Just as the Trump administration is reaching its first 100 days of existence, we are reaching our first 100 days of resistance!
This is a reminder that Indivisible Ferndale is having a potluck meeting. Over 40 folks have responded so far!
- Date: Saturday, April 29
- Time: 5:00 to 8:00 pm
- Location: at the home of Ruth and Jim Stretch, 726 Washington Street
- Please RSVP to Ruth and Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org if you plan to attend. We want to ensure that we have adequate seating.
- Ruth and Jim will provide roasted chicken. They are requesting folks to bring either a salad, dessert or hors d’oeuvres.
Anti-Trump movement nears 100th day of resistance
By Joe Garofoli April 27, 2017
With President Trump about to get graded Saturday on his first 100 days in office, it’s also a good time to evaluate the anti-Trump resistance movement.
As a cage match, it’s not even close: The resistance has had the better early run, mostly by playing defense.
So no, the resistance didn’t push through any major legislation. But neither did Trump. The resistance often seemed chaotic and unfocused. But that was tame compared with the administration’s rollout of its travel ban.
The resistance helped to sink the GOP’s Obamacare overhaul by publicly shaming wobbly Republican congressmen. Then again, Trump helped to sink the GOP Obamacare overhaul by publicly shaming GOP congressmen.
And the resistance is growing: The Indivisible group alone has more than 6,000 chapters nationwide. Meanwhile, Trump’s approval rate is stuck in the low 40s.
But there’s one difference that’s bigger than any other: Barring unforeseen events, Trump will be president for the next four years. The resistance lives day-to-day, fueled primarily by “anger and a sense of justice,” as San Francisco resister Pat Walker told me.
“Sometimes there is so much bad stuff going on that you don’t know where to focus your attention,” said Walker, 70, founder of the Zulu Education & Empowerment Foundation, which provides educational support for rural Zulu women in South Africa.
Two weeks ago, there were demonstrations urging Trump to release his tax returns. Last week, there was the Science March. On Saturday, there are climate marches in Washington, D.C., Oakland, San Francisco and other Bay Area cities. On May 1, pro-immigrant and pro-labor demonstrations are planned across the country, with the biggest expected to be in Los Angeles.
That’s a blistering pace even by protest-a-day Bay Area standards. And then there’s all the other stuff that people are doing. Every Sunday afternoon, Walker and 25 to 50 fellow resisters gather in a friend’s house to spend an hour or two writing postcards to members of Congress about the latest issue of the day.
How do people with day jobs and families keep up?
And that’s the core of the resistance’s post-100 day challenge: How to keep people from burning out. How to stoke the fires of anger and justice long enough so activists are still engaged when Trump’s potential reckoning day, the 2018 midterm elections, comes around.
But there’s a long road from now to then.
An online survey of 1,000 activists in March by the new resistance group Citizenbe.org found the average resister participated in 2.5 activities last month but was planning on participating in only half that many this month.
They enjoyed the visceral thrill of marching in the streets, but not so much the drudgery of making calls to Congress. Still, it raised a minor alarm among some activists about how to keep the faithful focused.
Their challenge is that even though politics lives on Twitter time, neither movements nor presidencies are measured in 100-day increments. Movements take time to develop.
Here’s a big hit of perspective: Many remember the 1963 March on Washington as a pivotal event in the civil rights movement.
“That march was first proposed in 1941,” said UC Irvine sociology Professor David Meyer, author of “The Politics of Protest: Social Movements in America.” “Rosa Parks was an activist for years” before she took her iconic bus ride.
When it comes to the fledgling resistance movement, Meyer sees the mass demonstrations as “more like the punctuation marks as part of the larger story. If all you have are punctuation marks, you don’t have a compelling story.”
He’s been impressed by the diversity of the resistance as it opposes Trump’s policies on immigration, the environment, taxes, women’s health and the economy. “That’s very, very unusual,” he said.
Colleen Chien has seen a “deepening of the activism” engaged in by some people in 70,000-member Bay Area-based resistance group Wall-of-Us that she co-founded. Every week, Wall-of-Us gives its members a handful of digestible actions they can perform to resist.
“The resistance is noisy now, and that’s OK for where we’re at,” said Chien, who has been helping some of the other resistance groups better coordinate.
To combat fatigue and burnout in the post-100-days world, Walker and other resisters have developed some tips for, as we like to say in the Bay Area, “self care.”
Tip No. 1: Focus, people: “You have to choose what really speaks to you. And then go support that. Otherwise, you could go to a march every Saturday around here,” Walker said.
Saturday’s climate march? “That’s not my thing. I’m about freedom of the press and Trump’s connections to Russia,” she said. “So I try to keep pressure on the House Oversight Committee to get them to do something.”
Tip No. 2: Link arms with an established organization: Given that it’s run largely by volunteers, sometimes the resistance can be “a little spotty,” she said. So Walker recently joined the American Civil Liberties Union, which keeps her posted on their major operations.
Tip No. 3: Don’t get distracted: Those shiny sideshows like conservative commentator Ann Coulter’s efforts to speak in Berkeley despite the university not being prepared for her?
“She is minor to this whole thing,” Walker said. “There are so many more important things to think about than Ann Coulter.”
Joe Garofoli is The San Francisco Chronicle’s senior political writer. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @joegarofoli
To see a map by date of Bay Area protests since President Trump took office, go to www.sfchronicle.com/trump-protests.