Protesters revved up by Saturday's march in Raleigh kept the momentum going with a rally in front of the office of Senator Thom Tillis this afternoon, urging the Republican leader to oppose President Donald Trump's Cabinet picks in an action they dubbed "resist Trump Tuesday."
The rally was one of a number of actions planned nationwide by MoveOn.org, the Working Families Party, and People’s Action, urging Senate members to resist a handful of Trump's proposed Cabinet members and delay confirmations until the public is presented with more information on each of the nominees. Attendees were opposed to the confirmations of five nominees they deemed the #SwampCabinet: Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General; former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State; Georgia Republican Congressman Tom Price for Department of Health and Human Services; billionaire Republican donor Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education; and former Goldman Sachs partner Steven Mnuchin to lead the Department of the Treasury.
The rally was led by Karen Ziegler, a retired nurse practitioner, and Nancy Jacobs, a retired teacher.
"We're making a huge statement by being such a huge group on a workday on just one day's notice," said Ziegler, who had never visited a Senator's office or organized a political action before today. However, Ziegler said she found inspiration in last weekend's march and vowed to return to Tillis' office every Tuesday from here on out. "We're just getting started. We will be here every Tuesday, we'll be taking our cues from MoveOn. Here in Raleigh
we have a great tradition of Moral Monday. We're starting a new tradition of Resist Trump Tuesday."
Many in attendance carried posters and a some even brought along stuffed foxes, making reference to the "fox guarding the henhouse" line that's often been used to describe a number of Trump's picks. Speakers expressed concern about the fate of the environment, health care, public education, and the economy under a Trump administration.
Sessions' name drew particularly loud jeers from the crowd. In 1986, Sessions was denied confirmation for a federal judgeship (by a Republican-controlled Senate committee) over accusations of racism. He reportedly described the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union as “un-American” and “Communist-inspired,” and joked that he thought the members of the Ku Klux Klan were "okay" until he "learned that they smoked marijuana.”
Many also expressed disgust with Trump's pick to lead the Department of Education. The prominent Republican mega-donor Betsy DeVos, an ardent supporter of charter schools, displayed a shaky grasp of the federal Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) at her confirmation hearing last week.
"I would not have gotten to Wake Forest University if it wasn't for things like the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the freedoms that are afforded to every single one of us by the Constitution," said Matthew Potter, a Wake Forest graduate who uses a wheelchair. "Donald Trump can try to hold people like me, or Latinos, or Muslims, or people on the LGBT spectrum down all the want to, but the fact is as long as we are breathing, we will never
"Run for office Matt! Run for office Matt!" the crowd chanted.
"They can keep using their rhetoric all they want to," he continued. "But guess what, they have a storm in front of them right now. And in four years, I look forward to saying the words, 'Donald Trump, you're fired!'"