There’s good news for people who want make #Dissent a daily part of their routine and do it in style: the #Resistance is now a lifestyle brand.
It didn’t take long after Trump’s election for people to take down their Hillary signs and throw up wood-framed Resistance paintings, un-ironically tattoo #ShePersisted onto their bodies and turn a United States Senator into a vegan energy bar. Members of the Resistance could easily be identified by their “Post-Trump” haircut or their “Future is Female” shirt, Hillary’s loss forever memorialized in a poly-cotton blend.
Consumer power is undoubtedly a form of political power, and lifestyle politics, however GOOP-ified, are still politics. But as America sloshes through one apocalyptic political crisis after the next, and hip progressives respond by stress-licking the latest anti-Trump lollipop, it really begs the question: what the hell is everyone doing?
#TheResistance has never looked better — which is precisely what makes it so embarrassing.
You, too, can live the Anti-Trump lifestyle
In just a few months, socially conscious creatives and a handful of exploitative assholes have banded together to create a whole new anti-Trump lifestyle brand. Resistors can now apply the latest resistance lipstick on their way to meet their Canadian blind date who they can be sure hates Trump because they found them on an anti-Trump dating website.
Alternatively, they can choose to spend an afternoon huddled around an alternate facts board game noshing on snacks from their favorite #Resistance food truck and swizzling their favorite anti-Trump IPA, all while patting themselves on the back for tangentially donating a portion of their income to today’s viral charity.
There’s even opportunities for the introverted #Dissenter to spend a Friday night curled up in their favorite anti-establishment Nordstrom pajamas, sipping anti-police brutality Pepsi, listening to Pod Save America and coloring in their #NeverTrump coloring book. What a beautiful left-of-center Snapchat story it’ll make.
Progressives have, of course, always liked to wear their politics on their sleeve, especially when those sleeves feature a sensitively curated range of topical buttons.
But 2017 isn’t a normal year and Donald Trump, not a normal president. Politics is all consuming. Whether we like it or not (NOT NOT NOT), Americans know every aspect of his dumb, well-done steak life. It should come as no surprise that so many liberal millennials want to make dissent part of their lifestyle, especially went Trump has become such a large part of theirs.
And that’s totally okay. Whether the #DissentLyfe will be effective in creating change, however, is a whole other story.
Don’t try and craft your way to freedom
It’s unfair and a little bit lazy to suggest that everyone who chooses to live the “anti-Trump lifestyle” is some apathetic, liberal arts college monster who sit arounds all day making Bernie Sanders-cat memes. Still, there are plenty of great reasons to cry.
In the two months following the election over 1,000 millennials, for example, signed up to run for public office with Run for Something, which recruits candidates under the age of 35. Surely, some of those decent humans have uttered the phrase “protest is the new brunch” without shame and we can still love them (hate the sin, love the sinner?)
Unfortunately, that level of political engagement only appears to come in spurts. Take a look at what happened in Los Angeles this winter. Over 750,000 people showed up to the city Women’s March in January, many of them with stunning protest art made to live on Etsy. But less than 12 percent of all eligible voters came to vote in a municipal election two months later, one of the lowest in the city’s memory.
And it’s middle-aged women, not millennials, who appear to be harassing their representatives the most. DailyAction.org, a site that helps people call their representative with targeted political messages, found that 86 percent of their users were women, 50 percent of whom were middle-aged.
The dissent lifestyle becomes problematic when it’s used as a substitute, not a supplement, for political activism. Traditional organizing is often incredibly tedious, requiring a lot of door-knocking and very few radical crafts. Activists have for a long time whined that today’s progressives spend far too much time attempting to dominate the cultural landscape (art, hashtag campaigns, viral hot takes, quirky protests) instead of actually winning elections.
Turns out, they had plenty of good reasons to be annoying. Republicans now control all three branches of government. Your irritating activist friends were right.
There’s no point in turning your body into a giant knitted vagina if you’re not going to take that vagina and walk it to the voting booth.
If you’re going to exploit people’s trauma, at least do it for a good cause
To be fair, some of these creators behind all this anti-Trump merch actually donate their proceeds to a charitable cause. If you buy “100 percent anti-tyranny” F*ck Trump lipstick from Lipslut for example, a percentage of those profits will go to an actual women’s charity.
New York City appears to have opened the world’s first anti-Trump cocktail bar called Coup. All of the bar’s proceeds will go to nonprofit organizations either threatened by or fighting Trump.
Of course, buying an offensively priced $15 IPA won’t exactly bring back manufacturing jobs or solve global warming, but at least it’s something.
Ideally, it’d be more effective if people donated directly to the nonprofit of their choice, instead of the product’s producer, who may waste it on materials. But that assumes the consumer was actively looking for somewhere to donate in the first place.
It’s just much more fun for some people (who are not me) to donate when there’s an Anti-Trump undie at the end of it.
When these anti-Trump producers, however, choose to operate entirely for their own profit/personal satisfaction, they exploit our national trauma. What’s the point in having an alternate facts pizza if all of the proceeds from that pizza are just going to help some #brand cultivate their relationship with consumers under the age of 35?
Why, oh Lord, did people pledge over $438,000 to help an artist create a line of Trump trolls, with none of that money going to the people most likely to need it?
It can feel minimizing, cruel even, to to take this uniquely violent political moment and turn it into a commercial for Pepsi or a for profit resistance thong.
For millions of Americans, Trump isn’t just some idiot fallen reality star who can be shaped into a harmless little doll. He’s the president coming to take away your home. Your insurance. Your job and your education.
He’s the man coming to take away your mom.
So fine. If you hate Trump and love to craft, and want to make some sort of anti-fascist cock ring whose proceeds you’ll use to donate to Meals on Wheels, go for it. Maybe you’ll actually raise money, or lift people’s spirits/wieners so much that it’ll make them want to get involved. Who cares. The #DissentLifestyle isn’t incompatible with more strictly political forms of dissent, as long as it doesn’t replace them.
Just try and remember that there are people out there for whom dissent isn’t a lifestyle but what you need to do to live. If you’re trans, it’s going to the bathroom of your choice. If you’re an undocumented student, it’s deciding to use your name in public. These acts of resistance don’t come with a free tote bag, but they’re the only ones worth fighting for.