In the face of Trump, resistance takes to the internet | News and current affairs from Germany and around the world | DW | 12.02.2017
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In the face of Trump, resistance takes to the internet

A bevy of new progressive and left-leaning websites have sprung up in the wake of Trump's win, all with one goal: elect more Democrats at all levels of government. This is already proving a challenging election year.

"How're you doing?"

This is a question some Americans began asking each other with more sincerity than ever before after the November 8 presidential election, especially those who felt stung by Hillary Clinton's defeat.

"I was absolutely devastated by the results," said Catherine Vaughan, a former campaign staffer for Clinton in Ohio. "And my way of coping with it is to continue working as hard as I could."

Indeed, Vaughan and a fellow former Clinton campaigner dove right into the next job within 10 days of Trump's win: They launched the website, a site dedicated to informing people all over the US which election districts near them could be most likely to change from Republican to Democratic control in the next election, and how to best help facilitate that process.

Vaughan said she and co-founder Chris Walsh thought of the idea for Flippable on November 9 - the day after the election - as the team was parting ways and having a conversation about what possible next steps could be.

"We were saying goodbye, and then we didn't say goodbye," Vaughan laughed.

Flippable now has 33,000 people on its email list, and over 10 percent have contributed to campaigns that Flippable has featured, Vaughan said. The most active users are clustered around ages 25 to 35, and older than 55. Their ultimate goal is to build a data model that will show people how "flippable" a given district is - that is, how competitive could a campaign there be between a Democrat and a Republican. Currently, they're tracking all 7,400 state legislative races that are coming up.

Resources to run

In order to have a competitive race, you need more than one person running for office. The fact that so many people run unopposed in their districts was a motivating factor for everyone interviewed for this article.

Amanda Litman, who served as Clinton's director of email ("the other emails," she joked), also started her own effort to counter a full Republican takeover of the country. Her site,, launched in the days following November 8; the site is dedicated to providing people with information and resources about how to run for office in their districts.

"I think the world is scary, but it's also inspiring. The outreach and interest in what we're doing has been so moving." Litman told DW. In the first two weeks of their launch, Litman said, 4,000 people signed up to run for office. And while the site doesn't keep track of exact demographics, she said that just from pure eyeballing, at least half of those signing up are women, and at least one-third are people of color.

"A lot of folks are saying, 'I'm angry,' 'I want to fight back,' or 'If Trump can be president then I can sit on my school board,'" Litman said. RunForSomething was an idea that also emerged in a postelection conversation. "It was always something we talked about: Why is it so hard to run, why aren't there young people in office, and why don't the Democrats have a bench?"

Litman said the goal was to get as many people as possible on the ballot over the next two years by connecting potential candidates with campaign managers, raising some funds and trying to direct grassroots money to those who need it.

'Take the shame out of civic participation'

Alongside RunForSomething and Flippable, has emerged as one of the biggest names in the digital resistance against Republicans and Trump. Michelle Finocchi, a spokesperson for SwingLeft, also told DW that the election results were the catalyst for their new efforts.

Donald Trump and his supporters celebrate his win on election night

Trump's election win prompted some Americans to become politically active

"We realized that we've been sitting on the sidelines for too long - watching, reading, and voting, but not otherwise participating in the political process. We wanted to do something," Finocchi wrote. "On November 8th we saw something break, and we rose up to fix it."

SwingLeft launched on January 19, the day before Donald Trump was inaugurated. Finocchi said that to date, more than 250,000 people have signed up through SwingLeft to try and flip the federal House of Representatives from Republican to Democrat control in the 2018 elections.

Pulling together to find hope and to mobilize politically was a common theme among these startups. "We're trying to take the shame out of civic participation," said Vaughan. "I like to say we're building our political muscle. We need to look for ways to plug in and show that we're activated."

"I'm so glad new people are joining this work," said Litman. "We need to send a message to our representatives that if they don't represent us, they don't get to keep their jobs. I think for better or for worse, Trump could inspire just as big a move into public service as Obama did."

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