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Indivisible's efforts take root

Reeling after last year’s elections, progressives in January started an Indivisible chapter in the Second Congressional District. Six months later, the local group has attracted more than 3,000 volunteers who stage rallies, create websites, reach out on social media, do fundraising and generally spread a message that's not likely to make Second District Congressman Greg Walden, R-Oregon, happy.

And they're not alone in their efforts — group members says Indivisible now has at least one chapter in every congressional district nationwide.

Indivisible is a nonprofit organization, which by definition can't be overtly political. But the Indivisible members are not shy about pointing out Walden’s voting record, especially on health care — and, off the record, talk a lot about finding a strong candidate whose votes would run counter to Walden's track record.

To raise money for an information campaign on Walden's record — and specifically his support of President Donald Trump and opposition to current health care policy — they are planning a fundraiser, “Rock the Resistance,” with a wide variety of local rock-blues groups, at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8, at the Historic Ashland Armory.

Secretary-Treasurer Jim Bachman says use of the word "resistance" is intentional. It’s about keeping progressives from wandering off into the centrist world, he said, and succumbing to the overconfidence where “we all just thought that Hillary would be elected."

Outreach Coordinator Kristin Moline says, “Nov. 8 was the worst day, the most terrible thing ever for my generation, but the best came after that day.”

“I’m a volunteer in it because, by being part of it, I can feel empowered to do more than just be overwhelmed with the current administration," says Gayle Wilson of Ashland. “I can be part of the change that needs to happen in this country, so we can get on course and recognize the real challenges that face us, rather than bickering politically. It’s a small thing I do, but I am getting empowered, instead of being a complainer.”

Indivisible takes its name from the Pledge of Allegiance, where it’s the word before “with liberty and justice for all.” Its mission statement says it is “dedicated to resisting the Trump Agenda (and) empowering people to hold our Members of Congress accountable … we model the values of honesty, inclusion, tolerance, and fairness.”

Events Coordinator Teresa Safay says, “This is the antithesis of what Trump is trying to put out” — and members see little difference between the president and Walden, who, they maintain, has supported nearly everything Trump has proposed.

The hardest work, they say, is the daily “action” sent via email, giving contact information for decision-makers in Congress, the White House or state Legislature, often about pending legislation.

“It’s about how much better we feel raising our voice to activate and inspire others, to speak the truth for humanity,” says local Indivisible co-founder Jessica Sage. “We all sleep better now, knowing we make a difference.”

The local Indivisible chapter has 2,300 people on its discussion page at ord2indivisible.org and is also on Facebook.

Indivisible is not officially connected to the local Democratic Party, but members acknowledge they partner with the Democrats in sharing skills and discussing such issues as climate change, social justice, peace, racism and migrant education.

Indivisible members say they will remain active after the 2018 and 2020 elections.

“What can I do?” says Wilson. “I can resist it all in the ways that are important to me, that positively affect climate change, health, education and our attitude about how we get along in the world — the big picture things. If I think about how I can effect this change alone, then how do I get off my couch? I do my little part. I make my calls every day. I stay up to date on what’s happening. These are the obligations of being a citizen in this country.”

— John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

Members of the local Indivisible chapter have organized to resist the Trump agenda. [Mail Tribune file photo]