In the past month, teachers in three conservative and comparatively poor states have gone on strike, and, in that short time, certain patterns have developed. In West Virginia, Kentucky, and, most recently, Oklahoma, the teachers have worn red clothing, and they have had a protest song—Twisted Sister’s hair-metal anthem “We’re Not Gonna Take It”—which, at the Oklahoma state capitol on Monday, was played enthusiastically on drums and brass by several dozen of the state’s band teachers. The strikes have been organized on Facebook rather than called by union leaders, and, in West Virginia and Oklahoma, the teachers have rejected lawmakers’ initial offers of pay raises; they have said that they also want to change the systematic underfunding of education. “The real midterms are happening right now, in Kentucky, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona,” the left-wing political theorist Corey Robin tweeted on Sunday.
The tenor of liberal mass protest has changed in the fifteen months since Donald Trump became President. The early demonstrations (the counterprotests at the Inauguration; the vast and furious crowds at the Women’s March, a day later; the more anxious ones that gathered at airports, calling for the release of sequestered Iranian graduate students and Iraqi grandmothers, after the President issued his first travel ban targeting predominantly Muslim nations) had a feeling of holding the country back from a precipice. There was talk of creeping fascism, and a sense that the Trump Administration was a bad dream from which the country might awake if people pinched themselves hard enough. At a Los Angeles march in November, 2017, protesters carried signs that read, “Let this nightmare end.”