Despite what you may read or hear, it is morally right and MEANINGFUL to speak out against a ruling party that commits crimes and undermines democracy. Any “backlash” talk is designed to keep you passive, even though there is ample historical evidence that appeasement is a failing strategy.
That doesn’t mean that fighting back is a simple (or safe) thing to do, but it never has been! Right now, the status quo is doing its best to discourage hope and action by minimizing our big modern-day successes, like 2018’s Blue Wave, which made the House impeachment hearings possible in the first place.
And historical amnesia fools us into thinking that nothing we do today can match the successful protest actions of other decades. You can learn the truth from L.A. Kauffman, the author of Direct Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism and How to Read a Protest: The Art of Organizing and Resisting. I got the books and it is eye-opening to read the backstory of the iconic 1963 civil-rights march on Washington. Hindsight being 20/20, it’s easy to be lulled into thinking that that protest was somehow guaranteed to be a success, or that there was no division or in-fighting or criticism during the organization of it. Kauffman has the facts that prove otherwise.
But even more relevant to today’s Impeach and Remove marches (now numbering more than 600 all across the nation) is Kauffman’s research on the protests against Nixon, as shared in a recent Twitter thread. For those of you who don’t use Twitter, I’m going to copy and paste all the tweets into this post. Here’s the intro to the thread; after that, just read through the bullet points. Each one represents a tweet by L.A. Kauffman. You can click the links within the bullet-pointed text to see images even if you don’t have a Twitter account. (Seriously, MrB, CLICK THE LINKS before you ask for help.)
- The images you’ve seen of crowds surrounding the White House are from 1970, years before Nixon’s impeachment. 100,000 demonstrators came on very short notice after the shooting of four nonviolent protesters at Kent State. (Nixon freaked out: The buses you see were barricades.)
- There were, in fact, no truly large-scale protests calling for Nixon’s impeachment. When Nixon fired his special prosecutor in October 1973, loud demonstrations broke out at the White House for several days, making headlines, but they never attracted more than 1,000 people.
- In April 1974, an impeach Nixon protest march in Washington drew somewhere around 10,000 participants — a solid turnout, but not what you’d call massive.
- There were small protests in many communities around the U.S. over the course of Nixon’s impeachment, but the most widespread form of grassroots dissent came in the form of bumper stickers, inspired by those first protests after the special prosecutor firing.
- I share this history to counteract the tendency to minimize the organizing that is already happening around Trump’s impeachment. When we overstate the size of past protests, we diminish the power of what’s happening in the present, which encourages apathy and despair.
- This Tues., Dec. 17, nearly 500 Impeach and Remove protests are planned, in all 50 states. (Details: http://impeach.org) This mobilization is already shaping up to be at least TEN TIMES LARGER than any protests during Nixon’s impeachment. Feel that power. We are many. [NOTE FROM WENDY: This tweet was written before the number of marches significantly expanded]
- Protests don’t magically, immediately change Senators’ votes. But having a truly massive and historic turnout this Tuesday Dec. 17 will help set a different tone for the Senate impeachment trial and begin to push back against the GOP’s brazen criminality.
- The fact that we remember the Nixon impeachment process as having been marked by steady protests is a sign that even small actions matter — those little local “Honk for Impeachment” actions had cumulative force and weight.
- Few realize this, but more people protested during the first 18 months of Trump’s presidency than at any period in US history — even the height of the Vietnam antiwar movement. We need to mobilize at that scale again — AND keep organizing small, high-impact local actions.
So that’s the Nixon-related history. The bullet points below are L.A. Kauffman’s tweeted advice for our current situation.
- The Dec. 17 “Nobody Is Above the Law” protests are crucial — and just a first step.On Dec. 19, join @by_the_ppl and partners, who will bring nonviolent moral protest to the halls of power to demand the Senate remove Trump from office. Info and signup: http://bytheppl.us/act
- Most urgently, start making plans NOW if you possibly can to converge on the Senate for duration of the impeachment trial. People will be occupying the Hart Senate Building, and taking nonviolent action, every day beginning Jan 8. Sign up for updates: http://remove45.org
- Protests work in unpredictable ways. Sustained nonviolent action now can shift the dynamic around the Senate trial and buttress efforts to remove Trump in November, should the Senate, as seems likely, abdicate its Constitutional responsibilities and acquit Trump.
- We cannot count on the institutions that got us where we are to save us. We the people need to rise up. Remember all we’ve done these last three years: marching in the millions, swinging the 2018 elections, fighting tenaciously for democracy. History is calling us now.
- One note: There are some indications that Congress may reconvene as early as January 6, not January 8. Whenever they reconvene, people will be converging at the Hart Senate Building to defend democracy and the Constitution — sign up for updates at http://remove45.org
And one more Kauffman tweet about the Nixon protests:
- For a sense of the modest scale of the Watergate-era impeachment protests, here’s video footage from the White House, after Nixon fired the special prosecutor in October 1973:
And that’s concludes my copy-paste of L.A. Kauffman’s direct tweets. Here’s my own paraphrased TL;DR of all of the above: Protests don’t magically, immediately change Senators’ votes but they will help set a different tone for the Senate impeachment trial . The fact that we remember the Nixon impeachment process as having been marked by steady protests is a sign that even small actions matter. More people protested during the first 18 months of Trump’s presidency than at any period in US history — even the height of the Vietnam antiwar movement. Do your part!
To repeat my post from yesterday, here’s what you can do TODAY, Dec. 17, 2019.
Can’t march because you can’t escape your job or other responsibilities, or you’re not physically able to? That’s fine, because I’ve got other options for you.
- SHARE THE MARCH INFO by social media and email. Here’s the link — all people have to do is enter their zip code to find the closest event.
- CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE to say you support impeachment and removal. The right-wing constantly floods their elected officials’ office with calls. We progressives need to step it up. Don’t know your rep? Find them here. If you need to find out your representative’s position on impeachment before calling, click here. Call REGARDLESS of their position. If your Democratic rep is already in favor … great! Call and thank them. If your GOP rep is clearly ready to tear up the Constitution and install a lifetime dictator, call and say that’s un-American. It doesn’t matter if you’re sure you’re not going to change this jackass’s mind. CALL ANYWAY. The number of calls matters.
- CAN’T CALL DURING BUSINESS HOURS? I have a plan for that! Resistbot works 24/7, and enables you write an email to your electeds in less than two minutes. Do it while you’re on the train, while you’re walking the dog, while you’re eating lunch, at 4 a.m., whenever. IT IS ALWAYS THERE! By text: Text the word IMPEACH to 50409. Resistbot will tell you where your representative stands and then ask if you want to send a message. Follow the instructions from there. You can also use Resistbot via Twitter, Facebook Messenger, and Telegram. Note: Resistbot does require an initial set-up that includes entering your address — that’s the only way to identify who your elected officials are.
Now go forth — or stay on your phone — and fight for human rights, rule of law, and common decency!