The Trump Resistance Movement: A MAP Analysis “Democracy Dies in the Darkness” – Washington Post masthead

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Here’s a statistic you hardly ever hear regarding the Trump presidency: 209 weeks.

    Funnily, I never thought I’d be writing this chapter. On Nov. 8th, 2016, I, like many other people in this country, believed that Hillary Clinton would be elected the 45th president of the United States. After all, all but a few polls and pundits (not including Michael Moore) put Secretary Clinton in the lead by at least two percentage points. It would be a good night for Democrats, or so it seemed.

As the evening wore on, and things for Clinton seemed to be more and more uncertain (and potentially frightening, at least to me, my wife, and the others around us in the bar where we were watching the election returns), we looked at each other in puzzlement and with a portending sense of disaster (an understatement, as the early morning would show us), and decided to leave early and go home to what was looking like possibly the most significant political upset of the century (or is that two centuries?).

            At around 2:30 AM, it became clear that Donald Trump won the presidency of the United States in what can only be called a historic political upset. While Trump supporters were reveling in their unexpected, quixotic victory, not only were my wife and I licking our wounds, but a profound depression set in as it became clear that we would be facing at least four years, barring possible impeachment or removal from office by the 25th amendment), and possibly eight years, of a Trump presidency, on deeper reflection, it wasn’t just depression; it was downright shock (and rage) that Donald Trump would become president of our country. Not since the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 had I felt such deep political despondency.


As the week wore on, and the shock wore off (for me at least, but not for my wife and many others), I began to feel anger swell in me toward the profound “stupidity” of our country and its electorate/political state. Sure, only 55.7 percent of the voters (about 129 million out of a potential 231.5 million) had voted; of that number, only 46.1 percent had elected Trump as president. Sure, Clinton had won the popular vote over Trump by 26.8 percent to 25.7 percent of the eligible electorate (déjà vu the 2000 election and the Bush/Gore race). Sure, let’s get rid of the Electoral College. Sure, if Jill Stein hadn’t been running . . . and so on.

            But, short of a miracle (which didn’t happen), Trump was president, and we needed to get used to it. I began thinking of how this would not be good for the country (many have happened, many have not, and many still could) and deciding what I could do to make a difference.

Interestingly, the first thing I thought of was a massive demonstration on the day Trump
was inaugurated (of course, this didn’t happen, but we all know what happened the day after –
see below). Next, I have already begun thinking of the 2018 mid-term elections (which, as of this
writing, lots of folks are doing and organizing around). But finally, the academic/movement
historian got the best of me, and I began writing down all my thoughts about what would become
known as “The Resistance,” and eventually produced a PowerPoint about it for my classes,
presented several lectures, and now, have written the chapter in this book. Over a decade ago, I
helped write Doing Democracy: The MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements. So, I knew
that I and others needed a “detached” perspective/analysis for understanding what was going on
in this country at this particular historical moment, and we needed a framework for
understanding the anti-Trump resistance movement and where it potentially could take us (and
its probability of “success”).


In the coming pages, I hope to present a reasonably comprehensive analysis of “The Trump Resistance Movement,” using Bill Moyer’s Movement Action Plan (MAP) framework to understand it. Like so many other social movements before it, this movement (and its various submovements) has great potential (and possible dangers) that can give us insight and pause upon reflection.

Stage 1: Normal Times

Unlike most other social movements, I think that we will define “normal times” as before the election of Donald Trump as the 45th  president. Of course, several events and social conditions set the stage for his political upset.

            Moyer defines regular times as a period when “a critical social problem exists that violates widely held values” (Moyer et al., 2001, p. 44). Also, the public is clueless primarily that these problems exist underneath the surface of a supposedly calm society, and there is little or no discussion of the matters at hand.

            The situation regarding Trump’s presidential election is a bit of an anomaly from the MAP perspective. I say this because things seemed pretty normal on the surface before Trump came along, and few signs of problems festering below the surface became apparent after his election. Most of us – – Democrat, Republican, and Independent – – expected a “mainstream” candidate to be elected the 45th president of the U.S. To have an outsider billionaire with no political experience elected as president completely violated the political norms and confounded amateurs and political pundits alike, barring a couple of polls as well as the leftist Michael Moore, who predicted Trump would win).


The first signs of trouble were how Trump quickly violated many political and societal
norms, yet his strength and base grew instead of torpedoing his election prospects. So many
thought the candidate would self-destruct, especially after the infamous “Access Hollywood
tapes,” in which then-citizen Trump made grossly disparaging comments about women in 2005.
Somehow, presidential candidate Trump stayed in the race despite many calls for him to step
down as a candidate ( I remember thinking he would withdraw). While I am not presenting a
political analysis of the 2016 presidential elections, it’s important to point out this kind of
political anomaly because this election was so different, and the extent of the differences
unfolded over four years of a Trump presidency).

Suffice it to say that many things about this election point to deep flaws in our democratic
political system, the new and stupendously damaging social media follies, and the deep
dissatisfaction of a large swath of the electorate (barely enough to elect him through the electoral College) on many issues. Conversely, the strength of Bernie Sanders’s run for the Democratic party nomination also points to the underlying splits in U.S. society, not just the surface red-blue one that political pundits are always discussing.

While things mainly seemed “normal” on the surface, societal splits vividly presented
themselves after Trump’s shocking win, and not always in predictable ways. As our analysis
progresses, we’ll see many underlying societal conflicts. Many observers agree that the U.S.
the public is split on various issues so profoundly that we are also two nations – euphemistically
called “Red” and “Blue,” there appears also to be an underlying moral crisis in society. As a
nation, we are probably split as deeply or more profoundly than during the Vietnam War, and
some feel that other than an actual civil war, perhaps as profoundly divided as that period in the U.S. history (although fully one-third of the American public thinks that’s coming).


As we shall see, many of the “isms” – – sexism, racism, classism, ableism, heterosexism,
authoritarianism, and more – – reared their ugly heads during the election and played themselves
out both in predictable and unpredictable ways during the primaries, presidential debates and
general election both Republican and Democratic party sides. There are so many examples of
each in the short scope of this article, and given its focus, we can’t go into it now. But, overall,
all of these issues, in one way or another, continue to play out in the Trump resistance movement
(and its various sub-movements) that have been spawned because of his election. The degree of resistance to his “regime” is staggering and unprecedented and continues to play out almost daily in one form since he was inaugurated in January 2017. So, let’s begin our analysis.

Stage 2: Proven Failure of Existing Institutions

In this stage, people question the official line put out by officeholders and policymakers
regarding a particular situation.

In this case, after an initial shock on the part of perhaps most of the country (including
Trump supporters), those opposing Trump began to mobilize almost immediately.

Between his election on Nov. 8 th, 2016, and his inauguration on Jan. 20 th, 2017,
Professional Protest Organizations (PPOs) and grassroots opposition groups began to organize in preparation for a Trump presidency.

Early on, the key phrase for the Trump opposition became “Resistance” (most probably
coined by Michael Moore). It was clear to everyone who was not a Trump supporter or
sympathizer that things were going to be wrong, perhaps really bad, for a lot of people. So many
people began offline and online discussions about what to do. For many, a sense of despair and
anger turned into action to prevent the worst imagined outcomes (and then some) of a Trump


Initially, there were attempts to “overturn” the election results, which proved futile. There
were a few recounts, attempts to influence the electoral college vote (failed), and a discussion of
legal action (no natural grounds). But again, profound questions were raised about American
democracy in which, for at least the second time in modern history, a candidate (Democratic)
won the popular vote and lost the presidency due to the Electoral College. Again, people
wondered whether the election of a Democratic president had been “stolen” from the citizenry.
However, just like when Al Gore lost to George W. Bush in 2000, the losing candidate made
feeble, if any, attempts to challenge the results, in part for the sake of “The Republic.”

Between this, the possibility of voter intimidation and restrictions at some polling places
and the early revelation and ongoing investigation of “Russian interference” in the presidential
election results raised serious questions about the nature and extent of our actual democracy. Are
our elections, at both the presidential and state and local levels, really “democratic”? With only
about ¼ of the possible electorate voting for our President, one has to ask such questions. Many
other “democracies” have much higher voter turnouts at all electoral levels than we do.

The period between Nov. 8th, 2016, and Jan. 20th, 2017, can be seen as Stage 2, but it
also, in some ways, became the staging ground for the next phase of MAP.

Stage 3: Ripening Conditions

The saying goes: “Behind every cloud, there is a silver lining.” In this case, it may be a goldmine.


Underneath the dark clouds of the upcoming Trump presidency were swirling currents.
To begin with, the Trump resistance movement, unlike so many others, has already started with
the majority opinion against the incoming president (see Stage 5). After all, Secretary Clinton
received 65.8 million votes, while Mr. Trump only received 62.9 million votes, almost 3 million
more popular votes. Early opinion polls showed that right after the election, 55 percent of the
public already disapproved of the President, and only 40 percent approved of his performance
(and things haven’t only gotten worse for him in this respect) (again, see Stage 5). This
encouraged many to begin organizing as quickly as possible against the upcoming initiatives of
incoming President Trump. Many of his early statements did nothing to mollify the opposition or
instill confidence in the leadership abilities of the 45th president. If anything, it did quite the

Many said that Trump ran the negative campaign he did to win and that once elected,
we’d see a “new” Trump. Many were willing to give him that chance, probably even many
Democrats. After all, a significant number of Democrats (around 8 percent), a number of them
former Obama supporters, had voted for him because they wanted a “change.” Others (including
myself) even allowed him to show the “real” Trump. Unfortunately, that never happened (or
maybe it did?).

