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ACLU, Organized Labor, Billionaire Steyer Chart Paths for 2018 Resistance

As soon as Donald Trump moved into the White House, the American Civil Liberties Union’s membership began growing to 1.6 million, four times bigger than during the Obama administration. Along with filling out ACLU membership cards, liberal/progressive voters also clicked in $93 million in online donations to the organization, an increase of $88 million from the year before.

“We have bodies the likes of which we’ve never had before,” said ACLU executive director Anthony Romero. “We actually have dollars the likes of which we’ve never seen before.”

With all that new membership and monetary might behind it, Romero told Politico there’s no reason that the ACLU can’t become the NRA of left-wing politics and the center of anti-Trump resistance.

“It’s clear that a larger portion of the American public is deeply engaged in politics in a way they’ve never been before,” said Romero.

If Tom Steyer’s NextGen America organization and the AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka have anything to say about it, the ACLU won’t be storming the gates of the Trump administration alone. Both groups see the 2018 midterms as a turning point in American history and a not-to-be-missed opportunity to evict Donald Trump from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

And like Romero, Trumka and Steyer said their organizations’ members have a new fire in their bellies thanks to President Trump.

“The biggest influencer on giving in America is the news cycle,” Larry Lieberman, chief operating officer of Charity Navigator, a watchdog organization that tracks nonprofit giving and spending, told Politico.

“Disasters come, people give. Whatever triggers awareness makes people give. And the change in behavior especially in the weeks before and immediately after the inauguration were pretty extraordinary,” Lieberman added.

Beyond the presidency of Donald Trump, the ACLU highlighted the Senate campaign of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio (R) and the decision by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) to run for governor as two reasons the organization needed to take an unprecedented step into the 2018 elections.

And those are only two examples of why liberals and progressives, said ACLU National Political Director Faiz Shakir, need to turn anger into action through the primaries and finally in the general elections this year.

“Across the country, there are countless politicians of both parties who are standing for election in spite of terrible civil rights and civil liberties record,” wrote Shakir. “If you ever wondered whether elections really matter, the agenda of these candidates should remove any doubt.”

The ACLU has always seen itself as a nonpartisan organization that paid attention to civil rights and liberties rather than politics. Shakir vowed that would not change even though two of its primary targets, Arpaio and Kobach, are Republicans.

“Rather than judge politicians based on their party affiliation, we judge them on their records on civil liberties and civil rights. When we engage in a race, we do so to highlight the issues we care about,” Shakir wrote.