Joe Colombo/Courtesy Photo
April 23, 2017
In a letter sent to the press in 1934, Harry Emerson Fosdick, a Presbyterian pastor, said, “Democracy is based upon the conviction that there are extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people.”
Indivisible epitomizes what ordinary people can accomplish. It started in December 2016 from a 26-page document created by ordinary people for ordinary people. In just 4 short months its members number almost 6,000, just everyday people who are very interested in being involved with their government.
Joe Colombo, a resident in Puyallup, is also the head of the Puyallup chapter of Indivisible. Like many members, the most he participated in the election process was to check a box on a ballot.
That changed last March. He attended the opening caucus for the Democratic Party. At the time all he wanted to do when he volunteered to help was to make sure things ran smoothly.
Shortly thereafter there was a need for a PCO (precinct committee officer) so he volunteered to fill the vacancy. Later he was formally elected to the position.
Throughout the whole election season he continued to serve in the caucus, even up to the election itself.
About the middle of December he heard from three different people about Indivisible, told him it was something he’d be interested in. He never met them, they were mutual acquaintances of friends he had on Facebook. He had also not been particularly vocal about his personal political views so he did not really pay much attention. Until someone put the “Indivisible Guide” in his hands and told him he should read it he thought it was something for one of the political parties.
When he began to read it over and saw that the primary purpose was to resist President Trump, he began to be more interested in what the members were trying do accomplish.
He said, “I feel like taking these actions empowers us to be part of that change, to hold our leaders accountable. I need to get my hands dirty. I do not agree with all of the actions suggested, but I get to pick and choose.”
At the top of the list of things he is choosing is the Russian link. He sees it as having a significant impact as it could contain grounds on which impeachment charges could be brought against Trump.
Indivisible Puyallup currently has 280 members; the only requirement for being part of the group is to be against President Trump and Vice President Pence and their regressive policies. No specific party affiliation is needed; the group itself is bipartisan.
In the group’s charter, their mission is clear. They seek to engage senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and District 10 Representative Denny Heck to remember “protecting our hard-won, cherished progressive values such as affordable healthcare for all, economic justice, environmental protection, racial equality, gender and sexual equality, peace, and human rights” is part of the job.
They meet every regularly to keep members appraised of current events. They know which bills are being discussed in which governing house and the status of each one. As Indivisible Puyallup is still a fairly new group, they are still ironing out which topic has the greatest priority. So far in the top three are 1) the Russian Investigation, 2) healthcare, and 3) the environment. Tracking the budget and immigration were also hot topics.
. SuzAnne Kuhiski, one of the members who serves on the communications team, described the group as “former arm-chair political activists. We are ordinary people who see democracy threatened. It is not good enough to be angry and sad. We needed to get up and do something.”
By and large the members come from all walks of life. They are retired, hold day jobs, some have actually worked in public offices as administrative staff. They are parents, grandparents, neighbors, and all have a heart for civic duty.
Otto Rogers is another member who was inspired to get up and do something. He remembered after the election being detached. “It did not feel real,” he said. “I would share links on Facebook and sign online petitions, but I still felt removed. None of what I was doing felt like they were really working. What I really wanted to know was what can I do to resist?” He found his answer with Indivisible.
Colombo encourages anyone who wants to see what they are about to come to their meetings. Each member is more than willing to talk about why they are doing what they do.
When asked what is his end game, what is the one thing he hopes to accomplish, Columbo said in a quiet
So I have a seven and half year old daughter and I do not want her growing up in a dystopian future, where it is okay for men to sexually assault women, where women do not have the right to do what they want with their own body, pollution is running unchecked, and somebody cannot go to college because it is unaffordable. That is not the future I want for her or anyone else growing up. As a Generation Xer, we had it rough and the next generation had it rougher. It is my job as an ethical person to make this world a better place. That is what I want to do.”