“Indivisible,” the Fast Growing Protest Movement You’ve Probably Never Heard About

“For the past three weeks, Democratic protesters have swarmed Republican town hall events across the country, booing, shouting down and trying to embarrass GOP lawmakers seeking to gut ObamaCare.”

“Screaming constituents, protesters dragged out by the cops, congressmen fearful for their safety — welcome to the new town-hall-style meeting, the once-staid forum that is rapidly turning into a house of horrors for members of Congress.”

The first, from The Hill this past week. The second? From Politico, in 2009.

You may have heard of the mounting protests as Congressmen host events around their districts in the past few weeks. The media has reported as follows:

“Town Hall Protests – Democrats Echo 2009 Tea Party Protests” – National Review

“GOP reps face town hall protests over Obamacare repeal efforts” – ABC News

“Angry voters flood town halls of GOP lawmakers” – Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Trump Protesters Borrow From Tea Party to Put Pressure on Lawmakers” – New York Times

What you’ll rarely find mentioned?

The protests and Tea Party mimicking actions are the brainchild of the newly formed Trump-resistance movement, Indivisible.

Indivisible is the creation of several dozen former Democratic Congressional staffers, formed to, as one member modestly put it, ‘save democracy‘. The staffers, having worked in Congress, utilize their unique perspective as to what methods work, what methods do not, and advise accordingly. With that insight, the group looks to the Tea Party’s disruption of national politics in 2009 and 2010 to focus their efforts in duplicating, with the Indivisible movement.

Indivisible’s creators were inspired by the Tea Party’s spontaneous creation in 2009, where town halls turned into raucous events, and news media feasted on the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress. The Tea Party’s awareness only heightened in 2010, as a Republican wave swept through Congress in both chambers, knocking out Senators and Congressmen alike and handing the Republican Party a legislative majority to resist the Obama agenda.

Indivisible encourages their members to form pockets of small, localized resistance. Members are told to demand town halls, the idea being a representative could be forced into a public display, where ready-to-pounce protesters will create a made for media event that goes viral. This in turn theoretically will spill over into actual discord, creating real resistance to the Republican Party and President Donald Trump.

As you can imagine, Indivisible does focus its efforts on national politics. Their promotion videos specifically limit their targets as ‘your two Senators, and your Congressman’. This had led to a number of facebook astroturfing efforts against Virginia Congressmen, specifically newly elected Tom Garrett in the 5th Congressional District, and House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte in the 6th Congressional District. Perusing local chapters Facebook groups and pages and you’ll find hundreds of posts relating to stopping Trump’s appointment of Sessions, DeVos, Tillerson, etc, posts on protests against Trump’s travel ban, attempts to repeal the Obamacare, as well as efforts to contact and harass Congressmen throughout Virginia.

The Indivisible Guide, a 27-page manifesto with step-by-step instructions to disrupting and protesting elected officials, has been downloaded more than 500,000 times in just under two months. More than 3,000 recognized chapters have been created, in all 435 Congressional Districts throughout the country. With chapters titled ‘Media: Preparing to Make News’ and ‘Warning: Watch Out for Right-Wing Tricks’, despite their claims to have a non-partisan affiliation, this is very clearly a progressive agenda. Here in Virginia, they’re already forming an active presence. In Charlottesville, the Indivisible group has nearly 3,500 ‘likes’ on Facebook in less than six weeks. In the Shenandoah Valley, active members near 1500.

At the state and local level, we’re already beginning to see signs of organized resistance as a result of Indivisible. In Richmond as legislative session comes to a conclusion for 2017, we have seen increased volumes of phone and email traffic, specifically to Indivisible-supported measures against defunding of Planned Parenthood, sanctuary cities, while supporting LGBT rights, and most vocally, redistricting reform. These issues have led to scored of phone calls and email efforts to elected officials, particularly to the General Assembly’s Republican majority.

For Virginia, the ramifications remain to be seen. This fledgling movement has already begun disrupting Congressional district offices and begun efforts to protest elsewhere throughout the Commonwealth. To date, most of their work has been seen in the 5th and 6th Congressional Districts. Newly elected Congressman Scott Taylor the 2nd Congressional District is hosting a town hall next week, providing an opportunity to observe Indivisible’s attempts at influence in Hampton Roads.

The Indivisible movement almost certainly hurts the nomination prospects of Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, who faces a challenge from darling of the progressive left, Tom Perriello. Any sort of focus by Indivisible groups on the Virginia gubernatorial Democratic Primary would be a boost to Perriello, who’s agenda falls nearly identical. Northam, who in his legislative career was viewed as a moderate Democrat and who nearly switched to the Republican Party, only to have the move called off after being stupidly leaked by the then-Republican Party state Chairman, would be highly vulnerable to a coordinated progressive effort against him. Northam has taken a number of steps to try and counteract, tacking further to left in response to General Assembly passed bills likely to be opposed by progressives and Indivisible groups.

On the Republican side, the unanimity of the Indivisible movement against anything and everything President Trump could provide an unlikely opportunity for Price William County Chairman Corey Stewart. Stewart, who’s campaign was on life support after failing to gain any sort of traction, has found unexpected footing in his protesting of Charlottesville’s attempted removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. Stewart’s initial campaign appearance in the park was shouted down by protesters, who disrupted and broke up Stewart’s rally. As a result, Stewart has received far more press, and looks to capitalize with more efforts in Charlottesville. Indivisible’s commitment against Trump looks to be spilling over to Stewart, who’s notoriety, media coverage and subsequent higher name ID would be a boon to the struggling campaign. For Ed Gillespie, the Indivisible movement is unlikely to have any real impact, given his relative distance from the Trump agenda, and his campaign’s ‘do-no-harm’ tract. Given the enormity of his current lead over the field, there’d be no reason for Gillespie to engage or take unnecessary risks.

For the general election in Virginia in November, how and what the Indivisible efforts are remains to be seen. The Tea Party protests in 2009 were the aftermath of a divisive President who rammed a poorly constructed bill down the American people’s throats. Protests in 2009 originated in the summer recess, giving them a six month head start to the Republican wave in Congress. Indivisible, by forming so quickly after Trump’s inauguration, faces the challenge of maintaining momentum and focus for two full years in order to disrupt and change Congress. Democrats already faced an uphill battle holding onto incumbent Senate seats in 2018, having been elected on the coattails of President Obama’s 2012 romp. Should the Indivisible movement grow restless and impatient, some Democrats may find unexpected challengers, ala Bernie Sanders.

However, progressives have shown a proclivity for uniting around a core handful of issues, doing so far better than their conservative counterparts. The Republican and conservative commitment to ‘eating their own’ remains unparalleled. As we know, the initial Tea Party movement spiraled quickly, moving away from the original spontaneous protest and awakening against President Obama and Democrats, morphing into a ‘RINO-hunting’ squad requiring purity tests of Republicans to prove their conservative bonafides.

Should the Indivisible movement avoid the pitfalls that ravaged and derailed the Tea Party, focusing on key issues, message and methods, they well could form a progressive movement to be respected, and feared.

  • MD Russ

    Resisting the Trump Agenda and putting pressure on Republican members of the Congress to stand up to this imploding administration is a good thing, regardless of whether it is orchestrated by Democrats or Republicans. With the Michael Flynn Affair, we are witnessing the beginning of a Constitutional Crisis not seen since Watergate. If Democrats are making political hay out of the Trump blunders in the first 25 days of his Presidency, then the Trumpsters only have themselves to blame. As the cartoon character Pogo famously observed over 50 years ago, “we have seen the enemy and he is us.”

  • God b watching U

    White interesting your interpretation of “Indivisibles’ is incomplete.

    ‘Indivisibles’ in different parts of Virginia will have incorporated small groups with special interests – more or less organically – into the main group. For example: there are ‘Indivisibles’ who staunchly oppose the pipelines proposed to transgress Virginia!

    Indivisibles on that issue, for example, and other issues – that are not just ‘resist Trump’ – will definitely have have something to say to Mr Gillespie, or any candidates.

  • Dave Sagarin

    I would ask you to reconsider your use of the word “spontaneous” with regard to the rise of the TEA Party. My recollection is that it was Koch-funded and organized, through “Americans for Prosperity.”

    • MD Russ

      Well said. The TEA Party maintained a facade of being a grassroots and spontaneous movement, claiming that they had no central organization or funding. In reality, they were a well-funded Koch astroturf operation, very similar to Michael Bloomberg’s phony “Unity 08” nonsense. As soon as they failed to deliver on their impossible promises after the 2010 elections, they folded like the house of cards that they were. Trump’s BS populism is going to fold even faster, as witnessed by the events of the last three weeks.

      • old_redneck

        Thanks to Dave S. and MD Russ for your comments. There was nothing spontaneous or grassroots about the Tea Party — it really was Koch-funded and, as MD points out, most local Tea Parties are folding or have folded.

        Here on the Northern Neck our two most active Tea Parties were the 99th District Tea Party and the Montross Tea Party, both of which are all but defunct — 7,8,9 people show up at meetings (when they hold meetings); websites down; Facebook pages months out of date.

