MADISON, Wis. — It seems like an organic grassroots movement fueled by righteous indignation.
Yeah, a lot of that is one big phony political show, written by former aides to congressional Democrats and produced by some of the wealthiest liberal activists in the land.
And the mainstream media is eating it up.
In Wisconsin, this “grassroots” movement last month got all up in U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner’s face at a town hall in Pewaukee. The Menomonee Falls Republican, a nearly 40-year member of Congress, was forced to repeatedly pound his gavel, imploring his hostile political opponents to “be respectful.”
“We had eight years where our side did not win the election. I don’t think we saw the type of bitterness and divisiveness that we’re seeing now,” Sensenbrenner told the crowd.
In Madison, liberals packed an “empty chair” town hall event for U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.
“Participants posed questions to an unoccupied chair with a sign saying ‘Reserved for Senator Ron Johnson,’” at Madison’s First Congregational United Church of Christ, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
Adam Wood, one of the event’s organizers, told the newspaper the meeting wasn’t meant to be a “Democratic take down of a Republican senator,” but an opportunity for voters to voice their concerns to the Oshkosh Republican.
But the campaign is indeed meant to be a “Democratic take down” of Republicans and President Donald Trump.
Just read the manual.
Smarting from the historic beating they took in an election that served as a repudiation of the big government policies of President Barack Obama, the Democratic Party and its wealthy liberal sugar daddies have laid out a very clear plan to take down Trump and the Republican majority in Congress.
It’s called “Indivisible, A Practical Guide For Resisting The Trump Agenda.” Parenthetically it should be titled, “How to Regain Liberal Power in an America That Has Grown Tired of Liberals.”
Indivisible was conjured up by former Democrat congressional staffers. In it, they “reveal best practices for making Congress listen.”
What the guide is really about is disruption, protest, #Resistance and, above all, making sure a liberally pliant and friendly mainstream media covers every last second of the political show.
The Indivisible “team” isn’t hiding its plans to manufacture a political movement, even if it has been less than frank about its ultra-liberal funding sources.
“Since this guide went live as a Google Doc, we’ve received an overwhelming flood of messages from people all over the country working to resist the Trump agenda,” the activists write. “We’re thrilled and humbled by the energy and passion of this growing movement.”
The constituent outrage moments that have played out in Wisconsin and nationally before the cameras can be found in the guide.
In their “Missing Members or Congress Action Plan,” former congressional staff “explain how to make your Members of Congress more accessible.”
“Where on earth has your Member of Congress gone? Something strange has been happening in the last month or so: Members of Congress (MoCs) from all over the country are going missing,” the guide states.
“They’re still turning up for votes on Capitol Hill, and they’re still meeting with lobbyists and friendly audiences back home – but their public event schedules are mysteriously blank. Odd.”
It’s all happening for a very simple reason, the Indivisible team asserts. Congressional reps “do not want to look weak or unpopular — and they know that Trump’s agenda is very, very unpopular.”
That, of course, is a very simple explanation from a liberal point of view. In many conservative congressional districts, Trump’s agenda is wildly popular. It is, after all, why the conservative constituents in these districts voted for the Republican. It’s why blue state Wisconsin turned presidential red for the first time since 1984. Those who are resisting Trump are in the minority in these places, although you might not know that from the press coverage.
And perhaps Republican congressional members don’t care for the organized nastiness that has greeted them at scheduled constituent events, just as Democrats didn’t care for such behavior during the Tea Party movement in the opening years of Obama’s tenure.
The Indivisible folks know that their narrative lives only if it is picked up by local and national news organizations. That’s why the guide places a premium on media outreach.
Partners in promotion
“It’s pretty easy for MoCs to ignore one or even a few dozen people. It is impossible to ignore a small group that’s also getting local media coverage viewed by thousands,” the guide notes. “This is also why videos, pictures, and stories of your actions are so important — local media loves this stuff.”
It encourages activists to “research on Google News what local reporters have written about your” members of Congress … and “build relationships” with those reporters.
But what if congressional members don’t respond to the goading of liberal activists?
Well, Indivisible has that covered under Step 3: If your MOC Isn’t Responding, It’s Time to Go Public.
“MoCs don’t want a bad YouTube moment, but they also don’t want to look like they’re ignoring their constituents. So, your next step is to draw attention to the fact that your MoC has gone into hiding,” the guide states.
“We demand that Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) make himself available to his constituents through publicized town halls and listening sessions during Congress’s upcoming state work periods: Feb 20 – Feb 24; Mar 16 – Mar 17; and Apr 10 – Apr 21,” Eastman’s petition states.
On the petition site, she notes that organizers delivered the petition in person to the senator’s office on Feb. 15.
Eastman is a communications specialist for the Wisconsin Energy Institute, the “collaborative home of energy research and education on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.” It is a taxpayer-funded fortress of the Climate Change agenda.
