Fight or surrender

Indivisible Guide
7 min readMay 28, 2024


By Ezra Levin, Indivisible Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director

Screengrab via USA Today

Welcome to the biweekly-ish newsletter! It’s here we get updates from the world and on our movement-wide effort to defeat Trump, build a Democratic trifecta, and codify reproductive rights and democracy reform. For those short on time, I’ll summarize:

The News: We’re getting more and more demonstrations of the Republican Party’s descent into fascism. We can all see it happening. The question is, what are we going to do about it? Our answer: encourage Democrats to fight. And that brings me to the brag.

The Brag: One of the big reasons to build independent grassroots power is so you can push your electeds after you elect them. Indivisible is doing that — we’re encouraging Democrats to fight back against MAGA with everything they’ve got. We are going to win in November, but we’re not stopping there. We’re going to win, and then we’re going to push this party to deliver.

The Discussion: Reminder, Leah and I are hosting another informal coffee klatch! Got something on your mind? Last time, we spent almost all the time on Q&A and had a great discussion. Join us this Friday at 4pm ET/ 1pm PT. You can register and submit questions ahead of time if you’d like here.

News: It’s feeling a little more fascistic in here

You’re not dreaming — MAGA has a fascism problem. One of the tough parts about discussing the state of politics these days is that stating true facts makes you sound like an alarmist pretty fast:

  • Trump posted a video promising a “unified reich.”
  • Trump promised to a friendly interviewer that he would be a dictator “on day one.”
  • Elected MAGA supporters showed up at Trump’s porn star hush money campaign finance trial in matching suits to badmouth the judge and his family.
  • Trump’s own lawyer argued that it’s legal for presidents to order the assassination of political rivals.
  • Trump falsely claimed Biden greenlit the FBI to assassinate him.
  • Republican Vice Presidential contenders refused to say they will accept the 2024 election results without reservation.
  • Trump brain trust published a 900-page plan detailing how they plan to dismantle the administrative state, concentrate power in the White House, and steamroll through an historic right-wing agenda.
  • Steve Bannon said about these plans, “We mock your fear, we want you to fear. There will be accountability. We are going to hold everyone who opposes Trump responsible.”

I could go on. Is this fascism? Whatever it is, it’s an uncomfortable combination of pathetic, laughable, scary, and menacing. This type of strong-man politics is fundamentally weak — built on bravado and supported by sycophancy. But that weakness and that ridiculousness don’t make it less scary when they’re trying to drag the country back to the 19th Century.

In response, the Democrats are charged with a tough task. How can they make clear exactly how extreme and anti-democratic MAGA is? How can they contrast the world we want to see with the ominous funhouse mirror version of America MAGA wants?

Samuel Alito is one of the most right-wing justices on the Supreme Court — a court that is weighing whether to give Donald Trump immunity for his role in instigating the January 6th insurrection. This is the very court that has been dragging its feet, helping Trump delay the trial beyond the election.

Then the news broke.

In the days after the January 6th insurrection, Alito himself flew the pro-insurrection upside-down flag used by the MAGA freaks who stormed the Capitol. It’s a shocking revelation for any national political figure charged with defending the Constitution. It was so bad that even the terminally cynical Lindsey Graham criticized Alito. And Alito, seeking cover, did the classic thing: He blamed his wife.

Enter Dick Durbin. A Member of Congress since before I was born. Second highest ranking Democrat in senate Democratic leadership. A progressive champion on many issues, including the fight for Dreamers.

This is a Democrat with power. Specifically, as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he is arguably the single most powerful person in the country when it comes to oversight of the federal courts from the Supreme Court on down.

What say our hero, Dick Durbin? Our knight in shining armor leading the fight against the MAGA hordes?

Durbin shrugged. “No, we haven’t got anything planned. I think he’s explained his situation. The American public understand what he did,” Durbin told reporters. That’s a direct quote! Durbin encouraged Alito (Ha!) to recuse himself from Trump’s January 6th case. Asked what would happen if Alito refused, Durbin said, “There’s no recourse other than impeachment, and we’re not at that point at all.” Can’t win, won’t try.

Pro-democracy observers were dumbfounded by Durbin’s response. No investigation? No hearing? No subpoena? No expediting of an ethics bill? No attempt to focus public attention on this anti-democratic extremism in the highest court in the land? Nothing? Really nothing??

Oh, but it got worse.

