Lighten Your Load And Go Still Higher. War On Christmas: The Gladdening
November 21, 2016 6:58 AM   Subscribe

Black Friday is fast approaching, and when the Electoral College convenes on December 19, its decision will perhaps literally decide the fate of the world. Frankly, that bare fact alone feels a hell of a lot more like an actual war on Christmas to me than anything I've ever contemplated before. And I ain't having it like that. I'd like to seize the opportunity to turn every painful barb into a paean of joy instead.

Ralph Waldo Emerson stated, "The ancestor of every action is a thought."

So consider these thoughts: The only 2016 U.S. presidential election that has been conducted thus far is the popular election, and Donald Trump did not win that election If you accept these facts, then you accept that Donald Trump is merely the presumed president-elect, and we who oppose him have not lost.

Thoughts matter. Words matter. And action matters.

The popular vote has been cast, and though the counting continues, it is clear that those who cast their vote for Hillary won the majority of the votes handily. But it is equally clear that that is not enough. We must continue the fight, and keep winning. Everybody, everywhere, can still vote with their wallets, their bodies, and their voices.

Imagine a highly visible, high-minded, joyous celebration of humanity's better angels during this most fraught, most crucial season of giving. Imagine a widespread movement of people completely setting aside non-essential spending on goods, and instead focusing on good works, large and small, public and private.

Assuming the idea is a good one, with a deep well of potential support, what would be the most effective way to realize the vision? Petitions...GoFundMe/ releases...demonstrations...sure, okay, all that and hundreds of other things besides. Countless individual acts, ultimately. But what is the underlying architecture of first-stage success? What should be done, in what order, to rapid-launch this vision into the stratosphere in the most striking way possible, to be seen and built upon by all?
posted by perspicio to Human Relations (17 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Wait are you just asking how to build a better world this winter? I dunno man, I am starting by hosting a lot of dinner parties with plenty of mulled wine.
posted by athirstforsalt at 9:28 AM on November 21, 2016 [6 favorites]

The scope of the thing you're asking is beyond my brain. But here's one thing.
There is no "Black Friday." That's a made-up thing along the lines of "bosses' day."
Instead, celebrate what the day is really about, Buy Nothing Day. Download, print, and post the posters on every available telephone pole and vertical object in your neighborhood. If possible for you, don't spend anything on that day, not even gas money if you can help it . Make it mean something.

After that, know that the presumed president-elect will, figuratively speaking, hang himself not too far into his "administration" either by his business dealings or his absence of impulse control. Take comfort in that fact.
posted by BostonTerrier at 10:06 AM on November 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

Forgive my ignorance, but...would you mind re-phrasing your question a bit more simply? Are you asking how to launch a social movement, or are you asking how you can personally observe things differently?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:16 AM on November 21, 2016 [7 favorites]

Any campaign like that which would be designed to appeal to people on a mass scale, as opposed to "What can my friends and family do to take the focus off material greed this holiday season?" would need to have been planned and rolled out many months ago.

As to what your friends and family can do to take the focus off material greed this year:

- Donate to worthy nonprofit organizations instead of buying gifts.

- Volunteer

- None of that ersatz mall cheer. No Starbucks Holiday Blend, no "Run, Run Rudolph" on the stereo, no cinnamon-cented Yankee Candles.

- Celebrate the holidays in specific ways that mean something to *you*. Not because it's what "people" do, or because it's what you've "always" done, or because "It's not [holiday] without x!" If you hate eggnog, don't make it. If you prefer to see a movie rather than go caroling, fine. No enforced joy. My partner have the tradition of going out for dim sum on Christmas, not because it's what is expected of us, but because we like it.

- No presents. Especially no obligation presents for people you don't actually know that well, who will under almost no circumstances actually enjoy whatever random gift-shaped-object you buy them. Presents for kids who'll go apeshit for OMG PRESENTSSSSSSSSS, sure, why not?
posted by Sara C. at 10:17 AM on November 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

The former.

My original ask was perhaps clearer, but was also apparently grar-ier. My hasty edit (because I have to work) was more acceptable for the forum, but perhaps less coherent.

