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News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

A tea party 'playbook' could be helping Trump opponents turn the tables

by Austin Cross and A Martínez | Take Two®

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Manny Aguilar leads a group of anti-Trump protestors in a chant against the candidate, Friday, May 27, 2016, in San Diego. Trump is scheduled to speak in San Diego Friday afternoon. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi) Lenny Ignelzi/AP

"What has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." -Ecclesiastes 1:9

Ancient words again ring true, this time in the polarized arena of American politics.

The place: San Diego. Setting: present day. The activists: energized and organized. Their targets? Conservative lawmakers.

Using a playbook developed by former congressional staffers, groups are employing familiar tactics to get recognized at town halls, offices and "pretty much anywhere where you can find a lawmaker" in San Diego.

"They are taking moves directly from the tea party," says San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Joshua Stewart. He's followed activist groups like the San Diego chapter of Indivisible, the organization behind the playbook.

"They're quite open that they disagree with the tea party's politics, but they admire the objectives," Stewart says. 

Activists opposed to the Trump agenda have latched onto hot-button issues like the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the President's travel ban, and the environment. And Stewart says they've got their sights set on the seats up for grabs in the 2018 midterm election. 

The guide has been downloaded about 1.7 million times in recent weeks, says reporter Stewart. The document is easily accessible online for those hoping to learn from the successes of the far-right movement that bedeviled the Obama Administration. 

"This has details on where to sit at a meeting — it says sit by yourself or in groups of two and spread out," Stewart says. "Always applaud when someone asks a question, ask pointed questions to the member of Congress to keep them in the hot seat, stick to a limited number of issues..."

The suggestion that stood out to Stewart?

"It said to hold microphones pretty tightly because then a staff member from the member of Congress won't be able to grab it from you," he says.

It's not clear whether these tactics have yielded meaningful dialogue, but they may have created a result; Republican representatives, possibly fearing public confrontation, have held few town hall meetings this week.

The collection of tea party-inspired tips will probably continue to inspire organizers in the months ahead. Stewart says that's because it's likely that more information will be added:

"I imagine as the midterm elections approach, it will contain more information about registering people on how to vote, how to get out the vote, how to convey a message, how to get the electorate fired-up," Stewart says. 

Press the blue play button to hear the full interview. 

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