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Main article: Resist

Socialism Is So Hot Right Now. Thank Bernie Sanders.

WASHINGTON ― Consider the Bernie Bro (Wellus actuallius), an aggressive subgenus of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ supporters.

In the year since Sanders lost the Democratic primary, members of this species have been pushed out of their native habitat and forced to migrate to new ecosystems. Some nested down in social media, encroaching on classmates’ Facebook posts and female journalists’ Twitter updates with condescending diatribes about Slavoj Žižek. Others made their way to the hostile environs of Donald Trump’s campaign, finding sustenance in the idea that there was no difference between the Republican and Democratic nominees for president. Still more found their way to your dinner table, nourishing themselves on ponderous expositions of neoliberalism, where and how they refill their beer growlers, and why Bernie would’ve won.  

Herds of other Bernie Bros, however, have staked out a far more hospitable environment: the Democratic Socialists of America, or DSA. For the uninitiated, DSA ― the inheritor of the American Socialist Party, co-founded by Eugene Debs and instrumental in the progressive reforms of the early 20th century ― is a chapter-based national political advocacy organization that crusades for policies such as a higher minimum wage, safer working conditions and universal health care.

DSA openly uses the big, bad, scary s-word that countless Republican consultants have used to smear Democrats over the years. And despite decades of efforts to stigmatize it, socialism is kind of in right now.

This was partly fueled by Sanders’ underdog presidential campaign ― he identifies as a democratic socialist but caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate ― as well as by an economic recovery that has left many working people in the dust, experiencing a growing sense of disillusionment with the Democratic Party.

“We were highly visible in the Sanders campaign,” Joseph Schwartz, a DSA national vice chair and professor of political science at Temple University in Philadelphia, told HuffPost. Schwartz said DSA’s growth began to accelerate as the Sanders campaign picked up steam in mid-2015, and has continued since Trump took office.

DSA has rooted itself in the millennial psyche with astonishing speed. A quiz posted on Reductress earlier this month was titled, “Is He Into You, Just a Friend, or Trying to Get You to Join the Democratic Socialists?” Comedian Rob Delaney regularly

 on social media. And that rose emoji you keep see popping up on Twitter? It’s likely a reference to both DSA’s logo and that of Socialist International, the global consortium of socialist organizations. Along with #resist and #NeverthelessShePersisted, the rose emoji has remained one of the more enduring social media trends since last November.

“The real massive influx was starting with the day Trump was elected,” Schwartz recalled. “Many people want to fight back against Trump, but they also realize that the centrist, pro-corporatist views of the Democratic Party are partially what gave rise to him.”

DSA officials say their member rolls shot up from around 8,500 on Election Day to about 21,000 as of early May, and they’re getting upwards of 10 requests a week to help open new chapters. New members are overwhelmingly young and tech-savvy, thanks in no small part to the groundwork the Sanders campaign laid by bringing millions of young people into politics.

This engagement was on full display at a May Day rally in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. Around noon, some 100 or so activists from a variety of progressive organizations gathered in a small park in D.C.’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood. Making small talk near the obligatory drum circle were around 10 members of DSA’s D.C.-area chapter, nearly all of whom had signed up to join DSA on or after Election Day.

DSA’s contingent was one of the largest on hand, but was nearly all white and male ― contrasting sharply with the rest of the crowd, which was far more diverse and representative of the neighborhood’s large Salvadoran community. The DSA attendees who spoke with HuffPost said they had joined DSA since November and were first drawn to it through the Sanders campaign.

“Ever since Trump won, I think people have been feeling very scared and want to do something, and DSA is a great organization to channel that,” said Nick from Poughkeepsie, New York, who declined to give his last name. “I had an awakening during Sanders campaign. I was monitoring the growth of all these organizations and saw that DSA was gaining all these members and felt like DSA spoke to me.”

