Studying Resistance During COVID-19

Last week, I began data collection for two projects that will help us understand Resistance in the age of COVID-19 (and leading up to the 2020 election).  Although both of these projects were planned well before the pandemic basically shut-down the US, questions were added about how the pandemic has affected individual’s activism and political work. Luckily, both projects involve data collection through online surveys, which means I am still able to do the research while under stay-at-home orders in the state of Maryland:

  • The Indivisible Census. This project tracks the Indivisible movement during the 6-months leading up to the 2020 elections.  Over 400,000 people involved in the movement were asked to participate in the study to see what activists are doing and how it changes around the election (and due to the Coronavirus).  Some preliminary findings based on the first 10,000 responses were posted as a thread on twitter on April 15th.
  • Studying Hosts of Earth Day Live. This project involves a third wave of data collection with organizers in the youth climate movement.  It specifically surveys the people who are working to host local efforts around the US to participate in the 3-day climate strike that was scheduled to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.  The event has pivoted online due to COVID-19.   Some preliminary findings from early data was posted as a thread on twitter on April 15th.

While I collect data from these groups of activists, the 2020 Election is heating up.  Since Sanders dropped out of the race last week, endorsements for Biden have come in from many of the more progressive candidates in the race, including Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders himself.  At this point, the Biden campaign continues to work to gain the support of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.   I am hopeful that these new data will help us track this process, as well as how Resistance shifts and endures during this pandemic.

And the Nominee is…Biden.

Today, Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination.  In November, Joe Biden will run against Donald Trump in the general election.  Based on my research in September and conversations across the country more recently, it is pretty clear that Biden has not been a favorite among progressive activists and Resisters.

At the same time, COVID-19 continues to spread across the United States and the death rate climbs.  In response to the pandemic, all sorts of Resistance has moved online.  Organizations including Indivisible, Swing Left, and Another ACRONYM have launched digital toolkits and specific campaigns to keep people digitally connected and involved  leading up to the 2020 Election.

Those groups that had been focused on organizing a three-day national climate strike to take place during the 50th anniversary of Earth Day later in April have also been forced to move their activism online.  In the words of the Earth Day Live site, “On April 22-24, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, millions of people around the world are going online for a three-day mobilization to stop the climate emergency.”

In the next week, I will be fielding surveys with the hosts from Earth Day Live, as well as with participants in the Indivisible movement to see how the American Resistance is responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic and gearing up for November.  As usual, I will share findings as I have them.

American Resistance in the Age of Covid-19

The American Resistance book tour has been canceled at least until June while the world responds to the threat (and spread) of the Coronavirus.  I’ll be keeping track of events that are canceled and rescheduled here FYI).  As federal, state, and local governments respond to the virus, questions are emerging about how the practice of social distancing will affect the 2020 election. By definition, flattening the curve involves changing the ways that people participate all sorts of group activities, including campaign events and rallies, voter mobilization and contact, in person activism and protest, as well as in person voting, which frequently involves standing in line.

To think about how these forms of political and civic engagement might change, check out the ways that the Biden campaign has changed its campaign events.  Today, participants in the youth climate movement have shifted their #FridaysforFuture activism online.  No doubt this effort is only the beginning of a great transformation.

The American Resistance Around the US

In the past two months, I’ve had the chance to talk with Resisters around the US during my book tour.  I’ve been in Colorado, Virginia, Maine, Massachusetts, and Iowa and have had the privilege of speaking with activists who are now thinking about the 2020 Election, including people who were in the process of working on early primaries/caucuses during my visit.  As I discuss in American Resistance, these activists (who tend to be highly-educated, middle aged, white women) are committed to progressive change and progressive candidates in the US.


Although no one can predict the outcome of the 2020 election at this point, there is ample evidence that the American Resistance will continue their efforts to bring about progressive change by supporting candidates who reflect their concerns.

The Resistance Enters Primary Season

This week, primary season originally kicked off with the Iowa Caucus. In contrast to the results coming out quickly after the event on Monday night, we are still waiting for the  final results as many discuss the dangers of introducing more technology into our electoral system.  At the same time, the Senate finally voted on the articles of impeachment and acquitted the President of the two charges.  On the evening of the historic vote, hundreds of protests were organized across the US to respond to the acquittal under the banner of Reject the Coverup.

