Popped Culture : Solutions for Oncoming Political Darkness

The old Popped Culture feature of the Weeklings has been revived for the new era. This time, Weekling editors are asked for remedies to address what is, for many, a worrisome political future. There are no correct answers.

As always, please, no wagering.

What are some real life solutions for the incoming policies of an Adminstration most didn’t vote for and many disagree with?

HANK CHERRY

The election is a about a month old. While the incoming administration hasn’t begun its first 100 days, they immediately have become news dominant. For the majority of the popular voters, the results are somewhat shocking. As such, it’s a reactive time. In the aftermath, large swaths of conservatives, liberals and radicals have tactically inflamed each other on social media, in regular media, and with vandalism campaigns that have spread across the country. Having covered the last six months of the election, I operated within my own reality distortion field.  I’m not too proud to admit I was among those who wrongly predicted the outcome of the election.

So when a  journalist pal invited me to a protest in downtown LA the Saturday morning after the election, I wasn’t sold on the concept. I went anyway. Watching the marchers interact within the solidarity of protest alleviated a bit of the accumulated tension from the brutish election. It got me thinking.

Someone somewhere, John Oliver maybe, offered a list of charities people could donate to representing causes President-elect Trump and VP-elect Pence have continually vowed to destroy. You cannot discount voting. In 2018, all the seats in the House of Representatives come up for election as they do every two years. What’s more, civic elections often deliver more direct change, neighborhood by neighborhood.

Some have floated romantic absurdities, a Calexit, for instance. But come on- PRAGMATISM NOW! We need to develop real answers, as a country, answers that address the incoming adminsistration’s destructive tendencies and foil them.

Donate time and money to imperiled causes. Recognize how well the right unifies, commingling  alt-right atheists amidst family-values Christians. Discover how to coalesce similarly divergent groups within the left. Bring labor back into the Democratic fold. Vote in all elections and urge non-voting friends to change their evil ways. Frequently check in with Southern Poverty Law Center’s website. They track hate crimes and hate groups. Governments are always most satisfied when those they wield power over fight amongst themselves. Remember that. Find common ground. 

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JENNIFER KABAT

I live in an area that is now a demographic: white rural America. I woke up scared on November 9. I am the educated elite. I teach college, I write—about contemporary art, no less. I am not used to waking up scared, to considering that my privileges to think and write aren’t rights but privileges. Or that realizing I even see them as a right separates me from most of the rest of the world.

History can be a guide for survival. Take Sojourner Truth: born a slave in the county next to me in upstate NY, she used language, anger, the courts, her own image and speeches to create change. She stood undaunted.

Direct action—protesting matters; right now registering dissent is imperative. And just in time for the inauguration LA Kauffman’s incisive history: Direct Action.

But, there’s a more contingent long-term action: community, volunteerism, involvement… Creating coalitions and finding common ground. Part of the election is racism; part economics. Racism rears its ugly head when people are threatened. The economic situation can create coalitions. As writers many of us have seen our work and income threatened by technology; magazines are no longer profitable in the age of the internet. We need to call out hate, yes, but not get sidelined by it. We need to condemn intolerance, but refuse to live in a culture of fear. We need to focus on the common issue that binds us together (and by “us” I’m talking about the whole country).

Technology is currently working like the banking system to accumulate more and more wealth in the hands of the wealthy. Automation will leave more unemployed. The first test of a driverless truck happened this fall. Driverless trucks = unemployed truck drivers. It’s  simple math.  That’s one example. Facebook and Google’s algorithms are one thing, the crushing march of capital (as first written about Marx in Das Kapital) is another.

