2017 IN REVIEW: THE YEAR OF RESISTANCE
If 2016 was tough to swallow, it was just the appetizer compared to 2017.
The first year of the Trump administration brought white nationalists out of the shadows, waves of policy proposals targeting people of color and immigrants, and wreaked havoc on both domestic and international Obama-era victories. Inhumane and unimaginable have become the new normal. We can barely spare energy or airtime for things like a massive humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico as we’re battling the repeal of DACA, net neutrality, and a disastrous Republican tax plan.
Perhaps the brightest glimmer of hope in the national dumpster fire that was 2017 is that the resistance movement — which has risen up to resist virtually every hateful move from Trump’s White House — seems to be growing stronger with every fight.
Let’s a take a look back at some of the top resistance battles of 2017 that have planted the seeds for a movement that is taking root for the long-haul.
The very day after Trump’s inauguration, millions of Americans took to the streets for the Women’s March, in what was one of the biggest grassroots uprisings in recent history. For most, it was a political awakening. For those who have been fighting many forms of injustice for years, it was a rallying cry. The Women’s March organizers shaped what could have been a one-off protest into a bold mandate for progress and intersectional local organizing, reminding us all that the real work was just getting started.
The popular chant that rose up outside the White House and Trump properties across the country that day — “We will not go away, welcome to your first day!” — indeed set the stage for an onslaught of protests in weeks and months to come.
RESIST Banner Drop
In a daring direct action a few days later, Greenpeace activists scaled a crane in downtown D.C. for a striking banner drop, effectively naming the new protest movement the “resistance” and providing a much needed shot in the arm to activists around the country.
Airport Protests Against the Muslim Ban
Just a week after the massive Women’s March, solidarity protests erupted at airports across the country following the first Muslim ban. The grassroots activism helped energize the legal response that effectively stopped the executive order in its tracks. The message in response to Trump’s first attempt to make good on his most heinous campaign promises was clear: not on our watch.
National Park Service Goes Rogue
In a series of subversive tweets, National Park Service employees somewhat unexpectedly became soldiers of the resistance. While gag orders silenced various government agencies, several national park twitter accounts posted climate change stats as they refused to be silenced. They spoke truth to power in a demonstration of courage and leadership, and reminded us all that small actions can have big impact.
Campaigning Against Cabinet Nominations
As Trump worked to surround himself with corporate elites and white nationalists in his cabinet, (it’s more white and male than any since Ronald Reagan) organizations like Sierra Club, 350.org, and NAACP pushed back from the start. Their activists showed up to confirmation hearings while mobilizing their membership to call, tweet, and email their senators to oppose the nominations of Jeff Sessions, Rex Tillerson, Scott Pruitt, and others. While getting the Senate to outright reject cabinet nominations is a long shot, these organizations were able to use confirmation hearings as a moment to educate members about the opposition, frame the debate, and prepare their base to fight the reckless policies they were bound to push forward in the months to come.
A Day Without Immigrants
On February 16, thousands of immigrant workers, business owners, and protesters self-organized “A Day Without Immigrants.” They boycotted work, kept children out of school, and marched locally in opposition to Trump’s anti-immigrant policies and to highlight that immigrants are the foundation of the American economy. In major cities across the U.S., restaurants shut down, daycare centers closed, and shops operated with limited service. The day of action — which wasn’t organized by any established group — started online and caught fire. It demonstrated the power and efficacy of truly grassroots calls from communities most impacted by the administration’s disastrous policy proposals.
Native Nations Rise Actions
On March 10, thousands of indigenous rights activists converged in Washington D.C. to oppose Trump’s executive orders to greenlight the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, which disproportionately harm indigenous communities. Standing Rock Sioux water protectors, the Indigenous Environmental Network, and the Native Organizers Alliance erected tipis all over the national mall as part of a beautiful Native Nations Rise action.
Queer Dance Party for Climate Justice
In April, LGBTQ activists threw a massive dance party in front of Ivanka Trump’s house in D.C., organized by WERK for Peace, 350 DC, Queer Resistance and the Trans Women of Color Collective to call attention to the administration’s bad climate decisions that impact poor, working class, indigenous, trans, and people of color. The creative action, led by community organizers, demonstrated that resistant work can be energizing, intersectional, and community-oriented while calling out Trump’s closest enablers who purport to be allies to queer communities — like Ivanka Trump.
On Mother’s Day, Black Lives Matter led a nationwide #MamasDayBailout campaign, drawing attention to the criminal justice and cash bail system’s disparate impact on black women in particular. They raised more than half a million dollars, using collective resources to buy the freedom of black women sitting in jail simply because they cannot afford bail.
