The Rise Of The Accidental Activist
It was September 1st, 2016. Time to start thinking in earnest about the new school year. Part of that routine that was new involved signing up on Twitter to follow the kid’s bus route delays, specific school events in real time, etc. This would be my first foray ever into social media, and I was really hesitant. But, to make life practical and more convenient for our family, I took the plunge and set up my Twitter account.
In addition to following the bus company and the school district, I also decided to follow Hillary Rodham Clinton. I had been inspired by her and wanted so badly for her to be the first female POTUS. I have never been interested in politics, so didn’t pay much attention to the 2016 Presidential race. Historically at election time my approach was to go with the lesser of two evils and not think about it again.
At the time, like the majority of Americans, I was sure Hillary Clinton had the race already won.
I remember liking and retweeting one of my first tweets about how HRC called Trump Supporters a “Basket of Deplorables.”@TeaPainUSA was one of my first followers, I immediately followed him back not really understanding what that even meant.
Only “Half” of Trump’s voters are a #BasketOfDeplorables? Ms. Clinton is far too kind.
I had 25 followers the first week of Twitter, and they were all school/township related. And then November 9th, 2016 happened. I took to Twitter to express my outrage and heartbreak and found it to be a wonderful forum to express grief and garner support.
Today I have over 5,700 followers and the majority are proud members of The Resistance. Galvanized by the election of Trump, hundreds of thousands of like-minded people began to band together on social media to organize and take action against the administration. And suddenly, they were following me.
Without realizing it, I became an accidental activist. I was sending emails, signing petitions, making phone calls every day and suddenly very passionate about politics. Like many Americans, it’s become part of my daily routine: Have coffee, sign/send petitions, make phone calls- #Resist.
One of the most beautiful moments of this movement was The Women’s March. I still tear up and get chills and goosebumps when I look at pictures. The day after inauguration, in 650 cities across the United States, women led the single largest day of protest in American history.
The majority of my followers and fellow Resistance fighters are women. We have a strong bond and are fierce in our support of one another, frequently referring to each other as “Sister Resistors”.
And we’re not alone. Data indicates that women make up the largest percentage of foot soldiers in the Resistance. A March 2017 survey of phone calls to Congressional offices found women were making 86% of those calls. Who are these women?
Also worth adding that it’s not just women. It’s _middle-aged_ women. Fully half are 46-65:
These older women are adept multi-taskers with children or elderly parents, often holding down a career while being the primary caregiver for their families. Ironically, these women are in the same age bracket as Hillary Clinton, with a lifetime of similar experiences. And it’s likely they never saw themselves as activists until November 9th ushered in a Trump presidency.
Now that the big, showy displays of massive protest are over, the bulk of the Resistance work involves joining forces online, taking action daily through PAC’s like “The Loyal Opposition” or “Demo Coalition”. These calls to resistance organize masses of followers into the equivalent of a national PTA phone tree, overpowering social media and sending congressional staffers scurrying.
Retweetfest: If u tweet this link out we’ll RETWEET you! #ProtectOurCare #SaveACA #AMJoy #Resist #TheResistance https://t.co/IZox2NUwg7
These organizations hold follow back resistance parties on Twitter weekly, driving numbers higher and focusing influence. The Resistance has successfully blocked the travel ban, derailed efforts to repeal the ACA, and propelled the TrumpRussia investigation into the national spotlight. And we’ve learned an important lesson — we are #StrongerTogether.
As difficult and dark as this Presidency has been, becoming an accidental activist is one of the best things that has happened to me. It has been empowering and gratifying to be a part of the change I want to see in the world. Although Trump and his administration have tried to divide our country, they have failed bigly when it comes to the Resistance. When this train wreck of an administration finally gets derailed, we’ll get to tell our kids we stood stronger together on the right side of history.