Following the election of Barack Obama, there was an uptick in right-wing political movements, especially with the development of the Tea Party. Obama himself recently claimed to be the “father of the Tea Party.” Much like his predecessor, President Trump is inspiring a new wave of political activism, but this time from both the left and the right. In a recent piece from NPR, sociologists Dana Fisher and Sara Sobieraj explain this recent rise in political activism.
Fisher and Sobieraj explain that unprecedented numbers of people on the left are mobilizing, which brings many newcomers to the political scene. Recently, Fisher conducted a survey of 500 participants at the Women’s March on Washington and found that a third had never protested before. Progressives are driven by an array of different issues, but they are all rallying around their dislike of Trump. Fisher says,
“Everybody’s pissed off, and they’re pissed off for different reasons. Trump is helping everybody to find common ground.”
Trump supporters, organized by the conservative group Main Street Patriots, held rallies around the country last week in solidarity for the new president. Many in this group appear to be energized newcomers, who are inspired by Trump’s “John Wayne” style of politics. Sobieraj notes that Trump’s brusque rhetoric and “no-prisoners” attitude is what drives both anti-Trump activists and Trump supporters:
“Saying those things and acting that way brought people out because they felt validated by someone who sees the world the way they see it, feeling at last as though someone was really telling the truth without apology. And on the left, that way of speaking was absolutely objectionable and mobilizing, because they were viewed as abhorrent.”