On last night's Rachel Maddow Show, Rachel interviewed Ezra Levin, co-author of "The Indivisible Guide" a downloadable document about how to stop Congress from enacting the Trump/Republican agenda.
-- transcript --
EZRA LEVIN: We decided to do it because we were going through the stages of grief as many liberals were after the election, and we were also hearing these stories of people starting up new organizations to actually push against Trump: secret Facebook groups or their mailing lists, and trying to figure out what can we do to make sure Congress doesn't enact Trump's agenda. They knew about petitions and calling their members of Congress but they didn't know what the next step was beyond that. As a former congressional staffer, I have basically no skills but I do know how Congress works and I and a lot of other Congressional staffers got together and said, look, we know what works, we saw the Tea Party rise up, we saw them implement really effective strategies and tactics to prevent an incredibly popular President's agenda from being implemented. This can work for us, the Progressive Movement, today if it worked for the Tea Party eight years ago.
RACHEL MADDOW: It seems to me in reading this, I feel like you're trying to sort of gently dispel some popular myths about what must affect Members of Congress. You're basically saying, listen, form letters, don't bother, online petitions, nice but it's not the thing that makes a difference to the member of Congress on the ground. Is that fair to say?
LEVIN: That's absolutely right. The Tea Party really understood a couple things about how their Members of Congress thought. One, they understood that their Members of Congress cared about them, their constituents, and not other people and, two, they understood that they weren't setting the agenda for the next eight years, the Democrats controlled the House, they controlled the Senate, they had the Presidency, but the Tea Party could play defense. They could respond to everything coming down the pike and say no.
MADDOW: So that's a crucial strategic point you make. You basically say, listen, as liberals we would love to focus on a positive agenda for how we would like to do things differently but as long as there's zero power in Washington to do that, there's no point in focusing on that now, let's focus on saying no to what people in power are going to do. Exclusively.
LEVIN: I don't think Progressives should give up the idea of a bold progressive future, that's important, but if you're an advocate on the ground talking to Representative Goodlatte or anybody else, you'll be responding to what Congress is doing today. Yesterday it was trying to make Congress even more corrupt than Congress already is. Tomorrow it's going to be something bad, too. So you have the power to just say this is unacceptable and we've seen that happening all over the country now. You're talking about a bubbling up movement. We're seeing it. Yesterday was the first proof of concept and we'll see more of that.
MADDOW: Have you seen in terms of the direct response to this, enough posted online so you know how many people have downloaded it and read it but in terms of groups forming or other people using this work?
LEVIN: It's phenomenal. We've been blown away. We put up a Google Doc two and a half weeks ago, Google immediately crashed. We threw up a website so people had a way to download it and get the information. In the last two weeks, we've had this up, there have been over 600,000 page views, 130,000 people have downloaded the guide but like you said the really exciting thing is that there are all these groups spreading out across the country and popping up. We've had in the last 24 hours since we've been collectings try 350 groups registering. My phone vibrates when more people come in and it's been buzzing since we've been talking. What they look like are the Indivisible group in Roanoke. They're in Florida, Milwaukee, Pennsylvania. We've covered every single state and we have subscribers in every single Congressional District in the country.
MADDOW: Pretty good for a Google document you whipped up with a few friends.
LEVIN: It's not what we did. The movement existed. We're just speaking to it.
MADDOW: Ezra Levin, former policy adviser to Congressman Lloyd Doggett and a man involved in a phenomenon I'm not sure the Beltway has caught on to. Good luck.
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The Indivisible Guide acknowledges the success of the Tea Party in obstructing Obama's agenda, and uses some of the same techniques but with a progressive bent. But one thing that is not discussed in this Maddow segment is the Tea Party's funding as a billionaire sourced astroturf group.
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Levin also does not cover the conservative media and the Tea Party's success in bending the narrative of most news outlets to cover "The Tea Party" as a new political movement rather than life-long Republicans who erased all memory of Bush failures from news coverage. For the media companion piece to The Indivisible Guide, check out the Indivertible Guide, written by former Daily Show staffers. We covered that not-safe-for-work document here.