The rise of American authoritarianism
View this email in your browser
Before thousands of people shut down the Trump rally in Chicago, small teams of activists disrupted Trump rallies in Madison, Alabama, Fayetteville, North Carolina, and St. Louis, Missouri last week.

The disruptions last week didn’t come from nowhere. They build on months of actions at Trump events in BirminghamRaleigh, CharlestonPortsmouthNew Orleans, Louisville, and other cities. 

👆Click those links to see video. Raleigh is my fave. 👆

Joseph Phelan, part of the communications support team for the Fayetteville and St. Louis actions, describes some of the thinking behind these actions and the push behind the idea/hashtag they launched, #TimeToEscalate.

The action and the push towards escalation is based on a couple of assumptions:
  1. Trump and Trumpism is an emboldened and public new Fascism - and if not a coherent ideology, it is mobilizing economically disenfranchised whites and consolidating organized hate groups using racist, xenophobic and misogynistic language and promises.
  2. Where there is a rising fascism there is a moral imperative to oppose and stop it. We do not starve the beast enough by not acting against him and what he represents (and his die hard followers). While actions may embolden him/them, it also emboldens us.
  3. There are a myriad of strategies and tactics to do this: some are short term, some are medium term, some are long term, some on the ground, some in the air, some with unlikely allies. All should be happening.
  4. In this moment we cannot win over Trump supporters. Nor can we necessarily win over fence sitters.
  5. We can consolidate our base and encourage actions, in particular by white people who want to be in solidarity with movements like the movement for Black lives and Not1More, given that Trump is riding a reactionary backlash to these movements (along with other conditions).
  6. The action in North Carolina was done to a. build on the brave public interruptions of Trump at other rallies led by people of color, b. encourage others in the progressive and social justice space to create more visible and disruptive non-violent interruptions, towards consolidating a base towards action by demonstrating very clear resistance (why else chant "Time to escalate" in the rally?). This led directly into people from that action team supporting the group in St. Louis.
  7. This is not just about Trump. This is about consolidating a base for long term defeat of Trumpism. To mistake the man for the movement is a mistake, and shortsighted.  
  8. The Chicago shutdown of Trump on Friday is significant and inspiring. Lead by a coalition of Black people and people of color standing in solidarity with one another, it is an awesome exhibit of the powerful social movements in the U.S. today.
It's time to escalate. If you (or your organization) want to step up, lemme know and I'll connect you with others.

Or reach out to 
BlackOut CollectiveBlack Lives MatterIraq Veterans Against the War, Showing Up for Racial Justice - SURJ, or United We Dream. Get in touch with Joseph at and on Twitter.


Watch and learn
We have a new webinar series to share practical skills, lessons learned and new ideas from around the world.

Turning Facebook Likes to Offline Wins: We Did It and So Can You with Janna Zinzi, Forward Together and Katie Alexander of the Tennessee Justice Center on Friday, March 25th, 1:00-2:30 Eastern.

In this webinar, you’ll learn a model of moving people from Facebook to offline action. Register now. If you can’t attend, register anyways and we’ll send you the recording.

Video Hacks for Organizers: Love Video like Kanye loves Kanye with Yash Mori on Thursday, March 31st 3:00-4:30 Eastern.

This webinar will teach you how to make Facebook optimized videos that build a collective identity for supportersinspire people to take bold action and more. Register now. Same as above, if you can’t attend live, register anyways and we’ll send you the recording.
No clickbait
Teens do read email. Clover is a new email newsletter that aims to inform teen girls about the news that matters to them. Three interesting things:
  • They performed user research by direct messaging teens on Instagram.
  • They built their audience by messaging influencers on Instagram and featuring them in the newsletter.
  • They have a 70% open rate. Part of that may be because they feature their readers' Instagram accounts in the emails. It’s a good application of the Hook model to keep readers coming back.
Prepare to be amazed at the length of their emails.
Fake it till you make it
I love design sprints -- a five-day process for answering critical organizational questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with your key audiences. It shortcuts analysis paralysis and compresses months of work into one 40 hour week.

Last week, Google Ventures released a book that explains the process and gives examples of design sprints in action.
Build your audience
“Writing and reading on Medium is simple,” but there’s a lot you can do to make your writing shine. Learn how to use H1 and H2 headers to help your audience find their way, fine tune your preview text, and optimize the image display in ways you never knew were possible.

“Pitching op-eds to the few remaining mass-distribution newspapers is a risky gamble, not a strategy. Pitching niche publications after The New York Times passes on your think piece is a niche strategy.” Mike Connery proposes a strategy for building policy and advocacy thought leadership networks on Medium.
The long read worth reading

The American media, over the past year, has been trying to work out something of a mystery: Why is the Republican electorate supporting a far-right, orange-toned populist with no real political experience, who espouses extreme and often bizarre views? How has Donald Trump, seemingly out of nowhere, suddenly become so popular?

What's made Trump's rise even more puzzling is that his support seems to cross demographic lines — education, income, age, even religiosity — that usually demarcate candidates. And whereas most Republican candidates might draw strong support from just one segment of the party base, such as Southern evangelicals or coastal moderates, Trump currently does surprisingly well from the Gulf Coast of Florida to the towns of upstate New York, and he won a resounding victory in the Nevada caucuses.

The rise of American authoritarianism, Amanda Taub in Vox [31 min read]
You want to turn on images for this.
“This is one of the necessities that's hands on, you can't get no haircut on the internet. Here we call people by name.” — Dave, All About Business

GIF by Brandon Tauszik

Around the office: We’re on a training spree. We recently led a webinar on how youth organizers can use text messaging for Nellie Mae Education Foundation grantees, and taught Kentuckians for the Commonwealth staff how to use petitions to recruit supporters, get earned media coverage and pressure campaign targets.

Next week we’re leading a webinar for the Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing to teach youth organizing groups how to use email to move people to action.

If you’d like us to lead a webinar or training for your organization, email Randall at

Copyright © 2016 PowerLabs, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list