We need to build coalitions across lines, across class and race, county and country to  connect these dots. The times demand we look for solutions. There are existing models to solve for this: the cooperative movement, which was a 3rd way for capitalism and was started by 28 impoverished weavers on the outskirts of Manchester UK in 1840. They had no money and no right to vote, yet they created a system of profit sharing, which at the time challenged similar rampant liberal (think Adam Smith) capitalism. Or, there’s a Universal Basic Income, something even Nixon supported say…

 

GREG OLEAR

Don’t Dwell on the Past

Heated discussions about why Hillary lost (she didn’t), how Bernie or Biden would have won (doubtful in rigged election), or whether or not Trump supporters are all racists (the word no longer has any meaning) are both irrelevant and unhelpful, like the last dinosaurs arguing about why the asteroid hit. Don’t waste your emotional energy. Instead…

Follow the Money

Trump cares about his own fortune more than anything, including love of country, and will divest his vast business holdings right around the time he releases his tax returns. If he refuses to sell, he will have fiduciary conflicts of interest that hinder almost everything he tries to do. That bastion of liberal propaganda, the opinion page of the Wall Street Journal, predicts that if Trump does not divest, Democrats would attack him for said conflicts of interest literally every time he speaks, and he will expend much of his political capital defending himself. This is how we get rid of Trump: make him choose between being CEO and being President.

 

ROBERT BURKE WARREN

Try a Facebreak ©, i.e. a break from social media, even if it’s just for an afternoon, or a day. I am not being a Pollyanna or remotely suggesting putting one’s head in the sand. Like you, I refuse to “calm down” and we absolutely will not “get over it”; I am actually telling you what you already know: the blood pressurizers in our digital devices are often not helpful, especially the despair porn, which, sad to say, is usually elegantly conceived, and expertly designed to get your adrenals into overdrive. Please give it a rest. Social media would have you believe you possess an inexhaustible supply of ire, but I’d wager you do not. Save it for the stage. A subset of the country has thrown the gauntlet, and they’re waiting to see what we’ll do, and however the resistance goes, it must be done with energy. And since when does despair spark energy?

These beautifully composed think pieces posted by Facebook friends seem to emanate from a land where DJT won in a landslide. He did not. Not even close. Yes, how it went down is infuriating (and ever unfolding), and the prospects of what he could – and likely will – do are horrifying. But remember the tens of millions of people who feel as you do. Much more than half of the voting public.

Read history, preferably from a book. Social media is all about what’s happening (or may be happening) at this moment right now, and while that certainly has its merits, it can be exhausting, and can shatter perspective. Understand that while DJT has drawn comparisons to tyrants and authoritarians of yore – Mussolini, Castro, Hitler – our situation is not a direct analogue to any of the situations from which said tyrants sprang. The Despair Pornographers – who really want your clicks – would have you believe otherwise. Give them the day off.

See you on the green.

 

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JANA MARTIN

5 Tips for Surviving as Female

  1. Stay vigilant.

Assume the stance, if not persona, if not identity, of outrage. Do not let it go. As a mental uniform, conceive of yourself as a powerful feminist soldier in the army of the nation of PussyGrabsBack, or a blend of Angela Davis and Ruth Bader Ginsberg with doses of Patty Hearst in her SLA days, Patti Smith, and Beyoncé on the police car. Do not calm down. To compensate for crazy you have to skew more crazy. That “when they go low we go high” stance didn’t work. Stay low and stay angry. Consider accessorizing with a combat belt that has a built-in mace canister (yes, it’s a bit Lara Croft, but in a good way): utilize avidly, and read on for four more handy tips you can easily follow in your daily life.

  1. Avoid inadvertent buy-in.

When shopping for makeup, leggings, winter boots or party shoes, make sure you do not inadvertently buy into the male corporatocracy, or support the new hegemonic dynasty of overt misogyny. As well as customer reviews on quality and sizing, your pre-purchase research should now include the company’s donation history. Also research “economic advisors,” and try to avoid the 500-plus businesses that are a part of Drumpfler’s “Organization.” For instance, avoid: Zappos, Amazon, RueLaLa, Bluefly, Nordstrom and Lord & Taylor (who all hawk the daughter’s “lifestyle” brand). But surprisingly, see Wal-Mart. Also: avoid the Central Park Carousel. If you must patronize the Learning Annex, scold them for their one-hour seminar hosted by Valdetrump on How to Buy the FBI and the Election, and Ruin the United States and the Entire World Without Ever Once Having to Hire an Unattractive / Ugly / Not Pretty / Or Grabbable / Or Outspoken Woman.

