More than a dozen Northwest Indiana groups have joined Indivisible Guide, a national movement tearing a page from the tea party's playbook on political activism to rally against President Donald Trump and his administration.
One group, Indivisible NWI, drew hundreds of area residents March 4 to the Ironworkers Local 395 in Portage to question longtime U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, a Merrillville Democrat, and learn how to organize against what the group called "the Trump agenda."
"I think it means there are a lot of people who are passionate and who want to change what they see happening on a national level and in their local community," said Highland's Jessica Haug, one of the Indivisible NWI founders. "I think they see this Trump administration is scary to people. The guide tells you how to reach members of Congress step by step in an effective way."
That guide is called the Indivisible Guide, an online guidebook compiled by former Congressional staffers on how to influence members of Congress. What began as a simple Google document exploded into a burgeoning movement, and that movement has sparked new political activism in places like Gary, Schererville, Highland and St. John.
In the Portage union hall meeting, Visclosky spoke of his positions on health care reform, alleged Russian interference in last year's national elections and civil rights, issues the members said interested them when Indivisible NWI members polled them.
Following the guide's direction, the recent Indivisible NWI group followed Visclosky's comments with break-out sessions on field organizing, legislation, marketing and communications and legal maneuvering.
The grassroots movement is modeled after the national tea party's rapid ascension leading up to the 2010 mid-term elections, Haug said. Locally, tea party members organized into cells across the region and flooded elected officials' town hall meetings, often peppering officials with tough questions, especially on the Affordable Care Act.
Visclosky, who already has held a dozen town hall-style meetings this year, took the brunt of the criticism from tea party members, who effectively disrupted meetings then.