It's been three weeks since the new administration has been in place. Since then, we've seen hundreds of thousands of people across this nation protesting their policies - from the Women's March on Washington, to the anti-Muslim Ban protests at LAX and airports around the country, to an LGBTQ dance party protest taking place in front of Mike Pence's house. It seems as if every day there has been an executive order, new policy or cabinet member appointee so controversial (and dangerous) that Americans have finally gotten off their collective butt to voice their opposition.
Now there is a movement taking it all to the next level. The idea was recently proposed inThe Guardian by Francine Prose calling for a "nonviolent national general strike" that can't be "easily ignored and forgotten by those who wish to ignore and forget them." That call has been answered and on Friday, February 17th a General Strike is taking place along with rallies and actions being organized in cities across the country including Los Angeles, New York, Portland, Phoenix, Tucson, Philadelphia, San Diego, Madison, Denver, Eugene, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, Chicago, and San Francisco.
The idea is simple: don't go to work and don't purchase anything. Instead hold peaceful protest, engage in community service, or reach out to your local representatives. Engage in democracy in some active way.
For those of you who have never heard of a General Strike, historically it has been used to send a powerful message to governments through shutting down of businesses, schools, and institutions. The idea is to send a loud and clear message: people hold the REAL power. Without people purchasing goods, services and providing labor and paying taxes, corporations and governments cannot function properly. When mass populations engage in this kind of dissent, real change has been shown to follow.
Case in point: Iceland. On October 24, 1975, the women of Iceland went on strike to demand equal rights. Almost 90% of women walked off their jobs and out of their homes, shutting down the entire country. The next year, Parliament passed a law guaranteeing equal pay. Five years later, they elected the world's first female President.
To date, we've seen cities like Seattle and Davis which recently divested from Wells Fargo Bank because of their involvement in financing the North Dakota Access Pipeline. Silicon Valley's top tech companies signed a collective brief opposing the administration's controversial Muslim Ban. Since then, a federal appeals court judge has ruled against the travel ban. We are already beginning to see the power of economic protest in the face of policies that impact millions of people.
So how can you participate? Organizers of the National Strike are calling for people to stay home from work (if they can afford to), school (if they can), and to not purchase anything within reason (gas up the previous day and stock up on food). Participate in local gatherings that are being organized in your city. Here's a list of actions you can take.
History has shown us that things change only when millions of people get up and say enough is enough. On February 17th, we will have our chance to do just that.