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The New York Times had a story today on why Republicans in the House and Senate are afraid to stand up to Trump. They fear an exile delivered by Tweet and followed by a 2018 primary challenge. This fear, and the midterm primaries, provide a perfect opportunity to defeat these extremist lawmakers in 2018 elections, even in dark red congressional districts.

The strategy I’m proposing will sow chaos in the Republican primaries and obscure all of the polling and demographic data on which Republican incumbents will base their craven calculations. That’s just a perk. The strategy will also upset some Republicans incumbents with Republican moderates, give Democratic candidates in red districts a fighting chance, and produce significant counter-pressure on Trumpists hoping to hold their seats, such that a few will rediscover their spines. The strategy would work, but it requires big sacrifices by Democrats and Independents, and it will strongly benefit moderate Republicans, to the detriment of Trumpists. I’ll outline all of the ins and outs.

First, Democrats (of which I am not one), Independents, and moderate Republicans need to be agreed that Trump and those kowtowing to him represent an existential threat to the United States, the Constitution, and the rule of law.  George W Bush was never an existential threat to the nation, the Constitution, and the rule of law, and neither were McCain nor Romney. Trump is an existential threat all three. Preserving those three things must be the highest priority, above all other policy and pet issues in the short term.

This strategy is designed toward that end, preserving the nation, the Constitution, and the rule of law, conceding the short term stalling of issues important to many of the left. Read through before you dismiss. Some of this will be hard to stomach for those on the left, but I am convinced that it is the only and best shot, akin to flying the Millenium Falcon into the Death Star, all or nothing.

Second, understand the midterm and primary processes. Midterm elections have lower turnout than general elections. And midterm primaries have really low turnouts. Moreover, there can be some (relative) complacency among those who feel their preferred candidate is in power and will hold onto it. This provides an opportunity to jolt even deep red districts. My strategy depends on extremely vigorous grassroots organizing. Read on.

The Candidates

This strategy needs to be applied in every race in your district, from dog-catcher to sheriff to House of Representatives to Senate candidates. Obviously the House and Senate races are where it is most necessary, but it needs to be applied to candidates lower on the ballot so that every Republican incumbent is scrambling to save his own hide during the primary process. Split their attention so that they cannot support the one in the toughest race.

For every seat with a Republican incumbent, a challenger needs to be nominated. There are only three qualifications for these candidates: 1) they must be actual Republicans from the community/district, and not Democrats posing as Republicans, and who are capable of speaking the (non-dog-whistle) language of the base; 2) they must be more centrist than the incumbent, even if only slightly so; 3) they must in principle be able to commit to impeaching Trump if certain red lines are crossed. The red line almost doesn’t matter, so long as they are willing to entertain the possibility.

States with Closed Primaries

If you are a Democrat living in a state with closed primaries you, and a huge percentage of your fellow Democrats need to switch your political affiliation on your voter registration to Republican. The sooner the better. Not to Independent (which usually can vote in either primary), but to Republican. This means you won’t be able to vote in your Democratic Primary. That’s OK. The Democrats can field a candidate as they always do. That’s not your concern yet.

By switching your affiliation to Republican, as opposed to Independent, and doing so now, you begin to cloud the data Republican pollsters will rely on. During the primary, you will need to support a candidate, probably through a signature drive to challenge your Republican incumbent. Then, during the primary, every one of the Democrats who switched affiliation, every Independent, and the moderate Republicans need to turn out and support the moderate challenger.

States with Open Primaries

Don’t switch your affiliation on your registration. Support the moderate Republican candidate in signature drives as above. Show up en masse on primary day and vote for the moderate Republican. Your incumbent will be soundly defeated and taken totally by surprise. He literally has no way to see you coming, even if he knows this is your strategy. Savor it.

The General Election

If you live in a red district and your challenger lost in the primary, you are not any worse off than you were before you tried this strategy. The extremist won, just as he always was likely to, and there’s not much reason to hope your Democratic candidate will win now. But you aren’t worse off than you were.

If your moderate challenger won the primary, then you have already won. Either vote for that moderate in the general or your conscience, but in either case a more moderate Republican, more likely to challenge Trumpists has been put into office. You have made amazing progress, even if the Democrat still loses. The moderate’s win also puts Trumpists in other districts on notice, and complicates the math of their calculations considerably. Maybe the Trumpist base is so unenthusiastic about the moderate who won the primary that they don’t turn out and you even flip the district. Even better. But if you lose, you are no worse off than before.

This strategy leverages Democratic voters during the primary whose votes are otherwise burned up during the general in their gerrymandered districts.

There is the added benefit of the election winners having no freaking idea of where they stand for 2020.

The Difficulties

This strategy requires huge numbers of Democratic voters in red districts to cooperate with one another.

It requires Democrats to swallow their pride, ignore important policy differences, and vote for moderate Republicans in order to preserve the nation in the short term. But, it has the added benefit of putting in power more moderate, reasonable actors in districts where incumbents already run roughshod over your interests.

This will require a ton of grassroots organizing and explanation. If not executed by a huge percentage of Democratic voters in red districts, it will fail (but, again, your interests there were going to fail anyway).

It will be labor intensive.

I am calling this the raccoon strategy because raccoons are cute but can eviscerate much larger enemies, because they are found throughout the nation, and because they are abundant in the rural red congressional districts where this strategy is designed to flip incumbent Republicans out  on their asses.

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Resist the incoming regime by calling Senator McCain.

Call, don’t write, the legislative offices of moderate Republicans who believe in the Constitution and its protections and who are in a position to resist the regime. A former Congressional staffer explains why to call rather than to write here. I called Senator McCain’s DC office yesterday and spoke with a nice young staffer. I explained that I have always thought of Senator McCain as a very principled man, and I requested that he stand up in the Senate for the Bill of Rights and its protections, rather than de facto siding with the new regime. Whatever you may think of the Senator you call, be polite, and ask for something they might grant, like protecting our rights and the rights of all citizens. McCain’s DC office number is (202) 224-2235. When prompted by the menu, choose to talk to a staffer. Don’t leave a message. Be polite. Call Senator McCain today. Call volume matters. His office needs to be flooded with calls from reasonable Americans. Only Republicans may be able to save us from the excesses of the new regime. The moderate ones will need to draw a line in the sand. Encourage them. My call took 5 minutes, the staffer listened, and it felt like constructive action. But it will only really be constructive if his office is flooded with calls.

I will identify other moderate Republicans that we can call in the future.

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Resist the incoming regime by breaking up with your big, corporate bank. Big banks hate regulations that keep the little guy safe. You know who is going to eradicate the regulations that prevent your bank from gambling with your savings? The regime is. Plus, your bank might already have taken advantage of you, like Wells Fargo has, by scamming its own customers for millions! Join a local credit union.

Your local credit union is a great deal! You are probably eligible to join one credit union or another based on who your employer is or on where you live. Credit unions are not trying to produce profits, like corporate banks are, and are owned by their members. So, they keep fees really low. For example, if you overdraw your checking account at a big corporate bank and they have to draw from your savings to cover the overdraft, they’ll charge you a fee typically between $35 and $50. That’s a ton! At my credit union, the same fee is 50 cents. 1/70th of what most other banks charge. And pretty much everything else is that good of a deal too. My credit union is super convenient and offers tons of perks, like non ATM fees ever, a minimum deposit of only $25, and tons of help with car and home loans, at competitive rates.

If you already belong to a credit union, try to convince one of your friend to join one and ditch their plundering corporate bank.

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Resist the incoming regime by spending money at local Mexican tiendas and other ethnic groceries such as Halal butchers, Asian family-run groceries, whatever local, ethnic stores are in your community. Doing so shows these communities that you–probably a white person, dear reader–support them, morally and financially. It’s also good to spend some money at these family run stores instead of big chain grocers, which don’t have your or the country’s best interests at heart. Those big grocers support harmful farming practices and whichever party is in power, which will soon be the regime.

In the area where I live there are lots of tiny tiendas run but Latino families and frequented almost exclusively by Latino customers. They stock basic grocery items, but they specialize in Mexican and Latin American ingredients. Tomorrow on my way home from work I will go to one, as I have a couple of times before, and buy tamale wrappers, and probably just some other stuff that I don’t usually see in my big, white person grocery store. I will especially try to buy anything that I might otherwise have purchased at a big chain grocer. It will be great, because it will encourage me to try some new things in my cooking. I will spend cash, so that not a penny from the transaction goes to credit card companies, and so that the tienda owners can even keep the transaction off the books if they so choose.

It’ll also be a little awkward though, because as a non-Spanish speaking white person, I’ll be a bit of an interloper, sort of stumbling into a zone where Latinos can usually relax a little, unpestered by white folk. But I’ll smile, be as kind as I possibly can be, and I’ll spend money in order to start sending the message that I welcome our immigrant communities, just as my family was welcomed here a mere two generations ago, and to signal that I want our Latino community to feel empowered in these dark times.

As the photo says, I would rather die standing than live on my knees. Take small, daily actions to stay on your feet.