        • No, it wasn’t. These guys didn’t have funding. They were angry and came together organically. Look at the leading lights of the Tea Party in Virginia, and then tell me that these folks were organized or funded by someone with any kind of money.

          • MD Russ

            Brian, I must respectfully disagree with you. The issue of the Tea Party movement being initiated by conservative special interests has been well-documented, by the MSM and not just by the left-wing propaganda rags like Huffington. Local movements might have grown out of the national movement without direct funding, but the initial movement began back in 1993 with the inauguration of Bill Clinton. My sources range from the New York Times to Time Magazine.


          • So you’re telling me that Eric McGrane and Jamie Radtke were the best these guys could afford?

          • MD Russ

            Not at all. The Koch/AFP strategy was to create an environment where anti-tax, anti-establishment opportunists could achieve results that appeared to be a grass-roots movement. Remember, McGrane and Radtke came along over 10 years after the creation of the Tea Party. Opportunists cashing in on a well-funded astroturf campaign.

        • truthrevealer

          Right kind of like how indivisble isnt soros funded

    • This is not accurate.

    • D.j. Spiker

      It’s easy 8 years after the fact to conflate the two identities of the Tea Party. In the summer of 2009, the initial protests and town hall disruptions were sparked spontaneously. By the fall of 2009, groups such as AFP formed looking to capitalize and harness those protests into organizations.

      My reference is to the initial protests, not the subsequent organization.

    • truthrevealer

      Kind of like indivisible is now

  • Wally Erb

    These professional organized events are effective only if the media can disseminate visuals along with their commentary laden report. With access to technological advances, web oriented town halls and meetings can be conducted denying disruptive agitation and mob-like demonstrations. Further, safety of participants are assured.

  • Dave Sagarin

    Here are some photos I took at Tom Perriello’s District Office in November 2009–the Bus was paid for by AFP http://george.loper.org/archives/2009/Nov/977.html

    • D.j. Spiker

      Thanks Dave. As i responded above, I’m referring to the summer of 2009, which was pre-AFP.

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  • Britt Howard

    You guys are just too funny. I was part of the libertarian wing of the coalition of small government fiscal conservatives known as the Tea Party. Jamie Radtke was from the social conservative wing of the small government fiscally conservative Tea Party. You can make believe with all your little hearts that there was nothing organic about the Tea Party and it was an artifical construct, but you would be completely wrong. You are even wrong about the decline of the Tea Party. It certainly wasn’t because money dried up. So much was either free or at low cost. A speaker system already in political meetings and a public space in Towne Center in Virginia Beach…..you’re not talking about much money. None of them unlike present day joke movements were paid to be there.
    Things were SO BAD and people felt so ignored that we did it for free. Social Conservatives and libertarians working together. Credit the big government idiots for finding a way to screw things badly enough for that to happen. Back in the Moral Majority days we were quite at odds over social issues. Thanks for uniting us.
    It has declined. The coalition began to split and there were power struggles. Things in some areas became quite petty and differences on whether Muslims were all evil caused many libertarians to want to walk away. It at times lost focus of the small government fiscal conservative and small government message that held us together. The rabid demonization of the Tea Party by the press and establishment of both parties, and perhaps the take off of the Liberty movement caused fracturing and that caused the decline.
    I cannot tell you how many times I warned Tea Party leaders that going off message and focusing on Muslims or social issues would fracture the foundation of what we had. Money? What money? Take a look at how little money Jamie Radtke had to run against a doomed to lose George Allen! Sorry, GOP establishment, he was part of the problem. Big government establishment caring about reelection over reining in Freddie and Fannie before credit and real estate meltdowns. Clearly worshipping the big government machine rather tjan representing the interests of the people electing them.
    See if you are intellectually honest and not just rooting for your party right or wrong like it was your favorite football team, you know that the giant mess was created in a bipartisan way. “A pox on both of your houses” was a common refrain. We didn’t like Bush and didn’t like Obama.
    Koch brothers? They supported many candidates over ours. I don’t think you understand them any more than you understand anything about the Tea Party as a movement. No Koch could control it. The establishment GOP at one point tried and failed to coopt it and harness us for their agenda. Failed and joined the demonization bandwagon.
    Really……just stick to disagreeing and disliking the Tea Partiers. Stay away from pretending that you know anything about who we were and why we happend and faded. You are either completely dishonest or ignorant on the Tea Party movement.

    • H G

      Remember how dismissive the left was of the tea party movement? How they mocked and derided it?

      Now the are trying their damnd’st to mimmick it.

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