Anyone who was dismayed by the election of Donald Trump last year should feel at least a little better at the end of 2017. If I had any say in picking Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, I would name the organizers of the Women’s March, who I credit for kicking off a major year of new activism and resistance. 2017 started with the Women’s March, a global rallying cry the likes of which we’ve not seen before. I marched on the streets of DC, and personally, I have never seen anything as massive and inspiring as the Women’s March (and I’ve been to a lot of protests in DC and other major East Coast cities). The march unified the left and featured third wave feminist activists like Angela Davis and millennial organizers.
Following the Women’s March, there were several town hall speak outs, phone banks, and rallies to stop the repeal of the ACA. That worked. Then came the #MeToo Movement and the outcries against sexual assault. Lastly, there were the elections in November, with Democrats nearly flipping Virginia’s General Assembly, winning a historic number of seats, and winning governor races in NJ and VA, too. Dems even won state races in deep-red districts in Oklahoma, Montana, and Georgia. Dems are winning in places they shouldn’t be winning, which should be an indicator that a wave is coming next year and the House and maybe the Senate could flip. As I write this, Dems even have a decent shot at turning an Alabama Senate seat blue, due to the allegations against Roy Moore.
All of this has been inspiring. There is a level of civic engagement and awareness that has not been seen since the 1960s. Now, with that said, what are the next steps for The Resistance? The right-wing is striking back. For one, Trump has gutted the EPA, State Department, and other government agencies. He is stacking federal courts with far-right candidates that can easily overturn civil rights. I also predict that by the end of his first term, he will get at least one more Supreme Court pick. I doubt Ginsburg or Kennedy will last three more years, thus establishing a conservative majority on the nation’s highest court.
I am not optimistic that Muller is going to bring down the entire administration within the next few months. Obstruction of Justice is not easy to prove, and if he can make the case, it won’t happen overnight. Watergate took over two years. Also, what would happen exactly if Trump is charged? What would his supporters do? What would it do to this country? Trumpism is not going away. It is a symptom of a much deeper problem.
More concerning is the fact that it has become clear the GOP no longer cares about angry phone calls, speak outs, or the unpopularity of its agenda. As I write this, the GOP’s tax bill looks more and more likely to pass. Yesterday, it moved forward out of committee and will soon come to the Senate floor for a full vote, probably this week, and if it passes, it goes back to the House. One of the GOP holdouts, Bob Corker, voted to advance the bill out of committee. Yesterday, The Daily Kos reported that Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski are likely to vote for it because they’ve secured deals they have wanted. If Corker, Collins, and Murkowski are all yes votes, then it is hard to see how the bill fails.
In short, the GOP needs a win desperately, and they very well may get one, at the expense of the working and middle classes, teachers, anyone on the ACA (the current tax plan would repeal the mandate, which may lead to the collapse of the ACA), graduate students, etc. If the bill passes, it means that the GOP, including so-called moderates like Murkowski and Collins, really no longer care about dissent and outcry. They care most about their donors, who have threatened to cut off funds for 2018 if they do not get their tax cuts.
So what is The Resistance’s answer to all of this? What if organizing, phone banking, and canvassing no longer can sway one of the two political parties? Furthermore, how will The Resistance organize if net neutrality is gutted? Net neutrality ensures that internet providers, like Verizon and Comcast, can’t charge more for certain websites. If the FCC undoes net neutrality rules, which seems likely, then it is probable that big telecom will charge more for certain services, including social media. All of the major movements over the last few years have largely been organized online, from Occupy Wall Street, to Black Lives Matter, to the Women’s March. Without the ability to do that, The Resistance is in major trouble. As it stands, there really is no plan for a post-net neutrality world. Dissent could be crushed, and here will be a crackdown on information because not everyone will be able to afford several internet packages to secure fast internet speeds that they enjoy now at one package and one price.
2018 is a major year. The Senate, House, state races, and governors mansions are all at play. If there is indeed a blue wave, then the Trump agenda will be stymied. Democrats have a better shot at winning the House than Senate, where they have to defend 25 seats, compared to the GOP’s 10, but even flipping one branch of Congress would break the GOP’s lock. Voter registration and outreach needs to be the most important issue that The Resistance focuses on in the coming year, and it needs to figure out how to organize beyond social media because net neutrality is in peril.
2017 was a year of civic engagement, and now the movements that sprang up this year, going back to the Women’s March, need to figure out next steps, especially since the right has reacted to organizing tactics and will circumvent them at every turn. The push to pass the tax bill proves that.