The year 2017 saw the emergence and growth of the so-called “Resistance,” the left-wing opposition to President Donald Trump that is now the basis of the Democratic Party’s grass-roots strategy for the 2018 midterm elections.
Though the name “Resistance” is phony, casting its participants as romantic heroes, America as foreign-occupied territory, and Trump as some kind of Nazi dictator, it is a very real political phenomenon that is reshaping politics.
Here are are the stages of its story.
1. Primal Scream. In the days after Trump won the 2016 presidential election, the left reacted in shock and horror. There were riots in some cities, and mass demonstrations in others. Hundreds of people showed up on cold night on the steps of the Los Angeles City Hall last November, for example, to protest the appointment of Steve Bannon as President Trump’s chief adviser. At that stage, the “Resistance” was just a tantrum, a scream, a visceral reaction.
2. Women’s March. On Inauguration Day, left-wing groups staged violent riots in Washington, DC. But the real protest came the next day, when hundreds of thousands of women, many of them wearing woolen pink “pussyhats,” marched in the capital and around the country. They rejected the legitimacy of the Trump presidency and promised to continue protesting him, essentially continuing Hillary Clinton’s campaign. But there was no real strategy — yet.
3. Airport protests. After a week in office, President Trump issued his infamous executive order restricting travel — temporarily — from six terror-prone states that happened to be largely Muslim as well. Thousands of protesters flocked to airports across the nation to demand that travelers detained under the new rules be freed. The ACLU mobilized to train hundreds of lawyers to help fight the new order in court. The “Resistance” had begun to form.
4. Deep State. Holdovers from the Obama administration, and left-leaning career servants, began to work against the new administration — usually covertly, but occasionally in the open. Acting Attorney General Sally Yates defied Trump’s instructions to defend his “travel ban” and became an instant heroine. Members of the law enforcement and intelligence communities also leaked damaging, often classified, information to the media. (Those efforts continue.)
5. Censorship. The left had long ago pioneered the tactic of organizing advertising boycotts against conservative news outlets and pundits. They stepped up those efforts. Internet giants like Facebook, Google, and Twitter, which were blamed for promoting “fake news” that had ostensibly led to Trump’s victory, came under increased pressure to censor their content. Students, activists, and left-wing clergy even boycotted events with Trump and his Cabinet.
6. “Indivisible.” A group of Obama administration alumni created an online handbook, “Indivisible,” that helped left-wing activists organize protests at town hall meetings to create maximum embarrassment for Republicans and moderate Democrats. “Indivisible” also provided political pointers that helped activists organize for the political battles that lay ahead, in special or off-year elections throughout 2017, and the 2018 midterm elections to follow.
7. Virginia. Though Democrats were disappointed by several special election losses, the gubernatorial race in Virginia was a turning point for the “Eesistance.” The Republican, Ed Gillespie, was an establishment figure who boosted his numbers in the closing weeks by embracing Trump’s agenda. But Democrats mobilized their minority and liberal base to turn out heavily for the Democrat, Ralph Northam, who defeated Gillespie in a landslide.
8. Alabama. The “Resistance” was fully weaponized in a special election for U.S. Senate in a deeply Republican state where they had a chance to win, thanks to the Republican establishment’s early efforts to sideline conservative favorite Rep. Mo Brooks, and thanks to the weaknesses of eventual nominee Roy Moore. With massive outside spending, professional organizers, and a huge assist from the media, the “Resistance” pulled off the upset win.
Now, the “Resistance” looks forward to 2018 with renewed hope of taking back Congress and dealing a blow to President Trump’s agenda. They need to win 24 seats in the House, and will benefit from a wave of Republican retirements. They have a narrower path to victory in the Senate, but it exists.
The question is whether, and how, Trump and the Republicans will mobilize to meet the “Resistance” challenge.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.