congressional offices at key moments”
This couldn’t be a more deceptive description. As reported by SIIP shortly after the election:
The alt-right political network, though, had been preparing for the 2016 election since long before Bannon joined the team. The Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute and Citizen’s United all continued to gather influence in the political field. Charles and David Koch’s organization Citizens for a Sound Economy split into two groups in 2004. One group, the Americans for Prosperity, would become the protest and media arm of the alt-right’s political movement. The other arm, Freedomworks, would serve as the ground team for state and local elections and a political lifeline for the Tea Party.
The Koch Brothers teamed up again with Bert Rein and American Enterprise Institute’s Ed Blum to push their alt-right agenda in the courts through the Project on Fair Representation (founded in 2005). The mission of this organization is to “is to facilitate pro bono legal representation to political subdivisions and individuals that wish to challenge government distinctions and preferences made on the basis of race and ethnicity.” Their primary target was the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Specifically, the Project on Fair Representation sought to remove the provision that required certain jurisdictions to gain approval of the federal government before making changes in their voting policies. The removal of this restriction would allow states to make adjustments to their voting policies that directly benefitted the Republican party and the alt-right agenda.
In 2011, the Charles and David Koch founded Freedom Partners in order to funnel grant money into activist organizations and ground level political actions. In 2013, the alt-right network was successful in their efforts to gut the Voting Rights Act when they won the case of Shelby County vs Holden (2013). In related practical efforts, Citizens United and Americans for Prosperity were taken to court for accusations of voter suppression efforts in states such as Florida, Virginia, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Michigan. Using characteristically aggressive tactics, including the strategic suppression of minority voters, the alt-right network was able to make dramatic waves in the 2010 and 2014 elections — and the Republican party was able to take control of Congress.
The Alt-right’s checklist to take control of the federal government without the use of military force was as follows:
- Infiltrate Congress — Achieved 2010
- Eliminate Funding Restrictions — Achieved 2010
- Take Control of the RNC — Achieved in 2011
- Kill Voting Protections — Achieved in 2013
- Take Control of Congress — Achieved in 2014
- Take Control of the Supreme Court — Achieved if 1) Obama administration doesn’t successfully counter efforts to delay appointment and 2) if the Republican candidate secures the Presidency
- Take Control of the Presidency — Goal:2016
By 2016, all that was left for the alt-right to achieve a full takeover of the government of the United States — without firing one shot — was gaining control of the Presidency.”
The rise of the Tea Party was the direct result of a coordinated long-term strategy that was in no way solely focused on the local level. This strategy combined local, state, and federal strategies that heavily used the courts, the GOP, strategy firms, the media and grassroots activism — among other illegal activities such as deprivation of rights and treason — in order to achieve their goals.
The goals of the far right could not be achieved with grassroots activism alone.
The rise of the Tea Party was also not solely defensive. As described above, the GOP was strategically invested in a very heavy offensive attack. This attack included the destruction of voting rights through the courts, voter ID laws, and the Interstate Crosscheck System. It included offensive attacks on minority communities and Democratic voters through the main stream media and social media. It also included an offensive strategy that promoted, and still promotes, intimidation and physical violence.
This offensive could only be ignored if you come from a position of privilege which enables you to ignore strategies that attack poor, POC and PWD communities. It can also only be ignored if you have no foundation from which to speak as an expert on confronting racism, authoritarianism or federalized white supremacy.
And so it predictably follows that the Congressional staffers turned self-proclaimed messiahs of political counterstrategy, completely ignored the GOP offensive. And, as already described, without acknowledging the opponent’s offense, there is no possible way to design a defense to counter it. Without a strong defense — especially a defense against the deprivation of minority rights — the left has no chance whatsoever of stopping the advances of Trump and the GOP.
2. The Indivisible Guide is designed to succeed in a context that we just don’t exist in.
The Indivisible Guide promotes the idea that:
“IT’S ALL ABOUT REELECTION, REELECTION, REELECTION.
To influence your own Member of Congress (MoC), you have to understand one thing: every House member runs for office every two years and every Senator runs for election every six years. Functionally speaking, MoCs are always either running for office or getting ready for their next election — a fact that shapes everything they do.
…This constant reelection pressure means that MoCs are enormously sensitive to their image in the district or state, and they will work very hard to avoid signs of public dissent or disapproval.”
Unfortunately, when you know how to rig an election, you don’t need to respond to a constituency. Between Russian intervention, voter ID laws, the Interstate Crosscheck System and violations of the ADA, the Republicans are behaving, with good reason, as if they have 2018 in the bag. And since the Democrats have done nothing to confront these issues — the GOP is right.
