Indivisible is not “the new tea party;” please stop saying that.
I get it. I get the comparison. Huge movement on the heels of the election of a President. Activism through engagement with legislators, including running people for office. Fine. Decentralized and not completely ideologically attuned. All legit similarities.
Beyond that? I reject the comparison and you should, too.
The Tea Party freaked about Obama because he was a liberal and he’s black and he became this larger-than-life representation of end of days for them. Trump poses a real threat to our freedoms. Trump is unfit to lead and posed dangers to freedom, democracy, and lives unparalleled by any other President in our nation’s goddamn history, so don’t go comparing people who were pissed about taxes to people who are trying to protect their basic human rights and prevent Russia from fucking taking over the goddamn country. It is not at all the same. That diminishes the real threat of Trump and equates it to typical partisan hackery. That’s foolish and immoral.
The Tea Party was founded purportedly on an economic agenda based on extreme government limitation and market freedom, with nods to civil liberties guaranteed in the Constitution. Libertarianish. But many, many Tea Party groups folded in the rightwing social conservatism in their platform as well. So underneath it all, the Tea Party was about money and social oppression and control. Sound familiar?
The Tea Party took out their ideological ire on “establishment” Republicans, primarying them and installing lots of new, inexperienced, radical folks in office who are now actively screwing us over. They were successful in combining free-market and limited government ideas with the social conservativism introduced in the Goldwater era and strengthened in the 90s. They were a largely white movement already in positions of social privilege, just now exercising that privilege in a new way. Their platform also worked great for the extremely rich, which meant that they received massive financial support from people like the Koch brothers. It’s no different from the policies and platforms of the Trump administration, which is fascist and oppressive and all about the Wilsons. They engaged in and won a hostile takeover of a political party, and now they’ve taken over our government.
The current “resistance” movement was, 100%, catalyzed by Trump’s election, but it didn’t start there and it doesn’t end there.
Resistance has a long and extraordinary history in this nation. The spontaneous gathering of like-minded people in the face of oppression is not new, and the Tea Party certainly didn’t invent it (And, one could argue, they were not even really experiencing it. They were taxed with representation. They weren’t exploited colonists. Bitch please.). The commitment to equality across gender, race, class, identity, origin, etc — that’s not new, either. People have been working on those issues for a very, very long time. The Democratic base has been a diverse coalition across these categories and is, of late, dominated by “minority” (???) groups and supporters of equality and worker’s rights. Trump’s election woke up a lot of people — a LOT of people, let me add, *not* an ideological minority — to the fact that those in power don’t give a crap about equality, that we have elected a corrupt despotic liar, and decided that this was unacceptable. It was a mass consciousness raising, and it took the majority of American voters, who DID support the Democratic nominee (cough cough, again, NOT an ideological minority), and brought in more moderates and less engaged liberals into the fold.
Trump scared, and scares, the shit out of us, but it’s not just the President. It’s the lack of checks and balances. It’s the fact that there is nothing to stop this shit train. It’s the GOP’s gleeful contribution to and collusion with a destructive and oppressive regime. It’s the dismantling of our government and the disrespect to process and procedure. It’s the active undermining of the civil rights and democratic norms that are the foundation of our entire fucking country, y’all.
It’s that many states have a Republican trifecta, in which the Trumpist platform is in power at every level.
So, no, it’s not “just” anti-Trump; it is anti-fascist, it is pro-democracy, it is DIVERSE, it is patriotic, it is based on a genuine (if at times or even often flawed in action) belief in the fundamental equality of every human being, and it is active through the process of holding our government representatives relentlessly accountable. It’s a shared vision, broadly writ, that our country should be predicated on equality and equity, that our government is accountable to us and should be an institution that strives to serve all citizens to the best of its ability without being bought and paid for by a powerful few. We don’t serve the super rich and we don’t hate our party leadership.
I fervently hope that the current resistance movement does not result in self-destructive in-fighting and the take-down of our best progressive leaders as one could argue the Tea Party did. If anything, the Tea Party is a specter representing what could go wrong here if ideological purity tests become the sole determiner for who is considered “progressive” or “democratic.” I’m no stranger to the possibility that this could happen, given the rift between the extreme left and the left. It’s my primary concern. But there’s no rule that says that this will happen, and it certainly isn’t analogous enough to the Tea Party example to write this off as “just” another ANYTHING.
The current resistance is it’s own thing, a movement in its moment in history, inspired by other groups, analogous in some ways to other groups, but in no way bound by patterns of the past.