Chase Cook – April 15, 2017
On Feb. 2, Arnold resident Yasemin Jamison created a group on Facebook.
It’s a move that many have done before. Social media allows for greater reach and better opportunities to meet people who think alike, or differently, depending on the goal. For Jamison, it was about finding people who are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore.
The group’s header image reads: “Anne Arundel County Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda.”
“We are individuals, generally from the Broadneck Peninsula, who are here to resist Trump’s agenda. Trump’s agenda is racist, authoritarian and corrupt, and it must be stopped,” Jamison wrote. “Our focus is to not only work locally to change our local government, but to also make some changes federally.”
“Time is of the essence, we need action now.”
Jamison’s group was born out of frustration with the election of President Donald Trump, who defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election despite several high-profile issues, including a recording of Trump bragging about groping women.
Jamison’s message quickly hit a nerve with other people as the group grew from one to 664 in just a few months.
“What we ended up with was so negative,” Jamison said. “Let’s use this energy to try and impact change.”
More Democratic and progressive groups have been popping up in Anne Arundel County since the election of Trump, which has energized the left even more than Larry Hogan‘s defeat of Anthony Brown for governor in 2014.
These growing groups include We Persist: Women of Greater Anne Arundel; and Women, Indivisible, Strong and Effective, or WISE, in Severna Park. The Democratic Women’s Club of Anne Arundel County was revived in March.
Plus, there’s the Women’s March Huddle Anne Arundel County. This is a group of men and women inspired by the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. After that march, these huddles were formed throughout the country for people who wanted to continue their activism, said Monica Lindsey, who leads an Anne Arundel County huddle.
While Jamison and Lindsey say their groups are nonpartisan, they do push for and represent progressive ideas.
People in Anne Arundel County are being awoken to these issues and their collective power to make change, Lindsey said.
These groups have been active in Anne Arundel County, staging protests, attending City and County Council meetings, and holding panels and group discussions.
“We awoke together,” Lindsey said. “We want to make life better for others.”
In a few ways, the outrage from Maryland Democrats has been somewhat similar to the rising movement of Republicans in Maryland.
Maryland Democrats have a 2-to-1 advantage over Republicans in voter registration, but Hogan’s defeat of Brown and a record number of Republicans in the House of Delegatesgalvanized a party with power routinely focused on conservative counties and local elections.
The Maryland Republican Party was upfront after Hogan’s victory: We can win and we will keep trying.
Anne Arundel still has more registered Democrats than Republicans, but the gap is much smaller than counties such as Montgomery or Prince George’s. The majority in Anne Arundel voted for Clinton but supported Hogan, an Anne Arundel resident, in the gubernatorial race.
But the election of Trump has proven to have some consequences for Republicans throughout the country, especially in Kansas, where Republicans won a special election by only 7 percentage points after Trump carried the congressional district by 27 percentage points. Jamison and other progressives believe acrimony created by Trump will trickle down ballots across the country.
That’s why the groups are putting a specific focus on local races, especially on politicians who have shown support for Trump.
Jamison’s group has been protesting County Executive Steve Schuh’s application to train Ordnance Road Correctional Center officers in a federal program known as 287(g), viewing that decision as aligning with Trump’s aggressive anti-immigration agenda. The program trains detention officers in immigration laws to help the federal government find and report undocumented immigrants. County police are not involved in the training, county officials have said, and have called the decision a balanced approach to immigration.
But Jamison and her group views Schuh’s position as anti-immigrant, and have attended meetings and pushed for the county executive to hold a town hall.
Politicians need to face their constituents or they will be held accountable, Jamison said.
“I want to know they are representing us,” she said.
As Jamison and Lindsey make the ground-level push to hold politicians accountable, another new Democratic group is taking a pragmatic look at the future of the party: It’s time to raise money.
Susan O’Brien and former County Council Democratic candidate Patrick Armstrong have created a new public action committee, Back to Blue. The PAC is in its nascent stages, but once it gets rolling O’Brien expects to begin raising money for Anne Arundel Democrats who want to target seats held by Michael Peroutka, R-District 5, and John Grasso, R-District 2, among other Republican-held seats in the county.
Jennifer Glendening, former Gov. Parris Glendening’s wife, is chairing the PAC, O’Brien said.
O’Brien serves as a spokeswoman for various Democratic candidates, most recently sending out a news release on behalf of state Sen. John Astle, D-Annapolis, who is running for mayor of the city.
A focus of the PAC will be backing candidates who can challenge Republican seats and energize the Democratic voters, O’Brien said.
“I always tell people, ‘Trump should be a wake-up call, but focus locally,'” O’Brien said. “You are building a bench for higher offices.”