ST. CHARLES – About 20 people gathered in a meeting room at a local coffee shop Feb. 1 to organize under the tenets of “Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda.”
St. Charles resident Brenda Engelhardt led the group at the Arcedium Coffeehouse in St. Charles as they discussed practical actions they could take – from meeting with their congressmen to posting on social media.
“This is the first meeting of what we are – so far – [called] Indivisible Illinois [Congressional] Districts 6 and 14,” Engelhardt said. “Anyone is welcome. This is a local advocacy group ... following the ‘Indivisible Guide.’”
The “Indivisible Guide” was created by former congressional staffers who stated they saw how the Tea Party organized against President Barack Obama’s agenda, and formalized it for those who want to oppose President Donald Trump. The guide is available by visiting www.indivisibleguide.com.
According to its website, 3,820 Indivisible groups have formed in Illinois alone.
In recent weeks, U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Winfield, and U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Wheaton, have been targeted by constituents who are concerned about Trump’s agenda regarding the Affordable Care Act, the environment and other issues. Those who attended were either in Hultgren’s 14th District or Roskam’s 6th District.
Ultimately, the group decided its first action would be to set up public town hall meetings with Hultgren and Roskam.
Engelhardt, 52, invited each person to share why he or she came to the meeting.
“I’ve never been terribly politically active, [but] I’m worried about Trump,” Engelhardt said. “Honestly, just his lack of regard and conscience for government. And I see rights that are going to be stripped away from us. ... I’m here against Trump, right now.”
“I have not been active in a political organization since the Vietnam years,” her husband, Tom Engelhardt, said. “But everything is at risk, guys; everything is in play. It’s now or never.”
Jill Brown, also a St. Charles resident, said she was participating because of Trump’s mental status.
“He’s just not right – there is something wrong with him,” Brown said of Trump. “I have never, ever done anything political – not even during Vietnam. I sat back and watched. This is the first time I’m doing anything.”
St. Charles resident Katie Roetzer said she wanted to participate with other like-minded people.
“What I’m seeing is smoke and mirrors to get people to look elsewhere, so [Trump] can continue to put things into place that are not in the best interests for our country,” Roetzer said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. I want to participate. Otherwise, I’m a hypocrite.”
Jeanne Scown of Geneva said she and her husband, Bill, were Republicans until 2007.
“I knew George W. Bush had emotional problems the second [term] – I just could not vote for him the second time around,” Scown said. “[Trump’s presidency] is emotional problems on steroids.”
Debra McQuaid of Geneva said keeping health care affordable and accessible is a major concern for her.
“I’ve got a pre-existing condition,” McQuaid said. “I have a daughter with special needs. … I have lots of concerns, and I’m interested in seeing what I can do.”
Elburn resident Jane Goodarzi said she agreed with everyone else’s reasons for getting involved.
“I see discrimination across the board, and I have grown increasingly agitated since he was elected,” Goodarzi said. “I really feel the need to be among like-minded people and take action and not just sit there and bash Trump because we know that he’s got a pathology.”
St. Charles resident Patty Gawrys said she had come to the gathering from a constituent meeting about the repeal of the Affordable Care Act at the West Chicago district office of U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Wheaton.
Roskam’s staff did not meet with the group because a member of the press was with them, so the constituents met in the lobby, taped their statements about the Affordable Care Act and put it on YouTube, participants said.
“I am a nurse and a mother,” Gawrys said. “I was able to go to the Women’s March in D.C. … It was the most incredible feeling … that we can start a movement. We can do this.”
Kim Cook of Campton Hills said she became interested in politics a year ago and opposes the GOP plan to defund Planned Parenthood.
“The reason I am involved is because I am a health teacher, and I’m also a nurse in the schools,” Cook said.
Cook said she is also upset about the risk to LBGT, Muslim and immigrant rights, and global climate change, as well as health care in a Trump administration.
“I am getting really tired of people saying, ‘Let’s watch and see.’ This is my analogy: You are standing on the train tracks in LaFox watching the train coming in from Elburn right at you,” Cook said. “Let’s just wait and see what happens. You can either stay on and get hit or you can jump off and do something. I’m going to jump off these tracks and do something.”
Cathy Kalks, also of Campton Hills, agreed.
“If it’s not us, then who’s it going to be?” Kalks said.
Information about joining or participating in the group is available by emailing email@example.com
On the Web
Visit KCChronicle.com to view videos associated with this story.