The Power of Speaking (and Sharing) the Truth

“Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”– Elie Wiesel

“In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”– George Orwell

This week, President Biden gave a rousing speech in Maryland in which he called out MAGA Republicans as “semi-fascists.” (I may quibble with the “semi” part.)

There is power in those words being said.

It has taken President Biden a long time to come around to being frank about the danger MAGA Republicans pose. I think we have all been humbled by his achievements over the past month, so I won’t claim to understand why he hasn’t been so blunt before.

It is important, and good, that he’s being so direct now.

Friend, here’s the literal definition of fascism from Webster’s Dictionary: a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.

Or from Wikipedia: Fascism is a far-right, authoritarian, ultranationalist political ideology and movement characterized by a dictatorial leader, centralized autocracy, militarism, forcible suppression of opposition, belief in a natural social hierarchy, subordination of individual interests for the perceived good of the nation and race, and strong regimentation of society and the economy.

Certainly there are more nuanced and high brow definitions of fascism than you and I would find in a dictionary and a crowd-sourced encyclopedia. But you get the drift.

MAGA Republicans have proudly labeled themselves as nationalists, worship Trump such that they promise riots in the streets if he is held to the rule of law (see this great 8-page report from Defend Democracy Project detailing their promises of political violence – in August alone), are highly militarized/armed, have quite literally flown in the autocratic leader of Hungary to speak at their conservative pep rally (and have themselves flown to Hungary to hold that same pep rally IN Hungary), openly engage in targeted voter suppression and election rigging to consolidate power, and have begun punishing businesses for not towing the line.

This is not a close call.

Of course, you could hear the screams and gnashing of teeth at Fox News after Biden’s speech. “How dare he call us semi-fascists!” they cried (just before welcoming the guest who calls Democrats communist-Marxist-socialist-pedophile-groomers).

Righteous indignation all around.

As they say, a stuck pig will squeal.

There is power in being truthful, and there is truth to what Biden said. They know it.

Also this week, the White House Twitter feed was taken over by a 26-year-old who had previously run the New Jersey Twitter feed with style and serious chops. On what I believe was her first day on the job, she tweeted a thread of MAGA Republicans’ statements denouncing student loan forgiveness as being unfair … next to how many hundreds of thousands of dollars of PPP loans they had taken out, and which had been forgiven.

The thread absolutely blew up.

For once, the truth went viral.

Across the internet, Democrats cheered. “Whoever tweeted this should get a raise just for this. Good job,” said March for Our Lives founder David Hogg (67k people liked that comment).

Author Scott Lynch agreed: “Hey, WH staff, just so you know, if you’re going to continue to drag these hypocrites with clear and hard-hitting messaging, you run a serious risk of surging enthusiasm, electoral success, and continued improvements to the lives of millions of Americans.”

Fighting back with the truth is popular. And the truth is on Democrats’ side.

One of the main purposes of disinformation and misinformation is confusion.

Confused people won’t act.

Gaslighting is disorienting. It is intended to be so.

But we can get our footing with moral clarity (referring to fascists as fascists) and factual clarity (juxtaposing student loan statements with PPP loan amounts).

And when that moral and factual clarity is supplied by the White House – with receipts – it’s grounding. It’s no longer necessary to look around wondering – am I the only one who sees this?

By providing the truth, and speaking it plainly, the administration is giving us the reassurance and tools we need to respond.

I hope they continue sharing this kind of content, and speaking so plainly.

Now, of course, it’s up to us to both internalize and share the message.

I say “internalize” it first, because I really think it’s hard to come to terms with our present situation. The reality is, a large segment of our country is opposed to democracy. Those are tough words to write, but they’re the truth. Before we can hope to protect ourselves against the danger that segment poses, we have to be honest about how bad our situation is.

We need to speak the truth – to ourselves.

And then we need to share that truth with our network. The truth doesn’t do a whole heck of a lot if nobody hears about it.