In a nutshell, the idea is to put pressure on the establishment to do the right thing in December. The form of the action can be seen as a protracted and progressively growing boycott of business as usual, starting with non-essential holiday spending, but perhaps growing into more direct actions such as walkouts, strikes, what have you, all done in accordance with and affirmation of the social compact and basic values of universal human dignity. A genuine celebratory show of solidarity in the face of adversity.

Along with the doing, there should be messaging to get the point across that this is a beginning, and that business as usual is over if the electoral college does not reflect and enact the will of the people.

Hope that helps, and hope it's relatively typo-free. It's all I have time for at this moment.
posted by perspicio at 10:29 AM on November 21, 2016

Knowing it's late in the game, the result wouldn't need to be "shut it all down" but show a rising tide. No Christmas For Donald. petitions may be largely ineffectual but they don't need to get started months in advance to get millions of responses, when they speak t to the passion of the people. There's passion here and I hope people can get past e-signing to concerted, vocal and non-cooperative action.
posted by perspicio at 10:36 AM on November 21, 2016

If this is not something you have experience in, consider joining up with a group fronted by people with experience organizing public movements and seeing what they need and perhaps offering your suggestion combined with the offer of labor to make it happen in a way that they suggest if they find it useful.
posted by softlord at 10:38 AM on November 21, 2016 [5 favorites]

This was posted and deleted? It's not super clear what you're asking. What's the most effective way to realize your vision? Be nice to your friends, family and neighbors. Be nice to your coworkers. Go volunteer somewhere. Don't give gifts if that's your thing, or donate to charity in the recepient's name.
posted by fixedgear at 11:30 AM on November 21, 2016

If I understand the question, you want to influence the Electoral College to do the "right" thing when it meets on 12/19 by urging everyone in the US step away from their holiday shopping?

With this tiny amount of lead time, I'd come up with a catchy logo/slogan, like a lump of coal. "Pledge to give coal to the Electoral Collage this Christmas." Then I'd build a quick site in Wix or something, then create a FB page and a Twitter account to promote it. Next I'd email all of my acquaintances who only tangentially brush against my own network and ask for their support/reposts. I'd take the money I was going to spend on Christmas gifts and purchase sponsored posts on FB and Twitter. Send press releases to talking heads and liberal bloggers. Cross your fingers?

Frankly, I'm going to try to spread traditional holiday joy and warmth like it's MY JOB to drown my sorrows about this shitty year, and gird up for the four years of pushback that will start after inauguration day.
posted by kimberussell at 11:50 AM on November 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

This was a hybrid Ask that needed, but couldn't have, better forethought and execution. Or else a much more limited scope, like, "What are the major elements of organizing a boycott?"

Thanks for your responses.
posted by perspicio at 12:26 PM on November 21, 2016

How closely do your goals align with organizations that are already working to influence the 2016 Electoral College like National Popular Vote, or the folks behind this petition?

I might suggest that your efforts for this year are better spent working with campaigns that are already established.

I might suggest that your efforts overall are best spent working on things that might actually change: for example, people are worked up about the popular vote vs. electoral college, but I've heard nary a peep about the gerrymandered disconnect between popular vote and House representation. Fixing a gerrymandered district or 200 could help make the results of the 2018 midterms better reflect the will of the people.
posted by sparklemotion at 1:19 PM on November 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

All constructively intended ideas are welcome.
posted by perspicio at 1:21 PM on November 21, 2016

If you are interested in a boycott, Shaun King has been organizing one that will launch December 5th. Details are minimal right now, but maybe that's something you'd be interested in joining.
posted by monologish at 3:24 PM on November 21, 2016

Are you wanting some sort of buy-nothing-day that will somehow shake the people who register the electoral college votes to, instead, register their electoral college votes for Clinton?
Is that what you're trying to say?
posted by blueberry at 10:11 PM on November 21, 2016

You are asking a marketing question - how to create a good works movement during The Season of Consumer Spending?

The very first step should be research. Which, by making this Ask, is some ways there. But there are also marketing studies and books that you could look into. Somewhere along the lines of viral marketing, or the most successful marketing campaigns.

