Everyone is talking about bringing down Trump with a massive protest, but how do we actually do it?

Millions of gathered in Washington and around the world on January 21, 2017 to protest Donald Trump’s inauguration. How do we use that energy to bring Trump down?

Last year, I got involved with a group called Refuse Fascism that was planning massive demonstrations on November 4 with the goal of bringing down the Trump/Pence regime. I agreed with them on two main points:

  1. Trump and Pence were installed by an authoritarian foreign government in order to further the interests of authoritarians and oligarchs here and abroad.
  2. Massive, regular protest is required in order to protect what is left of our democracy.

The November 4 effort fizzled for a number of reasons that I won’t belabor here. Chief among them was the assumption that millions of people would be willing to forsake their careers and families to spend weeks and months camped out in the streets in the dead of winter. That’s just not America.

What we need is a massive, ongoing protest that doesn’t require people to completely upend their lives.

About a month ago, I wrote a blog post proposing a protest of this nature that would disrupt consumer banking. In the intervening time, I have discussed the idea with many people whose opinions I respect and trust, including Kati Wilkins of Seattle Indivisible, my fellow organizer and dear friend Lara Lavi, and my dad.

They all convinced me that creating a disruption to the intermediaries that handle much of the day-to-day financial infrastructure for most Americans would not only be ineffective at influencing the powerful and well-connected, it would disrupt the well-being and livelihood of many Americans. Their arguments make sense to me.

What I liked about the original idea was:

  1. The protest was coordinated, repeated at regular intervals, and was designed to escalate virally.
  2. The protest did not require people to walk away from their daily lives, jobs, and families to spend an unknowable amount of time in the streets.

The trick now is figuring out what kind of protest will satisfy those two requirements while:

  1. Actually hitting the oligarchs here and abroad.
  2. Not creating a ton of collateral damage for the most vulnerable Americans.

I don’t have the answer to that yet, but I’m going to keep thinking on it. I encourage anyone with ideas to please reach out.


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5 Comments

  1. Thanks for putting this question out there Tae, it needs to be debated everywhere! Here’s my latest idea:

    The US Census says there are about 245 million adults in the US. The Pew Research Center says “Most Americans continue to have strong feelings about the president, with about twice as many strongly disapproving of his job performance as strongly approving (51% to 25%). Note the word “strong”. 51 percent of 245 million is 125 million. If that 125 million, as individuals, committed to rotating just one day out of 10, with 9 other people, we could have 12.5 million people in the streets nationwide each day for 10 days. That would be one hundred twenty-five thousand people (about the size of the 2016 Seattle Women’s March) in the streets daily for ten days in each of 100 major cities! Then begin the 10 day rotation over again. History repeatedly shows mass outpourings are what compels the powers that be to make an actual change in direction. Like removing Trump/Pence! In South Korea they were in the streets for 5 weeks and that president was GONE!

    Additional thought: I think mass outpourings are what is primary. What form these outpourings take is secondary, but important, and still needs to be discussed by all.

    1. Focusing this effort on a few key cities to build momentum and then expanding from there could be a really good start. How would you initiate the effort?

      1. I would initiate it by creating a website to promote the idea, with the website set up so it enabled people all over the country to connect, coordinate, organize for it in their cities, etc. And to do fund raising to promote it, and Facebook page, etc.

        But that is basically what Refuse Fascism has already done. And for Nov 4 the key cities were NYC, SF, and LA. And that is where the largest turnouts for Nov 4 were. Plus there were other cities like Seattle. But the turnout (4000 nationwide) was not near as big as needed to get the momentum going to expand.

        So there is a big contradiction. Millions of people are horrified by what is happening. But they have not, in big numbers at least, decided to alter their lives to act on that.

        What I proposed above is what I saw Refuse Fascism as proposing, primarily. I just added the secondary detail of the 10 day rotation thing. And your idea about the banks I think could be included somehow, and other peoples ideas I have seen, encircling federal buildings, etc.

        But I think the primary thing is getting people to understand we can DO this. When that is achieved, the resulting collective creativity of unleashed, of these millions of people, would be amazing! All kinds of ways and methods would emerge, all building on each other.

        This is what I see Refuse Fascism as trying to do, and is still trying, so I continue to support that. But in the meantime, other organizations or individuals, if they do NOT want to join with Refuse Fascism, could also take that up on their own. But I do not see anyone else doing that. I would be there with them shoulder to shoulder if they were.

        I still think all the compartmented single-issue forms of resistance that brave and dedicated people are doing is very important. But how to get them to lift their eyes, to this big picture…I don’t know yet.

  2. Demonstrate outside federal buildings perhaps? Hamper those employees ability to get work done.

    1. I absolutely agree that civil disobedience is a useful tool; but this needs to scale to large numbers of people, many of whom will not be willing to risk arrest. I’d also like to make the protest repeatable on a monthly basis and have it escalate virally.

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