  1. Be creative.

Craving that high-fashion look of contoured blush by the daughter’s cosmetics company to give your face that special “spawn of an asshole” glow? Consider timely alternatives to a company that is part of the rampant grabbing of our constitutional crotches. No need to toss away your hard-won rights for a product that color-matches your skin to create that perfect skyscraper-condo complexion. Instead, try applications of cranberry jelly, leftover from the travesty of Thanksgiving (see Standing Rock). Consider upsweeps of a small sampling of contaminated riverbed mud, smeared warrior style, from the eye socket to the temple, for a more post-apocalyptic impact. Switch up your look: moderate applications for those ordinary day demonstrations, more dramatic for the tear-gas and water-cannon showdown we may face in Washington on January 21st.

  1. Practice subtle changes in behavior.

Consider avoiding holding babies in front of people who would purr with proto-biological approval and suggest you’re “next.” Recall Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. It might be better to not publicly demur to male opinion under any circumstance, just to offset the sudden and tragic imbalance in which our throats are being cut to silence our protests (just make sure the men we love who are not out to take away our washing machines understand it’s just a matter of hewing to the struggle). In work situations, particularly in a presentation or conference, do not keep talking if a demafuck lurks behind you while you make your case to the Board. Turn around and face him. With Maori haka intensity, bug your eyes, bare and gnash your teeth, widen your stance like a crone about to give birth like a volcano, throw both hands onto his white collar neck, and squeeze.

  1. Customize your tactics.

Of course these tips are most effective if you tailor to your own personal preferences. But a generally adversarial stance may increase everyone’s chances of survival in the new era, not just people with vaginas. Handy hint: this might be the time to abandon any retro references, such as 1950s-nostalgia dressing. Understand that irony is invisible in the face of overt rape culture, so if you dress like a housewife, you may just be seen as one. Then, so much for all that vigilance. Possibly tear off the aprons altogether, even if purchased at UO and worn with a 21st-century gender-fluid wink. The Drumpfers don’t wink. They want us in those aprons, obediently carrying trays of canapés to their lynching parties. Because from their point of view, that’s when America was great! Do not forget that. Back to vigilance. Might be a good time not to brag about your crafty kitschy decorating efforts either. Instead, try learning how to throw knives. Added benefit: now there’s a great upper-body workout!

 

KURT BAUMEISTER

The only way we’ll survive Trump is by making Congress and the rest of the government do their jobs. The list of claims of impropriety (civil, criminal, electioneering, etc.) against the President-Elect and his associates, including the RNC, is already long, so long reasonable people might propose President Obama remain in office until these situations have been fully investigated by Congress.

From Russian cyber warfare against the U.S., the DNC, and the Clinton campaign to FBI Director Comey’s editorial antics; from large-scale state-sponsored voter disenfranchisement in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and elsewhere to Trump’s exhortations for his supporters to take aggressive action against the voting activities of their fellow citizens (in violation of a long-standing prohibition against the RNC doing same); from the $25 million Trump University fraud settlement (never mind the other seventy-odd legal actions against Trump for fraud, unpaid debts, sexual assault, and rape) to Trump’s attempts to circumvent our government’s safeguards against nepotism, and his camp’s suggested appointments of incompetent and/or ethically deficient officials (Rudy Giuliani, Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn, and Jeff Sessions) even a Republican Congress should already be investigating the President-Elect.

