The Resistance Against Donald Trump Begins in Texas

The progressive movement in Texas must take bold action to inspire the residents of our cities to become part of the Trump resistance.


A version of this story ran in the February 2017 issue.

Illustration by Adam Maida

The resistance against Donald Trump and everything he represents should have its headquarters in Texas.

We are the largest state in America governed by a Trump-aligned regime. Trump’s government will have the support of the state Capitol as our leaders act to dismantle public education, destroy our social safety net and tear apart families.

There are many of us in Texas who will likely be their first targets. Our state is home to more refugees and undocumented immigrants than almost anywhere else in the nation. It’s for this very reason that Texans must take center stage in the Trump resistance.

During the civil rights movement, many Northerners made great sacrifices and played critical roles in defeating Jim Crow. But the true battle was fought and won in the South, where organized resistance and civil disobedience challenged segregation and Klan violence. Alabama was home to both Bull Connor and Rosa Parks. Georgia was home to both Lester Maddox and Martin Luther King Jr. There’s no better time than now to continue the South’s strong history of resistance.

We’ve all been told to “give Trump a chance.” Many leaders and talking heads, including Trump, are calling for healing and unity. I believe that’s wrong. There will be no healing for families who will be impoverished or torn apart by Trump. We can’t “give him a chance” to take away health care from people who will die without it.

In Texas, many of us who have advocated for policy change have gotten used to cutting deals, respecting the other side and playing nice. Things have changed. Trump’s followers will not go easy on us for playing nice. There is no compromising with hate and fear.

Texas’ right wing may have gerrymandered districts to deny representation to our communities, suppressed voter participation and handed public policymaking over to corporate interests — but even still, there are millions of progressive Texans with real political, economic and electoral power in our cities.

The lion’s share of local elected officials in San Antonio, Houston, Austin, Dallas, El Paso and throughout South Texas are left of center. That’s because, even though a majority of those throughout the state who go to the ballot box vote Republican, the hearts of Texans — especially in our cities — are populist, progressive and thirsting for change.

The progressive movement in Texas, more than ever before, can take the bold action necessary to inspire the residents of our cities to become a part of the Trump resistance. This is a movement moment. Fighting for expanded workers’ rights, immigrants’ rights and environmental protections may sound risky in the face of Abbott, Patrick and Trump. But our families will face greater, long-term risks if we do not expose the Republican Party for the discriminatory, misogynist, anti-democratic, anti-American institution it has become.

In Austin, we’re getting started on that work. In the weeks following Trump’s election, immigrants’ rights advocates won a commitment from the City Council to fund nonprofit legal services and deportation defense services for our immigrant community.

Last year, Austin activists successfully demanded a review of the city’s policing practices before any budget funds could go toward new police officers. Formerly incarcerated people advocated for anti-discrimination policies so that people with criminal histories have a better chance at getting a job, and their work led to Austin becoming the first city in the South to pass a Fair Chance Hiring ordinance.

Low-wage service workers won a union at Austin’s airport, and they’re on the way to winning in Houston, too. El Paso passed new laws to hold employers accountable for shorting workers their fair pay. Dallas County’s sheriff bravely limited cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Travis County’s new sheriff promised to go even further toward justice.

These local victories, and the progressive wins to come, are a direct rebuke to the politics of Trump. We’re gaining momentum, and we know Trump and his sympathizers will do whatever they can to slow us down.

This is a call to action: Build the resistance against Trump in your city. Trump may have won our state’s 38 electoral votes, but that doesn’t mean he’s won Texas.

Now is the time to get involved. Go to a protest. Call, visit or write your city council members, county commissioners, mayor and state representatives and demand that they openly resist Trump, and then support them if they do so. Make a donation to, or volunteer for, a progressive movement-building organization in your community.

Act in solidarity with your neighbors, follow the leadership of those whose lives are most at risk and mobilize with them to defend everyone’s rights against vigilante violence or government violence — especially people of color, Muslims, immigrants and others who will be scapegoated. And even when despair and cynicism seem rational, keep hope in your heart instead. We’ll need it. There’s a long fight ahead.