Santa Barbara- S County

Indivisible Santa Barbara

National movement gains momentum locally

Indivisible Santa Barbara

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The ending stanza to our Pledge of Allegiance is the premise for a new movement.

Indivisible is a growing group -- coast to coast -- created to give organized support to lawmakers in our nation's Capital. If you don't support President Donald Trump, Indivisible wants to hear from you.

Just days into Donald Trump's presidency, the fledgling political group set out to try and resist the budding administration.

"For us, the focus is on what's happening," said Jennie Reinish, assistant director and co-founder of Invisible Santa Barbara. "Making others aware of it, blocking it and slowing it down and hoping to stop some of it. One of the senate staffers made a comment on twitter that we've broken his blackberry," Reinish said.

More than two dozen former Congressional staffers banded together to form Indivisible, a non-profit organization working off the Tea Party blueprint to resist what they call, "The Trump Agenda."

"It's a fulltime job and we're all volunteers," said Christina Eliason, director and founder of Indivisible Santa Barbara.

Organizers said Indivisible is now 200,000 members strong with 5,300 groups nationwide. Its members are well organized, relying on a peaceful pressure campaign of phone calls, emails and text blasts -- by the thousands -- and are committed to showing up where their representatives are and often, by the busloads.

"We can have people tracking what legislation is happening, what items are on the floor that week," Eliason said.

Their first claim to victory: A failed effort by the Republican majority in Congress to do away with the House Ethics Committee. Indivisible members, among others, showed up in large numbers at the Capitol, making their voices heard loud and clear.

"We are really opposed to that and they backpedaled right off the bat! They said, 'OK, let's not do that.'" said Eliason.

Eliason and Reinish head up one of two Santa Barbara County Indivisible groups. 

Senator Dianne Feinstein and freshman Congressman Salud Carbajal are among those targeted and supported by Indivisible's expanding network. The group's numbers were noticeable when Carbajal rolled out his first Congressional bill in Santa Barbara.

"What turned out in our local papers and the Santa Maria paper was the crowd, the crowd size, how the crowd was reacting, what they were saying, how they were supporting him," Eliason said. "That is an important narrative."

In Washington, Feinstein's wishy-washy stance on Jeff Sessions as the U.S. Attorney General nominee resulted in a barrage of thousands of calls and visits to her office and home.

"She literally tweeted, 'We have heard you,'" Eliason said.

Ultimately, Feinstein cast a "no" vote for Sessions; he was confirmed Wednesday and sworn in at the White House Thursday.

"It's better to find a way to support the people we know in Washington as opposed to holding a protest," Eliason said. "That will burn out very quickly if all you do it react, react, react."

Indivisible members say protests and violence, similar to what happened on the campus of U.C. Berkeley at the first of the month, is not what Indivisible is about. The volunteer network focuses on women's rights, civil rights, social security, Medicare, among others hot-button issues. Members say they're in it for the "long game."

"Our government is checks and balances," Reinish said. "Having two strong parties and keeping in check is what makes this democracy and suddenly we have one that is plowing over the other and changing the rules to suit them as they go. It's scary."

NewsChannel 3 reached out to several local groups with ties to the Republican Party. Two individuals were willing to be interviewed about Indivisible.

"I don't really know much about the Indivisible group. Is that what it's called?" asked Gregory Gandrud, former chair of the local Republican Party, who said he saw something on Facebook. 

Gandrud said local supporters of President Donald Trump are already talking two terms because they believe what's he is doing is "fantastic." Gandrud said what Indivisible sees as a lack of checks and balances, he sees as a focused government, overcoming gridlock.

"So now we have a Republican House, a Republican Senate and a Republican President that actually are going to work together and I'm really optimistic about it because I think it's good for our country," Gandrud said. "I think people need to give Trump a chance. I think the Trump naysayers are really focused on some issues that aren't really of major concern to most Americans. I'm more focused on positive things we need to do to fix things in America." 

The Santa Barbara County Captain for Team Trump agrees.

"It feels like Christmas every morning," Bobbi McGinnis said.

McGinnis admits, like the country right now, her house is divided.

"I really feel there are the hearts of people are going to change when they have health care again, when they have more money in their pocket to pay their bills," McGinnis said.

In the meantime, Indivisible organizers want to make a fundamental distinction.

"I would like to separate the difference between policy decisions and policy nuances," Eliason said. "From straight up white supremacy, racism, misogyny, xenophobia, the things that we've seen in the election. I hate to use those buzz words that turn everybody off but ... the things we have seen are so unprecedented and I don't want it to become a new normal," she said.

"The left are saying that he (President Trump) is a bigot, that he's terrible for women, against women and I think that yeah, he's said some pretty nasty things that I wouldn't condone," McGinnis said. "But we're not voting for him to be our preacher. We're voting for him to be our President."

Gandrud said those types of buzzwords are not comments he's heard from the people he knows who support President Trump and his policies. He does admit, this is no ordinary President.

"He speaks his mind," said Gandrud. "Sometimes he doesn't think a whole lot before he speaks his mind. A lot of people find that refreshing," 

McGinnis, who like Gandrud, attended the Inauguration. She said she met people from all across the country there who expressed a common thread.

"We're no longer afraid of our government," McGinnis said. "I'm hoping the Indivisible group will decide to be part of our country and support this President to help him make us a better world," McGinnis said.

Indivisible members say they are part of our country and they want the same thing, as is written in our Pledge of Allegiance: "Justice for all."

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