Westlake Democratic Club Meeting
On Tuesday night we went to the Western Cuyahoga Lodge on Center Ridge Road in Westlake for a meeting of the Westlake Democratic Club in order to hear Ms. Katrice Williams of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) talk about what could be done to resist the more controversial policies of the Trump administration.
On this subject, Ms. Williams discussed the "ACLU's 7-Point Plan to Take on President Trump" that included demanding accountability and transparency (which matters a lot because the initial executive order regarding immigration was issued at 7pm on a Friday night and caught almost everyone off-guard especially those who had to enforce it and foreign-born but well-documented people in transit; some of whom were aghast to discover that their entry/re-entry into the United States was denied); defense of reproductive rights; protection of first amendment rights (while "responding aggressively to threats against Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian communities"); defense of LGBT rights, defense of core civil rights and civil liberties from erosion, mobilization of the American people; and, of course, protection of the rights of immigrants.
On the latter point, it was emphasized that sanctuary cities, refugees, and "dreamers" are especially vulnerable. We really appreciated it that Ms. Williams talked a lot about the precarious position that the foreign-born are in at this time. Among the issues mentioned were another possible ban on people from certain countries entering the U.S.; expanded powers to ICE and its agents; making the use of racial profiling more legitimate; and the potential use of "private prisons" to house detainees.
As far as what we can do as U.S. citizens, Ms. Williams said we should consider writing personalized letters (not form letters which can be downloaded off the computer) to the press and to political leaders about issues we really care about, call for elected officials to have town hall meetings and make effective use of them, and volunteer one's talents to progressive organizations that are challenging the policies of the Trump administration.
We especially liked a suggestion that Ms. Williams made regarding adopting a strategy to keep people mobilized after an event. For example, the Women's March and the Immigrant Rights gathering in Market Square earlier this year were great but a way must be found to keep the participants connected and active in order to build a powerful, collective force.
Above all, Ms. Williams urged us to "step out of our comfort zone" and form groups in order to canvas areas that we ordinarily wouldn't go to in order to register potential voters (at least a third of those eligible are not registered) and engage in conversations with people who may have been unenthusiastic/lesser-of-the-two-evils Trump voters in 2016 who are now troubled by what is happening. Ms. Williams said the we need to make an effort to understand what such people have to say and build alliances. She recommended that we try to avoid a debate but instead take part in a "constructive dialogue" that involves a lot of listening on our part.
Along these lines, Ms. Williams evoked a round of laughter and applause when she recalled that her grandmother told her that God gave her only one mouth but two ears for a reason.
Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC