At least six Indivisible groups have formed in the Bradenton-Sarasota area to oppose President Donald Trump’s agenda and members have started attending town hall meetings, writing letters, marching and protesting.
Four of the Indivisible groups are based in the Bradenton area, and all profess a commitment to nonviolent, peaceful exercise of their First Amendment rights.
The groups are loosely affiliated, members say, to better serve residents in their own neighborhoods. But several of the groups are pulling together with Indivisible Lakewood Ranch/East Manatee on its first program: “What’s Going to Happen to My Healthcare?”
Just as the conservative Tea Party movement largely grew out of the Republican Party, the progressive Indivisible movement grew out of the Democratic Party. But both movements position themselves as nonpartisan.
Formed shortly after Trump was elected president in November, staff members for Democratic members of Congress drew up the blueprint for the Indivisible movement. They borrowed freely from the example of the Tea Party movement. And, like the Tea Party, they soon started making waves at congressional town hall meetings and elsewhere. The fledgling movement has already made a mark nationwide.
The largest of the Bradenton-based Indivisible groups is Action Together Suncoast with 1,539 members, said founder and president Dianne Perry.
Action Together Suncoast has members in Manatee, Sarasota, DeSoto, Charlotte and Hardee counties, and helped organize the women’s march in Sarasota in January, which attracted thousands. Action Together Suncoast signed up many of its members at the Sarasota march.
“The word spread like wildfire, and it’s still growing,” said Perry, who had her first taste of political activism in the 1960s and ’70s. “Every time we have an event, we get more people. My preference is that there aren’t so many Indivisible groups, but people have a need to be closer to their constituents.”
Focus includes local politics
Ricki Mazzullo, vice president of MDC Indivisible — the group spawned by the Manatee Democratic Club — said her members want to focus on local politics, including at the school board, county commission, planning commission and city commission level.
“We are focusing on Long Bar Point,” she said of the proposed West Bradenton project, where developer Carlos Beruff wants to build 3,200 homes on 522 acres.
“We are working on putting together an email to our members updating issues coming before the planning commission and the county commission,” Mazzullo said.
Giving credit where credit is due for the early gains of the Indivisible movement, Mazzullo said it “is totally modeled on the success of the Tea Party.”
MDC Indivisible has about 102 members.
Modeled after Tea Party
When asked about the Indivisible movement, Janet Mixon, a leader of Tea Party Manatee, said she knows little about it. But she commended the exercise of free speech.
“I am all for them doing what this country is all about,” Mixon said. “I am into people doing stuff peacefully.”
Rather than the Indivisibles opposing Trump at every turn, however, Mixon said she wished that they would give the president a chance.
“I am liking the steps the president is taking,” Mixon said. “The Affordable Care Act is falling apart. I am glad that we are doing some things to correct it.”
Mary Bode, a member of Indivisible Bradenton Pro-gressives, said her group had its first meeting in January, before the Sarasota women’s march.
The Pro-gressives were the second Indivisible group to form in Manatee County and now has an estimated 265 members.
“My viewpoint is that there is no attack,” Bode said.
There will be passionate, civil debate, she said, adding, “I am not looking to have an argument with anyone.”
Karen Curlin, a member of the Lakewood Ranch Democratic Club, raised her hand to serve as co-chair of Indivisible Lakewood Ranch/East Manatee after club chair Lucy Lapides asked for volunteers in January. The other co-chairs are Phyllis Myers and Kathy Garvey.
“We are a nonpartisan progressive group. We have Republicans, independents and a lot of Democrats,” Curlin said.
Indivisible Lakewood Ranch/East Manatee officially launched in March, and now has an email list of more than 200.
Core principals include protecting progressive values, and mounting resistance to Trump’s proposed policies, based on inclusion, tolerance and fairness.
“We believe in positivity as opposed to negativity. We believe in proper behavior,” Phyllis Myers said.
We believe in positivity as opposed to negativity. We believe in proper behavior.
Phyllis Myers, co-chair Indivisible Lakewood Ranch/East Manatee
Health care top billing
During a recent town hall meeting held by U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, more than 1,700 people showed up to express their concerns about the future of health care, and Trump’s agenda. It was a record turnout.
Prime movers at the town hall, in addition to Indivisible Lakewood Ranch/East Manatee, were Indivisible Bradenton Pro-gressives, MDC Indivisible and Indivisible groups from Sarasota, Englewood and Venice.
The program on health care, to be presented by William K. Clark, associate state director of the Florida AARP, will be the Lakewood Ranch/East Manatee group’s first scheduled public event.
The program, set for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall, 8175 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., will focus on the impact and proposed changes to health care for people 50 and older.
The recent repeal of Obamacare — the Affordable Care Act — by the U.S. Congress would leave 23 million people without health care coverage, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Republicans dispute that, saying Obamacare is failing and their replacement program, the American Health Care Act, would actually save health care coverage for millions of Americans. The legislation is pending action in the U.S. Senate.
The Indivisible movement now has an estimated 6,000 groups nationwide, including more than 100 in Florida. In addition to health care, members say other concerns include climate change, fake news and immigration and deportation.
“There has been nothing like this in the last 15 or 20 years,” Myers said.
For more information about the Indivisible movement, visit indivisibleguide.com.
Manatee County Indivisible contact information
Indivisible Lakewood Ranch/East Manatee - email@example.com
Indivisible Bradenton Pro-gressives - firstname.lastname@example.org
Action Together Suncoast - email@example.com
MDC Indivisible - firstname.lastname@example.org