The Current

Want to stop Trump? Copy Tea Party tactics, says Democratic group

Some Democrats say they're digging in for a fight against Donald Trump. The Current hears from U.S. Democrats who say they'll use the same tactics that the so-called 'Tea Party' used against Barack Obama to take on Trump.
Leah Greenberg, former staffer to a Democratic congressman, says obstructing Donald Trump with Tea Party tactics is key to blocking his agenda. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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With U.S. President-elect Donald Trump set to take the oath of office on Jan. 20, some Democrats say it's time to take on the Republican agenda with the very same tactics the Tea Party has successfully used against Barack Obama.

A group of former Democratic congressional staffers have created a how-to-guide, Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda, to help fellow Democrats learn from the most promising parts of the Tea Party playbook.

"My husband and I, we both served in Congress during the early years of the Obama administration, and we know just how powerful local action can be because we had seen it used against us by the Tea Party," says one of the authors of the guide, Leah Greenberg.

"So we thought maybe our contribution could be to take our own experience and try to reverse engineer some of the things that we have seen."
Activists rally during a protest against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for his 'treatment of women' in front of Trump Tower, Oct. 17, 2016. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Greenberg tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti that the guide focuses on what has made the Tea Party most successful. One of the most significant elements involves applying pressure locally on members of Congress, says Greenberg.

"[The guide] analyzes the historical success of the Tea Party ... It provides sort of a one-on-one on how your member of Congress thinks — what they respond to, what … they're taking into account as they're making decisions."

The guide goes over tactics used effectively by local groups such as "showing up at public town halls, visiting with your member of Congress and organizing mass calls and mass actions."

At every level there is activism that you can be doing that is really important.- Leah Greenberg

Greenberg tells Tremonti that this strategy should be focused on because "every member of Congress ultimately does have an impact on what happens."

While U.S. politics are currently dominated by the right-wing, Greenberg says now is the time for Democrats to re-group and focus on organization at the grassroots level.

"The Tea Party arose at a time of great turbulence overall and they tapped into clearly some very deep currents in American society."

Greenberg also points to the defensive moves made by the Tea Party.

"They also had a commitment to being defensive in a way that really allowed them to maximize their leverage as they responded to developments that are coming down from the Obama administration."

Greenberg adds that the future of the Democratic movement may lie in the party's ability to mobilize on many levels of government.

"It's going to be a fight that has to happen at the local level, at the city level, at the state level, and at the national level," she says.

"And at every level there is activism that you can be doing that is really important."

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this web post with Tea Party Express chief strategist Sal Russo and former Democratic strategist Ed Kilgore.

This segment was produced by The Current's Willow Smith, Sujata Berry and Ashley Mak.

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