On a cloudy afternoon in the northern California town of Mill Valley, forty self-described Trump Resisters gathered to conspire. The goal for these women and men–many never before involved in politics: nothing less than to thwart the Trump agenda by influencing this year’s elections and build momentum to send President Trump packing in 2020–if not before.
“These are folks who were sitting on the sidelines, who got tired of yelling at their TV sets,” says an organizer, Danny Altman. On this Sunday [1/14/18] these 40 members of the Mill Valley Community Action Network (www.MVCAN.org) are working on signs for the upcoming women’s march. “REFUGEES WELCOME, RACISTS LEAVE!” reads one sign.
Maeve Burke is filling in the lettering for another, “NOT MY S***HOLE PRESIDENT!” and another, “TIME’S UP!” She recalls the day after President Trump was elected. “I was feeling devastated like everyone else. And I found, in a small way, it just felt good to be with people who felt this way, and wanted to act.”
Mary Cosgrove’s sign, “RESPECT EXISTENCE,” reflects the group’s environmental leanings. Cosgrove’s last political experience was in 2008 as part of a Barack Obama phone bank but she then felt burned out. “I kind of rested on my laurels,” she says, and “things were going well” in the country. Until Donald Trump was elected. The day after the election Cosgrove met with neighbors and friends and Mill Valley CAN was formed.
Like everyone else at Sunday’s gathering, Cosgrove is looking forward to flipping a few states from Republican to Democrat in the November elections. Acting locally, Mill Valley CAN is working to spread its message far beyond deep blue California.
Organizers say they helped funnel $300,000 to $400,000 to grassroots groups in Alabama that helped mobilize the African American vote instrumental in defeating Roy Moore and putting a Democrat in the Senate. Now California’s Trump resisters are moving resources to build on that win in nearby Nevada and Arizona.
Maureen Parton, another sign maker, is unusual here in having a career in politics working in county government. She says, “This is new and different.” And, she adds, this resistance “is not burning things, not filling the streets with debris–it is political action with passion.”
Like the Tea Party on the right, the Trump resistance on the left is working to make changes on every level of government. People here say, the Trump resistance is less ideological than the Tea Party–motivated as much by what they perceive as the President’s crassness and his incivility.
Most of the people here are white, middle age or older, and comfortable enough financially to put time and money into the effort. Indivisible, a national anti-Trump umbrella organization lists over 6,000 groups across the country like Mill Valley CAN working for change.
At Sunday’s sign-making event, Mill Valley artist and former journalist Fabrice Florin embraced a large Lady Liberty cutout. Facts are essential, he says, but we also need emotional engagement. That’s what the resistance provides. “We need both faith and facts to go forward,” Florin says, “and it’s so much fun to be in this community–we won’t burn out anytime soon.”
This is the first in a series of News And Guts original stories on Americans who have typically shunned politics and the process but are now becoming engaged like never before.