To the extent Trump’s future edicts violate American values and the spirit of the Constitution, they must be resisted by the other two branches of government, not to mention state governors, legislatures, and, in the most extreme cases, even the military. No one citizen is more important than America. Not Washington or Jefferson, not Lincoln or Roosevelt, and certainly not Donald J. Trump.

 

ELISSA SCHAPPELL

What do you tell your kids?

Clearly this is not the outcome that we were hoping for. It’s disappointing. We are all disappointed. A lot of people worked really hard to get Hillary elected, and we should feel proud of that. Whether or not you win you should always be proud that you fought a good fight. That is what living in a democracy requires of you.

I understand you might be afraid. A lot of grownups aren’t using their inside voices. But you don’t have to be afraid. Nothing has changed in our family. We aren’t going anywhere. Mommy may joke about leaving your Daddy for Justin Trudeau, but no one is moving to Canada. This is our country and we’re staying. You know from seeing people crying on the train that a lot of people in our country are unhappy. And it’s frustrating, because more people voted for Hillary than Donald Trump.

Let me explain: Mr. Trump won the Electoral College.

No, not the Electrical College–I wish it were the Electrical College. We could just give him a fork and stick his hand in a light socket.

I am joking. Yes, his orange hair would look pretty funny.

But, no the Electoral College is a system created by the Founder Fathers for the benefit of the less-populated slave owning Southern states who didn’t want the more populated and progressive Northern states telling them what to do. Like treat people of color and women as your equals.

Also, stop playing jug band music.

What would be fair is if the North agrees to curb the number of barbershop quartets, and the South quits it with the washboards and jugs. That’s what we need to focus on. How can the jug bands and the barber shop quartets live in harmony. It is possible. We just have to pay attention. Because anything is possible.

 

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SEAN BEAUDOIN

A 28th Amendment will be passed to the Constitution requiring four actions. 1). The formation of a bi-partisan “Nightly Truth” commission of judges, authors, professors, and philosophers who will review and evaluate the day’s top news stories and political utterances for a baseline level of accuracy, and then issue a subsequent factual rebuttal. A well-produced and visually appealing 10 min segment will be shot 7 days a week, 365 days a year. All news networks will be required to carry the Nightly Truth segment as part of their broadcast regardless of the content of previous segments, five minutes of which will come from decreased advertising. 2.) Any television or internet program adjudged by the “Nightly Truth” commission to contain less than 50% of factual news will no longer be legally allowed to use the word NEWS. For instance, FOX News would just be called FOX. Or Fox Entertainment. Or Rupert’s Cynical Horseshit. “News” will now be a constitutionally protected word, concept, and action. 3.) All ethanol subsidies and petrochemical tax breaks will be immediately halted and funneled back into the print newspaper industry, held in a discretionary Mencken Fund specifically designed to pay the salaries of investigative reporters, foreign news desks, long-form essayists, and fedora-wearing muckrakers. 4. Every news outlet in the country agrees that no candidate for either state or national office will ever again be allowed to run a campaign without making their tax returns public. Outlets will simply refuse to report on them until they do. Further, from this day forward, every news outlet in America should demand Trump release his tax returns. Immediately and without further delay. Every single day, dozens of articles and op-eds should be written, demanding that he do so. Otherwise, zero reporting in daily talking points. Tax returns. Tax returns. Tax returns. NOW.

 

QUENBY MOONE

My instinct was not despair when it became clear that Trump—no matter who got the popular vote—had been installed as leader/oligarch/tinpot dictator.

Instead my instinct was to evaluate how far we—the activists, feminists, progressives, PoC, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, scientists, academics—had fallen behind the peloton.

We’re far behind the pack.

The biggest steps these disparate groups with shared concerns can take is to go back to Civil Disobedience School. And that means crossing out of our comfort zones and looking to others for guidance.

In the case of white progressives, this might sting a little. Humility is key. Understand that groups—other than ourselves—have been on the front lines against oppression for a while. In the meantime, many of our civil disobedience skills have gotten rusty from disuse.