Rather than confront the obstacles that prevent the Democrats from winning at the polls, they continue to rely on 2 core strategies:
1. We aren’t the GOP, so people HAVE to vote for us.
2. We don’t have to engage in a political battle, we can win in the court of public opinion
Both of these strategies have cost the Democrats every single major election since 2010. Rather than confront the failures of this strategy, though, the Indivisible Guide enthusiastically adopts the and further diffuses them through their “activist” network — along with a package of resistance tactics designed more for collaboration with the GOP than confrontation.
Town halls, local public events, district office visits, coordinated calls have no history of success in political reform movements.
Unless you think our indigenous elders were wrong, and you believe our genocide could have been prevented by a town hall meeting. Or maybe if you believe the Civil War could have been prevented and slavery would have ended if more community meetings had been held. Perhaps if you believe the soldiers that fought the Nazis during World War II were really just over-reacting and millions of lives could have been saved if just a few more calls to Congress were made, then the Indivisible Guide might seem like an effective tool. Or if you really believe segregation would have ended by just having a meeting with your local representatives, then the Indivisible Guide make sense.
But if you have even the most novice understanding of struggle and reform, the suggestions provided in the Indivisible Guide are as ridiculous as the idea that the GOP will be stopped by a tactic that can be blocked with the purchase of an answering machine or a simple refusal to attend a meeting.
But then again, the authors of the Indivisible Guide admit that their goal is NOT to stop the Trump Administration or the GOP. And this brings us to our Number one reason to light the Indivisible Guide on Fire…
1. The Indivisible Guide isn’t designed to work. It hasn’t worked. It doesn’t work. And It’s not going to work.
Before we proceed, ask yourself this: When has calling Congress or attending a town hall worked to stop the Trump Administration?
The Indivisible Guide’s plan to call and town hall away the Trump Train has not done one thing to stop the Trump Administration and the GOP from advancing its legislative agenda.
(Now you may be telling yourself that you saved Obamacare by calling Congress when the GOP was trying to pass the AHCA. Obamacare wasn’t saved by #Indivisible. It was stalled by the Freedom Caucus. And when it was adjusted to suit their needs, not the needs of the people, it was passed through the House. Despite phone calls and town halls. So, no, unless you think you are the Freedom Caucus, the Indivisible Guide did not stop the destruction of our national healthcare system. What it did do, though, is convince its followers that it had succeeded, prevented them from preparing for the GOP’s second attempt at passing Trumpcare through the house, and left 24million people in harm’s way with no tangible defense. This outcome is not the same as saving Obamacare. To learn more, click here.)
So let me repeat, the strategies promoted by the Indivisible Guide have not worked once. Ever.
And there is one core reason for that: The Indivisible Guide was not written to be a success. It was written to stall your resistance until the 2018 Election cycle. As the Indivisible Guide itself states:
“By adopting a defensive strategy that pressures MoCs [Members of Congress], we can achieve the following goals:
- Stall the Trump agenda by forcing them to redirect energy away from their priorities…
- Sap Representatives’ will to support or drive reactionary change. If you do this right, you will have an outsized impact. Every time your MoC signs on to a bill, takes a position, or makes a statement, a little part of his or her mind will be thinking: “How am I going to explain this to the angry constituents who keep showing up at my events and demanding answers?”
- Reaffirm the illegitimacy of the Trump agenda. The hard truth is that Trump, McConnell, and Ryan will have the votes to cause some damage. But by objecting as loudly and powerfully as possible, and by centering the voices of those who are most affected by their agenda, you can ensure that people understand exactly how bad these laws are from the very start — priming the ground for the 2018 midterms and their repeal when Democrats retake power.”
The goal is not to stop the GOP, its legislative advances, or the Trump Administration. The goal of the Indivisible Guide is to stall, shame, and scream at the GOP until they are magically voted away in 2018 — without confronting voter purging, suppression, or Russian interference.
And this strategy will never work to stop the GOP, although it’s followers falsely believe it will. This false belief prevents them from engaging in strategies that will actually achieve that goal. And in that way, the members of #Indivisible prevent strategies and counterstrategies that work from being enacted — in the name of resistance.
And that’s why the Indivisible Guide should be burned. It should be lit on fire, used as toilet paper, put at the bottom of a bird cage, bound and buried — anything except be used as a manual to stop the GOP. Which is what must be done. And time is running out.
For more information on what the left can and should do to stop the GOP, click here.