In early 2017, the shock of Donald Trump’s first election sparked a burst of activity that profoundly altered Washington: Donations to progressive advocacy groups soared. Traffic to political media spiked. Protests filled the calendar. A day after Trump’s unimpressively attended inauguration, the massive Women’s March became the second-busiest day in the history of the capital’s Metro system. But now, as a second Trump term becomes an increasingly real possibility, there’s no consensus that anything similar would happen in January 2025 — something that could make Washington a very different place in the event the 45th president returned. It’s a prospect that ought to terrify members of the putative resistance — yet it remains bafflingly absent from many conversations among groups that channeled the wave of energy seven years ago. “I think people would probably be shell-shocked and maybe almost immobilized by what had happened,” said David Brock, the conservative-turned-liberal impresario behind a variety of anti-Trump efforts. Brock told me that, in contrast to the donations windfall of 2017, the demoralization could make it “very difficult to keep some of these large progressive organizations funded robustly — people will look back on that and think it didn’t work.” Ian Bassin, the founder of Protect Democracy, also said it’s foolish to assume the environment of a Trump-dominated 2025 would guarantee another upsurge of organic pushback: “The civil society, pro-democracy, grassroots movement, I worry, if he prevails, will feel incredibly defeated and deflated. That could lead to a total reversal of the dynamics from the beginning of 2017.” Bassin should know: He benefited from those dynamics, founding an organization dedicated to preserving government’s guardrails within a month of Trump’s victory in response to the crisis environment of the time. A passive response to a new Trump term is a prospect that has […]

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By Donato