James Mathias, 25, from northern Virginia, had previously volunteered for Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign and later participated in the Occupy Wall Street movement. After voting for Sanders in the 2016 primary, he voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the general election. While he wasn’t wild about Clinton’s policies, he felt compelled to vote for her out of political necessity, given Virginia’s swing state status.

Mathias said political realism drew him to DSA and that he has yet to experience the organizational or political disappointment he did with Occupy and Obama.

“Each time, I kind of drifted in and out, because both of those things petered out, either literally or philosophically,” Mathias recalled. “Occupy wasn’t focused on engaging with existing political structures. DSA is focused on building power for political ends. I really see a bias for action and not shying away from political structures.”

Indeed, DSA doesn’t fashion itself as a vehicle for high-level political office ― most of its members who have run for office have run in municipal elections ― but rather as “America’s largest Socialist organization,” per its website. This isn’t a wishy-washy expression of being (The Socialist International was in our hearts all along!), but an acknowledgement that its foundational work is in lending organizational support to candidates from other parties and organizations whose policies align with its agenda.

This includes other liberal advocacy organizations and economically progressive politicians like Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Sanders.

DSA didn’t endorse Clinton in the 2016 general election, but its chapters actively organized a “Dump Trump” movement targeted at the Republican nominee. That left open the possibility of voting for Green Party nominee Jill Stein or even Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, but DSA officials told HuffPost they expected a large number of their supporters would back Clinton.

Despite DSA’s often antagonistic attitude toward the Democrats, Democratic officials say they’ll happily accept DSA’s support whenever it’s willing to offer it. 

“We welcome the help of groups across the country who are fighting to defeat Republicans and elect progressive leaders that stand for the same values that make our party so great,” DNC spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa told HuffPost in an email. 

While a membership of 21,000 is still small as political entities go ― progressive advocacy group touts over 7 million members, for example ― DSA members’ engagement has caught the attention of the progressive community. They showed up in large numbers at May Day rallies across the country this year, including a New York City rally that attracted well over 1,000 DSA members.

“The people who are joining DSA are people who are extremely active,” said Bob Master, a veteran labor activist and the co-founder and co-chair of the Working Families Party of New York. This gives the group tremendous leverage, Master said: Having a young, energized and tech-fluent base of volunteers is a welcome addition to any political coalition.

DSA’s willingness to adapt to the current political framework and engage with other organizations has drawn plaudits from other progressive activist and organizations.

“DSA has been an excellent ally, joining with our members in canvassing area businesses; they hosted a fundraiser party that raised $1,000 and helped us expand our operations,” said Hannah Kane, an organizer at Many Languages One Voice, a Washington, D.C., immigrant community group that led the May Day protest. “They’ve just been all-around excellent partners.”

George Goehl, the co-director of People’s Action & People’s Action Institute, a Chicago-based advocacy organization, partly attributes DSA’s rise to “the Democratic Party and its constant tacking toward the middle and feeling like the answers to its problems lay in a more moderate, less-structural set of reforms.”

“We failed in the last election because we had a candidate who was unable to tap into the anger that people are feeling,” echoed Master. “The Democratic Party cannot limit itself to saying ‘Trump is a bad guy because he fired James Comey.’ [It] has to speak to the growing sense of economic stagnation and diminishment.”

Naturally, Democratic officials disagree with this assessment. Hinojosa, the DNC spokeswoman, said the party and its new chairman, Tom Perez, possess “an unwavering commitment to workers and will continue to fight for working families on behalf of the Democratic Party.”

We failed in the last election because we had a candidate who was unable to tap into the anger that people are feeling.
Bob Master, co-founder and co-chair, Working Families Party of New York

DSA naturally draws comparisons to the Green Party, a fact that is not lost on DSA members or leaders. But DSA officials see major differences between the organizations ―  particularly in the Green Party’s complete separation from other political parties and what they see as the Greens’ inordinate focus on presidential elections.

