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The blinding rapture of mobilization vs. the deep state

For the millions who marched on the day after the Trump inauguration, doing so would surely have built their morale and clarified their political thinking, as evidenced by the fact that many of them have continued to resist and challenge the Trump administration's worst initiatives. But did it do more than that? Ideally, the effect of such mobilizations would be to chasten Trump, to prompt him to restrain his worst inclinations. Or, if not that, then perhaps in a more roundabout fashion they could influence the Republican majority in Congress who, feeling pressure, would disassociate themselves from Trump, causing him to restrain his more outrageous behavior. But this does not appear to have happened. Why is that? Given our careers as professional community organizers, we have serious doubts about the staying power and the ultimate outcomes of mobilizations not built on long-term organizational development and seasoned leadership, which are the basis for waging extended campaigns. In their absence, even mass mobilizations can be forgotten in a matter of days. It's no accident that few of us remember the massive anti-war demonstrations that preceded the U.S. invasion of Iraq. They did not prevent the war. It's not that there's anything wrong with marching. Every experienced community organizer has witnessed and appreciated the euphoria that accompanies such mobilizations, even those with turnouts in the hundreds (let alone in the millions). When citizens who have previously experienced themselves as powerless find themselves surrounded by others who share their resentment and their hopes and dreams, it's no surprise they feel joyful. This reaction fits the definition of rapture: "a feeling of intense pleasure or joy," which have positive benefits for organizing. They are hugely rewarding, and they may even increase the probability for future action.

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