When the 115th Congress took its first recess, members went home to their districts and in some cases to speak directly to their constituents via town halls. During recess members made news for one of two reasons: either they held a town hall which was packed with angry constituents or they opted not to hold an in-district event and were shamed by their constituents as a result.
Republican members who were targeted in particular complained bitterly about organized and so-called paid protesters. They were supported by the White House in their characterization. President Trump tweeted that the protests were “planned out by liberal activists” and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that “there is a bit of professional protester, manufactured base in there.”
Despite accusations, town hall attendees aren’t being paid. They are however organized. And most of that organization comes from Indivisible, a guide to resisting the Trump Administration’s agenda, which in just a couple of months has taken the internet by storm. Here are four things campaigns and consultants need to know about Indivisible:
Indivisible began as a Google
Doc As digital organizing goes the original Indivisible Guide was fairly low tech. Their current about page accurately describes it as a “poorly formatted, typo-filled Google Doc.” Essentially a brain dump of four ex-Democratic Hill staffers, the Indivisible Guide in its original form was intended as a way to help its authors share their knowledge of how Congress works, and cope with their own heartbreak over Trump’s win. It had no method for email capture, no digital ad buy behind it, and the document optimized for sharing. But The Indivisible Guide quickly found an audience desperate to oppose Trump and hungry for concrete actions they could take. Because it was the right tool in the right moment it spread like wildfire online.
Indivisible was inspired by the Tea Party If crowded, raucous, congressional town halls look familiar to you that’s because they are. The authors of the Indivisible Guide are all veterans of the Tea Party wave, experiencing it first hand as staffers for Democratic members of Congress. The guide makes no attempts to hide that the tactics outlined come right out of the Tea Party’s own playbook offering “a step-by-step guide for individuals, groups, and organizations looking to replicate the Tea Party’s success in getting Congress to listen to a small, vocal, dedicated group of constituents.” in its Introduction.