“We’re more flexible in terms of tactics,” said Schwartz. “We prioritize doing social movement work, and we see electoral politics as coming out of that.” The Green Party’s emphasis on its presidential tickets, he added, “is not an intelligent way to build an independent third party.”

Green Party officials dispute that. In an email to HuffPost, Scott McLarty, media director for the Green Party of the United States, noted that “the Green Party runs hundreds of candidates for local and state office every election cycle.”

“One of the main reasons we run presidential candidates is the support they give to state parties and to state and local candidates,” added McLarty.

DSA has several challenges as its membership balloons, including what to do with all those new members. Although individuals unable to pay membership dues are still allowed to join, DSA relies on dues to maintain operations, which includes paying the salaries of the eight full-time employees in its national office. Right now, only two DSA chapters employ part-time employees, but DSA officials expect that number to grow considerably as large chapters in places like Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco continue to add members.

Activists outside DSA also say it’s imperative that the group not lose focus on its overarching mission, or let the Democratic Party’s decidedly less-than-socialist views dilute its platform.

DSA’s biennial convention in Chicago this August will be a major test of both its organization and focus. The group’s 2015 gathering in Baltimore featured roughly 150 attendees, but organizers expect this year’s convention to attract 500.

Organizers hope to avoid what transpired at last year’s Green Party convention, which got so bogged down by ideological infighting and poor planning that it ultimately devolved into one giant lightbulb joke.  

“Managing growth is really hard, and when organizations grow, it’s hard to stick with your principles,” said Goehl. “A little too much power or access can pollute things.”

An arguably greater challenge for DSA is diversifying its ranks and combating the growing impression that it is merely a refuge for wayward Bernie Bros. Indeed, most DSA members interviewed for this article were white men.

DSA officials acknowledge that this overwhelming whiteness is inherently limiting. “We have to make space for diverse voices, including from immigrant communities,” said Schwartz. “If we don’t tackle things like mass incarceration, police brutality and the lack of economic opportunity for people of all races, we won’t unite working people.”

In addition to promoting an agenda that it believes appeals to communities of color, DSA officials argue that the group’s focus on economic matters has the potential to appeal to female voters, who tend to back Democratic candidates and prioritize social welfare issues such as paid maternity leave and access to affordable health care.

Julia Griffin is a 21-year-old DSA member from northern Virginia who works in the service industry and who attended the May Day rally in Washington. She said her Christian faith helped draw her to DSA; she sees in socialism a helping-thy-neighbor ethos that’s central to her religious beliefs.

“After the election, I was so frustrated with the Democratic Party and so disappointed with everything that went on, I definitely needed to feel part of an organization that was actively working to make people’s lives better,” said Griffin.  

Ultimately, activists outside DSA say that if it wants to transcend its status as yet another outside group hoping to influence Democratic politics, it’ll need to establish itself as a real third party ― not only by notching some wins with local candidates, but also by enacting reforms once they take office.

“If you’re attracting working-class and low-income members, you got to deliver some tangible victories,” said Goehl, of People’s Action & People’s Action Institute. He listed the establishment of local credit unions as an example of the type of policy reforms he believes locally-elected DSA members could achieve.   

“You can deliver a wide range of victories ― they can be electoral, they can be narrative, but they have to be tangible after a while,” Goehl added. “This is not theoretical to people; this is about having a place to live and having health care.”

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may 22 17, 19:23
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Torch-Carrying White Nationalists Protest Removal Of Confederate Statue

White nationalists protesting the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, stormed two of the city’s parks on Saturday chanting Nazi slogans and brandishing torches. 

Dozens of protesters led by white nationalist Richard Spencer gathered in Jackson Park on Saturday afternoon and assembled again that night in the city’s Lee Park, where they took up torches and surrounded the statue of Confederate general Lee slated for removal by the city council, according to reporters on the scene. 

The protesters chanted “You will not replace us,” “Russia is our friend,” “All white lives matter” and the Nazi slogan “Blood and soil,” MSNBC reported. 

