A letter to my Congressional representatives and to all Democratic members of Congress.
Dear Representative Jayapal, Senator Cantwell, and Senator Murray,
Now that Donald Trump is President, your job has changed. For the past eight years, and indeed for most of modern American history, your job has been to work with the administration and, when possible, with the Republican leadership in Congress to pass legislation for the good of the American people. Now, with a Republican majority pushing the most extreme right-wing agenda in at least a century and a president with unprecedented (and unpresidented) deficits in experience, temperament, honesty, and ethics, your job is to limit the damage.
I urge you to resist. I urge you to do everything in your power to frustrate, obstruct, and delay the legislative and administrative agenda of the administration and the Republican majority.
Do not vote to confirm Betsy DeVos, the profoundly unqualified nominee to lead the Department of Education. Do everything in your power to prevent the confirmation of the worst nominees like DeVos, Pudzer, and Tillerson, and withhold your vote from the rest. Do not vote to confirm any executive or judicial nominee the administration puts forward, no matter how qualified, from Secretary of State all the way on down to the Director of the Office of Paperclip Distribution. And, most importantly, use every weapon at your disposal to deny President Trump the opportunity the Republican majority denied President Obama – the appointment of a new Supreme Court Justice.
Do not vote for any bill advanced by the administration or the Republican leadership. Use the rules of legislative procedure to derail or delay the most damaging legislation, and make sure that every bill passed by the majority receives a full measure of debate, with your opposition noted in the Congressional Record. Do everything you can, short of shutting down the government or defaulting on the national debt, to frustrate the Republican legislative agenda.
If you do find bipartisan agreement on a specific issue – sentencing reform, perhaps – then you should of course work with like-minded legislators from the opposing party. But don’t compromise your core principles when you do so, even in pursuit of a good cause.
You will lose many of these fights, perhaps most. The damage to our country will be awful, but that’s the political reality for the next four years, even with a favorable election in 2018. But while Republican control of both the Congress presents a terrible danger, it also presents a political opportunity. Make the Republicans pass every piece of destructive legislation with only Republican votes. Make the Republicans own every awful thing that happens while they control Congress. If the past eight years have taught us anything, it is that voters will not only forgive uncompromising obstruction, they will reward it. With the new president’s historically low approval ratings and the huge crowds at the Women’s Marches across the country, relentless opposition is looking even better as an electoral strategy.
Resist. Your conscience and your constituents will thank you.