Later this week, the press discovered Alito had flown an “Appeal to Heaven” flag at his beach vacation home in the years after the coup attempt. For those unaware as I was before this story broke, “Appeal to Heaven” is an endorsement of the violent overthrow of the government. It is a message of Christian nationalists that means something to the effect of, “We’re done with debate. We’re appealing to heaven to help us overthrow you.” It was a popular flag on January 6th. In the aftermath of the news, Alito bunkered down and did not publicly attempt the blame-the-wife strategy again.

Alex Aronson, a former senior Department of Justice and Senate staffer, wrote, “These two Alito flags together are the story of the end of our country. One a totem against democracy itself, the other a vision for our theocratic future. The symbolism is haunting. But it’s not too late. We must fight back.”

Fighting back is not only the right thing to do for our democracy — it’s the right thing to do for this election. Democrats have to present a contrast with Republicans. Force them to defend the indefensible. Focus public attention on their egregious behavior and their plans for a government built around retribution, corruption, and taking your freedoms away.

We want to save this democracy — so fight! We want to win this election — so fight!

But instead what we got from Dick Durbin was a tweet suggesting Alito recuse himself and then a polite letter asking Chief Justice John Roberts for a meeting. You know, the same John Roberts who gutted the Voting Rights Act and has reportedly been covering for Alito’s MAGA escapades.

Coincidentally or not, less than a day after Durbin’s initial tweet, Alito published a majority opinion for the United States Supreme Court further weakening the Voting Rights Act to uphold a racial gerrymander in South Carolina and set the standard for other states to do the same. Say what you will, but you can’t deny MAGA is playing for keeps.

This is not the end of the story. Let’s continue to The Brag.

The Brag: When we fight for our democracy, we keep our democracy

I’m gonna write something here that I’ve said many times before, even though it irks some people: Indivisible is not an arm of the Democratic Party. Our north star this year is rebuilding the Democratic trifecta so that we can pass democracy reform and codify reproductive rights. Electing Democrats is a means to an end, because the purpose of a Democrat isn’t just to win an election — it’s to win an election and then use that power to build a democracy of, by, and for the people.

That strategic orientation is important because without outside pressure, we the people don’t get a Voting Rights Act. We the people don’t save the Affordable Care Act. We the people don’t get the largest climate bill in history. And we the people won’t get democracy reform, a national reproductive rights bill, or oversight and reform of the Supreme Court.

There’s a rich history of popular movements existing outside of the formal political party structure and pushing that party to do better and be more responsive to the people. At Indivisible, we win, and we push.

That’s why I’m proud — and bragging — about the work of Indivisible across Illinois, who spent this week on a caravan from East St. Louis to Springfield, to Chicago, to Carbondale. They got some press for it too — focusing public attention on the issue of Supreme Court malfeasance in a way that Dick Durbin so far has been unwilling to do. If we’re gonna get Durbin to get off his duff, it’s gonna take a lot more of this kind of locally-led constituent pressure. Groups like Indivisible Metro East, Indivisible Rural Illinois, NWSOFA-Indivisible, Indivisible Evanston, Indivisible DuPage, Indivisible Illinois, and Indivisible Naperville are doing a service for the whole nation with this local work.

And wouldn’t you know it, following their caravan, Durbin — who’d initially only tweeted about the Alito mess — wrote to Justice Roberts requesting a meeting. Is it sufficient? Heck no. But it shows Durbin is feeling the pressure, and rest assured our groups will keep it up.

I’ll write it again: We have to elect a Democratic trifecta this year. But if we want Democrats to fight. If we want them to pass legislation. If we want them to exercise oversight. If we want them to govern in a way that is responsive to the people and not to other interests. If all that is what we want, then we have to build local grassroots power to win in November and keep pushing. We have to push this party to fight.

If that’s the kind of Democratic Party you want to see, you’re in good company. And if you want to help us build that, well, that’s what we do, and it takes grassroots dollars to do it. So, chip in here if you can.

The Discussion: Come chat with us on Friday!

We held an informal Q&A with me and my fellow co-executive director (and spouse) Leah last month and had a great off-the-cuff discussion from Indivisible members from all over the country. We covered everything from messaging strategies to intel on national races to organizing strategies and tactics — it was a good time. We’ll host another one this coming Friday, May 31, at 4pm ET / 1pm PT. You can register here and send in some questions, and we’ll also take lots of questions live. Hope to see you Friday!



Indivisible Guide

Indivisible is a locally-led, nationally coordinated movement-building progressive power in every state.