Opinion

JOAN VENNOCHI

Listen to Michael Moore, not Madonna

Madonna at the Women’s March on Washington rally on Saturday: not helpful.

Jose Luis Magana/AP

Madonna at the Women’s March on Washington rally on Saturday: not helpful.

Want to block the Trump agenda?

Heed the words spoken by filmmaker Michael Moore at the Women’s March on Washington. Ignore Madonna’s.

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Moore offered practical advice and a specific course of action: Call Congress and oppose the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as President Trump’s secretary of education.

Madonna helped Trump — not the movement she came to support — with this remark: “Yes, I have thought an awful lot of blowing up the White House.” It’s true the thought that followed — “but I know this won’t change anything” — was ignored. Madonna’s conclusion —“I choose love” — was also overlooked in favor of the curses she dropped into her talk.

Blunt talk is fine with Trump backers if it comes from Trump. So is suggestive talk on the violent side. On the campaign trail, Trump told gun rights supporters that if Hillary Clinton won: “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”

Examples of more overt calls to violence from Trump backers were also documented during the campaign.

But pointing out hypocrisy didn’t hurt candidate Trump, and it won’t hurt President Trump. Neither will choosing love, as sweet as that sounds.

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Hurling insults, as demonstrated by actress Ashley Judd, won’t do it either. Embracing the “nasty woman” mantra, Judd described Trump “as a man who looks like he bathes in Cheeto dust.” She went on to say: “I am not as nasty as your daughter being your favorite sex symbol — like your wet dreams infused with your own genes.” Ugh.

To express that sentiment, among other nasty ones, Judd cut in on Moore, and the very useful “To-Do List” he was laying out for protesters. The activist filmmaker, who has taken on General Motors, and the gun and health care industries, told the crowd: “I want you to make this a part of your new daily routine. Call Congress every single day. Brush your teeth, make the coffee, walk the dog, and call Congress. “

Moore also had the crowd repeat the main telephone number for the US Capitol — 202-225-3121 — and told them the first order of business should be blocking the DeVos nomination.

Like other speakers at the Washington march, Moore went on too long and undercut his own message. But at least he used his time to outline a pragmatic course of action for a meaningful counterrevolution. That’s what’s needed to get it out of the feel-good stage and into the realm of influencing votes and policy.

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Huge rallies matter, as Trump proved during his presidential campaign. They make headlines, energize a movement, and show people they are not alone. Ultimately, the Trump rallies turned into something bigger than a gathering of angry people, because those angry people came out to vote for Trump. Because of that, they now control the White House.

But do they totally control Congress? Republicans hold majorities in the House and Senate. Yet what if, as Moore suggested, individual members of Congress were bombarded daily with calls and e-mail from constituents who oppose specific parts of Trump’s agenda? Even with gerrymandering, there could be second thoughts about always giving Trump what he wants.

Saturday’s marches produced the kind of numbers that would impress Trump if that many people turned out for him. But he and Congress will ignore them, unless all the clever signs, all the good spirit and solidarity, are transformed into specific action, which organizers vow to do.

What a waste if that huge turnout comes down to remembering a snippet from Madonna’s speech and forgetting to call 202-225-3121.

Joan Vennochi can be reached at vennochi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @Joan_Vennochi.
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