Summer of Resistance
As the push to defeat Trumpcare escalated over the summer, local activist groups and frustrated constituents flooded town halls, hosted rallies, and organized sit-ins in bold demonstrations of grassroots power. Groups like Indivisible, MoveOn, and Working Families Party coordinated their membership to bombard Congress with calls, tweets, letters, facebook posts, and offline action. Months of tireless resistance — often led by those most impacted — resulted in a resounding defeat of Trumpcare not once but three times. If there was ever any doubt, the long campaign proved that the resistance movement could score major policy victories with fired up constituents, well-coordinated coalitions, and lifting up the voices of those directly impacted by disastrous health care policies.
The NFL Takes a Knee
In September, what began as an act of protest from a single backup quarterback became a movement for free speech and racial justice. NFL players as well as other athletes of colour, musicians, and coaches kneeled for the national anthem in opposition to the systemic violence perpetrated against people of colour every day under a flag intended to symbolize justice for all. While the movement has gone head-to-head with Trump himself — he labeled players a “son of bitch” and called for them to be fired — it transcends the twitter feuds and presidential name-calling. The silent acts of protest speak volumes about how far we have to go in the struggle for racial justice in America.
As one of the most influential campaigns of the year, the #MeToo campaign to confront our culture of sexual assault and harassment spread like wildfire in mid-October. It has since helped to take down high-profile abusers like producer Harvey Weinstein, comedian Louis C.K, and Senator Al Franken. However the campaign, which began with Tarana Burke more than a decade ago, is about more than hashtags or high profile perpetrators. It’s helping to expose a system of patriarchy and white supremacy where power and privilege are wielded to harass, abuse, and rape women with impunity, particularly women of color. According to Burke, the #MeToo movement also allows survivors to connect with each other and for radical healing to begin.
The major victories for democratic candidates in the November elections is perhaps the most traditional sign of success for the growing progressive movement. Voters turned out this fall not just to reject Trumpism, but to embrace inclusion. Danica Roem became the first openly transgender elected official in the Virginia state legislature, defeating the 13-term incumbent who introduced the transphobic “bathroom bill” earlier in the year. In Minneapolis, Andrea Jenkins joins the city council as the first openly trans black woman elected to office in a major U.S. city.
A few weeks later in Alabama, black women organizers and voters led the campaign to defeat Roy Moore, the Republican accused of sexual assault and backed by Donald Trump.
If recent elections are any indication, the 2018 midterms will be a referendum on not just Trumpian candidates, but the culture of white supremacy and patriarchy they represent.
TaxScam, Clean Dream Act, Net Neutrality
December saw several major progressive issues on the chopping block — including protections for 800,000 young immigrants, net neutrality that maintains an open internet, and tax reform for working families.
As most Americans were gearing up for a long holiday break, progressive organizers and activists from groups like United We Dream, Cosecha, The Seed Project, and Good Jobs Nation put their bodies and potentially their futures in this country on the line as they staged sit-ins in Congressional offices, blocked hallways in the Capitol, and took over cafeterias in civil disobedience to demand a clean Dream Act. They simultaneously directed thousands of calls to Congress, pressuring Senate Democrats to take a stand to protect dreamers, while putting those who didn’t on notice for 2018.
At the same time, organizers at BattleForTheNet, OpenMedia, People Demanding Action, Popular Resistance and others leveraged the December FCC vote to recruit companies, young people, politicians, and celebrities to join the movement. They educated millions on the importance of a free and open internet, and 83% of Americans now support neutrality.
Meanwhile, groups like Patriotic Millionaires, Public Citizen, CREDO, Progressives Change Campaign Committee and many others organized hard against the GOP’s #TaxScam, dominating message framing and underscoring how Trump’s tax overhaul is disastrous for working families.
Each coalition mobilized thousands of calls, tweets, and emails to Congress, surrounding elected officials with progressive demands that were impossible to ignore. While none of these fights secured clear victories in December, they are far from over and their network of grassroots supporters are bigger and louder than ever.
In 2017, progressive grassroots organizers and activists withstood a firestorm of attacks that came via racist executive orders, assaults on free speech, and continued marginalization of communities of color. In the process, we saved health care for 22 million Americans. We defeated the Muslim ban three times. We turned out en masse week after week. We self-organized in thousands of local groups across the country, building deep power and relationships to last. We elected progressive women to offices across the country. And we’re beginning to confront our deep-seeded systems of racial injustice and patriarchy in America.
In 2017, we marched and we rallied. We called, tweeted, and emailed. We lobbied, donated, and voted. We trained, taught, and we listened. We sat-in, and we knelt. We organized, we led, and we also learned to follow.
2017 wasn’t pretty, but it was powerful. The seeds of resistance that spread across the country in the last 12 months have taken hold, and have proven they won’t easily be swept away.
New/Mode is proud to have played a small part in this beautiful movement ecosystem, and we’re honored to support progressive organizations coming out swinging in 2018. We’re chipping in by providing our campaign engagement tools to any progressive organization who needs them in 2018 — for free for three months. Thank you to everyone working tirelessly to resist injustice and fight for progress. We’re with you, and we’re here to help.