It’s been nearly three months since Donald Trump was sworn in as our 45th President. Since then, we have seen his and the Republican Congress’s unprecedented attacks on science, energy efficiency standards, women’s rights, education, America’s standing in the world, immigrants, refugees, health insurance coverage, NATO, the EU, international trade agreements, and on and on.
To many people, the TV and radio news each morning is so depressing that they turn it off, or sit spellbound while news anchors and reporters describe yet another day’s worth of disastrous executive orders, Tweets, speeches, and bills passed by the Republican Congress.
To think that we have three and three-quarter years of this left is daunting.
Yet, we must not give up. We must resist the Trump agenda.
No one person can stop Trump and the Republican Congress. But working together, many thousands of people can stop SOME of the destruction. We can resist the Trump agenda in bits and pieces all over the country.
- We’ve seen this already in the defeat of Trump’s attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s bill to replace Obamacare was withdrawn before it could be brought to a vote in the House of Representatives. This happened for two reasons: (1) a group of ultra-conservative Republican Congressmen refused to support it, and (2) ordinary Americans made over 500,000 phone calls to their 535 Congressmen and Senators expressing their opposition to the bill.
- We also saw our strength when Trump’s bans on Muslims and refugees were overturned by federal courts after actions from state attorneys general and independent groups like the ACLU and Sierra Club.
These independent groups and others like them are in court trying to stop Trump’s attempts to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency, privatize public lands, repeal the Endangered Species Act, overturn women’s reproductive rights, cancel clean air standards, restart oil pipelines stopped by the Obama Administration, and many other harmful actions.
So you see, we aren’t powerless. We can resist the Trump agenda.
But it takes persistence, time, and money.
Right now, I’m volunteering for the ACLU People Power group, getting ready to join a group that cooks meals for homeless people, and marching for Planned Parenthood.
In this post, I will give you some examples of resistance movements of the recent past. These will give you hope!
I’ll also suggest some actions to take and some reading that you can do on your own to help you learn the tactics of resistance that you can use to resist the Trump agenda: to fight against specific Trump and Congressional actions that you just refuse to accept.
So here we go.
Resistance movements of the recent past
Definition: A resistance movement is “an organized effort by some portion of the civil population of a country to resist the legally established government or an occupying power and to disrupt civil order and stability.”–Wikipedia
The resistance movements that most easily come to mind for Americans are the Civil Rights movement and anti-war movement of the 1960s and 1970s, the American Indian Movement of the 1970s, the Gay Rights Movement, the Women’s Movement, and the current Black Lives Matter movement. These resistance movements are examples of people fighting the actions (or inaction) of a legally established government in order to achieve the movement’s goals.
World War II was the impetus for many resistance movements in countries occupied by Nazi Germany and the USSR: Norway, France, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Denmark, Netherlands, and Italy. These resistance movements were examples of people fighting against an occupying power.
In the Middle East, resistance movements include the PLO, Hamas, and Hezbollah.
In Southeast Asia, the Viet Cong, Viet Minh, and Pathet Lao started out as legitimate resistance movements, but later used extreme violence in their efforts to achieve their goals.
In Ireland, the Irish Republican Army fought against British occupation. In Nicaragua, the CONTRAs fought against a dictatorship. In Cuba, Fidel Castro fought against a dictatorship. In Czarist Russia, the Bolsheviks fought against a monarchy that operated as a dictatorship. In Mexico, Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata fought against dictatorship and led a revolution.
Nelson Mandela fought South African apartheid.
As you think about all these examples of resistance movements, you’ll note that many – but not all – succeeded in overthrowing the established order. However, sometimes the new order was even worse than the previous one (e.g., USSR, Laos, Cambodia, Viet Nam).
In all the resistance movements mentioned here, people expressed their disagreement through protests and demonstrations. These actions were undertaken to bear witness on behalf of a particular cause by words or actions. They were attempts to influence public opinion or government policy or both. Often they were attempts to get desired changes directly, either through nonviolence or through violent means.
In World War II, partisan groups blew up railroads and sabotaged German and Russian troop transports when possible. I’m not advocating violence as a means to get Trump’s attention and wake up the Republican Congress. But there are many PEACEFUL, NONVIOLENT MEANS that we can use:
Actions you can take to resist the Trump agenda
- Sign up for one or more of the daily or weekly online Resistance newsletters: Rogan’s List, Jen Hoffman’s,
- Follow the Resistance Twitter accounts as described in an earlier post and shown here:
- Join a group that is working for a specific cause. For example, ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Sierra Club, Howling for Wolves, National Resources Defense Council, March for Science, People Power,
- Use your Twitter account to express your views DIRECTLY to our U.S. Senators and Representatives. Here is a link to the Twitter handles of all the Senators:
- Sign up for one or more of the Resistance website newsletters here: https://www.actionalliance.co/
- Make phone calls to your Congresspeople. Call both their Washington offices and their local offices. Phone calls are proving to be exceptionally influential in the current Resistance.
- Sign petitions and send postcards to your Congresspeople and your local and state governments, when local issues are under attack by Republicans.
- March for Science on Earth Day, April 22, and for Climate Change on April 29. March for other reasons as the marches are organized.
- Join a local group that is helping refugees to resettle.
- Join a local group that cooks and serves meals to homeless people.
- Volunteer in a local school to read to children, especially refugee and immigrant children who need to hear English to help their learning.
Further reading and viewing
Here are some fiction and nonfiction books that I rely on to give me the energy to resist the Trump agenda, and a few movies that will motivate you. Each person can do something great!
Eyes on the Prize Civil Rights Reader
Black Like Me by John H Griffin
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
Night Soldiers and others in the Alan Furst series
The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
The Second Sex by Simone Beauvoir
Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape by Susan Brownmiller
The Imitation Game
Letters from Iwo Jima
I hope you will pick a few of these ideas for ways to resist the Trump agenda and take action. It feels good to do something, even if you can’t immediately see the results.
Remember the words of Dr King in his last speech: “I may not get there with you…. But I have been to the mountaintop….”
Remember that Congress is there to serve us, the citizens. Don’t let the members get away with ignoring us.
Remember that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the election of 2016. That means that WE are the majority. Let’s act like it!
Remember to take time for yourself and take a break for volunteering and activism at least once a day. You need to fill your cup so that you will have enough energy and spirit to share with others who need your help.