Uniting Progressives Into An “Indivisible” Force

By Pat Rynard

January 17, 2017

Democrats facing a Republican majority both in Iowa and nationally must return to the basics. Without the votes in Congress or in the Iowa Legislature to pass legislation, Democrats must utilize the power of grassroots organizing to rally the troops of opposition. Last week, the Iowa Daily Democrat wrote an article suggesting Democrats should take a page from the Tea Party playbook.

A new group called Indivisible recently published a guide suggesting how Democrats can and should utilize many of those “Tea Party” tactics. The guide is entitled, “A Practical Guide to resisting the Trump Agenda.” The new organization was formed by a group of former progressive congressional staffers. They describe their guide as an interactive tool that will be the playbook to resist Trump and his agenda. They’re inviting feedback from other progressives to this growing national movement.

The Indivisible name is derived from their goal to unify allies in this fight. That goal requires progressives to unite and stand “indivisible” against the Trump agenda and the Republican members of Congress (MoC) These former congressional staffers point to the success of the Tea Party in opposing President Obama and the Democratic super majority in Congress in 2009. Many of the tactics they recommend in their guide came directly from observing the Tea Party. They totally disagree with the Tea Party goals but believe progressives can duplicate their tactics in defending a progressive agenda. The Indivisible team explains that their resistance will be built on values of inclusion and tolerance. They also suggest their efforts will be two-fold. The primary focus will be on resistance to the Trump agenda; but in addition, they believe that Democrats need voices of support to strengthen their resolve to fight.

The guide is a step-by-step process that focuses on getting the attention of your local MoC, dominating the news and controlling the messages.  The most basic element of this process requires overwhelming the local MoC and their staff with phone calls, office visits, office sit-ins at, massive town hall presence and relentless questioning of their congressional actions. The ultimate goal is to push, press and force their MoC to bend to the will of the public. Part of that strategy is simply weakening the MoC and their staff’s will to fight.  Face with a constant battle of resistance by a united front of progressives many MoC’s are likely to weaken or fold.

The Indivisible strategy is based on every MoC’s primary goal, to get reelected. They contend that MoC’s are always motivated by one primary motive, reelection. These experienced former congressional staffers assert that reelection shapes everything an MoC will do. They maintain your local MoC is constantly either running for office or preparing to run for office.

That’s the key to winning the battle with your MoC. If they believe their actions are jeopardizing their reelection they will bend. Getting them to realize that the they are losing public support will cause them to yield.

We are already seeing progressives implementing this strategy. A broad coalition held a sit-in at Senator Grassley’s office last week ending in two arrests. Saturday, large groups rallied in four Iowa cities in support of Obamacare. On January 21st there will be thousands of progressive women descending on Washington the day after Trump is sworn in. A similar “Stand with Women” march will be held in Des Moines at the Iowa State Capitol.

Many other groups are organizing to oppose the Trump/Republican agenda. From raising the minimum wage to Immigration Reform, a broad spectrum of progressive groups will be imitating the Tea Party tactics by raising their voices in opposition to Trump and Republican leaders. Organizing for Action is another group that has reengaged and intends to follow a similar organizing strategy as Indivisible.

Indivisible is a national movement and doesn’t mention applying the same pressure to state legislators. However, in Iowa, putting equal pressure on Republican Legislators is just as critical. Calling out Iowa Legislators, visiting the Capitol, attending legislative forums and attending hearings is crucial. Democrats must stand up to the Republican wave both in Iowa and nationally.


by Rick Smith
Posted 1/17/17

  • Pat Rynard

    Pat Rynard founded Iowa Starting Line in 2015. He is now Courier Newsroom's National Political Editor, where he oversees political reporters across the country. He still keeps a close eye on Iowa politics, his dog's name is Frank, and football season is his favorite time of year.

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