Charlottesville mayor Mike Signer (D) condemned the protest, both lashing out at Spencer on Twitter and issuing a statement against the group’s intimidation tactics.

“This event involving torches at night in Lee Park was either profoundly ignorant or was designed to instill fear in our minority populations in a way that hearkens back to the days of the KKK,” Signer said. “Either way, as mayor of this City, I want everyone to know this: we reject this intimidation. We are a Welcoming City, but such intolerance is not welcome here.”

Onetime Virginia congressman Tom Perriello, who’s now running for the governor’s office on an unapologetically progressive platform, denounced the protests as acts of hatred unleashed by the election of President Donald Trump

“As much as we all wish this was an isolated incident, it’s not,” he said in an email to supporters. “Emboldened by President Trump, this racism is spreading in our communities, our Commonwealth, and our country. After Trump’s election, many of these racist leaders were given a platform and vindication. They want us to regress by decades.”

Spencer, an alumnus of the city’s University of Virginia who is credited with originating the term “alt right” in an attempt to rebrand white nationalism, claimed the protests were a way to preserve and celebrate his heritage.  

“You are not going to tear down the statue, and you are not going to replace us,” he told local NBC affiliate WVIR was his message to the city of Charlottesville.

“It’s an expression of force. It’s an expression of occupying a space,” said Spencer, who tweeted a photo of himself carrying a torch at the evening protest. 

During a conference he hosted in November, Spencer famously yelled “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!” to enthusiastic Nazi salutes from the crowd.

The fate of the Lee statue remains up in the air. After the city council voted to remove it in February, plaintiffs filed a lawsuit to stop its removal. A judge issued a temporary injunction earlier this month preventing the city from going through with the removal for the next six months. 

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may 14 17, 23:37
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#TrumpTeachesHistory Are The Lessons You Never Learned In School

President Donald Trump was once again accused of flunking history when he said President Andrew Jackson was “really angry” about the Civil War... which took place 16 years after his death. 

Trump later clarified that he meant Jackson saw the war coming and “


Given that Jackson was a slave owner who never supported abolition, the clarification doesn’t make the claim any less dubious. 

The gaffe led 

” to create the #TrumpTeachesHistory hashtag on Twitter, which quickly took off. 

Here’s a sampling:  

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may 2 17, 06:17
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The Internet Has No Chill Over Kendrick Lamar's New Video 'Humble'

King Kendrick is back with heat

On Thursday, just a week after releasing “The Heart Part 4,”  Kendrick Lamar dropped his first video “Humble.” from his highly anticipated forthcoming album. The video, directed by Dave Meyers and The Little Homies, depicts the rapper as a deity-like figure but for the hood. He’s draped in a pope-esque cloak, having his version of “The Last Supper” with his boys and looking too cool while he’s literally on fire.

K Dot even gives an ode to the ladies who rock their natural beauty and stretch marks sans photoshop.

Story continues below.

As expected, Black Twitter had a fit, and the video received overwhelming praise on social media.

Some, however, believed Kendrick had some blind spots when it came to black women in the video.  

As of Friday morning, "Humble." has more than 4 million views on YouTube.

Kendrick’s fourth album is expected to be released April 7.

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mar 31 17, 18:21
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Parents Shift From Fear To Defiance As Bomb Threats Target Jewish Centers

Kara Nelson has been going to the New Orleans Jewish Community Center for more than 20 years. She likes that they have karate and ballet courses. Sometimes she takes art classes. Her children, 5 and 7, have attended camp there. Nelson and her kids aren’t Jewish.

“It’s the best place,” Nelson told The Huffington Post. “It’s like a second home to me since I’ve been in New Orleans. People are super friendly and I like that my kids are learning about Jewish traditions.”

On Thursday morning, Nelson was taking her exercise class at the JCC when an evacuation was announced on the overhead speakers. Someone had called in a bomb threat to the community center, which also acts as a nursery and preschool.

