Marilyn Katz :
Stopping Trump: The Chicago model

Faced not with the threat of violence but lack of control of the message or the montage, Trump retreated.

Donald Trump Speaks

Donald Trump with mouth open. YouTube grab of video by Redsilverj / Creative Commons image.

By Marilyn Katz | The Rag Blog | March 15, 2016

CHICAGO — Congratulations to the people of Chicago — young and old, Black, Latino, Asian and White, Muslim, Christian and Jewish. They did what neither his competitors nor the Republican Party have been able to do — still the voice and the vitriol of Donald Trump.

The protestors, a loose amalgam of labor, women, immigration, students, and Black Lives Matter activists, didn’t do it through violence, or shouting. No dirty tricks — just the old fashioned way. They organized.

It all began early this week with an online petition to the University of Illinois-Chicago to deny Trump the use of the publicly-supported facility on the basis that the rally posed a threat to the security and safety of students. This tactic, in turn, led to two others. First, using their extensive email lists, they encouraged us to secure tickets through Eventbrite. It ensured that opponents of Trumps’ racist, anti-choice, anti-immigrant policies and statements could secure seats in the pavilion.

Trump was denied the backdrop of 10,000 adoring supporters.

It appears that hundreds, if not thousands, took the opportunity to secure a free ticket. I know that I did. Trump was denied the backdrop of 10,000 adoring supporters. Second, they organized dozens of civil, women’s, labor, and immigrants’ rights organizations to protest outside of the venue and to reflect the vision of the diversity and unity that makes our cities and our nation great.

And they succeeded. Faced not with the threat of violence but lack of control of the message or the montage, Trump retreated. What is now clear is that the answer to the rise of Trump is, as always, organizing for action.

The media has given Trump a pass — covering his brilliantly staged events, playing right into his hand. It’s a natural synergy. He knows that his most outrageous statements will draw media coverage because the media has found that Trump stories draw large audiences and improve ratings. The more outrageous the statement, the more coverage. More coverage means more adulation by the thousands of people facing financial precarity and social dislocation who find it easier to turn on the poor, on women, and on minorities, than on the corporations or Wall Street that have robbed them of their jobs or their future. Even when the media criticizes any Trump position the coverage results in new recruits.

The Republican establishment’s effort to thwart Trump’s rise has failed.

Similarly, the Republican establishment’s effort to thwart Trump’s rise has failed; from George W. Bush’s and Mitt Romney’s denunciations, to Marco Rubio’s expose of Trump’s failures, and the Koch brothers’ massive advertising expenditure. It is like watching a singles tennis match where one player always wins.

What the people of Chicago did was turn a tennis match into a team sport — relying not on the comments or stature of a few alternatives to Trump but on the power of thousands of ordinary people, in the full bloom of their diversity, to come together to create the effective force needed to shut him up.

It will not be the Democratic alternative that saves this nation from an inalterable shift to the right under the leadership of Trump or the even scarier Ted Cruz. It will not be slick commercials, targeted vote operations, or thoughtful editorial condemnations. As in every successful forward movement, it will be organized people, on the ground, aided now by the power of technology, that will have the power to stem the tide of reaction (some might call it fascism) that is the danger our nation faces.

Whether Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton ultimately leads the Democratic Party, what Bernie says is true. To change the course of this election, indeed the nation, will take a political revolution — of the people, by the people and for the people. Chicago has given us a glimpse of how it can be done.

This article was first published at In These Times and was cross-posted by the author to The Rag Blog.

Read more articles by Marilyn Katz on The Rag Blog.

[Long-time activist Marilyn Katz has founded and led groups like the Chicago Women’s Union, Reproductive Rights National Network, and Chicago Women Organized for Reproductive Choice in the 1960s and 1970s, and Chicagoans Against War in Iraq in 2002. The founder and president of Chicago-based MK Communications, Katz is also a partner in Democracy Partners and a founder and co-chair of the newly formed Chicago Women Take Action. She can be contacted at]

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2 Responses to Marilyn Katz :
Stopping Trump: The Chicago model

  1. Roger says:

    Here are some insightful comments by a journalist friend, Ansel Hertz, who reported on the Trump/Chicago event in the Seattle Stranger:

    “…Over the past few years, there’s been much fretting by old liberals about today’s campus left: They’re stifling free speech; they’re naive and unrealistic. These things are true in some cases and worth discussing. But they also tend to miss the bigger picture: This is a progressive generation more willing to take to the streets against injustice than any generation before it. That’s something to applaud, not condemn.

    Many of the protesters who shut down Trump were supporters of Bernie Sanders, but even if Sanders doesn’t win the Democratic nomination, Seitz-Wald reports, “the anti-Trump showing in Chicago foreshadows a possible future avenue for his movement in the general election, in which Trump is the most likely Republican nominee.” These students who are willing to go up against the Secret Service, risk arrest, and put their bodies on the line may be one of America’s strongest defenses against fascism over the coming months.”

  2. The Brown Shirts were in full view and on full display in Chicago. Those who do not think like they think, believe what they believe must be silenced. Tolerance is only granted to those who embrace the progressive orthodoxy. Yes the Brown Shirts where on full display in Chicago and will be even more so in the coming months I am sure. The BLM crowd and the so called social justice warriors, all will be hell bent on dictating to others what they are allowed to say, think and believe. Or as Marilyn so threateningly puts it “to shut him up”. To shut him up, and to shut down those who support him.

    No need to look for the Brown Shirts within the trump campaign, simply look in the mirror .. Marilyn .. Roger.

    But it wont work. With each attempt to disrupt a speech, to dictate to others which thoughts are allowed and which are not, to use social justice terrorism against common working people you convince even more of the silent majority that its time to stand up. Stand up and join the tens of millions of their fellow countrymen who had no one to give voice to their concerns .. but now have a champion.

    Marilyn, I think you are right that a political revolution is coming. Unfortunately for you, its not going to be the one you are anticipating.

    – :Lance

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