This post was originally published on Medium on February 12, 2017.
The big question in the media this week seems to be, “Is the progressive resistance movement the new Tea Party or is it more like the Occupy Movement?”
To those of us who make up the resistance, the answer is obvious. NEITHER.
We won’t get very far, though, if we follow our instincts and yell loudly, “We are not the Tea Party!” Saying we are not something inadvertently ties us to it.
So resist the urge to respond to the question with what we are not. Instead, proclaim loudly what we are, emphasizing the values that bind us in the words you choose.
What are we?
We are everyday people who care about our country and our fellow citizens. We have mobilized because we are concerned about the threats posed to our way of life by the Trump Administration and Republican controlled Congress. We will persist with this movement, involving ourselves in electoral politics and other forms of activism for as long as it takes.
The prevailing value that binds the various factions of the new resistance is caring for others. We care about immigrants, minorities, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ persons, etc., and we want to ensure that their rights are protected. We care about everyone’s access to healthcare, women having the right to make decisions about their own bodies, and providing quality education equitably to all children. We care about our environment, safety in our neighborhoods, and global leadership in fighting the root causes of war and terror. We believe that our government should reflect that caring through responsible policies that guide and protect us as a nation.
WE ARE PEOPLE WHO CARE.
The fact that we care about more than ourselves distinguishes us from the Tea Party, whose goals center around retaining selfish privilege for a few. We extend beyond intellectual exercises of protest, and into local politics, which distinguishes us from the Occupy movement. Our members are everyday people who have been called to activism for the first time in their lives, which also distinguishes us from earlier movements.
We have already bypassed the aforementioned movements by our size, our diversity, and our commitment. No need to belabor it by saying we are not them. Although we have learned from the tactical lessons of our predecessors, we are something entirely different, and we need to speak loudly about what that is.
George Lakoff said on Tavis Smiley recently, “Without care, there is no democracy.” We are people who care, fighting for the very life of our democracy. That is our focus, and we won’t be deterred by the media’s need to compare us to something of less significance at this point in time.
We care. We resist. We will persist. That’s all that they need to know.