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How does increasing your gas mileage hurt the incoming regime? Well, in a variety of ways. The regime will roll back current environmental protections, which means that more than ever it will fall to citizens to protect the environment. Increasing your gas mileage, and thus reducing your gas usage: 1) reduces the amount of money going to oil companies that support the regime; 2) results in less oil extraction; 3) reduces climate change inducing carbon emissions. There are benefits for you personally too. Taking the following measures will: 1) save you money!; 2) reduce wear and tear on your car, which saves you eventual expenditures in repair; 3) teach you something about your car, which makes you less dependent on others for help with routine maintenance (saving more money).

There are dramatic steps you can take to increase fuel mileage, but I am focusing on really, really easy ones.

Check Your Tire Pressure

Your car rolls most efficiently when your tires are properly inflated. Most of us do not check our tire pressure often enough. Check weekly, or every time you fill your tank if you go more than a week between fill ups. You can find the proper air pressure for your tires written on the side of them, something like “25-33 PSI.” Fill them to the top of this range, because a fuller tire puts less of the tire in contact with the road, reducing friction and increasing mileage. Proper inflation will help your tires to wear evenly, and increase the lifetime of the tire. It costs pennies to pump your tires at the gas station, and some stations even give free air. Do not overinflate the tire–to do so could jeopardize its safety and lifespan.

Change Your Air Filter

When was your air filter last changed? If you don’t know, it needs changed. I change mine every 10K miles. A fresh air filter lets air better circulate into your engine, resulting in cleaner, more efficient combustion, and better mileage. Air filters are cheap, and pay for themselves with the increased efficiency. Don’t be intimidated. You can change an air filter with few or no tools. If you can change a lightbulb, you can change your air filter. He’s a video showing you how.

Reduce Weight in Your Vehicle

Weight is a huge factor in mileage. Huge! Don’t let your car get cluttered. Don’t use it as a locker room or storage space. Keep in it what you need, but not what you don’t. Don’t keep junk in the car.

Replace Your Spark Plugs

Spark plugs deliver the spark that creates combustion in your engine. When they get worn and corroded, efficiency declines. Modern spark plugs last 100K miles. However, I replace mine every 30-50K miles because they are so cheap, and because fresh ones cause a nice spike in my mileage. They are super easy to replace with a few basic tools that you may own or be able to borrow from a handy friend. Here’s a video showing you how to replace spark plugs.

Only Use 87

There are lots of myths that higher octane gas is more fuel efficient. Bullshit. You only need high octane if you have a high compression (read, high performance, racing style) engine. Use 87. Always. Don’t use fuel additives that come in those little bottles. They are bullshit.

Buy Your Gas in the Morning

What, you say? I’ll let an expert explain: “This isn’t really for gas mileage but to get more petrol for your money. Take advantage of early morning cold by filling up your tank early in the day, while the ground temperature is still cold. The temperature of gasoline, diesel, ethanol and other petroleum products plays an important role in getting the most for your money. Petrol stations do not have temperature compensation at the pumps (though loading and storage facilities do, ensuring them greater accuracy). Because the storage tanks are underground, the colder the ground the more dense the petrol. When it gets warmer it expands, so buying in the afternoon or in the evening your gallon is not exactly a gallon. Petrol pumps don’t measure actual volume or density, they assume volume derived from flow-rate. The flow rate doesn’t change with temperature but the density of the petrol does. So if the pump is calibrated to deliver an assumed gallon in 10 seconds based on full flow, if the petrol is colder, it will be more dense and you’ll get marginally more in that 10 seconds than if you fill up in the afternoon. How much more? If it’s 15°C in the morning and 35°C in the afternoon, you’ll get about 2.5% more petrol in the morning for the same price.”

Change Your Oil On Time

Clean oil results in efficient movement of your engine’s internal parts. Don’t let oil get old and dirty. Use the lightest oil recommended for your vehicle (check owners manual) because that reduces friction and helps efficiency.

Drive Slower

Driving fast requires more energy. If you can back of the pedal a bit, especially during highway cruising, your mileage will increase. In city driving, accelerate more slowly, which also helps, and slow down earlier, coasting to a stop.

If you don’t know how to perform these maintenance items, ask a friend to teach you. If you live in western NC, I will teach you! If you already know how, teach a friend.

If you do all of this, your mileage could increase as much as 15%. Imagine spending 15% less on gas a year! That’s huge, a lot of money back in your pocket. Here’s a great article that goes into more detail.

Of course, walking, carpooling, and biking are great ways to decrease your gas usage too, when they are practical for you. INCREASING YOUR GAS MILEAGE IS AN ACTIVE WAY TO RESIST THE REGIME, and it benefits you personally!

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