Type II: Outside Game

Where game change protest is focused on building mass public support, outside game protest targets the powers that be. Some outside game protests have chiefly symbolic value. Others yield practical outcomes. Outside game protest can be effective in various spheres of influence, but targeting decision-makers is the most critical.

Outside game strategies allow individuals who are outside the channels of power to collectively raise their voices, issue demands, and achieve change by either halting bad policies or propelling good ones forward. Outside game tactics call out decision-makers who would often prefer not to hear from us.

Of course, none of us is truly an outsider. We all have connections to places where power is exercised and decisions are made. We live our lives in various spheres of influence where we can make our views known. Working together, we can use these spheres of influence to drive change.

With all the energy generated by game-changing protest, our movement is flush with new recruits who believe in the power of the resistance and are eager to stay involved. Creative thinking about our spheres of influence will help us turn this growing active popular support into tangible achievements.

You have more power than you know

One of the reasons social movements can make such a big impact is that each of the millions of people who belong to a movement has influence and power in many different aspects of his or her life.

Perhaps the most important sphere of influence in which we can act is as constituents to elected officials. As community organizer and theorist Saul Alinsky put it in his book Rules for Radicals, “Action comes from keeping the heat on. No politician can sit on a hot issue if you make it hot enough.” Our influence with our representatives doesn’t begin and end on Election Day: We can call or write their offices and show up at their town halls. Tea Party activists confronted their representatives en masse to great effect, and the Indivisible Guide has shown the Trump/GOP resistance how to respond in similar fashion (see sidebar).

When activists make it costlier for politicians to support the status quo than to oppose it, we see change. Republicans ease off their attacks on environmental regulations or protections for the poor. Establishment Democrats tilt their efforts away from Wall Street backers and towards working people.

The most important arena for the outside game is electoral politics, but pressure need not only be applied to elected representatives. This is where other spheres of influence come into play: We can move corporations, for example, as employees, consumers or shareholders.

Tech industry leaders felt pressure to resign from Trump’s advisory council when their employees organized against using their skills to support deportations or religious discrimination in the form of a Muslim registry. The #DeleteUBER hashtag went viral after the company attempted to profit from an anti-travel-ban taxi strike in New York City, showing the power of consumer pressure.

Independently of electoral politics, boycotts have used consumer power to win direct reform from corporations. Apple, Nike and Target, for instance, have all responded to consumer-led action in recent memory, improving working conditions and addressing anti-LGBTQ bias. Boycotts often begin to alarm corporations simply by gaining traction on social media—even before broadcast and print media take notice, and long before they begin to noticeably slow earnings. Union fights, local development environmental battles and campaigns to pressure religious organizations or professional societies on particular issues also count as outside game protest.




Imagine that the thousands of people who participated in game change protest have been joined by thousands more who were moved to oppose the Trump/GOP agenda because of that protest and subsequent small actions. Now they form their own small groups and flood established organizations.

Every proposal that comes out of the Trump administration or the Republican Congress sets off a barrage of phone calls, town halls and delegations, day after day. Democratic officials, their fighting spirit restored, work harder to resist Trump’s every move. Republicans hesitate to endorse Trump’s agenda.


You can make this happen. The Indivisible Guide has been incredibly effective at getting the ball rolling. Now we need to keep up the pressure! Use the four tactics described in the Indivisible Guide: Confront your member of Congress at town halls; participate in events in his or her home district; join in district sit-ins (or, if fighting for health care, “die-ins”); and barrage him or her by fax and phone.

Don’t leave out your Democratic representatives either. Even the most progressive Democrats need to know there’s pressure on them from the movement, and most Democrats will slide towards the middle (or keep their heads down) if they don’t see that the movement is alive and kicking in their district. Positive feedback can be important too. It helps politicians stay strong when doing the right thing—and it lets them know that you're watching.

Even if it isn’t your primary focus, participate in outside game resistance at least once a month. Make phone calls. Show up to town hall meetings. Or find other strategic campaigns that influence decision makers.


  • Is this type of resistance using our sphere of influence to pressure a decision maker? Unlike small actions, which focus on winning active popular support, outside game tactics focus on pressuring decision makers.
  • Is the pressure being felt by the decision maker? A good outside game tactic will use the smallest amount of force necessary to make a decision-maker feel the greatest amount of pressure. Look for signs that the decision-maker is nervous about a damaged reputation or a loss in power.
  • Has the decision maker changed his stance, started to behave differently, or found himself in a dilemma? For example, an elected official might have to decide between showing up to face a jeering town hall crowd or appearing cowardly by canceling their appearance.