One of Donald Trump’s major accomplishments has been to catalyze a widespread resistance movement to thwart his policy agenda and to challenge his efforts to dismantle the fundamental norms and institutions of American democracy.
Since Trump took office, America has seen an unparalleled level of protest, starting with the five million Americans who took to the streets in January 2017 under the banner of women’s rights. It was the largest protest in U.S. history. Every Trump action – his anti-Muslim travel bans, his attacks on DACA, his efforts to dismantle environmental regulations and undermine scientific evidence, his nuclear saber-rattling against North Korea, and most recently his heartless effort to separate undocumented immigrants from their children – has been met with a grassroots reaction.
Trump’s dizzying display of megalomania, lies, bigotry, and cold-blooded cruelty on a daily and weekly basis has inspired millions of Americans – including many who were never before involved in political protest – to take to the streets, participate in phone banks and door-to-door canvassing, and make donations to activist organizations. This new wave of activism is not simply against Trump. It is also for a more humane, democratic, and inclusive country.
This unprecedented resistance to Trump has taken a number of forms. But because people express their concerns in different ways and oppose Trump for different reasons, we need to provide Americans with a large repertoire of activities to get involved in the resistance movement.
That includes daily peaceful nonviolent protests and rallies, boycotts, large scale marches and strategic acts of civil disobedience, as well as more conventional actions like voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, public forums with elected officials, an outbreak of yard signs and bumper stickers, and petition drives.
The goal is make Americans who object to what Trump is doing to their country aware that they are part of the vast majority–to not only challenge his policy agenda but to make sure that we do not normalize the daily diet of lies and indecency.
Here is a menu of possible tactics to help sustain and escalate the resistance movement:
1. A massive voter registration campaign in states with voter suppression laws, modeled on the civil rights movement’s Freedom Summer crusade in the 1960s. It can recruit volunteers from college campuses, religious congregations, and the burgeoning activist groups like Indivisible that have emerged since Trump took office.
2. A nonpartisan voter registration campaign in every high school next fall, starting with Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and other schools victimized by gun violence. The goal: 100 percent registration of all eligible students. The Ford Foundation and other large foundations should agree to donate $50,000 to all high schools that have 100 percent registration and an extra $25,000 to high schools that reach that goal and have 50 percent or more low-income students (i.e. eligible for free-or-reduced lunch). Local colleges should agree to give scholarships to students who graduate from high schools with 100 percent voter registration AND 100 percent turnout in the November elections. This will get students and teachers mobilized and promote civic engagement and leadership.
3. A coordinated week-long rent strike by tenants in all Trump apartment buildings. By withholding rent, they will be telling Trump, and America, that they want him evicted from the White House.
4. Labor unions withdrawing their pension funds from every Trump family business, and universities doing likewise with their endowments.
5. A consumer boycott of Trump-branded products as well as picket lines, in front of retailers – like Walmart, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Zappos, Lord & Taylor, Hudson’s Bay, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Burlington Coat Factory, Ross, Marshalls, and TJ Maxx -- that continue to sell Ivanka Trump's lines of clothing, jewelry, and handbags.
6. Public pressure on the PGA and international golfing groups to not sponsor or endorse tournaments at any Trump golf courses, including those in Los Angeles, Miami, Hudson Valley, Westchester County and Ferry Point, N.Y., Sterling, Va., Colts Neck and Bedminster, N.J., Jupiter, Palm Beach, and Miami (Florida), Charlotte, N.C., Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Aberdeen and Turnberry (Scotland), Lido City and Bali (Indonesia), and two in Dubai.
7. A one-day student strike against Trump (and local targets) at 1,000 community colleges, state universities, and private colleges and universities.
8. Fans at the first college and high school football games next fall all taking a knee during the National Anthem.
9. Fifty major daily papers all publishing a front page list of Trump's biggest lies and the harm he's done to workers, children, immigrants, women, and others -- all on the same day.
10. Sit-ins and mass arrests at Mar-a-Lago, Trump Tower, the White House, and other Trump residences.
11. Immigrant children marches in 300 cities on the same day including in front of White House.
12. One thousand GOP office holders (local, state, federally) jointly announcing they won't vote for Trump in 2020. This will be easier if the Democrats gain a majority in the House, hold hearings on his taxes, his business dealings, his ties to Russia, and his other misdeeds, which could lead to impeachment proceedings. A growing number of Republican politicians, especially those in Democratic and swing districts, will want to distance themselves from an increasingly unpopular president.
13. Coordinated hunger strikes by clergy in 25 major cities.
14. A joint statement by 100 CEOs of large U.S. and foreign companies and banks saying that Trump is bad for the global economy and human rights.
15. A joint statement by 400 Nobel Prize winners from around the world denouncing Trump.
16. A pledge by 1,000 attorneys, including some from the nation’s largest and most elite law firms, to provide legal representation to asylum seekers and to immigrant families not yet unified.
17. Major businesses, trade associations, professional associations (such as the American Bar Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Political Science Association), and major nonprofits (such as the United Way) announcing they are refusing to hold any meetings or conventions in Trump hotels or resorts. This would inspire millions of American and foreign tourists to join in the boycott of these Trump enterprises.
18. Churches, synagogues, and mosques around the country offering to “adopt” and provide sanctuary to undocumented immigrants and their children.
19. Expanding the Moral Monday movement – pioneered by North Carolina activist Rev. William Barber – to other states, by organizing weekly demonstrations at GOP-controlled State Houses and Governors mansions around poverty wages, women’s and LGBQ rights, voting rights, gun control, health care, and other issues.
20. Sit-ins at the offices of and homes of every Republican senator, and several wavering Democrats, demanding a “no” vote on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee to replace retiring Justice Kennedy. Activists should focus particular attention on the key swing votes in the Senate – Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Jeff Flake and John McCain of Arizona, and Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.
Since the Boston Tea Party, Americans have utilized protest to challenge the outsized influence of political and economic elites. The Depression-era sit-in by Flint auto workers, the Montgomery bus boycott, the United Farm Workers union’s lettuce and grape boycotts, the protest by ACT-UP to demand treatment of AIDS victims, the Occupy Wall Street rallies, the Fight for 15 and Justice for Janitors campaigns by low-wage workers, and the recent public shaming of sexual predators by the #metoo movement have heightened public concern, moved issues from the margins to the mainstream, and catalyzed a realignment of electoral politics.
Because no president has shown his disdain for the basic tenets of our democracy like Trump, Americans are rising up in an unprecedented expression of moral outrage. The twin goals of these activities are to both stop Trump and the GOP-led Congress from inflicting more pain and suffering through executive orders, legislation, and appointments to the Supreme Court and other key positions, and to translate this activism into a powerful electoral force to help Democrats take back Congress in 2018, the White House in 2020, and reverse Republicans’ domination in governors’ seats and state legislatures.
Peter Dreier is professor of politics at Occidental College and chair of the Urban & Environmental Policy Department. His most recent book is The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame.