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Alt-Majority: How Social Networks Empowered Mass Protests Against Trump

Above Photo: Doug Chayka

Note: With the protests before the Inauguration as well as during it and the day after it, we pronounced the possibility of a presidency of protest. Now that possibility is becoming more of a reality with the beautiful, energetic, grassroots reaction to Trump’s injustice against immigrants from the Middle East. This is a part of the world where the United States has created chaos, destroyed countries, dropped hundreds of thousands of bombs, displaced and killed millions and turned some of the most secular and functional governments in the region into failed states. The people of the United States showed Trump does not represent us, we hold very different views towards immigrants. Even TheNew York Times, in the column below recognized a mass movement  writing:

“We’re witnessing the stirrings of a national popular movement aimed at defeating the policies of Mr. Trump. It is a movement without official leaders. In fact, to a noteworthy degree, the formal apparatus of the Democratic Party has been nearly absent from the uprisings.”

Will this movement grow? While no one can predict the future we expect it will. When Trump takes action to move forward on the KXL and DAPL pipelines tens of thousands will react and seek to stop him. The climate movement will get even more vibrant if he pulls out of the Paris climate agreement.  When there are attempts to remove immigrant Latinos from the country or to incarcerate them, tens of thousands more are ready to respond. If people are denied health insurance, even the inadequate insurance of ObamaCare, we expect tens of thousands more. And if workers and unions become targets, there will also be another massive response. With each of these actions and more we expect the protest against the presidency to grow. The tactics will get more aggressive. Tactics that used to be unworkable, like mass boycotts or a general strike, will become possible and unstoppable.

We hope people will also recognize that this is not just about Trump, but about a system that is corrupt. The Democrats created the political situation where Trumpism was able grow. They created economic insecurity among the majority of people in the United States. It is amusing watching elected Dems trying to run to the front of the march when Trump is so often building on Obama-Democratic policies. Both parties supported never-ending war that raided the treasury of the country and prevented spending on the needs of the people while creating chaos and destruction. The Republicans aided this moment with their refusal to protect worker rights, undermining of the social safety net and their support for big business interests. While the focus on Trump is understandable, the problems in the United States are system-wide corruption of two big business parties that has led to oligarchy. The people should be angry, awakened and mobilized.

The movement is capable of making the nation ungovernable. When people realize they have power, they will be able to accomplish more than we can imagine. We need to open our minds to the possibilities of our power.

The presidency of Donald J. Trump has been noteworthy for its speed.

In his first week in office, as the president’s aides won’t tire of reminding us, Mr. Trump has already put in motion plans to do much of what he promised to do while campaigning.

But it’s not just the politician who is moving fast. It’s the population, too.

In a matter of hours on Saturday, thousands rushed to the nation’s airports, beckoned by tweets. The flash protests in response to Mr. Trump’s immigration ban, which continued to grow in many cities on Sunday, were as organized as they were instantaneous. Dispatched online, the protesters knew where to go, and they knew what to do once they arrived: to command the story by making a scene.

Mr. Trump feeds off media attention. Throughout the campaign, the bigger a spectacle he created, the larger he loomed in the public consciousness. What has been remarkable during the last two weekends is how thoroughly Mr. Trump’s own media personage was blotted out by scenes of protesters.

In a brief appearance on Saturday, the president assured the nation that his immigrant ban was “working out very nicely — you see it in the airports.” But the pictures and videos flooding across our social streams put the lie to Mr. Trump’s breezy pronouncements. Things at the airports weren’t working out very nicely; you could see it right there on Instagram.

A similar story unfolded the weekend before. In his inaugural address Mr. Trump claimed the mantle of popular will. The next day, a far larger illustration of popular will was on display at marches across the country. The people who gathered for the women’s march hijacked the media narrative.

Even for those who did not assemble on either weekend, the pictures carried special power. Amplified on social media and echoing across every TV network, they suggested something larger afoot, something democracy-defining. “Something’s happening out there,” Ana Navarro, the Republican never-Trumper and television pundit, declared on Twitter.

Something sure is. We’re witnessing the stirrings of a national popular movement aimed at defeating the policies of Mr. Trump. It is a movement without official leaders. In fact, to a noteworthy degree, the formal apparatus of the Democratic Party has been nearly absent from the uprisings. Unlike the Tea Party and the white-supremacist “alt-right,” the new movement has no name. Call it the alt-left, or, if you want to really drive Mr. Trump up the wall, the alt-majority.

Or call it nothing. Though nameless and decentralized, the movement isn’t chaotic. Because it was hatched on social networks and is dispatched by mobile phones, it appears to be organizationally sophisticated and ferociously savvy about conquering the media.

Over two weekends, the protests have accomplished something just about unprecedented in the nearly two years since Mr. Trump first declared his White House run: They have nudged him from the media spotlight he depends on. They are the only force we’ve seen that has been capable of untangling his singular hold on the media ecosystem.

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