Don't believe anyone who tells you protesting does no good. Seneca Falls, Selma, and Stonewall, as noted by a certain former president, helped win rights for marginalized groups, and other protests have ended wars and toppled leaders. Now, in just the past few months, the activities of The Resistance have thwarted several of the nefarious schemes of Donald Trump and congressional Republicans, along with embarrassing them. Read about these victories for The Resistance on this and the following pages.
Office of Congressional Ethics Retains Powers
Some Republican members of the U.S. House thought they'd open the Trump era by stripping the Office of Congressional Ethics of any power. They took a vote to do just that January 2, the first day of business in the new year. But they returned to work the following day "to find their offices inundated with angry missives from constituents amid a national uproar," as The New York Times put it. Even Trump, who had not yet taken office, and House Republican leaders Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy thought this was a bad idea, and the House quickly backtracked.
Women's March Gets Better Attendance Than Inauguration
January 21, the day after Trump took the oath of office, women marched against the misogynist in chief in cities around the globe. The Washington march drew at least 470,000 people, nearly three times as many as attended Trump's inauguration, crowd-counting scientists told The New York Times -- a poke in the eye to a man who can't stand to think anyone is more popular than he is. The sister marches throughout the nation and world brought the numbers into the millions, and the U.S. event was likely the largest single-day protest in America's history, according to The Washington Post.
Response to First Travel Ban Includes Moral and Legal Support
Trump's first travel ban, directed at seven Muslim-majority countries and all refugees, brought immediate outcry. He issued it on a Friday, January 27, and the next day protesters who saw the injustice of it were swarming airports to support those being detained, who included people with valid visas and green cards. Along with the protesters came lawyers and activists offering practical assistance; in Chicago, for instance, these advocates managed to get 17 detainees released. Within a few days, the states of Washington and Minnesota filed federal lawsuits against the ban.
Trump Backtracks on Repealing LGBT Protections
Soon after Trump took office, there were rumors that he was going to undo President Obama's executive order barring companies with federal contracts from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. White House press secretary Sean Spicer refused to give a straight, so to speak, answer about Trump's plans. But on the evening of January 30, the president announced he would not rescind the Obama order. Some reports said there was pressure from his daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, to keep the order in place, but there was certainly plenty of pressure from LGBT Americans and their allies. We can't rest easy, though; just this week Trump quietly rescinded a companion order that required contractors to prove they're in compliance, thus making the discrimination ban harder to enforce. And he may still be considering an executive order that would give businesses in general, nonprofits, and even government employees a broad license to discriminate against LGBT people and others in the name of "religious freedom." It's similar to the First Amendment Defense Act, which is pending in Congress.
Both Travel Bans Blocked
Trump's first travel ban quickly ran afoul of the independent judiciary he seems to despise. On February 3, just a week after the ban was issued, a federal judge hearing Washington State's lawsuit blocked enforcement of it nationwide, and February 9 an appeals court refused to reinstate the ban while the case proceeded. Trump tweeted "See you in court," but he and his administration did not pursue further appeals, instead crafting a new ban they thought might stand up to court scrutiny. It took one country off the list -- Iraq -- and reduced the number of refugees the U.S. would admit, instead of temporarily banning all refugees. But this order, issued March 6, was halted March 15, the day before it was to take effect, by a federal court in Hawaii, in response to a lawsuit filed by that state. Just this week, the Hawaii judge extended that freeze indefinitely. Trump has again pledged to take the fight to the Supreme Court if necessary; we'll just see if he follows through.
Andy Puzder Withdraws From Consideration as Secretary of Labor
Jeff Sessions. Rick Perry. Betsy DeVos. Tom Price. Andy Puzder. Andy who? They're all among Trump's terrible, awful, very bad Cabinet nominees; the first four won Senate confirmation, but Puzder had to withdraw from consideration as secretary of Labor. Puzder is chairman of CKE Restaurants, parent company of the Carl's Jr. and Hardee's fast-food chains, and he has often criticized the type of regulations the Labor Department is tasked with enforcing. He opposes a significant increase in the minimum wage, and he's expressed a wish to replace human workers with robots. He says using scantily clad women to advertise his company's products is just dandy, but he first made his name in politics as an antichoice activist in Missouri -- so ladies, you should be sexy but not have control over your reproductive life. What made him withdraw, finally, were allegations that he'd physically abused his first wife, Lisa Fierstein. Several outlets, including The Advocate, reported on the allegations when his nomination was announced in December, in addition to the fact that Fierstein had recanted them. But it wasn't until two months later, when a tape surfaced from 1990 of her recounting the alleged abuse to Oprah Winfrey, that Puzder's nomination was officially sunk; he withdrew February 15. The new nominee for Labor secretary is Alexander Acosta, a law school dean and former judge and prosecutor. His confirmation hearings have been going on this week. It's not clear yet whether he's a better choice than Puzder, but it's hard to imagine a worse one.
Jeff Sessions Recuses Himself From Russia Investigation
Jeff Sessions, who has a long anti-LGBT voting record and has been accused of racism, nevertheless got confirmed as U.S. attorney general, but he said something during the confirmation hearings that he likely regrets. Sen. Al Franken asked him what he would do if he found out anyone from the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government during the presidential race, in which Russia is suspected of interfering. Sessions, an early supporter of Trump, responded by volunteering, "I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and I did not have communications with the Russians." Well, it turned out that he had, with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., no less. Now, that meeting could have been perfectly innocent -- many U.S. politicians meet with officials of other countries -- but Sessions lied about it under oath, which is perjury. Several senators and representatives called for Sessions's resignation; he did not submit that, but he said March 2 that he would recuse himself from any Justice Department investigations of Russia-Trump connections and interference in the election.
Planned Parenthood Won't Stop Providing Abortions
Planned Parenthood, which provides many essential health care services to both women and men, including many LGBT people, is one of the favorite targets of the far right, with some politicians constantly threatening to strip the organization of federal funding, most of which comes in the form of Medicaid reimbursements or family planning service grants. Trump reportedly offered Planned Parenthood a deal: Stop providing abortions (for which it is barred from using federal funds anyway) and your federal funding is safe. Planned Parenthood, a stalwart of The Resistance, wisely refused to cease offering a procedure that is, after all, legal, and for which the organization is, in some parts of the country, the only provider. "The White House proposal that Planned Parenthood stop providing abortion is the same demand opponents of women's health have been pushing for decades, as a part of their long-standing effort to end women's access to safe, legal abortion," Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said in a statement early in March. "Planned Parenthood has always stood strong against these attacks on our patients and their ability to access the full range of reproductive health care. We are glad that the White House understands that taking away the preventive care Planned Parenthood provides is deeply unpopular and would be a disaster for women's health care."
Health Care Bill Fails to Get a Vote
Then Republicans decided to make a deep cut in Planned Parenthood funding a provision of the American Health Care Act, touted as the replacement portion of their pledge to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. The replacement bill would have banned the use of Medicaid funds at Planned Parenthood clinics and ended many other provisions of the ACA; according to an estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, caused 24 million Americans to lose their health insurance by 2026. It was supposed to come to a vote in the House March 24 -- but Republican leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, abruptly pulled it from consideration, knowing they didn't have the votes to pass it. Part of the reason was that it still wasn't conservative enough to win the support of the far-right congressional Republicans who call themselves the Freedom Caucus. But because it gutted the ACA, it got no support from liberals or moderates in either party; they'd heard stories from people all over the nation who've benefited from the ACA and warned against destroying the progress that's been made. So this is another victory for The Resistance, but also a case where we mustn't be complacent -- the "repeal and replace" people will assuredly try again.