Some local Democrats and Republicans are reaching across the aisle to oppose President Donald Trump’s agenda.
A group called Indivisible has started meeting the first and third Saturday of each month at First United Methodist Church, 127 Park Pl., Wellington.
In December, “The Indivisible Guide” was created in Washington, D.C., by a group of former congressional staffers as a shared online manifesto. The group’s platform has since been downloaded more than one million times, leading to 4,500 groups signing on nationwide in support of it.
Jessika Petersen founded the group in Wellington.
She and other members are headed to Columbus on April 29 to take part in the People’s Climate March. A similar event held in 2014 attracted more than 400,000 people to New York City in what at the time was deemed the largest climate-related march in history.
January’s Women’s March on Washington drew 500,000 people to Washington, D.C., the largest political protest in the U.S. since the Vietnam War.
“As much as people try to divide us, there are common things we all want,” said Petersen. “Even though we might disagree on how to do things, we can agree on what the problem is in many cases. Politicians divide us up in order to get elected but the actual division among people is usually far less than it’s made out to be.”
About 20 people have registered for a seat on the bus to Columbus so far and the group hopes to fill it to 50 to 55 passengers. Those wishing to join can contact Katie Woods at 440-225-1013.
“There’s a lot of people getting involved,” Petersen said. “There’s three other Indivisible groups just in our district in Canton, Ashland, and Mount Vernon. We all collaborate and talk. There’s a group in Oberlin in the 4th District who we talk a lot with too.”
Indivisible members from Wellington and other Lorain County communities have met privately with Ohio’s 7th District congressmen, including U.S. House Rep. Bob Gibbs, to discuss health care, climate change, and other issues.
“They’re private meetings with about eight to 10 of us in there with them,” said Petersen. “Rep. Gibbs and others are holding these instead of traditional town halls. Our group puts a lot of focus our three local members of Congress, Bob Gibbs, Rob Portman, and Sherrod Brown.”
Wellington swung heavily toward Trump in November’s election with voters choosing him over Hillary Clinton by a near two-to-one margin (1,075 to 678).
Petersen said despite that balance she has not encountered any hostility in the village regarding Indivisible’s views.
“Our group is very welcoming, no matter your political background,” she said. “We haven’t run into any conflicts in the group or around the village. There are members of our group who still consider themselves Republican but they don’t vote Republican anymore.”
Her husband, Bennett, a lifelong Wellington resident, is also an Indivisible member.
“Growing up here, I always had a close-knit group of friends,” he said. “When I was younger, I favored candidates that leaned conservative. I kind of just grew out of it. To me, it was a matter of not focusing on a single issue. I started looking at the bigger picture. I have conservative friends now and we have constructive, friendly disagreements. The last election and what we’re doing here has brought out a lot of meaningful discussions for us.”
Another member and village resident, Larry Broome, said he always voted Republican until the general election in 2000.
“The policies of the Republican party have changed,” he said. “They’re not even conservative anymore. It’s not something I can tolerate. I think the big shift happened in 2000. I voted for Gore and it was my first time voting Democrat. I’ve voted for Democrats at the national level ever since.”
Ryan Friend, a 29-year-old Kent State University graduate, said he grew up in a conservative evangelical family but began to see some of those views as “hypocritical” as he reached adulthood.
“Our resistance can be used against conservative or liberal politicians,” he said. “Indivisible looked at the Tea Party and how it was able to get so many people involved. I don’t agree with the Tea Party on everything but I do agree that we need to turn the government over to the people. The people need to be directly involved with the legislative process. The majority of people in Congress are older and don’t represent people ages 20 to 30. It’s very disingenuous. There’s no way they’re aware of the same issues we deal with.”
Bill Brumfield, former owner of Village Market, joined the group partly because of what he feels are deceptive messages regarding climate change and fossil fuel.
“Donald Trump campaigned on reversing everything our last president did and crowds loved it,” he said. “My concern is that climate change is the biggest problem we face. Our coasts are going to be underwater if things keep going this way. Crowds love it when you make big promises like bringing back coal and words like ‘clean coal.’ There’s no such thing as clean coal. It doesn’t exist.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.