“The kids were all out first and taken to the high school across the street,” Nelson said. “That seemed to be the first priority, to hustle them out and away from everybody.”

Within minutes, New Orleans police arrived and swept the building. Unwilling to let the threats destroy their day, Nelson’s classmates continued their exercise outside. Police eventually gave the all-clear.

The last two months haven’t been easy for parents who have children attending classes at Jewish Community Centers. At least 69 bomb threats have been called into 55 JCCs across the country since Jan. 9, sometimes forcing kids and adults to evacuate and wait for police officers to sweep buildings. 

Fear has mixed with aggravation as authorities have deemed the bomb threats to be hoaxes so far. Gordon JCC in Nashville, Tennessee, has received three threatening calls, the most targeting any one location. 

“We have no idea why we were singled out,” Leslie Sax, executive director of the center, told HuffPost. “It’s such a disruption. We’ve had to spend too much time on security protocol recently rather than what we do here every day.”

She said parents haven’t pulled their kids from her center’s programming in light of the threats, but suggested that other JCCs haven’t been so lucky.

“I think they’re more sad and frustrated that it’s going on,” Sax said. “The important thing to note is that the kids have not been traumatized by this. I credit the staff for that. The time we did evacuate, the kids thought they were on a field trip ― they were having fun.”

Some officials at the JCC Association of North America have found comfort in the fact that FBI is looking into the series of bomb threats, although the agency doesn’t comment on active investigations. Members of Congress have called on the departments of Justice and Homeland Security to aid local investigators.

But parental nerves are still strung tight.

On Thursday, a suspicious package was reported at the Newton JCC in Massachusetts, a center that had already been the victim of an earlier bomb threat. Authorities deemed it a false alarm, and no threat was called in this time. But it was enough to shake up Sean Roche, a father and one of the people evacuated (his kids weren’t there at the time). Initially, he’d called the incident “terrorism” on Twitter.

“This is a direct consequence of threats that JCCs all over the country have received,” Roche told HuffPost. “There’s a heightened awareness and sensitivity.” 

Although there have been no bombs yet, every threat is taken seriously by local authorities and the JCC Association. The calls themselves can be terrifying and have often involved a disguised voice that sounds robotic.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency obtained audio from one call made to an unidentified JCC. The voice said, “In a short time, a large number of Jews are going to be slaughtered. Their heads are going to be blown off from the shrapnel.”

Anti-Semitic hate crimes make up the largest portion of religiously motivated attacks in the United States. Bomb threats are all too easy for the perpetrators and harmful to communities all over the country.

“We want the threats to stop so we can continue working for our community,” Sax said. “We hope to find someone responsible. We realize that with today’s technology it could be difficult to find them, but we can’t have this hanging over our heads.”

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feb 24 17, 22:23
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People Want To Move To The Newly Found Planets To Escape Donald Trump

NASA scientists caused a stir when they announced the discovery of seven previously unknown Earth-sized planets on Wednesday.

And with the TRAPPIST-1 solar system a mere 39 light years away, it didn’t take long for hundreds of Twitter users to declare they’d be moving there to escape Donald Trump’s presidency:

Some tweeters took a different approach by suggesting that Trump could himself be sent there, alone, as a test:

Others used the news to throw shade on Trump’s controversial immigration policies, including his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall and imminently rewritten travel ban:

Some social media users just imagined Trump’s reaction to the discovery:

Plenty of others, meanwhile, just used it to mock the intelligence of Trump and the members of his administration:

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feb 23 17, 15:17
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'You Are Not Alone': Celebs Stand Up For Trans Kids After White House Drops Civil Rights Protections

They’re standing up and speaking out. 

Celebrities voiced their support for transgender children on Wednesday after President Donald Trump’s administration said it would no longer protect them from discrimination at school. 

