When Resistance is Small, Hold On
The resistance to Donald Trump’s presidency started off large. The women’s marches around the world on January 21 were staggering in size, and the flocking to airports after Donald Trump issued his first immigration ban was surprisingly, astoundingly huge. The blossoming of the Indivisible movement has also been marked by dozens, scores, and sometimes hundreds of people turning out for activist organizing in towns that have never seen activist organizing before. It’s enough to raise one’s expectations to stratospheric heights.
High expectations are bound to be disappointed eventually. I am beginning to see this happen in central Maine, where I am involved with two indivisible organizations. We are starting to see people’s initial emotional commitment give way to something more boring and prosaic: planning. Turn out to regular meetings is beginning to correspondingly decline.
I went to a protest in Bangor today that was, admittedly, confronted with a temperature of just 1°F and windchill taking us down to -24°F. It was very difficult to be outside today, and yet I couldn’t help but be disappointed to count just 23 marchers after a mobilizing effort involving multiple organizations. Once we marched to our destination, mind you, there were 60 people ready to rally indoors where it was a little bit warmer. But still, a bit of disappointment lingered. After all, Bangor had seen crowds of 1000 protesting Trump in January.
The truth is, some people are just getting used to President Donald Trump, and those people are gone from the marches as they’ve lost their novelty. It’s going to be a while before they come back. They’ll have to see that this movement hasn’t gone away, and that there is a role for them to play in achieving an effective end to the Trump era. That realization won’t come quickly. Those of us who are committed to fighting and resisting Trumpism will just have to struggle through the points of low attendance and low participation. As the old activist anthem says, “Keep your eyes on the prize. Hold on.” I’ll hold on. You do that too.