There’s no question that we are living in interesting (and historic) times as the tension builds across the political Left and between Left and Right in America.   The American Resistance book tour is in full swing.  I’m headed up to talk with folks in Maine and Boston before the New Hampshire Primary, and then will be in Iowa later this month.  Click here for a full schedule of events.

Some Reflections on the Women’s March 2020

Now that the fourth anniversary of the Women’s March is behind us, many (including this recent piece in the Hill) are discussing what the low turnout this past weekend means to the March and to the Resistance more broadly.  So far, the Crowd Counting Consortium reports that less than 150,000 people participated in this most recent event, which is a far cry from the millions who marched in the first Women’s March in 2017 (note that they are still counting).

Although the relatively low turnout suggests that an annual day of protest will not consistently turn out a huge crowd, given that it took place during a month where we have seen numerous national protests take place,  it does not mean that the American Resistance is dead. Rather, it means that the movement has redirected its focus on other tactics with specific goals in mind–such as impeachment and the fast approaching election in November 2020.

The American Resistance book tour has resumed after the winter break and I am doing events in Toronto, Maine, Cambridge/Boston, Des Mones, and Iowa City in February.  See the book’s calendar of events for dates, times, and details!

Another January of Resistance in the Streets

This past week, we saw lots of resistance in the streets:  people turned out to protest the conflict with Iran at the #NoWarWithIran actions, as well as the final DC-based #FireDrillFriday around climate change, which involved Jane Fonda and her famous friends marching along with well known climate activists and engaging in civic disobedience.

Next weekend is the fourth anniversary of the historic Women’s March, which was the “spark that ignited the Resistance” (American Resistance, page 56).  Although demonstrations are scheduled across the US, turnout is expected to be much smaller. I provide some explanation why in the Washington Post today.  Stay tuned for a lot more discussion of protest and the role it is playing in politics today as we march towards the 2020 elections.

American Resistance Enters 2020

Happy New Year!  The American Resistance book tour resumes this month.

I will be at Profs and Pints in Washington, DC this Sunday (1/5);  talking with Ian Silverii  at the Tattered Cover in Denver on 1/15; at the University of Colorado, Boulder and at the Boulder Bookstore on 1/16;  and talking with Matt Rogers at Busboys and Poets in Arlington, VA on 1/22.  Check out Events for more information.

What a Week for American Resistance!

This week, President Trump was impeached in the House of Representatives and more than 100,000 people around the US came out to participate in the #NobodyIsAboveTheLaw demonstrations (the Crowd Counting Consortium is still counting).

As Americans mobilized to protest the President and express their support for the impeachment process, many were asking about what is the purpose of protest in American politics right now.  Last Friday, I wrote a piece for TIME that discusses protest in the US right now.  In particular, I explain how Resistance Groups are employing protest as a tactic to mobilize energy for efforts in the 2020 election (rather than to confront and disrupt the political system).

This week, my perspective and American Resistance were mentioned in “Impeachment Needs to Move to the Streets” by Jeet Heer for the Nation and in “The Resistance Almost Missed Impeachment” by Elaine Godfrey for the Atlantic.

Unless something outrageous happens in the next 11 days, I doubt we’ll see much more resistance in the streets in 2019.  Happy holidays to all!

The Resistance Marches Again

On Tuesday, December 17th, the Nobody Is Above the Law coalition coordinated over 600 protests across the US.  On Wednesday, December 18th there will be a rally that will take place at the US Capitol.  I talk about what we should expect from these demonstrations in my recent piece in TIME:

“A controlled burn that is not likely to spill over into real disruption and potentially violent resistance. Organizers apply for permits and pay for legally required bathrooms while participants assemble with witty signs and follow approved routes. “

In his new piece in The Nation, Jeet Heer discusses the findings from American Resistance, concluding that “only mass protests can turn a narrow Beltway scandal into a massive anti-Trump weapon.”We’ll see what happens this week, but given the organizations coordinating this day of action (e.g. Indivisible and Move On), it’s very unlikely that any event will flare up.  What comes after the 2020 election, however, is still unclear.  I’ll be at the event in Washington, DC and will share what I find.