One of the 4,500 or so groups organized in response to Trump’s election met this past Sunday in Carbondale.
Indivisible Roaring Fork expected around 30 people to show up; the crowd ended up being more than five times that.
Gretchen Brogdon stood in front of a crowd, holding a microphone, which isn’t something she does often.
“If you can’t tell from the jittery nervousness, this is totally new to myself and many others,” she said to the audience. “Anybody else in here doing things you’d never thought you’d do before?”
Brogdon introduced a series of local speakers she and a few others organized to inform the crowd on what’s going on at the statehouse in Denver and in Washington D.C.
New stacks of chairs needed to be brought into the gym at the Third Street Center to accommodate the crowd. People in the audience sat with notebooks on their laps, pens at the ready. They nodded and reacted to Brogdon, sometimes viscerally, like when she showed a picture of herself on the morning of Election Day, the day she thought she had just voted for the first female president.
Sloan Shoemaker, the executive director of local nonprofit Wilderness Workshop, was the first to present after Brogdon. He spoke about House Resolution 622, which would eliminate federal law enforcement on public lands.
“That would result in extreme resource damage to things that are really important to you,” Shoemaker said.
Two people spoke about the immigration executive orders Trump has signed. A man talked about how important the Affordable Care Act has been to his wife, who was diagnosed with lupus.
“It’s no exaggeration to say she would be dead, today, if it wasn’t for the Affordable Care Act,” he said.
The “Indivisible” movement started with a Google doc. A handful of young political types in D.C. wrote a “best practices” manual for resisting the current administration. It’s been downloaded over a million times. It takes inspiration from an unlikely source: The Tea Party, the small conservative offshoot that gained power through grassroots organizing during Obama’s years. The Tea Party is largely credited with flipping the House back to the Republicans in 2010.
Brogdon doesn’t think Indivisible is fashioning itself off the Tea Party.
“They didn’t create anything new. They just took the process of civic engagement and utilized it,” she said.
And this is exactly what Brogdon and her cohort is trying to do. Brad Davis, who helped organize Indivisible Roaring Fork, said he’s realized simply voting is not enough.
“I showed up every two years to vote and showed up to vote for my local elections, and I felt like I was part of democracy, but democracy is all year long,” he said.
Davis works in conjunction with other Indivisible groups around the Western Slope. His goal is to unify the different efforts, and make them more efficient. One way they do this is with a weekly conference call where about five to 10 regularly participate. They all talk about what has and hasn’t worked within their communities.
Can Indivisible do for the Democrats what the Tea Party did for the Republicans? Brogdon, the moderator at Sunday’s event, isn’t sure, but that’s not her long-term goal.
She wants to create a safe space where people with different viewpoints can have robust, safe conversations about politics, where left and right can come together and talk about what they both want. For right now, though, there’s still a lot to learn.
“We’re all trying to still learn how bills become laws,” she said.
She knows this will be a marathon, not a sprint. The next milepost is to get Congressman Scott Tipton to the valley during the April recess for a town hall.