Some offered practical advice, like where to turn for help. Others vowed to fight on their behalf. And some just wanted to let these kids know they’re loved.  

Here’s a sampling: 

type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related... + articlesList=58a1e775e4b0e172783a9ecf,5886691ce4b0d96b98c1decd

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feb 23 17, 12:29
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USDA Starts Reposting Some Of Their Deleted Animal Welfare Records

The Department of Agriculture has started to repost some animal welfare data previously deleted from its website, after two weeks of public outcry over the removal.

On Feb. 3, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service deleted thousands of previously publicly searchable records from its website, including inspection records for places like zoos, research laboratories, commercial breeders and circuses. They cited privacy concerns as the reason, though they clarified several days later that the decision was “not final.”

The data was a crucial resource for journalists and animal advocacy groups in uncovering animal cruelty, and the decision sparked immediate backlash. The Humane Society of the United States threatened legal action if the data was not reinstated, a Harvard animal law expert filed a joint lawsuit with several animal rights groups, 18 senators and 101 U.S. representatives condemned the decision in open letters, and everyday animal lovers tweeted photos of their pets in a social media campaign against the decision.

On Friday, USDA APHIS restored some records to the site. Specifically, they posted what they referred to as the “first batch” of annual reports and inspection records from USDA-registered research facilities. Their statement also said they would “continue to review records and determine which information is appropriate for reposting.”

The Humane Society of the United States called the portion of restored records a “step in the right direction,” but continues to demand the agency bring back the data in full. The records still missing include “additional materials and inspection reports for many research laboratories that use animals, puppy mills, zoos, horse soring scofflaws, and others whose activities are the subject of enforcement records related to the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act,” according to an HSUS statement.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, similarly called on the USDA to bring back their whole database.

“While I’m glad USDA is starting the process of restoring some information online, there is no excuse for the agency’s abrupt actions to reduce transparency and prevent Americans from knowing about animal abuse,” he said in a statement. “I call on the agency to do the right thing and restore the remaining information so that animal abusers are held accountable for their actions.” 

Fellow co-chair Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), however, had harsher words.

“There’s no reason to hold back this vita information,” he said in statement. “This website protects animals and the database should be fully restored. At the end of the day, putting a few documents back online is not  good enough.” 

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feb 18 17, 00:08
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#ShePersisted Becomes New Battle Cry After Senate Silences Elizabeth Warren

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) unwittingly gave women a new rallying cry when he silenced Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Tuesday night.

“She was warned. She was given an explanation,” he said. “Nevertheless, she persisted.”

#ShePersisted almost immediately began trending on Twitter. 

Warren had been attempting to read a letter written in 1986 by the late Coretta Scott King ― civil rights hero and widow of Martin Luther King Jr. ― that criticized Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), then a U.S. attorney who had been nominated for a federal judgeship. 

McConnell invoked Rule XIX, which said: “No Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.” King’s letter argued that, during Sessions’ time as a prosecutor in Alabama, he “used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens.”

Warren is now forbidden from speaking on the Senate floor as the body considers Sessions’ nomination for U.S. attorney general. But social media has been anything but silent as #ShePersisted became the new call to arms.

Here’s a sampling:

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feb 8 17, 11:12
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After Trying Everything Else, Democrats Have Decided To Listen To Their Voters

WASHINGTON ― Before President Donald Trump appeared before cameras Tuesday night to bestow his Supreme Court rose on Judge Neil Gorsuch, protesters were already gathering outside the Brooklyn office of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D), demanding he take a firm stand against whichever man Trump nominated.

Later that evening, he did just that, announcing that Gorsuch would need 60 votes to get through the Senate, a declaration that Democrats planned to filibuster. The move came not long after he had chided Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) for suggesting that he would filibuster Trump’s pick no matter who it was. Whether Schumer’s decision was specifically driven by the thousands outside his office, who had been organized by the Working Families Party, or the crowds who had gathered at JFK airport, or the millions who had marched across the country the week before is impossible to know for certain. 

