Report: Indivisible: The Way Forward

Indivisible: the Way Forward

Guitarist Jeff Kloetzel opened the ORD2 Indivisible year-end forum December 11 with a rendition of “You’d better watch out…Robert Mueller’s coming to town,” creating an avalanche of cheers from a small but enthusiastic crowd at Ashland’s Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. Kloetzel also sang “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” and “Do You Hear What I Hear” from his Christmas album.

ORD2 Indivisible co-founder Jessica Sage began her opening remarks by saying what a terrible year this has been and, “Indivisible continues to be a light for me. It’s the only place I feel hope.” She went on to recount the group’s accomplishments in its first 11 months, including the Women’s March, the weekly marches to government offices early in the year, and the Uniting for Justice forum, for which Sen. Jeff Merkley changed his schedule to attend.

Sage credited her co-founder, Brett Levitt, and Steering Committee members Terrie Martin, Jim Bachman, David Kirk, and Teresa Fafay, dubbed “accidental activists.” “We know we are on the right side of history,” Sage declared.

That said, there is a great deal of work to be done, starting in early January. Ballots will go out the week of January 3 for a special election for Measure 101, Yes for Healthcare, on January 23. The initiative was created by West Linn Rep. Julie Parrish following the Legislature’s passage, and the signing into law by Gov. Kate Brown, of a bill to increase assessments on hospitals, insurance companies, and healthcare providers whose effect will be multiplied by up to a 9 to 1 ratio by the federal government. That will translate into 2500 jobs in District 2, according to Indivisible co-founder of Rogue Indivisible, David Smith, and enable 350,000 people to keep their health insurance.

If Measure 101 fails, Smith said, $5 billion in Medicaid matching funds will be lost and the state budget deficit will increase by $320 million. The hospitals, insurance companies, and healthcare providers agreed to the assessment in advance because it was in their financial interest to do so: The fewer expensive emergency room visits and the more healthy people in the insurance pool, the less health care will cost.

So, Smith said, the task is to educate voters, stimulate registration, and get out the vote by heavy canvassing. More than a hundred groups are supporting this legislation and there are paid campaigns in the Portland to Eugene corridor where the demographics are, but we in Southern Oregon won’t get any of that money and will have to knock on doors instead. The campaign will begin January 6. Smith said 165 neighborhood leaders will be needed in Jackson County. The AFL-CIO is helping coordinate the effort in Medford.

Looking ahead to the primaries and the general election, Indivisible says winning in 2018 will depend on three things:

  • Creating a common message for ORD2 using talking points and sound bytes about Rep. Greg Walden and the issues
  • Engaging younger voters, particularly in Grants Pass, Klamath Falls, and the Dalles, where voter turnout was low in the last election. Identifying issues important to these voters, finding ambassadors to schools, and creating a speakers’ bureau
  • Increasing voter turnout using a neighborhood leadership program to educate voters. Holding forums, and using social media and long term evolution (LTEs), canvassing, and getting out the vote

Measure 101 will be a test case, Smith said, and all eyes will be on Oregon as they have been on Virginia and Alabama, because nothing else in the country is happening in January.

He said there are 41 Indivisible groups in District 2 and 200 in Oregon, with 6000 nationwide, at least one in every state. The strategy is to demystify the election process, increase the electorate, move the party to the left, and get out the progressive vote. “We must elect Indivisibles and their allies to public office at every level in an unprecedented grassroots energy mobilization,” Smith said.

As Indivisibles and unaffiliated, “We can do things no party can and put ‘safe’ GOP districts into play with a radically local footprint.” The task is to beat Walden, but the greater goal is to take back Congress. Challenging Walden supports the national strategy of spreading GOP resources thin, he said.

Indivisible presented a large banner, to be displayed in Medford, reading:

Walden Sold You Out        #TaxScam #Healthcare        ORD2


Addie Greene