Mimicking Tea Party, Progressives Begin Opposition to Trump Administration

By Dakota Antelman (Hudson High School Student)

The chants of "Not my president" have quieted. The progressives resisting the policies of Donald Trump have not.

Now embracing the same Tea Party tactics of political protest that they once hated, progressives are digging in for a long term fight against the president’s most hated plans and ideologies. They’re doing so, often with one particular playbook in their hands.

Created by a group for former congressional staffers, the Indivisible Guide is a 26 page pamphlet providing progressives with concrete ways to resist “the Trump Agenda” primarily by forcing their representatives in Congress to act according to their interests. It touches on topics ranging from civil disobedience to the psychology of members of congress and calls on its readers to revive the methods of resistance once used by the Tea Party to resist the actions of the Obama administration.

“Like us, you probably deeply disagree with the principles and positions of the Tea Party,” the first chapter of the pamphlet reads. “But we can all learn from their success in influencing the national debate and the behavior of national policymakers.”

Indivisible debuted online in mid-December as a public Google Document. When the pamphlet went viral, however, its Google copy crashed, prompting its creators to begin circulating online copies through their own website.

Since then, more than 1,700 “Indivisible Groups” have popped up across the country coordinating small scale actions to get the attention of lawmakers.

In one case, a group based out of Roanoke, Virginia gained national recognition when Rachel Maddow of MSNBC spotlighted a video they made about their visit to their local congressman, Republican Bob Goodlatte. In another instance, a group based in Charleston South Carolina drew the attention of local media after they organized a protest in support of the Affordable Care Act last weekend.

“Every few minutes, more people are coming online and what they look like is what the Indivisible Roanoke group looks like,” said Ezra Levin, a creator of the Indivisible Guide, on the Rachel Maddow Show earlier this month. “They’re in Milwaukee, they’re in Florida, New York, California, North Carolina. We have covered just about every state and we have subscribers in literally every congressional district in the country.”

Despite its individual success, the Indivisible Guide and the movement it has tapped into is hardly an anomaly in the political world. Since the election, several other organizations and movements have joined Indivisible in encouraging similar small scale political activism.

Among them are groups like Daily Grab Back, which is focused on “implementing change with five minutes of activism per day” according to its website. Daily Grab Back provides short actions followers can take ranging from letter writing to phone calls to members of congress.

Yet another group, Wall-of-Us, proposes similar weekly actions citizens can take to resist Trump’s policy proposals. Their mission, their website says is “To make it simply irresistible for Americans to become active participants in rebuilding our democracy.”

When Republicans in the House of Representatives, amid harsh criticism, rolled back their plan to gut the Independent Committee on Ethics, members and supporters of these groups were quick to celebrate their perceived role in forcing that action.

“If you’re an advocate on the ground and you’re talking to representative Goodlatte or anyone else, what you’re going to be doing is responding to what congress is doing today,” Levin said during the same interview with Maddow in reference to the Roanoke group’s visit to Goodlatte’s office. “Yesterday, it was trying to make congress more corrupt than it already is, tomorrow it is going to be something bad too.”

In 2009, the Indivisible Guide explains, the Tea Party spun small actions into larger governmental change that crushed the Democratic majority in the house a year and a half later. They went on to win control of the senate. In 2016, the remnants of that movement won the Republican party the presidency.

As a man promising to undo much of what his predecessor accomplished settles in as President, progressive activists are hoping they can use the tactics of their former foes to protect their own values.

Take Action Now: Progressive Advocacy