Is a national liberal group guiding and scripting South Carolina anti-Trump protests?
“Be prepared to interrupt and insist on your right to be heard,” reads a line from Indivisible Guide, a roadmap of sorts for those protestors who are loudly swamping the town hall events of Republican members of Congress nationally.
Here in South Carolina, a joint town hall featuring Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) attracted such a loud crowd. In fact, Sanford reportedly coordinated the town hall with local “Indivisible” groups.
So, what is Indivisible and who is behind the group?
Numerous Republicans and conservative groups have accused the group of being funded by foreign hedge-fund magnate, and liberal mega-donor, George Soros. The group denies being funded by Soros, but Matthew Vadum, senior vice president at the Capital Research Center, recently told The Daily Signal that “at least three of the group’s five principals—Ezra Levin, Leah Greenberg, and Angel Padilla—have ties to organizations funded by George Soros.”
Soros has gained headlines as one of the most prolific funders of liberal and Democrat Party-affiliated candidates and groups.
Politico reports that Soros engaged in a “then-unprecedented $27 million spending spree to try to defeat President George W. Bush in 2004” and “has quietly reemerged as a leading funder of Democratic politics.”
As the New York Times reports, Soros was “convicted of insider trading in 2002 by a French appeals court and fined 2.2 million euros — the equivalent of what he was accused of making — after a Paris court found that he had bought and sold shares of Société Générale in 1988 with the knowledge that the bank might be a takeover target.”
“We think George Soros funds many worthy programs, but he has not funded us,” board members of Indivisible reportedly emailed to The Daily Signal when asked about the group’s ties to Soros.
So, what, exactly is the “Indivisible Guide” about?
The groups’ guide contains a number of tips for protesters at congressional town hall meetings. These include:
Indivisible’s Web site lists a number of groups within 50 miles of Charleston, SC that the organization says “agree to resist Trump's agenda, focus on local, defensive congressional advocacy, and embrace progressive values.”
These groups include Peninsular Charleston Democrats, and a number of closed Facebook groups such as Indivisible Charleston and Indivisible Summerville.
Indivisible Summerville has a public Facebook page, last updated January 29. In one of the most recent comments on the page, a Facebook user named Ann Shields asked, “What exactly are you against. What are specifics?”
Anticipating such questions, the Indivisible Guide features a header, “Shouldn’t we put forward an alternate, positive agenda?” and then goes on to explain why that isn’t the goal of the organization.
“You may not like the idea of being purely defensive; we certainly don’t,” reads the guide. “As progressives, our natural inclination is to talk about the things we’re for—a clean climate, economic justice, health care for all, racial equality, gender and sexual equality, and peace and human rights. These are the things that move us. But the hard truth of the next four years is that we’re not going to set the agenda.”
The guide also provides pre-written scripts on a variety of issues, ranging from “state retirement plans” to opposition to the president’s cabinet nominees.
A number of the town hall events visited by Indivisible groups supporters have grown raucous. The Sacramento Bee reports that Congressman Tom McClintock even required a police escort to leave his recent town hall event.
While the Facebook page of Charleston Peninsular Democrats, listed as a supporter group on Indivisible’s Web site, contained a photo of a protester carrying a sign that read, “United Against Hate”, a comment posted on another Indivisible-affiliated group carried a far different message.
Writing on the Facebook page of Rebel Action Network-Beaufort, also listed on the Indivisible Web site, Facebook user Bernie Ragsdale posted that Senator Tim Scott’s introduction of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at her nomination hearing was a “repulsive site.”
“He looked like a jackass eating briars as he ‘smiled her’ into her chair,” posted Ragsdale.
Whether such aggressive tactics will influence Congress or the 2018 elections remains to be seen. For now, however, groups using Indivisible’s guide are loud, raucous and getting attention.