Column, Op Ed

MIC DROP: Organizing against monsters, by Mike Racioppo

After the 2008 election Paul Krugman wrote that it was “the end of the monster years.”

Krugman’s reference was to the prior 14 years of GOP control of Congress starting in 1994.  During that time America’s political life had been largely dominated by, well, monsters. Monster in this case  defined as being abnormally cruel. Ugly and frightening creatures like Tom DeLay, who in a non sequitur suggested that the shootings at Columbine happened because schools teach students the theory of evolution. Monsters like Karl Rove, who  declared that liberals wanted to offer “therapy and understanding” to terrorists. Monsters like Dick Cheney, who saw 9/11 as an opportunity to start torturing people.

While Dick Cheney and Tom DeLay, aren’t operational and mainly kibitz these days, the GOP embrace of the monster within has totally consumed the party.  Even what had always seemed a pretense of compassion has now disappeared.  What I mean is that it takes a heightened level of disregard, and cruelty, for your fellow humans to say, “we aren’t seeing results” from Meals on Wheels but president Trump has no problem advancing this untruth.

The recent defeat of the #trumpcare is certainly good news but let’s not gloat. As we saw on election night, not just in 2016, but also in 2014 and 2010, the right wing/Republican Party always seems to double down and never give in. No matter how unpopular their agenda is you can be sure they will not give up. Just look at Social Security and Medicare- the 2 most popular government programs going. The GOP has never, since its inception, stopped pushing to kill social security and Ronald Reagan warned that if Medicare were to pass we’d be forced to longingly speak of a time when Americans were free.

There have actually been a few comparisons between the GOP’s most recent, failed, attempt to destroy Social Security (Bush’s push to privatize it in 2005) and the defeat of #trumpcare.  They are similar in that both show that, contrary to the rhetoric of many pundits of the right and what calls itself the center, the American people expect a government to back stop their financial and physical well being and resist having such protections gutted

What we, as Democrats and as the “left” at large, should realize is that we have not only the better ideas but the more popular ideas and when we push them the more successful ideas resulting in a better nation. Just say “no” to each aspect of a monstrous plan. That will unfortunately be the central thrust of our message during the Trump years.  However, going forward it is important to not only show what it means for the  Republicans run the government, but also to remind people  why we can and that we should be in charge.

The left has has not only created and protected Federal programs but there are city and state programs of great accomplishment and import such as Universal Pre-k and, after decades of discussion, the first leg of the 2nd avenue subway line.

Even in states that are relatively red there is great pride in government run institutions such as public colleges – from Penn State to the University of Michigan and University of Wisconsin (not coincidental references).

As the success in defeating #trumpcare shows- organization and activism has a major role in producing the results people want. We can apply the brakes but it must be done with the force of organization.  Organization and activism needs to continue.  We are the ones who remember that the people of Appalachia and the Great Lakes aren’t just props and that there are real seniors and disabled people, many in rural areas, who survive nutritionally and emotionally, despite the claims of the monsters, as a result of Meals on Wheels.

P.S- if you read this and are suddenly interested in joining the resistance please email me at and I’ll help direct you, to a political club or organization such as the Independent Neighborhood Democrats (I’m a member).

Michael Racioppo is the Executive Director of the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation as well as the Vice Chair of Community Board 6.

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