Authentically, the “resistance” began probably within a week or less of the election of
Donald Trump is the 45th president of the United States. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone in being
in shock for the first week or so. But as I said earlier, shock gave way to anger, which gave way
to thinking, at least, about how to mobilize against what was almost assuredly coming.

In this stage, Moyer says that “recognition of [the] problem and victims grows” (Moyer
et al., 2001, p. 45), local activist groups begin to mobilize, and more and more people see the


extent of the problem. “A tremendous unheralded ripening process happens within the opposition
movement. A growing consciousness and discontent arise among the sub-populations of victims
and their allies. They achieve a new understanding of the problem, the violations of critical
widely held values, how they are affected, and the illicit involvement of power holders and their
institutions” (Moyer et al., 2001, p. 51).

This perfectly describes what happened between Trump’s election and his presidential
installation on January 20th, 2017. Let’s face it: here was a president elected by a lower plurality
of the eligible electorate than his opponent. Furthermore, the outrageous things he said during the
campaign continued after his election, and a significant majority of the population, then as now,
saw him unfit to be president. Not just in the U.S. but around much of the world, people were in
disbelief that such an unqualified person could be elected president of what is arguably the
strongest country on the globe (at least militarily, and now be in charge of the U.S. nuclear
arsenal and its codes).

Those who opposed the newly elected president were scrambling, and quickly, to figure
out what to do and the best ways to resist his inevitable presidency. Conversations were
occurring everywhere – on social media, in the official news media (which would soon become
to be known as “the worst enemy of the American people” and “fake news” (as Trump has been
reported as saying), at the water cooler, over the dinner table (not always pleasant ones,
especially that Thanksgiving, based on who did or did not vote for Trump).

Two key events helped launch Moyer’s Stage 4 (see below).

1) A “random” Facebook post – “Teresa Shook, after the election on Nov. 8th, took action.
She needed a place to vent. She turned to the pro-Hillary Clinton “Pantsuit Nation”
Facebook page and posted that she thought a pro-women march was needed. Others
agreed. She hoped someone else would take the lead, but when no one did, she asked
how to make a Facebook group and did it herself.” The rest is history and will be
described in the next section.


2) Indivisible – on Dec. 14th, two former Hilary Clinton staffers twitted a document called
“Indivisible: A practical guide for resisting the Trump agenda. Within days, thanks to the
help of various “influencers” who publicized it, it was downloaded over a million times.
There are over 6,000 chapters nationwide, with at least two in every Congressional
district (See Stage 4).?

Stage 4: Take-Off

This is when a social movement bursts onto the scene, often unexpectedly. For example,
no one anticipated the fall of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 9 th, 1989. There is also always a trigger
event. In the case of the Trump resistance movement, his election was that event, specifically his
inauguration on Jan. 20 th, 2017.

As described above, after the Facebook post/group from the woman in Hawaii, people
began to galvanize around the idea of a large protest (specifically, as it became defined,
primarily for women) in D.C. Others, of course, had similar ideas (remember I had thought of a
protest on Inauguration Day), but for whatever reasons, folks began to organize for the day after
(a Saturday, which made sense for those traveling).

Being at the Women’s March, I can attest to its power. Whatever the actual numbers
(accounts vary widely), it is generally accepted that at least one million people showed up that day in D.C. Moreover, it is estimated that over 3 million people have been murdered in over 500
cities worldwide (cites?!).


The message sent by the March was clear: many people in the U.S. and supporters
worldwide would not idly sit by and let President Trump ride roughshod over decades of
progress on many fronts. Of course, women’s issues were front and center that day, but many
other issues were raised. Perhaps Greenpeace, the environmental activist organization, expressed
it best by unfurling a 70-foot-long banner behind the White House that said: “RESIST.”

Thus, for better or worse, Trump and almost everything he stood for became the focal
point of the resistance. From my point of view, the most exciting part of this movement’s “take–
off” is that Stage 6 (see below) was happening concurrently, as it was (and is) clear from opinion
polls that the majority of people in the U.S. disapproved of the way the President was conducting
business on many levels.

Importantly, when Moyer wrote MAP, he made it clear that not all movements go in
linear order from Stages 1-8, and the Trump resistance movement is a prime example. This will
be informative when we move to Stage 5 analysis. However, there are pitfalls we will need to
discuss because of the nonlinearity of this movement.

