Something is happening.
We don’t know how long it will last.
Or how big it might get.
Or whether it will make any difference, at least, not in the way some hope.
But it seems like people are not doing this so much anymore: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
That’s Shruggie, by the way.
He—or she— is basically social media speak for “Who gives a whip?” Or “So what?” Or “Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever.” Or “no one cares.”
And on Tuesday I think I met a once-was Shruggie at a rally of hundreds outside the Denver office of Colorado’s Republican U.S. senator, Cory Gardner.
His name was Darren O’Brien.
As he walked from the dissipating crowd and back to work, O’Brien told me getting out in the streets is new to him. Ever since the election of Donald Trump.
“He actually activated me because I just so oppose what he’s doing, and his cabinet selections,” he said. “It’s kind of across the board.”
I also met Ms. Not-so-Shruggie.
Her name was Bobbie Sellers, a retired court reporter from Broomfield. And she kind of looked a little sheepish when asked about why she was there. All of this is new to her, too.
The emails she’s been sending to her federal lawmakers. The marches she’s been attending. After Trump’s election she got angry. And shocked. Now she’s scared. Anger and fear— that gets her out.
“I’m not knowledgeable. I’m an instinct voter,” she said, clarifying that what that means is she votes from her gut. “And I know he’s wrong, but I don’t have facts,” she said of Trump.
She heard about the Denver rally from a friend. “But,” she said, “I first marched in the Women’s March, and I’ll be in every march that I hear about from now on that opposes Trump.”
Does she usually come out to these sorts of things? “Never. Never.”
The emails Sellers has been sending are among the thousands— at least 90,000 emails and letters to Gardner’s office alone, he has said— piling up along with calls jamming the phone lines at congressional offices nationwide.
And there is an indication that they are working:
GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski says constituent calls to her office against DeVos were a major reason why she is voting against her nomination
— Miranda Green (@mirandacgreen) February 1, 2017
So is it too early to call this a movement?
The Economist took a stab: The Herbal Tea Party.
That’s a nod to the crowds beginning in early 2009 that flocked to rallies under a sea of yellow Don’t Tread on Me flags. Plenty of those attendees had not been politically active before the election of President Barack Obama and his Affordable Care Act proposal.
But perhaps in a sign of an unbridgeable chasm between ideologies, some who were involved in those bygone days just can’t see any parallels.
Linda Mackety, who is currently in the process of shutting down her Lakewood Tea Party chapter because of poor attendance, is one. This current anger and frustration and ordinary people getting out and involved? No comparison, she tells me.
For her, all this new activism against this new president is just a product of liberal financier George Soros “stirring things up.” Hooligans and troublemakers, that’s all. Just want to smash things and burn buildings. “Uninformed people out there,” she says, “who are just sort of following along for the hell of it.”
Never mind the allegations of Tea Party prop ups by the Koch brothers and Freedomworks. When she used to hear that back then she just ignored it. “If the shoe fits, fine, but it didn’t.”
So who are some of these new people not going ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ anymore— this movement so far without a name?
At Tuesday’s rally some held signs saying they were not paid to be there. A recent talking point by Gardner and others is that those bombarding him with correspondence are “paid protestors.”
On the grass at the outer edge of Tuesday’s rally was reformed Shruggie Joanna Ortiz, a physician, who heard about the protest from MoveOn.org, which is a professional activist group.
But, “I don’t get paid anything,” to come out she said. Actually, “The last time I was active in politics was probably 30 years ago.”
Ortiz carried a sign saying Trump’s White House advisor Steve Bannon should not be attending meetings of the National Security Council. She thinks Trump and Bannon are smart and clever. And dangerous. She worries about their associations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
And what of these protests in which she’s now taking part after 30 years?
“It will last,” she said. “Because it’s the one way we can be seen and heard. And Trump doesn’t like it.”
Photo by Aidan for Creative Commons in Flickr.