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Theda Skocpol, Harvard University
March 26, 2018 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
“Saving America, Once Again: Comparing the Anti-Trump Resistance of 2017-18 to the Tea Party of 2009-11”
Eight years apart, the election of Barack Obama with a Democratic Congress in 2008 parallels the election of Donald Trump and a GOP Congress in 2016. At both junctures, grassroots oppositional upsurges emerged nationwide at the edges of the respective major political parties on the losing end. Between 2009 and 2011, more than 900 local Tea Parties were organized by grassroots conservatives to oppose Obama Democrats and pressure the Republican Party, and eight years later in 2017-18, thousands of center-left grassroots groups have emerged to oppose Trump/GOP policies and, in many cases, prod or reform the Democratic Party. This research compares the two popular surges aimed at “saving America” from a feared president and partisan grip on Washington DC, tracking the emergence, structure, composition, and activities of local groups; their relationships to supralocal advocacy and coordinating organizations; and their relationships to the Republican/Democratic parties. Important parallels highlight similar features of widespread political movements in this era, and key differences reveal contrasting dynamics on the two ends of America’s asymmetrically polarized political system.