Former Congressional Staffers Share Four 'Opportunities' to Fight Donald Trump

December 15th 2016

Mike Rothschild

On Wednesday night, a group of former Democratic Congressional staffers publicly released a document intended to provide guidance for the growing resistance to Donald Trump's presidency.

The guide for direct action takes its cues from a surprising place: The Tea Party.

tea party protest

”The authors of this guide are former congressional staffers who witnessed the rise of the Tea Party," they write. "We saw these activists take on a popular president with a mandate for change and a supermajority in Congress. We saw them organize locally and convince their own members of Congress to reject President Obama’s agenda. Their ideas were wrong, cruel, and tinged with racism - and they won."

Called "Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda", the 23 page Google document lays out how to use the uncompromising local advocacy employed by the Tea Party to block President Barack Obama and win back the House in 2010.

The guide lists 4 "opportunities" to for Democrats to recreate the Tea Party's momentum. 

town halls

Members of Congress regularly hold town hall meetings and public events. These provide excellent opportunities to ask pointed and focused questions about policy and votes, and to publicly commit to supporting or opposing legislation.

opportunity 2

Be polite but firm, don't be afraid to apply pressure, and don't give up until your question is answered. Remember that members of Congress will do anything to keep from looking bad in the eyes of the voters who ensure they keep their jobs. Record everything, because unfavorable exchanges that go public through social media or local news can be devastating for House members.

Opportunity 3

At the same time, all Members of Congress have district offices, which can be used as opportunities to meet with your representative, or far more likely, a member of their staff. Show up in groups, demand to speak to the member of Congress, and document your efforts to do so.


Finally, the authors recommend you call or email your Congress member's office with a single question related to a live issue, such as an upcoming vote or hearing. If directed to leave a voicemail, do so and follow up immediately with an email. If you get no response, do it again. Then take to social media and let your contacts know your member of Congress is avoiding a concerned constituent.

The Tea Party was based on "Groups focused on defense, not policy development."

"The Tea Party took root in 2009, focused on fighting against every proposal coming out of the new Democratic Administration and Congress," the document states. "This focus on defense rather than policy development allowed the movement to avoid fracturing. Tea Party members may have not agreed on the policy reforms, but they could agree that Obama, Democrats, and moderate Republicans had to be stopped.

With this in mind, the steps in Indivisible can be carried out entirely at the grass roots, local level. It involves forming small groups, asking questions of Congress members and their staffers, demanding answers, and making these interactions public.

tea party protest

All of this revolves around the constant need to be focused on the election cycle. House members come up for election every two years, and are constantly thinking about what they need to do to keep their jobs. Even Reps in safe districts are vulnerable to primary challenges, and the Tea Party used this as a blunt instrument.

"It's all about reelection, reelection, reelection."

"To influence your own Members of Congress (MoC), you have to understand one thing," the guide states. "Every House member runs for office every two years and every Senator runs for election every six years. Functionally speaking, MoCs are always either running for office or getting ready for their next election, a fact that shapes everything they do."

Form a group, agree on goals, and break them into achievable units of action. Organization and preparation are the key, and will make public interactions go the way you want them to, not the way the Congress member and their staff have prepared for.