Another important point from a MAP perspective is the various submovements that
comprise the overall movement. Perhaps the best historical example is the civil rights movement.
There were many submovements within that movement, all moving on different timelines and, to
borrow a phrase, “mixing and matching” in various ways. We will analyze several of the
submovements later.


Stage 5: Perception of Failure

Many, if not most, social movements go through Stage 5 at some point or another. It’s
interesting to question whether or not the Trump resistance movement experienced this stage.

According to Moyer, in Stage 5, people get discouraged because the movement’s goals
aren’t being reached, they do not see the changes sought, fewer people are protesting or
demonstrating, and people feel powerless to change things and get burned out. One clear
indication of this stage being reached is if the Democrats had lost the mid-term elections in the
House in 2018 (more on this later) or if Trump had been re-elected in 2020.

I see few signs that this stage occurred for the Trump resistance movement. Remember:
Moyer said the stages aren’t necessarily linear, and this movement seems to me to be a perfect
example of why. Hypothetically speaking, if the Democrats had lost the House and Senate in the
2022 mid-term elections, or if Trump ran again in 2024 and won, one could argue that the
Resistance would experience a Stage 5 event. Certain sub-movements within the overall
movement succeeded – for example, the electoral one and the ability to prevent repealing the
Affordable Care Act (ACA – better known as “Obamacare”). There are other sub-movements.
However, that failed – for example, blocking most of President Trump’s cabinet appointments
(though some were, and some nominees self-imploded due in part to poor vetting), blocking
environmental deregulation, and stopping Brett Kavanaugh from being appointed to the Supreme
Court, and preventing tax cuts for the rich.

While it is true that some people have left the U.S. because of Trump’s election and that
others are so discouraged that they are at best on the sidelines, if at all, I sense that this isn’t true
for the vast majority of those concerned or civically engaged citizens (see Moyer’s four roles).
Moreover, it’s been reported that fully 20% of the U.S. population, or some 67,000,000 people,
has been actively engaged in some form of resistance, having attended some form of protest


action against the Trump administration (cite). That is an extraordinary number of people
involved in doing something about the daily outrages emanating from the current administration.

It is probably essential to address the goals of the broad Trump resistance movement,
though, in many ways, they are not clearly stated (yet for some of the sub-movements, they are
apparent). Part of the reason may be that there is no real consensus here. For example, some
would settle for nothing less than removing the 45th president from office. This sub-movement
eventually achieved its goal. Whatever happens in the future, many of the worst impacts of the
current administration will last for years, if not decades. (I hope that we eventually will look
back on “Trumpism” the same way most Americans now see the period of “McCarthyism” in the

Stage 6: Majority Public Opinion

Moyer states that at this stage, over 50% of the population opposes the current societal
situation and the policies of those in power. Many are mobilized, including PPOs and the general
citizenry, to do something about the problem. (As became apparent by the recent anonymous op–
ed piece in the New York Times, some within his administration oppose what he is doing.)

There are constant discussions about what the powerholders are doing, opposition is
generated to each new iteration of their policies, different points of view are expressed and acted
upon, and those in power do whatever they can to inspire fear among the population, thereby
distracting them from their goal(s). The opposition and the press are presented as “the enemy of
the people” by the powerholders. The pushback from hundreds of newspapers across the country
agreeing to condemn this statement in editorials written on the same day was very powerful.
Constant re-trigger events can occur, leading to more mobilization by the opposition.


What is impressive about the Trump resistance movement is that all the above began
almost on Day 1 of the 45th presidency. Again, remember that most people have opposed Trump
from the beginning. When he was elected, the majority of those voting opposed him. According
to the Gallup poll, a reasonably mainstream organization, Trump’s approval rating was 45
percent when elected. In the fall of 2018, it was at 40 percent. It had fallen as low as 35 percent
during his time in office, hit a high of 49 percent in early January 2020 (right before the
pandemic hit), and reached the lowest ever post-2020 election at 34 percent. The remarkable
thing is that his approval rating never rose to even 50 percent during his entire presidency.


So, generally speaking, I think this is an unusual movement in its constant majority
opinion against the current administration and the intensity of those organizing against it. One
could argue that our Twitter president somehow manages to “re-trigger” the opposition almost
daily. There hasn’t been anything quite like it in the history of our country.

Of course, majority opposition does not alone breed success. In other words, because
most public opinion is against the president, this alone does not translate into a failed presidency.
But, as we shall see, given the overall movement, its goals, and all the sub-movements that
comprise it, the success of some sort is much more likely. For example, the September 2018
debacle Trump experienced regarding Senator John McCain’s funeral (and his disinvite to it), the
turning Michael Cohen against him by admitting that he lied to Congress and the publication
of Bob Woodward’s book “Fear” are perfect examples of how Trump’s presidency appeared to
be unraveling.