Armed with the truth, and grounded in reality, we can do a lot in talking to our friends, neighbors, and family.

The stakes are really high, folks.

Let’s get to work.

Actions for the Week of August 30, 2022

No, I’m not giving up on this. Wear a mask.

You know people right now who let their guard down and got Covid, don’t you?

Of course you do. That’s because the pandemic is not over.

I care about you. I don’t want you to get sick. And I can cite dozens and dozens of studies that explain in graphic detail why – even if you’re not at risk of dying immediately from an acute infection – you do not want to get Covid. You need to keep infections/reinfections as low as you can. (Reinfections are not rare.)

And this one might sting, so I’ll say it gently: I’m not sure how you can claim to be a fighter for equity if you’re not wearing a mask when you’re indoors, or when you’re outside in a crowded environment. I know you care about the collective good. So just put a mask on! It’s simple, it’s good for your health, it’s good for the collective, and it’s good for the country.

Tonight! Role of State Legislatures in Fight for Democracy

Tonight there’s a panel called: The Insurrection will be Decentralized – Election Subversion: The Role of State Legislatures in the Fight for our Democracy

This panel will explore how state legislatures play an outsized role in the future of our democracy. The January 6th hearings provided us with explosive evidence of how Trump and key officials in his administration attempted to strong-arm state legislators into putting up fake electors and changing election outcomes. And in key states, Republicans are still building toward a future where they can engineer election outcomes, by modifying the laws and rules governing election administration and limiting the ability of state courts to curb partisan redistricting and subversion. On top of that, an arch-conservative Supreme Court appears likely to thwart a constitutional challenge to this state power grab via the Independent State Legislature theory — taking up a case next term which would provide state legislatures with complete control over election administration. We must pour resources and attention into state chambers. This panel will explore these topics, as what we do now to build state power will determine the fate of our democracy.

PanelistsBrian Beutler, Crooked Media editor-in-chief and host of the podcast Positively DreadfulRep. Malcolm Kenyatta, Pennsylvania State Representative for the 181st Legislative District, and Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor at Slate and host of the podcast Amicus. RSVP here:

Indivisible Rural Call August 31st: Featuring Words That Win’s Anat Shenker-Osorio:

Host of the Words to Win By podcast and Principal of ASO Communications, Anat Shenker-Osorio examines why certain messages falter where others deliver. She has led research for new messaging on issues ranging from freedom to join together in union to clean energy and from immigrant rights to reforming criminal justice. Anat’s original approach through priming experiments, task-based testing and online dial surveys has led to progressive electoral and policy victories across the globe. Anat delivers her findings packed in snark at venues such as the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Netroots Nation 2022, Centre for Australian Progress, Irish Migrant Centre, Open Society Foundations, Ford Foundation and LUSH International. 

Her writing and research is profiled in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Boston Globe, Salon, The Guardian and Grist among others. She is the  author of Don’t Buy It: The Trouble with Talking Nonsense About the Economy.

Sign up here:

Join the Trouble Huddle

Date: Thursday, September 1st, Time: 10:30 am ET

Red Wine & Blue is hosting this event for folks to meet up, strategize and get our friends and family out to vote. Join one of these biweekly Trouble Huddles to identify hot topics for discussion, tips on having those important conversations with your networks, and get team updates. If you want to learn more about the Great Troublemaker Turnout, join one of their 30 minute Great Troublemaker Turnout Training sessions.

Thursday Night: Biden’s Prime Time Speech in Philly

This week the White House announced Biden will make a speech on Thursday about the state of our democracy. It will be during “prime time,” which presumably means 8pmish. It will be at Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, and will reportedly focus on “the continued battle for the soul of the nation” and how Biden sees the central argument of his 2020 candidacy salient as ever with the midterm elections coming up.

Sounds like it’s going to be a doozy! Get your popcorn ready…


P.S.: Why don’t you make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two? I bet they need it.

If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!

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My deepest gratitude in advance.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every email! We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.

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