An emerging grassroots movement dedicated to countering the nation’s current divisiveness through acceptance and political education has opened a local chapter.
Fulton County Indivisible Alliance attracted about 40 people to its second meeting, held Monday evening in Wauseon. Swanton resident Katherine Bangle, a co-founding member, said the purpose is to promote the education, ideals, and principles President Donald Trump’s administration doesn’t seem to embrace.
“We want to organize and educate the voters,” she said. “Sometimes, I think we call ourselves Republican or Democrat…and we really don’t understand the ideals of what each party is. We’re trying to lay down our platform and hand that information out so that people are aware of it, and they can make their decision.”
Monday’s meeting included speaker Dr. Talal Eid, imam at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, who spoke on immigration and the need to spread positive messages throughout the country. The chapter also heard from Ashley Philipp, a 20-year-old Democratic candidate for the District 1 Senate seat currently held by Cliff Hite.
The chapter’s first meeting in January featured Philipp, James Neu Jr., who ran against Fifth District Congressman Bob Latta in last November’s election, and Farah Inskeep, regional field director for Planned Parenthood in Ohio.
Bangle said while Indivisible Alliance was born of Trump’s election, its purpose is not to denigrate him but to counter the seeming negativity he has brought to the White House.
“We don’t Trump-bash at these meetings. That’s not our intent at all,” she said. “I respect the presidency, and love democracy and what it stands for. I just think our democracy is in trouble.”
She said the president “makes so many claims against the press, and we stand for a free and open press. I wish he would say something unifying. I want to hear our president say one unifying thing that would bring the country together. Personally, I don’t see much hope as to what’s happened in the last month.”
The local chapter of Indivisible Alliance was founded just after a women’s march on Washington, D.C. was held in January to protest Trump’s alleged intent to encroach on women’s rights. It was inspired by a related group, Northwest Ohio 10 Actions/100 Days, which boasts 1,400 members on its Facebook page.
The alliance itself formed originally through social media, and now claims chapters across the United States. Bangle said the local chapter was formed to forge relationships with those who share its views.
“We want to educate. That’s our goal,” she said. “We really want to spread the love out there, and the inclusivity. There’s nothing like this, nothing that has brought so many like-minded people together.”
Swanton resident Janet Ritter, the chapter’s co-founder who attended the march on Washington, said the group’s main objective is to stop political complacency among citizens.
“We lose touch with our politicians. We’re not active with our local government,” she said. “When the pendulum swings from one side to the other, the other side wakes up. Pay attention to your politicians. Make them accountable. They get to Washington and they stop representing us as voters.”
Ritter agreed the group is not exclusively meant to disparage Trump, but conceded that some of his remarks have been disconcerting.
“As a sexual assault victim, I did not care for his characterization of women,” she said.
Fulton County Republican Party officers Sandy Barber, Brett Kolb, and John F. Weber said they are not familiar with Indivisible Alliance and could not comment on the organization. A request for comment from the Ohio Republican Party was not returned.
The local Indivisible Alliance chapter will next meet March 13 at a location to be determined. The chapter will continue to meet monthly at different venues around the city.
Co-founder Toni Mattin said the organization continues to attract people, including some disenfranchised Republicans.
“We’re tired of (politicians) that are interested in their own agenda. It’s not Republicans, Democrats, and Independents anymore,” she said.
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.