But there can be no denying that Democratic spines have stiffened noticeably.

On Monday night, Democrats, led by Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, held an impromptu rally outside the Supreme Court. With the audio faltering, Pelosi led the assembled politicians in a rendition of “This Land Is Your Land,” with Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey even trying his hand at a bullhorn.

Democrats couldn’t have looked any more awkward if they tried, and Trump didn’t miss the opportunity to mock them on Twitter. But the next morning, the organized resistance continued, with Senate Democrats boycotting two votes scheduled for Trump nominees who have either lied, misled the committee or withheld information about their financial background. Later that day, they used a rare parliamentary maneuver to force a delay on a vote on the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) for attorney general.

The obstruction, defiance and stiff opposition came after a week of progressive outrage at Democratic elected officials, who activists said were too quick to cave to and normalize Trump’s presidency. Progressive activists, of course, have been criticizing elected Democrats for being too weak for decades. But this time the charge is actually landing, and it’s changing the way the party is positioning itself against Trump. 

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), in an interview with the L.A. Times editorial board, said the energy coming from the base is “different in kind, certainly different in intensity, than I think we’ve ever seen after an election.”

Over the weekend, some 2,000 progressives gathered in Providence, Rhode Island, to protest Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who they said had been too soft on Trump. Whitehouse said he was heartened to see the energy. “Their message was: do be strong and do not accept the legitimacy of Trump’s policies or his presidency. It was a very strong message in terms of its content,” he said.

Asked if he agreed with the message, he said, “I think I agree with the heart of it. The policies that this president, who was elected in a highly questionable way, is trying to inflict on the American people are going to be very bad for the American people, and that he does not have the mandate for the kind of destructive change that he’s trying to wreak.”

He said it was “hard to tell” if Senate Democrats would be as emboldened in their opposition as they have become if the base hadn’t been pushing them.

The intensity of the base’s opposition to Trump was first on display the weekend after his inauguration, as more people took to the streets in a single day at various Women’s Marches than at any protest in American history. On Saturday and Sunday, demonstrations broke out at airports around the country in the wake of Trump’s announced Muslim ban, and elected officials found their way to those demonstrations.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), skewered for her vote in support of Ben Carson for secretary of Housing and Urban Development, rallied the crowd at Logan International Airport with a bullhorn, while Democratic congressmen traveled to Dulles, Virginia, to challenge law enforcement officials who were detaining Muslim travelers.

Protests have broken out everywhere, from Pittsburgh to Dayton, Ohio, to Palmer, Alaska. And Democrats are well aware that the base wants action. But the base itself is not unified, with some preferring a scorched-earth approach, and others open to a more pragmatic approach to stopping Trump. “Some are day one, literally, why-haven’t-you-impeached-him-yet type people,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

“There are various gradations within the opposition, and some are scorched-earth. As you’ll see from some of my votes and our votes, we believe some of these cabinet nominees should move forward. That’s fact,” Durbin added.

“I voted yes for Mattis, I voted yes for Kelly. Today I voted yes for Elaine Chao,” he continued, referring to Defense Secretary James Mattis, DHS Secretary John Kelly and Transportation Secretary Chao. “Some of my folks in the base don’t want me to vote yes for anyone. But I’m not gonna take that position and most Democrats won’t. We’re gonna try to find a reasonable position allowing those nominees to go forward who can do a good job and who really don’t represent radical views and who filed their required ethics statements for the position.”

Indeed, not all Democrats want the earth scorched. Arlene, a 79-year-old D.C. resident who joined the protests outside the Supreme Court on Monday night and declined to give her last name, said Democrats are smart not to oppose all Cabinet nominees because they’ll weaken their standing with GOP senators they need to go up against Trump.

“You need the rational Republicans with you,” she said. “So if you’ve alienated them for something that’s not really that important, versus for something stopping the Looney Tune in the White House, it’s not in our interest to do that.”

