Compiled by Sherman R. Frederick
Marin’s famed grassroots political activism hasn’t missed a beat in 2020, despite it being one of the weirdest years in American history.
Marinscope caught up with Susan Morgan, the leader of Indivisible Marin, and chatted with her about the challenges in the Age of Coronavirus.
How goes the “resistance?”
We’re stronger than ever. But we don’t refer to ourselves as the resistance anymore. In advance of the 2018 midterms, we moved from playing defense, as we did in 2017, to an offensive strategy with a focus on taking back power in Washington.
Yes, there’s a lot of traction. More and more Americans are fed up with the current president and inspired to do the work that is needed to ensure that he is defeated in November. Indivisible Marin has grown to over 1,700 members, up from about 1,400 at the start of the year.
You grew during the shutdown?
With the pandemic, and the need to shelter in place, people have more time and more energy to devote to the goal of winning in November. When the health order to stay at home took effect, Indivisible Marin, or IndiMarin as we’ve started calling ourselves informally, quickly transitioned all of our voter outreach events to Zoom. Now we have virtual phonebanks, virtual postcard writing events, and virtual membership meetings.
Have elected leaders helped?
Very much so. In fact, Congressman Huffman joined us at our last membership meeting and we had nearly 100 people on the Zoom call. We meet regularly with him, Sen. McGuire and Assemblymember Levine to discuss issues that we care about. They all have been very receptive to our input and appreciative of our level of engagement.
Can Joe Biden consolidate the vote?
Absolutely! Biden has done a fantastic job of bringing the coalition together. In particular, his outreach to Bernie Sanders and Alexandria O’Casio Cortez has been very positive. I also commend the former Democratic candidates for rallying around him and actively supporting his campaign. Overall, I have been very heartened by how the Democratic Party has come together.
Any preference for VP?
Biden has committed to selecting a woman which is great, and there are so many well-qualified women to choose from. Right now, I’m really liking Michelle Lujan Grisham, the Latina governor of New Mexico who also served two terms in Congress. I like that she has little name-recognition so she would basically start with a blank slate. I also think that Val Demmings and Elizabeth Warren would be excellent choices. All three broaden his coalition and bring an impressive range of governmental experience to the role.
Any goals other than beating President Trump?
Winning back the Senate is critical. Currently, all progressive legislation is bottlenecked in the Senate, largely due to the intrangience of Mitch McConnell. We need to retain the House as well. A trifecta in Washington is the goal. Beyond Washington, taking back governorships and state houses is crucial to ending gerrymandering as we head into 2021 when the new district lines will be drawn.
You founded Indivisible Marin. What other organizations do you work with?
I founded Indivisible Marin in January 2017 and have directed the organization since then. I am very fortunate to have a tremendous amount of support from our Steering Committee and leadership team. Together, those teams now include 24 very skilled and dedicated members.
There are a number of related organizations in Marin and we all work together and support each other. IndiMarin works particularly closely with Democracy Action Marin on voter outreach efforts. Its leader, Susan Bolle, has been a wonderful mentor and advisor in our work. There are also Marin chapters of Swing Left, Sister District, and OFA as well as two additional Indivisible chapters. All of these groups share the same overall goals although our areas of focus differ somewhat.
How does Black Lives Matter figure into your efforts?
Given the events of the last few months, and the last few weeks in particular, we are now working to integrate advocacy around police violence and racial justice into our agenda as a key component. On Monday, we will kick off a “Week of Action for Racial Justice” which will provide members with tangible steps they can take to effect change at the individual, local, state and national levels. Since our roots as an organization began with advocacy, it will always be a priority for us. And come 2021, it will become our sole focus as we work to hold both newly elected and re-elected officials accountable for promises they made during their campaigns.
How can people get involved?
They can go to our website, indivisiblemarin.org, and click on the “Join Us” button on the homepage. There is also a calendar page with all of our upcoming virtual events and links to sign up. We are holding a Virtual Open House on June 13 at 11 AM that is specifically designed for people in Marin to learn about our work and get involved. We hope to have close to 100 people there. Attending would be a great first step for anyone interested in learning more and getting involved.
Any concerns with mail-in voting?
Yes, it will be a challenge to have all registered voters signed up to vote by mail in time for the election. It is a massive undertaking and requires significant funding by Congress and timely action at the state level to change our current processes. Congress also needs to provide funding to keep the U.S. Postal Service fully operational. If these hurdles can be addressed, vote by mail will increase participation significantly. Access to voting has always been an issue in many parts of the country, especially for voters of color who often are subject to voter suppression tactics. Now, with COVID, vote by mail provides a safe and accessible way for all people to vote from their homes. The challenge is to help people get signed up to do so. Many of our phone calls to voters are focusing on helping people work through the logistics to be ready to vote by mail in November.