To return to a previous point, about 20 percent of the U.S. population has “actively”
opposed Trump’s presidency. If this is accurate, this translates into 65 million people taking
some action against the 45th president. Probably the same number of people are disgusted with
the current administration and either too angry, depressed, or cynical to do anything about it.

Stage 7: Success

According to Moyer, majority or super majority opinion prevails across the nation,
various power holders are wavering or even switching sides, changes occur in specific policy
areas, alternative laws may be enacted, and things appear to be changing. However, those in
charge attempt minimalistic changes to appease protesters who want to see fundamental changes.

First, what unified the Trump resistance movement was the majority dislike, contempt,
and hate for the administration’s proclamations and policies. There are so many sub-movements
(to be delineated later) to this movement that it was hard to keep track.

For example, the Impeach Trump sub-movement failed (twice). Yet, ultimately, the
entire resistance movement eventually voted him out of office and regained the Senate’s majority
control (at least temporarily), too. So, while Trump was one of the most unpopular and divisive
presidents, certainly in modern times, it’s not clear that the majority of the electorate wanted him

At the very least, he is an unpredictable, sometimes erratic, and occasionally
irresponsible leader. For example, his statement in August 2019 that “I am the chosen one”
raised at least eyebrows, if not questions, about his mental health.

Unlike a movement such as the Anti-Vietnam War movement in the ’60s, whose goals
were relatively clear (end the war and bring U.S. troops home), we have seen such strong sub-


movements such as #MeToo, #NeverAgain, and #KeepFamiliesTogether, each with very
disparate (though not necessarily conflicting) goals. Moreover, climate change (temporarily set
back with Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement), discrimination/
racism/#BlackLivesMatter, tax reform (already lost on one level at least), Russia’s involvement
in U.S. elections, and the axing of the Iranian nuclear deal, and we have a pretty complete list of
the diversity of concerns that people in the U.S. and around the world have with the Trump

Concretely, when the Democrats won the 2022 mid-term elections (and many state
legislative races) and regained control of the House (though they lost some ground in the
Senate), the Trump resistance movement won its first significant victory. Coming on the heels of
the loss regarding the Supreme Court battle against Brett Kavanaugh, it was very satisfying and
would have substantial implications. The partial government shutdown (the longest in history)
that followed and the struggle between Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and President Trump
was classic, with the Democrats, by many estimations, coming out on top. Foreign policy failures
on the part of the President, like meeting with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un several times
in 2019, didn’t help his cause. And while the Mueller investigation ultimately stalled out, the
President created yet another foreign policy blunder (the “Ukrainegate” scandal), ultimately
leading to 2 House impeachment charges against him. While the Senate ultimately did not
successfully find him guilty, the drama was intense.

Of course, without going into any detail, what followed with the Coronavirus pandemic
starting in the U.S. in February 2020 and the President’s response to it proved to be the most
spectacular failure of his presidency. The ultimate insult for him was to contract it after a “super-
spreader” event at the White House right before the 2020 presidential elections. With him out of


commission for several weeks, in retrospect, cost him the election. Also, by not following the
standard protocol of “running toward the middle,” he embarked on a risky strategy of shoring up
his populist base by holding campaign rallies across the country at the height of the pandemic.

The loss and what followed was almost beyond imagination. Starting in the summer of
2020, President Trump floated the idea of postponing and canceling the 2020 elections. Of
course, scholars pointed out its unconstitutionality (the election of 1944? During WW II proved
the elections must go on). Then began the President’s attacks on voting by mail. By the time the
The presidential election was over, and everything that followed from the former President was
unprecedented, causing an incredible rift in the American political structure, dividing families,
and eventually leading to the storming of the Capitol and the insurrection on January 6th, which will
forever be remembered in American history. Being the only President ever to be impeached
twice by the House (even though the Senate again acquitted him) will also forever be a stain on
the Trump presidency. And yet . . .

8. Continuing the Struggle

With Trump out of office and the Democrats in control of Congress, it would appear that
the Trump resistance movement achieved its most important goal. However, this could be a
pyrrhic victory if the Democrats lost the Senate and the House in 2022 and if Trump were to run
and win the Presidency again in 2024, both distinct possibilities.

(Usually, this stage is seen in the context of a movement succeeding and then continuing
the work to increase the victories won and prevent a backslide on what was achieved. One could


argue that society has reached a higher level of consciousness and that other submovements that
may not have been won can now be focused on. There should be a lot of celebration of what has
been accomplished to date.)

There were other successes of the Trump resistance movement, such as preventing the
repeal of the Affordable Care Act and stopping the separation of immigrant families in the U.S.-

American democracy was sorely tested during the Trump years. While it didn’t break, it
came pretty damn close. The recently written books that state that American democracy is under
threat or has already been severely compromised, if not broken, make excellent points (cite
sources). The authoritarian tendencies of the past were undeniable (e.g., the treasonous attack on
the Capitol on January 6 th, 2021), and the impact of this attack and possible future ones are
potentially ominous.

