Our Exceptional Era and The Need for Sustained Protest in the United States
Since the first day of the Trump administration millions of people across the United States have been resisting every vile idea, executive order, and sound bite to emerge from the White House. Across the country people pushed back against the President the minute he attempted to declare an illegal Muslim ban. Major marches like the Women’s March emerged and drew hundreds of thousands of people to D.C., and to local rallies around the country. And major protests and marches have continued. In July of 2019 dozens of Lights for Liberty vigils were held across the country, drawing thousands of people to protest the Trump administration’s heinous treatment of immigrants.
But despite the empowering and uplifting protests and rallies and marches, and the clear disapproval of the majority of the American people, the GOP has continued to allowed Trump to ignore the law and avoid the consequences of his illegal and unethical behavior. With the exception of one Representative, Justin Amash, the Republican Party has chosen fear of their base over doing what is right. And even though Democrats now control the House, progress towards checking Trump has remained slow, at best.
Something needs to change. We cannot stand by while the President of the United States obstructs investigations into his criminal activities, consistently signs illegal executive orders, promotes discrimination, dehumanizes and abuses immigrants, and marches our country towards fascism. With our institutions either unwilling or unable to stand up to this man, despite his growing list of impeachable offenses, it is clear that ordinary people need to take action.
That means protest, protest that takes a different form than one-and-done marches. Already across the country we’re seeing groups like Never Again Action, Movimietno Cosecha, Vigil for Democracy, and others stand up to ICE and the Trump Administration. These groups and many others show up again and again to protest using direct action tactics that shut down streets and ICE offices, and take this fight directly to those in power. They are determined to continue growing larger and showing up until they win. And that is what we need. We need a peaceful protest movement that will not show up one day and go home the next without plans to return. We need millions of Americans to come out and protest, and come back, and come back again until we have taken our Democracy back from Trump and those who enable him.
Puerto Rico recently set the example for the rest of the United States on this issue. After the leak of offensive and inappropriate chats between the island’s Governor and staffers, the #RickyRenuncia movement took off and thousands of people took to the streets to demand his resignation. Only two weeks later, after strikes, marches, and countless forms of creative protest the Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricky Rosselló, announced his resignation.
We all know that Donald Trump has made far more than his share of inappropriate comments. Some have caused massive uproar, as have many of his policy proposals, executive orders, and simply his presence, at times. But none have sparked the massive protests required to make Congress impeach him, or force his resignation. Thus far nothing has led Americans to protest on the scale we’ve seen in Hong Kong, Russia, or numerous other countries around the globe. Essays have been written about why people across the United States aren’t out in the streets, but I am not here to write about that.
I am here to write that I know there are, at this moment, millions of people desperately wanting to end the ever-worsening nightmare of the Trump administration. People want to know where to go and what to do to get this man and all who enable him to continuously erode the rule of law out of our White House.
Many of the people across the country who feel this way have joined one organization or another. But there are two main limitations to many of the groups currently fighting Trump. The first is that most focus their energy on holding rallies, or on the one-and-done marches discussed above. Few are calling for direct action, and even fewer are calling for sustained direct action — mass protests that happen again and again until we win. The second issue may be even larger. Many political organizations exist in a bubble to some degree. There would be immense power in a massive, unified coalition calling for Trump’s impeachment or resignation and working together to create the protests needed to make that happen, and needed for headway to be made on any number of other issues as well.
To that end a movement being referred to as SOS, SOSAmerica2019, (click that link for more information) or simply known by the red SOS emoji, has emerged. This is a group of people from all across the country calling on every organization that opposes Trump to work together to bring him down. They believe that barriers between groups must be abandoned to some degree in this exceptional time. Every single group must work together to remove this President who is not only a roadblock to progress, but who is actively pulling the United States backwards. We must work together to turn out massive numbers of people in the streets of DC and other major cities until our message is so loud and so powerful that our calls cannot be ignored.