Email #79, Subject: “nationwide thing”?

When a group of protesters met you outside a local restaurant recently, you told a reporter:

“This is a nationwide thing. This is not something that’s unique to the 6th District. This is going on in every single congressional district in the country. It’s organized by a national organization that is not happy with the outcome of the election. These are my constituents so they’re welcome to be here and express their opinions as well.”

First, let me acknowledge and thank you for that last sentence. It would be easy to disparage voters who disagree with you, but you instead supported their right to protest. The photograph even showed you standing outside beside the group, not hiding inside the building.

I am confused though by your opening statements. This is indeed a “nationwide thing” and certainly not “unique to the 6th district” and it really is happening “in every single congressional district in the country,” but why would you want to advertise that fact? At first I thought I was reading a quote from one of the protestors, bragging about the unprecedented massiveness of their anti-Trump movement.

Did you mention the ubiquity to mean that it’s not just you but all of the GOP Congress that’s under fire? If so, how does that make the situation any better for you? Either way you are facing the strongest opposition of your political career. Do you prefer that the rest of the GOP go down with you?

I am most troubled, however, by your middle statement: “It’s organized by a national organization that is not happy with the outcome of the election.” I assume you mean the Indivisible Guide, which I have read. But I read it well after I had begun writing and phoning and attending meetings with my elected officials. The guide was recommended to me by several people because they saw I was already so engaged.

So you seem to have reversed the order of influence. For me and literally everyone I know who is protesting, the guide is great reading that answered some questions that we were already asking. But no one I know is “organized by a national organization.” My group of friends began protesting before they heard of Indivisible, and they continue to protest independently of it.

If you sincerely imagine that this “nationwide thing” is under the control of a single organization, you are mistaken. I do see how that impression would be reassuring to you, since it implies a much smaller problem. Combatting a single organization, even one as unprecedentedly massive and coordinated as what you describe, would be far easier than combatting the spontaneous and simultaneous opposition of independently driven voters “in every single congressional district in the country.”

You and the GOP Congress are facing historic opposition, and you will continue to face it until you divide yourselves from the historic mistake of President Trump.

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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