The uncertainty of America’s political system’s future is unsettling, if not frightening. It
is tough to keep an objective perspective on where America is and, from my perspective, the
long-term damage the Trump presidency is causing at home and abroad with our European allies,
especially NATO.

The Trump presidency will continue to be studied by political historians and presidential
scholars. The ultimate impact of his presidency on the United States and the rest of the world
(the rise of so-called “populist” [read far-right] regimes around the world is staggering) is yet to
be seen. Hopefully, the damage (or at least most of it) is correctable, though it could take years,
or even decades, to do so. Most of all, let us hope this historical lesson will have some critical
“teachable” moments and prevent such excesses. Progressive stability may be ushered in,


moving the whole planet upward. Time will tell, but things could get worse before they get

Appendix 1: Various Trump Resistance Submovements

Below is a chronological (substantive but not comprehensive) timeline of various submovements
that are part of the Trump resistance movement:

  • April 15 th, 2017: The Tax March
  • Apr. 22 nd, 2017: The March for Science
  • Apr. 29 th, 2017: People’s Climate March
  • May 1, 2017: Pro-immigrant and pro-labor rallies across the country
  • May 31, 2017: March for Truth (about Russia’s interference in U.S. elections and
  • Trump’s failure to release his tax returns)
  • Jul. 2, 2017: Protests in dozens of cities calling for Trump’s impeachment
  • Jul. 18, 2017: Indivisible Day of Action – protests in the thousands in 39 different cities to oppose “Trumpcare.”
  • Jul. 29, 2017: Our Lives on the Line: actions across the U.S. to protect Obamacare from
  • drastic cuts by Congress
  • Aug. 13 th, 2017 – the “infamous” events in Charlottesville that led to clashes between the Alt-right and the Antifa and others that caused the death of two policemen and one leftist protestor (and in which Trump said: “”) (ck)
  • Oct. 2017 – #MeToo movement begins
  • Nov. 4, 2017 – Indivisible’s “decentralized swarm of resistance” across the country


  • Jan. 20 th, 2018 – Second Women’s March in D.C. – hundreds of thousands of people at rallies in Los Angeles (600,000), Chicago (250,000), New York City (200,000), and 250 other U.S. cities. Goals: register 1 million voters and target the mid-term elections
  • Feb. 14 th, 2018 – Birth of #NeverAgain and March for Our Lives in the wake of the Parkland, FL, school shooting that took 17 people’s lives
  • Mar. 24 th, 2018 – March for our Lives: 200-800,000 people protest in D.C., 175,000 in
  • NYC, 800 other student-led protests with additional hundreds of thousands of people around the U.S. and the world to protest gun violence
  • June 30 th, 2018 – Families Belong Together marches – across the country, with hundreds of thousands marching in between 600-700 cities across the U.S. (at least 30,000 each in Washington, D.C., and New York City)

Appendix 2: Various Examples of Submovements

To illustrate the power of submovements, I want to highlight three of the submovements
above #MeToo, #NeverAgain, and #KeepFamiliesTogether.

#MeToo Submovement

The basis for this movement rests in the disgusting audio recording that came out in Oct.
2016, right before the elections. Donald Trump, back in 2005, was recorded as saying, “I don’t
even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by
the pussy. You can do anything.”


Now, many people, including myself and even some Republican leaders, thought this
audio was so damaging that Trump should pull out as the Republican nominee for president and
let Mike Pence take over that position. However, Trump held rigid, and lo and behold, he got
elected despite the deeply misogynistic views he expressed in the recording.

This set the background for what would happen almost exactly one year later . In Oct.
2017, a Hollywood movie actress (tweeted that Harvey Weinstein, a movie mogul, had sexually
abused/assaulted her when she was coming up in her career. Then, another actress said the same
thing and used the hashtag #MeToo.

Well, that hashtag went viral, with hundreds of thousands of women worldwide sharing
their stories about Weinstein and others. All hell broke loose. It spread beyond Hollywood to the
workplace, with prominent figures like Matt Lauer and C.K. Louis accused of similar
improprieties. Men were being indicted or fired left and right, both on the left and the right,
Democrats and Republicans alike.

To add fuel to the fire, a sex scandal then broke out with the U.S. Olympics Gymnastics
team, as team member after team member related to sexual abuse incidents by the team doctor,
Dr. Larry Nassar, including those who had won the 2016 medals at the Olympics. Such was the
furor released that the 2017 Time Magazine Person of the Year was named “The Silence
Breakers.” The movement has now spread internationally, with no signs of abating.

