Operating from the conviction that presidential power is not unlimited and that pressure on Congress can reverse Trump’s potential damage, the Indivisible Team has launched a movement mainly for progressives, although disgruntled conservatives or anyone who opposes Trump may apply. The idea behind Indivisible is to resist the Trump agenda by diverting members of Congress, especially conservatives, from accomplishing their goals and preventing them from undoing many of the progressive policies put in place by the Obama administration.
Ironically, the current protestations vis a vis “presidential power gone wild” is incongruous with the absence of complaints from the Left when it came to the Obama administration and its many secretive actions, executive orders, and congressional bypassing, despite unrelenting claims of transparency. The uncontested shift in Washington over the past eight years away from a constitutional republic and congressional legislative responsibility toward more of a bureaucratic, administrative government run without Congress’ intervention belies the sincerity of these assertions.
Characterizing the ideas of the Tea Party as “wrong, cruel and tinged with racism,” the Indivisible Team pledges to protect their values of “inclusion, tolerance and fairness” with an equivalent level of resistance and fervor.
Following the January publication of a guide posted to Google Docs that went viral, the founders reported that within three weeks they had amassed 105,000 interested parties and 2,400 registered groups, one in every congressional district. Today, the Indivisible website boasts close to 6,000 Indivisible groups, at least two in each congressional district.
Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda refers to Trump as “the biggest popular vote loser in history to ever call himself President Elect.” In their inaugural document, Indivisible’s architects reveal their defensive, ostensibly Tea Party-templated strategy to thwart the policies of the incoming administration. Positing that Trump will “attempt to use his congressional authority to reshape America in his racist, authoritarian and corrupt image” even though he “has no mandate” from the voters, the Team presents a methodology to “stand indivisibly to defeat Trump and the members of Congress who would do his bidding.”
In defense of their position, Indivisible’s founders rationalize that if a “small minority in the Tea Party could stop President Obama, then we the majority can stop a petty tyrant named Trump” and prevent him from “victimizing us and our neighbors.” They characterize Trump’s agenda as one that “explicitly targets immigrants, Muslims, people of color, LGBTQ people, the poor and working class, and women.”
Indivisible’s founders include Angel Padilla, a former immigration policy consultant for La Raza and advisor to Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Illinois), and Ezra Levin, who served as an AmeriCorps employee in homeless services and worked for Rep. Lloyd Doggert (D-TX). With their aggregate of significant congressional staffing experience, Padilla and Gutierrez are well aware that legislators are defined by electoral interests and primarily concerned about being re-elected. In the Indivisible Guide, they convey their conviction that the vulnerability of a member of Congress reaches its zenith when the certainty of their re-election is disrupted.
In the preface of the Indivisible Guide, the plan’s creators offer a “Note to Immigrants and Non-Citizens” in which they emphasize that all people living in the United States, even illegal immigrants and non-citizens, have a right for their voices to be heard by their congressional representatives. They emphasize that the guide is a resource for “all individuals who would like to more effectively participate in the democratic process.”
As for the guide’s stratagem, it recommends that subscribers emulate the “act locally” strategy of the Tea Party and target three individuals: their two state senators and their local congressional representative. Readers are advised to let their opinions and expectations be known in various venues using a prescribed series of tactics. The Indivisible Guide, which also provides tips on marketing, recruiting, mass email and telemarketing campaigns and managing small groups, informs readers that members of Congress have limited time and staff to handle government business and can easily be distracted from the work at hand by a barrage of disruptive phone calls, unexpected group visits to district offices and appearances at local public events such as parades, ceremonial activities, and groundbreaking proceedings. They cite the importance for activists to wear similar clothing and carry coordinated signs to stand out as a major presence and project the appearance of unity.
While attending public events, Indivisible participants are encouraged to speak with any media representatives at the scene, threaten local event sponsors with bad publicity, be prepared to interrupt speakers, aggressively inject their opinions and engage in collective “booing” and applause where effective. It is critical, the guide instructs, to convince the press and government representative that the Indivisible activists are representative of the targeted district.
For indoor events such as town hall meetings, Indivisible advises using indoor and outdoor teams to influence events inside the facility and manage press relations outside. Participants are encouraged to share prepared questions ahead of time, dominate question and answer sessions, spread out across the venue and present the appearance of widespread consensus on issues of concern. Also emphasized is the importance of videoing all interactions and maintaining a ubiquitous presence on social media.
The Indivisible founders explain that members of Congress, especially representatives, are always “running for office” and run scared at the slightest hint of dissent from their constituents. They advise that attendance at town hall meetings and visits to Congressional offices do not require advance appointments but can be orchestrated spontaneously with great success. If significant enough, pressure can be leveraged to force meetings that can be useful even if attended by lone congressional staffers, especially if media coverage can be arranged. The overriding idea is to apply enough pressure and instill significant doubt about reelection to gum up the works and eat up time and resources.
To Indivisible’s founders, a day that a targeted member of Congress spends dealing with complaints from “constituents” is a day he is unable to stop ObamaCare, legislate against “reproductive rights,” or institute legislation to thwart illegal immigration. It is a day that forces them to redirect time and energy from their priorities.
The overriding objective of Indivisible’s plan is to make elected officials feel that they are being monitored and that their re-election is on the line; to manufacture an environment that appears hostile and give the impression that Trump’s policies are unpopular with most of their constituents.
The mission of the Tea Party was to mobilize fellow citizens in an effort consistent with the traditional American values of “fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free markets,” while honoring the established political process of our representative government and the tenets of the U.S. Constitution. Indivisible misrepresents the Tea Party’s aims and actions and has created a counterproductive “hate Trump” movement to subvert these ideals and dishonor the country. As their document, the Indivisible Guide, attests, the express purpose of the organization is little more than an unprincipled attempt to disrupt the democratic process, stifle the voices of the millions of Americans with whom they disagree and return to the big government policies of the Obama administration.