Eastman did not return Wisconsin Watchdog’s requests for comment. It appears that one of the emails she sent to petition supporters was written during her working hours at the institute, although it is not clear whether she did so on taxpayer time.
Town hall tactics
The Indivisible town hall guide also lays out tactics for activists to get the most promotional bang for the buck.
“Post ‘missing’ signs around congressional offices, high traffic areas, (local squares, parks stadiums, etc.) local news stations and newspaper offices,” the guide advises.
In other words, do the mainstream media’s work for them.
CNN, known for its amenable relationship with Democratic candidates, was more than happy to provide coverage, without very little resistance.
The cable news organization had all kinds of fun with the left-wing campaign, and at Republican reps’ expense, in a story last month headlined “Constituents search for ‘missing’ representatives.”
And wouldn’t you know it, the Indivisible guide’s Step 4 calls for “constituents” to hold a town hall of their own, just like the one in Madison, the liberal bastion of the Midwest.
“Book a venue or plan to gather outside a district office. Explore holding your event at a local school, library, or conference or convention center where a space can be obtained for low cost. Find out if basics like chairs and audio equipment are already available at the venue,” the guide states.
The helpful Democrats behind this “grassroots” movement even provide a sample press release to send out to a hungry media. Here’s what it looks like:
EXAMPLE MEDIA ADVISORY
## of [MoC’s Name]’s Constituents to Hold Citizens’ Town Hall to Make Their Voices Heard
After several weeks of hundreds of calls to hold a public town hall event with no response, more than ## of [MoC’s Name]’s constituents will hold a citizens’ town hall to voice their concerns and discuss recent developments in Congress. [MoC Name] has been invited to attend [include more information on what kind of response you’ve gotten].
What: [MoC Name] Constituent Town Hall Who: Name of Your Group
Any notable attendees
Any other public speakers
The folks behind Indivisible (at least the Democrat activists out front) insist that every single person who worked on the guide and website is a “volunteer.”
“We’re doing this in our free time without coordination or support from our employers. Our only goal is to help the real leaders on the ground who are resisting Trump’s agenda on their home turf,” they say.
Many of the group members have ties to the liberal mega donor George Soros, according to the Washington Times.
Matthew Vadum, senior vice president at the Capital Research Center, told the Times that at least three of the group’s five principals have direct ties to organizations funded by Soros.
The Daily Signal, citing Vadum’s research, reported:
Ezra Levin, a former staffer for Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, and his wife, Leah Greenberg, are the president and vice president of the Indivisible Guide’s board, respectively.
Levin is also associate director of the Corporation for Enterprise Development, an anti-poverty nonprofit. Melissa Bradley, who sits on that group’s board, previously worked for Green for All, a group founded by liberal commentator and former Obama administration official Van Jones. She was appointed as a Soros Justice Fellow through the Open Society Foundations, which Soros founded.
Greenberg previously worked for Humanity United, which is funded by Soros’ Open Society Institute.
The secretary of Indivisible Guide, Angel Padilla, works for the National Immigration Law Center, which is funded by Soros through his Open Society Foundations. And treasurer Matt Traidi is the research team director for the Service Employees International Union, a major donor to and endorser of Democrat politicians, Capital Research Center notes.
Conservatives, however, are pushing back.
Veterans who support Trump and conservative causes turned out in respectable numbers Monday morning at a town hall event in New Richmond hosted by U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau.
The Invisible crew promoted their efforts online, advising that a carpool would be leaving for the Duffy event at 7:30 a.m. from the Natural Alternative Food Co-op. Participants were told to wear white T-shirts with their zip codes and a message such as, “Constituent NOT paid protester” printed on them. It’s an important distinction. So many of these events, according to multiple reports, have been populated in part by paid liberal protesters.
The “action calendar” also prepared participants for Duffy’s town hall “tactics,” warning that the lawmaker likes to pack his small venues with Republicans and that he only takes questions from note cards.
Despite the narrative of “missing” representatives and closed-out constituents, many Republican lawmakers continue to hold town hall events, as the myriad lines of communications to their offices remain open to constituents.
Sensenbrenner on Wednesday sent out a press release advising of three town hall meetings this weekend in Delafield, Lake Mills and Juneau.
Duffy said he will keep his promise to hold an in-person town hall meeting in every county of his district every year.
“There were several good discussions on all sorts of issues — and we had lots of opportunities to find common ground,” Duffy said in a press release following the New Richmond event.
“But even when we disagree, we do so without being disagreeable. After attending the town hall today, Cheryl, from Hudson, called our office and said that even though she doesn’t agree with everything I said in the town hall, she was appreciative that we are able to talk these issues out.”
M.D. Kittle is bureau chief for Wisconsin Watchdog and First Amendment reporter for Watchdog.org. Contact him at [email protected]