Donald Trump’s Presidential election shook a large portion of America and people in communities across the country are coming together to learn what they can do to oppose his administration. But protesters are not content to stop with opposition. They intend to fight for progressive causes at the local level, as well.
Trump Wakes a Sleeping Giant
In Pennsylvania, one such grassroots effort began with the simple concept that a constituent should be able to meet with a political representative to talk about policy. What should have been an easy task in a representative government has proven more difficult than anticipated.
According to a group of Philadelphia activists who call their campaign #TuesdaysWithToomey, a micro-movement started when one activist’s effort to speak with Senator Pat Toomey was rebuffed by a disgruntled staffer. The staffer’s response prompted the activist to plan a personal visit to Sen. Toomey’s Philadelphia office.
She posted a message on her Facebook page to see whether anybody else wanted to join her in delivering letters to the Senator. “On that fateful Tuesday,” the group’s website says, “seven others joined in, and a progressive citizen movement was born.” What began as a small Philadelphia gathering has mushroomed to over 100 citizen protesters within a few short weeks — and the number of protesters continues to grow as long as Toomey refuses to hear them out.
Using the same core organizational model employed by the Philadelphia activists, additional TuesdaysWithToomey sister organizations have formed across the state in Scranton, Johnstown, Allentown, Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg. Each group works in tandem, meeting outside of Senator Toomey’s offices every Tuesday. And each group is determined their voices will be heard — at times, employing megaphones and mobile speaker systems.
The method is simple and straightforward. Every Tuesday, a call to action is posted to the group’s Facebook Page, centered around a pertinent local issue or current event. TuesdaysWithToomey’s Twitter Account then boosts the call to action among their 2.7k followers. Though the topic or general action may change from week to week, the activists’ persistence does not. That persistence, combined with Toomey’s continued audacity and refusal to meet with his constituents, seems key to the movement’s growth and success.
Toomey: Wanted for Questioning
You don’t have to look far to see why an anti-Toomey movement has spread so quickly in Philadelphia. His progressive constituents are looking for answers to some very serious questions. They’d like to know why, most recently, Toomey voted to confirm Trump’s most controversial cabinet nominee, Betsy DeVos, as Secretary of Education.
— Every Voice (@EveryVoice) February 7, 2017
On a broader scale, Toomey’s policies are directly opposed to the progressive agenda (a major exception being background checks for gun sales). A quick look at Toomey’s record shows he has supported increased school choice and charter schools, voted against the Clean Power Plan, opposed carbon taxes, voted against ending the 2013 government shutdown, advocated to “end Sanctuary City policies,”and generally supported deregulating the financial sector, going so far as to help write the devastating resolution which led to the repeal of parts of Glass-Steagall. Toomey also opposes a woman’s right to reproductive freedom, is against same-sex marriage, and opposes the Affordable Care Act. His record is not even close to palatable, as far as progressives are concerned.
TuesdaysWithToomey Template for Resistance
Grassroots progressive groups in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, and Washington are meeting with some level of success utilizing this method of confronting local officials to hold them accountable for their votes. Activists, now aware of local City Council meeting times and locations, have grown savvy, arriving in large enough numbers to consume the public comments session and argue in favor of progressive policies.
Protesters’ weekly approach of letting elected officials know they exist and where they stand on issues can move change regardless of who’s in office. As TuesdaysWithToomey has shown, visibly growing weekly actions heighten public awareness, educate the electorate, and encourage voters to become actively involved and empowered to effect local level change — even if their representatives refuse to listen.