Contributed by Lisa Bergson.
November 17th. The November Indivisible Lambertville/New Hope Community Gathering, held at Dig Yoga, opened with a nice, grounding meditation, followed by a few moments of celebration over the Democratic victories. We triumphed in Bucks for the first time in 30 years, winning the full row of county seats; Delaware County went Democrat for the first time since the Civil War; and historically red Chester County had another surprisingly positive outcome! Those are in addition to the great results in Virginia, Kentucky, and even Louisiana!
But we didn’t gloat for long. There’s still much work to be done if we’re going to wrest our Congressional seat back from Fitzpatrick and toss Trump in the dump truck of history. At the Community Gathering, I learned more about a challenging initiative many ILNHers are pursuing, called “Changing the Conversation” (CTC). Understanding that a big part of the alt-right’s success has been in sowing divisions and distrust in our country, “Changing the Conversation” promotes ways to help us to connect with one another on a personal level, regardless of political persuasion. (It was noted that CTC works best with folks who are still at least a little uncomfortable with Trump’s behavior and ideology, as opposed to hardliners.)
We need to begin to establish common ground if we are to create a lasting and stable democracy built on tolerance and mutual self-interest. “That wasn’t so bad,” said one very shy woman, who took part in a break-out group’s CTC role-playing. Through this practice, ILNH is taking actions that transcend the election and create paths for continued dialogue and understanding with those who may have felt shunned by liberals and progressives in the past.
May the healing begin.
My husband and I took a holiday out west, venturing to our favorite little Italian restaurant in Carmel. There we found ourselves engaged in a political discussion with a wealthy, older couple from Sonoma at the next table. The wife startled us. “Bucks will decide the election,” she declared, adding, “I think Trump’s going to win.”
“Don’t worry; we’re working hard to make sure that doesn’t happen,” I assured her.
“I may come join you,” said the husband. Chances are he won’t be alone.
Today, while driving about, I caught snippets on the radio of the constitutional scholars at the House Judiciary hearing as they weighed the threat to our democracy that Trump’s violations pose. “That’s right,” I repeated aloud to my dashboard, as they precisely detailed how his self-serving, tyrannical behavior apes that of the monarchy we fought the Revolutionary War to throw off and then established a divided government with checks-and-balances to prevent.
That our congressman, Republican Brian Fitzpatrick, has joined the lemmings, marching in lockstep down the gangplank with Trump, puts him at sharp odds with the people of PA-01. More, he supported the hugely unpopular billionaire’s tax cut that has only served to exacerbate the instability and injustice of income inequality. Fitzpatrick’s only chance of prevailing with yet a third term would be for us to make a poor choice of candidate to challenge his incumbency. https://www.penncapital-star.com/commentary/a-bucks-county-dem-makes-the-case-against-rep-brian-fitzpatrick-is-she-right-friday-morning-coffee/
The good news is that we have a host of excellent, highly qualified folks vying to take him on. I was fortunate to have an opportunity to hear each speak at a meeting of the Solebury Democrats on the 2nd. And, all of us will get to check them out, along with many of our newly elected officials, at the upcoming New Year’s Revolution Community Gathering and Holiday Jam on December 15th. To set the stage, consider (in alphabetical order):
- Christina Finello. Bucks native Christina’s feisty, down-to-earth approach belies her joint law degree and Ph.D. in clinical psych from Villanova Law and Drexel. “She’s rough around the edges, but brilliant,” one political pro confided. A working mother of two, Christina devoted her career to public service, including the past 10 years as Director of the Bucks County Department of Housing and Human Services and, since 2017, as the only Democrat on the 7-member Ivyland Borough Council.
- Skylar Hurwitz. A technology entrepreneur and environmental policy advocate, 27-year-old Skylar returned to his native Bucks a year ago, where he is determined to make a difference. Skylar’s campaign is well underway, with intensive fundraising and a full platform of detailed proposals, ranging from taxation to energy to Middle East peace, to name a few. “What he puts his mind to, he does,” a Democratic fundraiser, whose wife taught Skylar, told me.
- Judi Reiss. Out in front when it comes to campaigning, Judi, a retired Trenton school teacher and grandmother of five, is well along in building support for her candidacy. Forged in the national tragedy of September 11th, 2001, when her 23-year-old son was killed in the attack on the World Trade Center, Judi began to emerge as a public advocate for justice and tolerance. She has since served as a supervisor on the majority- GOP Lower Makefield Township board, where she worked to preserve open space and address issues of public transit. More recently, Judi was elected county Prothonotary.
- Debbie Wachspress. Pennsbury School Board member, longtime peace proponent with the Langhorne-based The Peace Center, and mother of three, Wachspress helped start the Lower Bucks Indivisible. More, she was the first in her family to attend a 4-year college and went on to work as a key policy analyst at the EPA when concern for clean air and water was paramount, as well as a national leader in the Million Mom March for gun safety.
See what I mean? We’ve got the folks, and we’ve got the numbers. Now, we just have to pick the best candidates — not just for Congress, but also to flip the State House, which is presently dominated by Republicans. (More on that in our January column.)
At the Solebury meeting, there was also a worthwhile conversation on “lessons learned” from the election and changes afoot in how we vote. Under the new Election Reform law, we can vote by mail for up to 50 days before an election (even becoming a permanent mail-in voter) and register to vote up to 15 days, previously 30, before an election. We can no longer vote for a single party with the push of a button, but we will have presumably safer machines, with electronic and paper ballots. These changes do require an earlier effort to GOTV, with canvassing and community organizing big priorities.
More importantly, we have to walk the walk. As Carol Spiewak, the guiding light of the Solebury Democrats, points out, We have to show that when Democrats are in charge, good things happen to local residents.”