The protests against President Donald Trump are about to enter a new phase as several liberal and leftist groups plan general strikes.
The group Strike 4 Democracy is planning a one-day general strike for February 17. While organizers are calling it a general strike, a website dedicated to the general strike suggests it is actually a much broader day of general actions and protests.
The “How To Participate” page of the website encourages participants to skip work or school for the day (if possible) and not purchase anything (if possible), making it an unofficial Buy Nothing Day as well.
Organizers are also asking that, in addition to calling out of work or school and withholding buying power, participants contact their elected representatives, share their views and support on social media, join in local gatherings and protests, donate to charities and the anti-Trump causes of their choice or commit to community service.
Strike 4 Democracy organizers list five primary demands for the February 17 general strike on a Facebook page dedicated to the action.
1. No Ban, No Wall. The Muslim ban is immoral, the wall is expensive and ineffectual. We will build bridges, not walls.
2. Healthcare For All. Healthcare is a human right. Do not repeal the ACA. Improve it or enact Medicare for All.
3. No Pipelines. Rescind approval for DAPL and Keystone XL and adopt meaningful policies to protect our environment. It’s the only one we’ve got.
4. End the Global Gag Rule. We cannot put the medical care of millions of women around the globe at risk.
5. Disclose and Divest. Show us your taxes. Sell your company. Ethics rules exist for a reason and presidents should focus on the country, not their company.
As of this post, only 26,000 people have clicked “Going” on the most popular event page for the February 17 general strike, General Strike Against Trump. That is a considerable number of people, but it falls well short of the support that several recent national protests attracted. The page for the Women’s March on Washington, the largest anti-Trump protest to date, for instance, has nearly 700,000 likes.
However, the organizers of the Women’s March might inadvertently help draw more attention to the February 17 general strike as they are planning their own general strike.
The official social media accounts for the Women’s March have been promoting an event they’re calling the “General Strike: A Day Without A Woman,” CNN recently reported. The date of the event has not yet been announced.
The will of the people will stand. pic.twitter.com/SKJCRLhRKn
— Women’s March (@womensmarch) February 6, 2017
Since the success of the Women’s March, the event’s organizers have primarily focussed on planning their next actions.
“During the first 10 days of February, we will gather together in our neighborhoods all over the world to define our next steps, and envision how to transform the energy we saw at Women’s Marches into local and national action,” a page on the Women’s March website reads. “We’ll visualize what a more equitable, just, safer and freer world could look like four years from now — and we’ll work backwards to figure out what we need to do, starting today, to get there.”
— Salon (@Salon) February 6, 2017
Some critics, even those from the left, question the value of a general strike right now and suggest conducting one is void of any true connection to strikes and their historic role in labor movements.
“Calling for a general strike now bears no relation to what mass strikes have meant in the past,” Alex Gourevitch writes in the Jacobin. “The flight from reality shows up in activists’ blasé attitude to history and their very distant relationship to the working class.”
Anti-labor violence and potential crackdowns by law enforcement would be one concern for Gourevitch if a general strike were to gain momentum.
“The United States has the most violent labor history of any major industrial country. General and other large-scale strikes in the US have nearly always been met with major repression, from police, National Guard, even federal troops.”
Even if the general strikes do not gain much traction now, they do suggest that anti-Trump activists intend to take their protests to the next level.
[Featured Image by Scott Olson/Getty Images]