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By Phillip Stucky
Political action committees that fundraised for President Barack Obama during the 2012 presidential election, bused protesters to Republican town hall events nationwide earlier in February, according to a Sunday report from The Washington Post.
Democrats nationwide continue to search for ways to oppose President Donald Trump after the 2016 election, and they are digging deep into funding from years ago. An unnamed pro-Obama super PAC organized protests at several town halls, going so far as busing protesters outside the member’s districts.
Since super PACS were legalized in the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision, this marks the first time that money raised to elect one president was used to undermine another. The town hall protests largely opposed the executive order that limited travel from seven nations identified as potential sources of terrorism.
Former staffers of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton are also pouncing on the opportunity. The Center for American Progress, operated by Clinton advisor Neera Tanden, worked with pro-Obama groups in February to encourage Democrats to oppose Republican lawmakers, including Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Dave Brat, at several town halls.
“What’s organizing people is that they’re fearing for the country they grew up in,” Tanden told the Post. “People are definitely seeing the purpose of working through the political process to oppose.”
It will take a sustained effort to keep voters motivated until the 2018 mid-term elections, especially considering the fact that neither Obama nor Clinton were able to motivate voters to the polls in November. Several groups that were largely assumed to drive votes for Democrats, like black or young female voters, either didn’t turn out to vote, or voted for Trump in larger numbers than early polling suggested.
Despite the united action by former staffers, the leadership of the Democratic party is split in a continued battle as the progressive wing fights the establishment for control. Nowhere is that fight more visible than in the election for chair of the Democratic National Convention.
Progressives like Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren back Rep. Keith Ellison for the chair, but former vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine openly endorsed former Labor Secretary Tom Perez. The traditional activist wing of the Democratic Party, the highly influential labor unions, remained divided on which candidate will better support their interests.
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