This was evident in those first post-election protests: the marches had no defined goal, no unified message, and ultimately no success because the only attention they garnered was when a few protesters committed vandalism, staining all the rest of the peaceful bodies in one fell swoop.

Research what it means to be an “ally” in the language of other groups. Learn what works in civil disobedience, and what doesn’t. Research before you arrive at a protest.

Volunteer with groups that need humans to do physical work: be an escort for patients at women’s clinics. Volunteer to tutor kids in immigrant communities. Pick up refugees at the airport and settle them into a routine. A friendly face now mean more than ever. Ask local homeless teen organizations what they need most.

In all these cases, the most important things are: listen to those more experienced than you, and teach yourself the language before you ask others on the front lines to define it. They’re busy already.

 

SEAN MURPHY

The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.

This immortal quote, from the always-reliable and never irrelevant George Orwell, is as important today as it’s ever been. Never mind the very real macro concerns about the environment, civil liberties, and crucial social programs, we are already witnessing despicable—and, let’s face it, heretofore inconceivable—signs of impending trouble, on micro levels. Every spray-painted swastika, each threat (uttered aloud or under the cowardly cover of social media) and every implied or explicit appeal to censorship is a sign, a lone holler seeking imitation to serve as oxygen. Intolerance needs collaboration to sustain it, like a carcass feeding maggots. As such, many of the simple acts of personal and artistic expression we’ve been fortunate to take for granted (particularly as whites, most especially as white males) are now likely to be scrutinized, decried and, if possible, curtailed. It goes without saying that any American with a functioning moral compass will confront acts of aggression and intervene peacefully but without compunction. As writers, it’s incumbent upon us to bear witness and engender solidarity, by any means necessary. Creativity in the face of repression is always indispensable, but on a fundamental level, every gesture of ill-will and ignorance must be met with an urgent refusal to countenance it. Retreating into the relative safety of silence (or worse, apathy) is not an option.

In a peaceful age I might have written ornate or merely descriptive books, and might have remained almost unaware of my political loyalties.

Orwell, again. We’re finding ourselves in a time where we can rely on neither the press nor politicians to inform us or inspire the better angels of our nature. This is a degradation of the American experiment, but it need not be a tragedy. History seems intent on recycling its ugliest examples, and we owe those who sacrificed, then, and those among us, now, who are most vulnerable, to meet this challenge with dignity and resolve. During times of darkness, our best artists have dedicated their gifts, if not their lives, to exposing duplicity and promoting enlightenment. Imitation of their audacity, in the days to follow, will be the sincerest—and most vital—form of flattery.

 

JANET STEEN

We are so deep in crazytown now it’s hard to imagine how we’re going to get out. The gulf between the pro- and anti-Trump camps is vast, bewildering. The news Trumpers are getting is not the news non-Trumpers are getting, and that’s where the problem began. Real journalism: it’s still out there somewhere. In light of the seeming impossibility of sane and grounded conversation, I’m proposing Random Acts of Fact-Checking. Send a fact to a Trump supporter you know about some way they are irrefutably being screwed by the guy they voted for. Let the fact speak for itself. Like: you are one of the almost 20,000,000 Trump voters who will lose time and a half overtime under a Republican plan to reverse regulations that were put in place by Obama. Or hey, that Ford Motor Company plant Trump took credit for saving? That was false.  The jobs he was going to bring back to the coal towns in West Virginia? Here’s what actually happened. When the avalanche of broken promises begins, let’s make sure people know who caused it. Be relentless with the facts. If they want to argue, encourage them to send a bona fide fact-based counter-story your way, if they can find one. Don’t insult, don’t harangue, don’t belittle, just point one of the millions of conned Americans to the awful truth. Break out of the bubble, one person at a time, till we blow the house down. The conversation has to start somewhere.

 

 

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