The election of Donald Trump unleashed a tsunami of new, liberal activists organized into groups like Indivisible and Swing Left. Many are Millennials—people born after 1978, who came of age at the turn of the century. Many are older, experienced activists reenergized but others, like the Millennials, are relatively new to politics.
These groups are intensely engaged here in the Valley, as we saw in the big marches after the election and in the airport demonstrations when Trump first announced restrictions on immigration and refugees from Muslim countries.
But we wondered what they could realistically do here in the Valley, which already swings left—heavily. Hillary Clinton won 73% of the Santa Clara County vote in the presidential election and every single elected state and national representative from the county is a liberal Democrat as are majorities on the County Board of Supervisors and the San Jose City Council.
So we asked two articulate young leaders of Orchard City Indivisible and Swing Left that question. Watch our August show to hear their answers.
Among other things, they talk about influencing local policies on issues like “sanctuary” cities and, for Swing Left, working to regain a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives by registering voters and getting out the vote in places like Congressional District 10—just over the hill in the Central Valley and now represented by a Republican who won the district in a close race in 2016.
These volunteers are elated when they manage to register just a few voters after long day in Modesto or Turlock—including a long drive there and home. A few voters may not seem like much, but if you’ve ever worked at voter registration you’ll know it’s tough and signing up any new voters at all is a triumph.
We talked with our guests before the U.S. Senate vote on healthcare, but their groups can take some credit for the defeat of the Republican plans. Without these activists nationwide, would all the Democrats have held firm in opposition? Would those three Republicans have turned against their party?
Does that make Indivisible and Swing Left the liberal equivalent of the Tea Party? Our guests answer that question, too, on our August show.
—Terry Christensen, Co-producer and Host, Valley Politics and Professor Emeritus, San Jose State University