This movement may have gained fuel because Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential
race. If she had won, this movement might not have occurred, or indeed to the extent it has,
because women’s energy would have been directed elsewhere, and it may have been business as
usual. Also, it should be remembered that for a while, Clinton protected someone on her staff


accused of similar things and that Harvey Weinstein was a significant contributor to the
Democratic Party.

This submovement has been one of the ways, other than hundreds if not thousands of
women running for political office at all levels, that progressive women have channeled their
anger after Trump’s election. The whole Stormy Daniels affair has also continued to outrage a lot
of people, though interestingly, for the most part, not fundamentalist Christians.

So, in this submovement, we can see all the elements (to date) of Moyer’s stages: 1)
Normal Times with few, if any, women speaking out about sexual assault/abuse in the workplace
and the media ignoring the issue; 2) Proven failure of institutions where nothing was being done
about this issue, even though many knew it was a widespread problem; 3) Ripening conditions
when more and more stories were being circulated and the pervasiveness of the abuse was being
realized; 4) Take-off, when finally the #MeToo Twitter social media campaign went viral; 6)
Majority opinion, where the societal disgust with the whole issue exploded; and 7) Success –
where many of the perpetrators are being held accountable, tried, and losing their jobs over this
issue. Interestingly, I don’t think Stage 5, the Perception of failure, has occurred at this point if it

#NeverAgain Submovement

The right to bear arms and gun control has been an ongoing, sometimes raging debate in
the U.S. Since at least the 1960s, this issue has deeply divided the American public.

You probably must return to the 1950s for the expected times surrounding this issue.
There wasn’t much debate around gun ownership, as people who wanted to arm themselves or go
hunting got “normal” weapons for those purposes.


However, as gun technology developed and official groups formed to lobby for the right
to bear them (read the National Rifle Association, better known as the NRA), things began to
change. It probably wasn’t until the Vietnam War era, when soldiers came home and had access
to better weaponry, and then the first mass shooting event in U.S. history (the University of
Texas Tower shooting in 1966) that the gun debate began.

This and other mass shootings over the years helped galvanize resistance to powerful
semi-automatic and automatic weapons being in the hands of the general public but also led to
the growth and power of arguably the most powerful lobbying group in America – the NRA.
Ripening conditions included a series of events – back and forth – between these two different
constituencies – gun lovers and gun control advocates.

Of course, the take-off event for its most recent incarnation was the Parkland,
FL—shootings on Valentine’s Day, 2018. While not the most devastating mass shooting in U.S.
history, the difference was that it happened at a high school in which the students galvanized
after the event. Within four weeks of the shooting, on the one-month anniversary of the event,
there were national school walkouts across the country at all school levels. However, the number
of demonstrations and how many were involved are unclear. However, a week later, probably the
most significant gun control demonstration ever – the March for Our Lives – occurred in
Washington, D.C., with estimates of 200,000 -800,000 people and sympathetic demonstrations
across the country and the world.

The goals of the demonstration were modest and straightforward: 1) ban assault rifles; 2)
Require universal background checks before gun sales, and 3) pass a gun violence restraining
order that would allow courts to disarm people who display warning signs of violent behavior.


Based on opinion polls, it is hard to judge whether this submovement has won over the
majority public opinion, but it has won on specific issues.

Some of the successes of the submovement to date include bans on bump stocks in
several states; several major companies such as airlines and rental car companies canceling NRA
member discounts, and other stores, such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, voluntarily discontinuing
the sales of semi-automatic weapons and raising the age to buy a gun from 18 to 21 (ironically
one can own a gun in most states at the age of 18, but aren’t allowed to drink).

However, this submovement is already, on some level, seeing the signs of Stage 5, the
Perception of failure, as Congress has yet again failed to act urgently on this matter. Beholden to
the NRA most politicians at the federal level are loathe to oppose the NRA (Trump did so
temporarily, then backed off). So, whether the movement’s relatively modest goals can be
achieved is unclear. This struggle continues, and it may have to wait for those millennials and
GenZers who are active in the movement and attended the March to be able to vote. Time will

#KeepFamiliesTogether, #FamiliesBelongTogether submovement

Even before Trump became President, it was clear that he was stoking anti-immigration
sentiment (all the talk about a border wall with Mexico, etc) and that the issue of immigration
would be a big one once he took office.

Sure enough, the first skirmishes happened around his so-called “Muslim ban,” which, as
of this writing, was just upheld by the Supreme Court despite all the legal challenges. There have
been many demonstrations throughout the country since Trump was elected (more) about this
issue, with tens of thousands of people participating at different times.


