I'm thinking of Clausewitz as I read this piece on "progressives" looking to turn the disparate activists on that side of the aisle into a "Tea Party of the left." Politics is the art of getting people to see things your way and to changing the way things are run so that they're more to your liking. In geopolitics, diplomacy and economic "soft power" are ways to change things, as are embargoes, boycotts and wars; "war is the continuation of politics by other means" is the classic Clausewitz line.
This paragraph (italics added) has a lot of food for thought.
“American activists are finally starting to understand that protest is broken,” wrote Micah White, an architect of Occupy Wall Street, in an email. “The people cannot attain sovereignty over their governments by collective protest in the streets. There are only two ways to achieve sovereignty in this world: Win elections or win wars. Now that street protest is not an option, we will see the Trump resistance split into these two fronts. Some will pursue the strategy of using social movements to elections while others go down the dark path of '70s guerrilla insurrection. I advocate winning elections.”
There are other ways to get things done beyond those two. Protests can sway public opinion in your direction; the civil rights protests of the 1960s were an example of "street theater" done right, appealing to the better angels of American nature to give blacks equal treatment. It had an achievable goal to which the population was open to. Things like the Civil Rights Act were passed and Jim Crow laws struck down not because they voted redneck congressmen out of office but by changing "the hearts and minds" of voters, legislators and judges.
The problem with the Occupy movement is that they didn't seem to have a coherent goal. "Wall Street is greedy" is a given. What do you want to do to solve that or to mitigate that? That was a question the occupiers didn't have a coherent answer to. Without a candidate or a legislative or legal agenda to get behind, there was no good way to channel frustration at corporate excesses and governmental acquiescence to it.
This year's Bernie Sanders campaign gave that frustration a face, and nearly grabbed the Democratic nomination, giving a well-placed Clinton all she wanted and then some in the primaries. I'm picturing Hillary as Apollo Creed at the end of the first Rocky fight, "ain't gonna be no rematch." Creed had won in a split-decision that no one saw comping, since he had knocked everyone else out before then, and he wanted no part of that action again if he could help it.
However, there will be a rematch, if not between Clinton and Sanders. We already have Balboa-Creed II slated for the DNC chair slot, with Keith Ellison in the progressive trunks, and Howard Dean in the establishment shorts.
There isn't a progressive majority in the country at this point. Clinton only got just under 48% of the vote and quite a bit of that was non-progressives that were more afraid of Trump than of Clinton. However, if they can take the close-miss of Sanders and add to it, possibly by including more people of color who voted for Clinton in the primaries, it could prove to be a working majority within the Democratic Party.
That can be done by following the Tea Party playbook of primarying more-moderate legislators, especially in left-listing areas that never elect Republicans. However, the trick then becomes getting those folks elected in swing districts; Tea Partiers were easily cast as radicals not representative of the whole of the district or state. The same fate could well await progressives who manage to win primaries but not general elections.
That takes time. Only a small handful of states have odd-year elections, the next Congressional elections are two years off and there are four years until Trump can be replaced via the ballot. It's the job of these progressive activists to first get their people nominated, then get them elected in sufficient quantities to enact change via peaceful political avenues.
Easier said than done.
For folks with shorter attention spans and more pessimism about the system, the bullet may seem more effective than the ballot. Thankfully, progressives aren't all that big on guns; if the election proved to be a pro-Clinton squeaker, the dystopic movie version would have NRA-Trumpeters grabbing their guns and start small rebellions.
Could we be seeing such dystopic reactions from the left? If the prospect of waiting four years to oust the regressive bigots from power seems both too long and too difficult, could they try taking things by extra-legal means?
On Saturday, White posted a memo from a newly formed group calling itself Roosevelt’s Army on the front page of OccupyWallSt.org calling for the occupation of the National Mall during Trump’s inauguration along with “Non-violent disruptions of inaugural events and gatherings, including banner reveals, flash mobs, and simply standing as one people in solidarity for the freedoms of all Americans.”
One thing we've seen in other progressive protests is that peaceful protests often draw folks prone to (or sometimes intent on) violent acts; anti-Trump protests in Portland turned violent last week, for example. If tens of thousands of right-leaning folks coming to DC for the festivities are interacting with tens of thousands of protesting leftists primed to hate their guts, more than one violent acts are likely to occur even if organizers have no intent of doing so.
The dystopic movie version in my mind has such protests lurching from flash mobs to flash riots, with protesters stoning or shooting police, trashing businesses or conservative-associated buildings and making day-to-day life impossible. The Palestinian intifada of yore comes to mind, with young progressives playing the Palestinian role and the police and other authorities playing the IDF role. That violent protest/uprising didn't accomplish much other than empower Hamas.
It you couple that with a Red State-Blue State motif, the coastal big cities and the states therein could become prodded into becoming independent of the US if rule from a Trump-lead Washington proved unacceptable and unworkable on the ground
That's where we might be headed if cooler heads don't prevail.