People are resisting Trump. They won’t accept his divisive, reckless, rapacious brand of politics and they’re fighting back. That’s what I’ve seen on the Earth2Trump cross-country roadshow of resistance, in blue states and red, as I toured the country by train with my Center for Biological Diversity colleagues starting Jan. 2.
In the wake of that dismal election, faced with the prospect of a president and cabinet who were openly hostile to environmental protection, civil rights, and basic democratic norms and values, we knew that stopping Trump meant creating a broad-based network of resistance cutting across many issues. To do that, we needed to partner with local organizations across the country, and to make each event lively and fun, mixing live music with political empowerment.
My journalism background didn’t fully prepare me for this massive feat of political organizing. Beyond just working on media and messaging, I helped conceive and create massive hand-painted globes that we filled with thousands of messages as we crossed the country, among many other tasks new to me. And I was amazed to see such a strong response to this tour, which drew capacity crowds at each stop, more than 5,250 attendees total as we converge on Washington D.C. for our Jan. 18 grand finale.
Earth2Trump is building a vast network of resistance despite great challenges. We at the Center for Biological Diversity started working on this 16-city tour after the election, giving us just six weeks to organize events with local allies, book musicians and speakers, rent venues, create the messaging and media campaigns, and see to a seemingly endless array of details and logistics – on two simultaneous tours, all organized over the holiday season.
Frankly, this ambitious tour could have been a big flop. But it wasn’t – just the opposite. Our Jan. 2 launch events in Seattle and Oakland had capacity crowds of hundreds each with good media coverage, and we’ve continued the tour with a string of huge, energetic events in city after city, without a single dud. It’s been amazing to witness. We’re headed into Washington D.C. on Jan. 18 with major momentum.
We’re fighting for the soul of a troubled nation. Muslim-American attorney Aneelah Afzali offered a resolute, hopeful message at our Jan. 2 launch event in Seattle: “That’s what we’re here for tonight: To turn anger into action.” Then, in the early morning hours after our big Jan. 13 Earth2Trump event in Denver, an arsonist set fire her mosque in Washington, reportedly after previous run-ins with worshippers there.
This is what we’re confronting. How do we come together as a nation when Trump has validated and stoked, for his own political gain, our countrymen’s racism, fear, xenophobia, violence, greed and other dark impulses? Earth2Trump asks that question differently: How can we fail to come together at a moment like this? And thousands of people have answered that question with their presence, passion, and insights at our Earth2Trump events.
My colleagues, our organization, and our local partners all deserve lots of credit for pulling off this tour. But the truth is that we couldn’t have turned out such huge crowds – including more than 500 in Tucson, 1,200 in St. Augustine, FL, and hundreds each in conservative Salt Lake City and Omaha – if people in this country weren’t hungry to resist this dangerous demagogue and his corrupt, extremist appointees.
Our event in Denver was on the same day as Trump’s first press conference in six months and the secretary of state confirmation hearings for Rex Tillerson, the longtime CEO of Exxon Mobil, the country’s biggest oil company, the vast majority of whose contracted future oil reserves are in Russia, which it can’t currently tap because of U.S. sanctions.
With the audacity and corruption of the incoming administration on vivid display, Denver-area residents packed the Mercury Café and helped fill our hand-painted traveling globe with messages of defiance, anger, insight and resistance. Messages like “Please don’t make future generations PAY for the Greed and Arrogance of Today!” “I pledge to live my life in a way that reduces global warming,” and “Rise, Revolt, Be Fierce.”
That’s what we need to be right now: Fierce. We need the political capacity to stop every attempt to give away public lands, violate civil rights, consolidate wealth and power, and undermine international efforts to address climate change and the extinction crisis.
As Hawaiian slack key guitar Makana sang on the tour, “We are the many, they are the few.” And we’re coming together in huge numbers to fiercely resist Trump and all that he represents. We’ll keep those who have joined Earth2Trump events or signed our online pledge of resistance informed about next steps, from making phone calls or writing letter to oppose some particular action, or engaging in mass mobilizations and direct action when necessary.
We won’t let Trump and his cronies destroy our national and natural heritage or further poison our culture. This is people power in action, and we will prevail.