However, the “trigger event” that stoked this submovement was the Trump
administration’s policy decision to start separating children from parents at the border in the
summer of 2018. The outrage this sparked across the country quickly forced the President to
renege on this policy decision, even members of his party making it clear that he had strayed too
far from “American” values.

On Saturday, June 30 th, hundreds of thousands of protestors across the U.S., in over 600
cities in all 50 states, came out to tell the President that “Families Belong Together” and that his
A “zero tolerance” policy toward immigration would not be taken lying down.

Again, many of those involved in this submovement are targeting the mid-term elections
to channel the anger they and others feel toward the Trump administration and its policies. Even
though it had an opportunity to do so, the Republican-controlled Congress failed to act on
immigration reform yet again.

Going into the mid-term elections, Trump was weakened by other events in the summer
of 2018. First, he had a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which, by most objective
standards, did not go well for the U.S. President. Looking weak, Putin outmaneuvered Trump,
leading the majority of U.S. voters to believe that Putin had “dirt” on Trump. Then, shortly after
this event, another blow for President Trump as his long-time attorney, Michael Cohen, was
“flipped” by the Mueller investigation. Cohen had “dirt” on the President, including tape
recordings of a discussion to pay off a former Playboy model.

Another event that gave a note of optimism to the anti-Trump forces was the flop of the
“Unite the Right” rally on the first anniversary of the Charlottesville disaster. Far-right white
supremacists tried to gather in large numbers, but only a few dozen showed up. Moreover,


thousands of counterprotestors appeared, making it seem that neo-Nazis and others were fading
out regarding their political presence. However, as we can see, appearances were deceptive.

The Brett Kavanaugh nomination to the Supreme Court and the “circus” hearings
surrounding it were a blow to the Trump resistance movement. After a lengthy and tumultuous
hearing in which Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her,
it turned into a “he said, she said” affair. When the Senate ultimately confirmed Trump’s
nomination, the “left” was deflated. However, it did provide additional momentum to galvanize
progressive forces for the 2020 mid-term elections.

It’s pretty clear that after the fall Supreme Court nomination hearings, the deflation that
progressive forces felt probably qualified as reaching Moyer’s “Perception of Failure” stage.
Many who identified with the Trump resistance movement were lamenting if not downright
lamenting, that the mid-term elections would not make a difference and that Trump was destined
for another four-year presidency. Despite the scandals of the Trump era and his mishandling of
the COVID-19 epidemic, he indeed appeared to be “Teflon Don.” This is despite the majority of
public opinion against him (and throughout his presidency). Trump’s highest approval rating
during his presidency was 45% (July 22, 2018), and it plummeted to a low of 38%.

The 2018 mid-term elections turned out to be a victory for anti-Trump forces. While the
Republicans retained control of the Senate (which was expected), the Democrats experienced a
“blue wave” in the House and gained 40 seats, which resulted in a 235-200 majority. This was
very important, as it gave Democrats “checking” powers on the President and, perhaps more
importantly, subpoena powers to call witnesses at hearings and compel testimony from them
(unless the witness wanted to face punishment).


Over the next two years, there were many battles between the President and the House
(check). But of course, foremost on everyone’s mind was the question: Who would be the
Democratic nominee against Donald Trump, and could s/he beat him in the Fall of 2020?

After a bruising Democratic primary battle, at one point, it seemed that Bernie Sanders,
the socialist Senator from Vermont, would be the nominee, and Joe Biden, a Democratic Senator
from Delaware, emerged victorious. He chose Kamala Harris (D-CA) as his running mate. While
the presidential election started slowly, in part due to the COVID-19 epidemic, after an exciting
election night, Joe Biden defeated President Trump for the 2020 presidency. Not only that, but
the Democrats gained control of the Senate, with a 50-50 split and Vice-President Harris able to
split any ties in voting.

Unfortunately, even though the Trump resistance movement entered Stage VII (Success),
almost immediately, Stage VIII (Continuing the Struggle) reared its ugly head. With
ex=President Trump refusing to concede the election, with him and his supporters falsely
claiming “election fraud,” and with the events of January 6 th, 2021 (as of this writing) replaying
themselves out at the Congressional hearings concerning events of that day, we are all wondering
what’s in store for the 2022 mid-term elections and eventually the 2024 presidential election. To
say that our democracy is being sorely tested is an understatement. Perhaps never at any time in
the history of our Republic have political events become so front and center in our everyday
lives. And given that the polarization levels in the U.S., especially considering the recent
Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, are at highs not seen in decades, if not
centuries, it is hard to say what will unfold in the next period in U.S. politics. While perhaps
exciting to political scientists, I would say that the average American is pretty appalled at the
state of affairs in our country. Let’s hope that the tremendous political and social experiment of


the United States of America can withstand the onslaught of politics usually associated with
other less democratic regions of the world.


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