Two weeks after his inauguration, President Trump’s recent policy decisions are having some unexpected side effects. In North Carolina and across the country, they’re fueling an unprecedented level of public engagement.
Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood report millions of dollars in fundraising and thousands of new members. Mike Meno, communications director with the ACLU of North Carolina, said the historic support will help his group carry out its mission through this new administration.
“Groups like the ACLU are going to do what we can, as always, to hold the government accountable, to work through the court system,” Meno said. “But in order to do this work, we really rely on the support of our members.”
According to Meno, membership nationally has doubled since the election, to more than 1 million ACLU members across the country. Groups like his will use the donation dollars to advocate for people who might be adversely affected by President Trump’s executive orders, in Congress and in court.
Planned Parenthood South Atlantic has seen a 15 percent increase in online donations, and applications from volunteers have increased from a dozen a month to more than 100. Communications manager Sarah Eldred said that with an energized base, the organization has renewed strength.
“People are getting engaged in ways that do last a long time, so they’re starting volunteer opportunities where they’re engaging their neighbors, and they’re throwing house parties and meetings,” Eldred said. “And it’s going to be a long fight, but I think our volunteers so far, from what we’ve seen, are in it for the long haul.”
Meno said he believes many people are re-learning a valuable lesson about the importance of taking their views beyond the ballot box.
“More and more people are realizing that in a true democracy, our role as citizens doesn’t simply end when we cast our ballots on Election Day,” Meno said. “And that it’s absolutely necessary that ‘We the People’ hold officials accountable.”
In addition to donating and volunteering, people are turning out at protests and marches. More than 500,000 attended the Women’s March On Washington, and 17,000 were at the sister march in Raleigh.
A big crowd is expected on Saturday, Feb. 11 at the annual Historic Thousands on Jones Street March in Raleigh, which will involve more than 200 organizations.