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Opposition to Trump needs more than marching

Unless we actually begin to create an electoral coalition to oppose Trump, this movement will just become another Occupy.

Illustration / T. Pizzico
Illustration / T. Pizzico

 

Throughout much of the day during President Trump’s inauguration I felt disheartened in my opposition, but my spirits lifted seeing pictures of the protests on that Friday and Saturday.

The fact that millions of people were able to take time off their jobs or classes on Friday and sacrifice part of their weekend on Saturday to take to the streets to voice their opposition gave me reassurance that other people feel the same way I do.

There’s a reason why the right to peacefully assemble is protected in the very first amendment to our constitution: because it can bring about real change. These marches and protests mean something to the people who take part. They energize, but we need to put that energy to good work.

There’s a reason why the right to peacefully assemble is protected by our constitution: because it can bring about real change.

So what comes next?

Let’s look at two different protest movements that had different approaches to harnessing that energy. One on hand, the Tea Party at first was just protests against the Obama Administration. It then began to run candidates for political office and influence the GOP platform. They succeeded in doing so, and the House Freedom Caucus and President Trump are the culmination to this spirited opposition to former President Obama.

On the other hand, the Occupy Wall Street movement had no set goals. We knew what they were against, but we never knew what they were for. The rhetoric of the 99 and one percent of American society did reinvigorate the fight against income inequality, but that’s as far as the movement got. There was no wave of progressives taking office after Occupy like there were in the 2010, 2012, and 2014 elections.

That’s what can’t happen to the anti-Trump coalition. It can’t let the Democratic Party continue to put forth corporate candidates who give lip service to progressive values. We as a movement need to become the Democratic Party like how the Tea Party became the Republican Party if they want to stop Trump.

People need to march and protest, yes, but that’s the bare minimum. There needs to be candidates for offices that aren’t just safe Democratic seats in California, New York, or cities like Chicago and Philadelphia. People need to run for office in rural America where the Republicans have turned it effectively into a one party state. Even if they lose, which will happen a lot, people need to make sure this movement is more than a protest movement. This needs to be a political movement.

A common piece of rhetoric after the election was that the Democratic Party had no coherent message for working class Americans. The Democratic Party needs to be a party for the working class. If we allow the Democratic Party to continue being the “left” wing of Wall Street, of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, the opposition won’t succeed. Where Occupy succeeded was exposing Democrats that masqueraded as progressive, while accepting millions from Wall Street behind the scenes.

The rhetoric that we need to work more with working class Americans may imply that there shouldn’t be as much of an emphasis on “identity politics”, or advocating for minorities. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. The movement can be a movement of working, Hispanic, black, Muslim, gay, Jewish, white, and straight Americans. Anyone who says it’s one or the other is lying. This movement needs to be a voice for all underrepresented Americans, not just this bloc or that bloc.

I know there’s a lot more I can be doing. When there were protests in Philly and in DC, I didn’t go. I stayed home and didn’t do anything. There can’t be armchair activists like what I’ve been since Trump was elected. People like me need to realize that we have the power, not the party leaders, not the elites, not even the candidates themselves. If they don’t have people like me, they have nothing.

As a movement, centrists and progressives, Greens and Democrats, liberals and socialists need to put aside our differences for the moment and work towards a common objective: becoming a powerful opposition to Trump.

Protests are a great start, but they’re just that: a start. If we want to stop Trump’s divisive rhetoric and his legislative agenda in its tracks, we need to start an electoral movement to stop Trump in Congress and in state legislatures across the country.

About John McClatchy

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Jack McClatchy started writing for the paper his freshman year, and has previously served as the News Editor during the 2015-2016 school year before becoming the first PR Director for the 2016-2017 school year. He is the President of the World Affairs Club, and is involved in the Academic Competition, Diversity Awareness, Speech and Debate, and Mock Trial clubs. He lives in Wayne, Pennsylvania along with his brother Luke (A pretty cool dude).

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