More than 150 self-described political progressives crammed into a Rockville library meeting room designed to seat less than half that number Sunday afternoon to see how they could keep fighting for the causes they believed in even while Donald Trump is president.
“I’m a huge Bernie (Sanders) supporter. I’m really concerned about seeing the momentum continued,” said Debbie Spielberg of Silver Spring. “The question is now, given everything that happened, how do we move on?”
The first meeting in Maryland of the national organization Our Revolution was designed to answer that question. Fellow attendees included people who have been working on campaign finance reform, ending fracking in Maryland, raising the minimum wage, providing sick leave, and protecting women’s rights, the environment and health care.
They all wanted to keep fighting for what they believed in but were concerned it would be difficult under a Republican president, Congress and governor.
Ben Jealous, a civil rights leader with the national Our Revolution organization, started off the meeting by welcoming everyone “to our revolution” and explaining, “This will be a very Democratic group. Our goal is to create a party we want to belong to.”
To the cheers of many, Jealous spoke about the need for activists to join together in a grassroots movement that will be “the most inclusive below the Mason-Dixon Line.”
He urged everyone in attendance to work to get similar-minded people elected into office.
Many in attendance said they wanted former Sanders supporters to take a leadership role in the Democratic Party and called for less corporate influence.
Bob Muehlenkamp, head of the Montgomery County chapter of Our Revolution, said that Trump’s victory “united and inspired” many people to get involved and that it is important to work as a team.
First on the agenda, he suggested, was to make calls in support of Keith Ellison’s (D-Minnesota) becoming chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Attendees also were encouraged to contact their County Council members to ask them to support legislation raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020.
During the meeting, Kendra Ziegler Knight of Silver Spring, who was a Montgomery County delegate for Sanders, urged everyone to “make as much noise as possible and shift us as far left as possible.”
Virginia Kase, the chief operations officer at CASA de Maryland, expressed her concerns for the future of the immigrants she works with and who are CASA clients.
“There’s a lot to lose,” she told an audience of supporters. “We are fighting at this point for the heart of the community.”
She asked everyone to “be radically engaged” and make phone calls and lobby in Annapolis as often as possible.
To those who don’t feel comfortable speaking out or who don’t want to stand out in the cold to have their voices heard, Kase said, “Four years of a President Trump is going to be much more uncomfortable.”
Also speaking to the group was Maryland Sen. Paul Pinsky, who represents Prince George’s County. He talked about the importance of building a grassroots mass movement, saying that when progressives are “on the same page,” the chance of success goes way up.
Other local politicians attending the meeting were District 18’s Sen. Ana Sol Gutierrez, Del. Andrew Platt (District 17) and County Council member Mark Elrich.
Sarah Chiriaco of Silver Spring was happy to see so many like-minded people in the same room. She came to the meeting because “I’m really mad about the Trump situation.” She walked away with suggestions of meetings to attend, calls to make and places to volunteer.