Rachel Manija Brown has started a campaign called Pull the Football
, which in essence is a grassroots effort to get Congress to take the nuclear football (the ability to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike on his own recognizance) away from Trump.
I think Gen X in particular (although hardly exclusively) grew up with a sort of fatalism about nuclear war. It was probably going to happen and because we were kids, there was nothing we could do about it. It became reified (thing-ified), turned from a series of decisions made by human beings into something like the monolith from 2001
, unknowable and impervious to anything human beings could do. Many of us were shocked to reach 25, and we've never quite been sure about what to do with the fact that we have survived into adulthood. It would be horribly easy for us to slide back into that same fatalism, to go back to living with one shoulder unconsciously hunched against the monolith just outside our range of vision.
But we aren't
kids any longer and there is
something we can do. There is specific legislation already proposed in both the House (HR 669) and the Senate (S 200) that would take away the "nuclear football" that gives Trump the power 24/7 to launch a nuclear strike without consulting anybody. (It would take him about five minutes.)Nobody should have this power. Nobody.
I think it's a sign of how sick the Cold War made all of us, not only that the President was given this power in the first place, but that it's never been rescinded, even though it's been 30 years since the Berlin Wall came down. The cure is simple, and that's the point of Rachel's Pull the Football campaign.
I don't agree with everything Rachel says--I don't think it's worth trying to persuade congresspeople who aren't YOUR congresspeople to do anything because all the staffers I've seen say anything say that non-constituents will be disregarded--but I am in 100% agreement with her goal and in 100% agreement that, while one person pushing gets nowhere, if we all push together, we can effect change.
So, yes. Please call--and keep calling--your congresspeople. If they are already co-sponsoring either HR 669 or S 200 tell them you support them and ask them to speak out publicly about it. (It is SUPER IMPORTANT to tell your representatives when you support what they're doing. They need that data.) If they aren't co-sponsoring their respective bill, ask them to get in the game. AND KEEP ASKING.
A lot of people have spent a lot of time this year repeatedly calling their representatives about saving the ACA and that is in no small part why Congress has been unable to pass a repeal bill.
The Congressional switchboard is 202-224-3121. The voicemail system is extremely polite and easy to navigate (and has the only robot voice in America that I actually find pleasant to listen to). If you can't face the idea of talking to a real person, believe me I sympathize. You call call at night, in the early morning, on the weekends, and leave a voicemail. VOICEMAIL COUNTS
Use Resistbot. Text resist
to 50409, and it will help you write faxes or letters to your representatives.
Send email. Your representatives will have contact forms on their websites. Even unresponsive representatives like Senator Ron Johnson
are marginally more responsive to email. You at least get a form letter telling you all the reasons why the thing you oppose is a good idea.
Send letters to your local paper. Congresspeople have staffers who compile press cuttings, and they are keenly interested in what shows up about them in public fora. Being a politician is largely about PR, so anything you can do that shows up IN PUBLIC
will at least get their attention.
And when you call your reps or send an email, tweet about it or post about it on Facebook or whatever social media platform you favor. Show people that it's easy to make themselves heard. Remind them that their congresspeople are their elected representatives
. It is their job
to listen to their constituents. Even if you've got nothing but Republican apparatchiks, it is still worth telling them what you think and what you want.
My philosophy about representatives like Johnson, who seem to have been expressly created to embody everything I hate, is that even if I can't teach the pig to sing, I can annoy the snot out of him. I won't change his mind, and don't expect to, but I can make him less willing to, for example, vote yes on repealing the ACA. That's what killed it this last time in the Senate; McConnell decided he couldn't be sure of getting the votes he needed. Too many Republican senators were getting too much pushback.
Pull the Football is a little different, since the goal is to gain co-sponsors and yes votes, but the same principle applies. They're going to bend in the direction popular opinion is blowing, and what we want is to escalate popular opinion from a breeze to a gale. (If you like the image of congresspeople falling over like bowling pins, that's okay, too.)
I don't want nuclear war. I don't think anyone wants nuclear war (except maybe Trump). The nuclear football is a sick hangover from the Cold War, and honestly no president needs or should have the ability to pre-emptively (i.e., without provocation) nuke anyone
So by whatever method you favor, please apply pressure to your elected representatives. Pull the football away from Trump.