Schiff said he’s not sure where it’ll go. “The more radical the administration is, the more radicalized our base becomes, which just feeds the Breitbart crowd, and who knows where that ends,” he said.

After the Democrats themselves, nobody may be more surprised to see the spine-stiffening than their friends on the other side of the aisle. “I think it’s kind of embarrassing myself,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said of Democrats staging rallies and boycotting hearings. “Other than just protesting and continuing to not accept the outcome of the election, I’m not sure what it really gets them. But it’s obviously making it difficult to make the transition from one administration to the next, and maybe that’s their point.”

He said he sympathizes with Schumer. “I think Sen. Schumer’s got a very difficult job, trying to manage the Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren wing of the party. But I don’t think that’s going to win them many votes by kowtowing to them and not working to try to solve problems,” he told HuffPost. 

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) chalked the unusual behavior up to a state of shock.

“Look, I’m the last person who’s an expert on the inner workings and hidden mechanisms of the Democratic Party. But I sense ― and I have a lot of friends over there ― they’re still not over the shock,” McCain told HuffPost. “I mean, people weren’t just measuring the drapes, they picked out their offices and they were hiring assistants. I just don’t think they’ve recovered yet to put together a cohesive plan. So what’s the easiest thing to do? Block everything. Do you remember what we went through when we shut down the government, as our approval rating dropped to negative numbers?”

He said he thinks it will backfire. I may be wrong, but I don’t see how productive that is. You know, many times, when we were in the minority, we were very frustrated and the government shutdown is a classic example of everybody got frustrated ― ‘So by God, we’ll shut down the government,’” McCain said.

“So we had to fly food from the St. Mary’s food bank in Phoenix up to the employees of the hotels and resorts around the Grand Canyon. Everybody thought that was a great idea, shutting down the government. It’s almost like a mob mentality ― ‘By God, let’s show them,’” he added.

Whitehouse said that if the energy can carry through to the 2018 midterms, it could begin to halt the Trump agenda. So far, though, Trump and his allies on Capitol Hill are marching right on. While the Muslim ban was scaled back to exclude green card holders, elements of it remain in place, and polling shows it to be at least somewhat popular. On Wednesday, Republicans suspended Senate rules so they could push through the two nominees despite the Democratic boycott. And Republicans have strongly hinted that if Democrats successfully filibuster Gorsuch, they’ll simply end the filibuster.

“We’re going to follow the regular order of the Senate, and we’re going to give the Democrats a chance to confirm this outstanding nominee. And I’m not going to answer the hypothetical question about how this may end, other than to say Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised.

Democrats rallied again outside the Capitol on Wednesday, joined by Gold Star father Khizr Khan.

“We will not be withdrawing. We will not be pushed back,” Khan said. “Don’t take me there yet, as Rep. John Lewis said. Don’t take me there yet, we are not willing to go that way yet. But this needs to stop. If it doesn’t stop here, the world is waiting to join us. We will boycott everything and anything, Trump, if this continues. The world will boycott. We are not going there yet. Don’t push us in that direction.”

The newfound alliance between Democratic leaders and the base bodes well for Democrats in 2018 if the party can turn out its voters in a midterm election, which they have mostly proven unable to do.

“The grass-roots movement is growing exponentially, and we judge that by the phone calls in our offices every afternoon in Rochester and Washington,” said Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.). “We would average 10-20 a day ― now we’re up to 50 and 60 a day from each office. So many people saying, ‘What can I do? We’re ready to go!’ And that’s new since Trump.” 

But it also holds risks, if a new split arises and the skepticism returns. Just as leaked emails helped sow division during the presidential campaign, there’s no reason to think a rift couldn’t emerge again. For now, though, Democrats are cautiously welcoming the uprising. Not that they have many other options.

Igor Bobic, Jen Bendery, Laura Bassett and Laura Barron-Lopez contributed reporting. 

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