Given the time constraints imposed by what it takes to sustain a livelihood in our society, we have a rational self-interest in free-riding on the civic engagement of others. For an individual to participate in public life may require a degree of irrationality, of passion — and therefore be motivated more effectively by anger or desperation than by civic concern. The resulting interest groups tend to be reactive and exclusive.
Trump has provoked reactions animating and uniting a wider array of people than a typical interest group. And as organizer Marshall Gantz said, “There seems to be a moment of much broader recognition of the values that a progressive or democratic politics stands for.” (Case in point: “for the people who went to the Women’s March it wasn’t just about women’s issues and for the people who showed up at the airports it wasn’t just about immigration issues.”)
But are we motivated enough? Most people probably remain complacent, not following politics closely enough to understand what is at stake. And standing up to an authoritarian, media-manipulating, vote-suppressing regime wielding the breathtaking power of the U.S. government, in coordination with most state and local governments as well as a media empire — will take a lot.