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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 1/25/18

The Most Important Story This Month Was Not the Government Shutdown

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From The Nation

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It's the grassroots activism that could end Republican control of Congress.


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Donald Trump created such mayhem during the days surrounding the anniversary of his "American carnage" inauguration that he had to cancel plans to hightail it out of Washington and celebrate in the friendlier confines of his Mar-a-Lago resort. His vile, racist disparagement of Haiti, El Salvador, and the nations of Africa as "shithole countries" elicited an international outcry, leading to calls by the Congressional Black Caucus and the majority of House Democrats for a formal censure. Despite all the president's boasting about the "art of the deal," that outburst was just one of several incoherent interventions that derailed negotiations over an immigration agreement that could have secured the passage of a spending bill.

Cue government shutdown. Trump, of course, tried to blame Democrats for the impasse -- even though Republicans control the House, the Senate, and the White House. Unfortunately, Democrats lacked the numbers, the unity, and, frankly, the political courage to take advantage of this Trump-induced chaos. By Monday, most of them voted to end the shutdown, without securing protections for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program -- to the deep frustration of grassroots activists. A broken status quo had prevailed, and the same media outlets that provided Trump with wall-to-wall coverage during the 2016 campaign went back to waiting for the "can't-miss drama" of the president's next tweet.

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But for all the tumult over the shutdown, a more significant story was taking place far from the Beltway -- in communities where the resistance has been gaining strength and focus before a midterm election that could hold the president and his allies to account. Case in point: Wisconsin. While Trump lost the popular vote by 2.9 million nationwide, narrow wins in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan gave him the Electoral College. Trump's Wisconsin win was powered by votes from the western and northern regions of the state -- places like the 10th State Senate District, which has historically elected Republicans and where Trump ran 17 points ahead of Hillary Clinton.

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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