It's a rather complicated question - the amount of positive change that Bill Gates has created could very well be undone before Trump is inaugurated. Is what you want (that is distributed, but global good works) conducive to long term good? Should we focus instead on building democracy and the rule of law around the world, so that cumulative good works aren't undone by a one term government?

If you still want to go ahead, articulate what it is you envision (Kickstarter meets Humans of New York meets Google Voice, for instance). Research several ideas that most resemble your idea, and find out how they became Big.
posted by kinoeye at 11:21 PM on November 21, 2016

Oh, I just read your responses. The marketing portion of my response still stands, but maybe look up 'grassroots' 'political' and, 'campaign' or 'influential' or 'boycott'.
posted by kinoeye at 11:27 PM on November 21, 2016

There is a lot going on here, so I'm going to try to address things point by point:

Black Friday = consumerist feeding frenzy ironically situated directly following a holiday about gratitude. On a personal level, you can take part in Buy Nothing Day and literally buy nothing on that day. If you really want to make some noise, you can either join up with or organize a local Black Friday protest activity (there's a list of ideas on their Wikipedia page).

Ultimately businesses will do what is most profitable for their company. Sometimes that means making their employees come in at 3am on Black Friday to manage the crowds, and sometimes that means taking a public (and highly marketed) stand against Black Friday excess, like REI and the Mall of America have. If you REALLY want to make this your crusade, probably the best thing to do would be to look into the local labor movement in your area and get involved with local politics. Fight for the rights of retail workers in your city and see where that takes you.

Regarding this election and the issues of the electoral college, while it's true that TECHNICALLY the electoral college hasn't actually cast their votes yet, a faithless elector is very much a rarity and some states have laws preventing electors from lodging protest votes or votes counter to what they're meant to cast. I mean, so much about this election is unprecedented, so never say never on the "glorious revolt of the electors" front, but I'm not holding my breath on that one.

That said, if you're like a lot of people who watched two presidential elections in the past 20 years hand over the presidency to a candidate who lost the popular vote but took the electoral college because of some bad math and policy, you're probably feeling pretty salty about how that setup works. (I know I am.)

To repeal or reform the electoral college federally at this point will pretty much require an constitutional amendment, which is probably not going to happen. However, there are at least two options that have the potential to address some of the shortcomings of the electoral college system without an amendment.

The first: the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. This is an agreement that, if ultimately successful, would make it so that state electors would agree to cast their votes for whichever candidate won the popular vote in all 50 states rather than whoever won in their state alone in the event that a candidate wins the popular vote but loses the election overall. Ten states + DC have already adopted it, and it's in talks in Michigan and Pennsylvania. If you live in one of the states that has not passed this yet, that is definitely a project you can undertake to help enact change in your state.

The other: shifting to the Maine-Nebraska electoral system. Again, this would require legislation on the state level, so there'd probably be a lot of lobbying and letter writing and organizing on your part if you really wanted to throw down with this. But if this model were embraced by other states, there'd no longer be that "all or nothing" element when it comes to electoral votes. It'd be divided up by congressional districts who would be able to submit their ballots for different candidates based on the outcome of the popular vote in their respective areas rather than just giving all of their state's votes to one candidate or the other.

As far as getting others on board, public art projects or organized demonstrations tend to do well. Join up with some local groups or find out more online about what's going on in your area and do what feels right to you. Ultimately though, most people (and most likely the people you'd most like to embrace a non-consumer, love thy neighbor ethos) have a lot on their plates and either can't or won't embrace this vision of a spend-free, jolly old holiday lovefest.

So be the change! Let your friends and family know how you feel and how you plan to proceed with your holiday plans, whatever they are. You might start a trend of "give to charity in my name in lieu of any gifts" or "homemade goods/intangible gifts only please" or whichever approach you favor.

On a final note, volunteering your time, energy, and resources to causes that are important to you and do good in your community (especially for populations that may be most directly affected by the outcomes of a Trump presidency) can be incredibly powerful, personally affirming, and inspiring to others. Channeling your passion and fury into helping out others is a radical act. Just because it's not a flashy vanity project that'll set the world on fire doesn't make it any less worthy or valid.

Good luck!
posted by helloimjennsco at 8:27 AM on November 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

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