• Janis Richardson

The Road from Indivisible to the League

A year ago, Carie Bellanger and I gathered a group of people together around my kitchen table and Indivisible Lavaca County was born. Our group grew with people who thought they were alone in their political beliefs and their feelings of alienation in our local community. We met almost every month throughout 2017, and found courage in the community that began to form.

I loved the incredible people I met and the feeling of community that we were building. I worried, however, about the stories that I regularly heard - and shared myself - about feeling alienated right here in our home community.

It is true that many that joined our group were looking for a way to connect with local Democrats, with the local Democratic party somewhat inactive. But I along with some others were not tied to a political party identity. My initial interest was and still is the short game and the long game. For me, the short game involves using my voice and my vote to speak out when I believe that our elected officials are not behaving in an ethical manner, are not respecting and protecting the Constitution, and are not representing the values that I associate with our democracy. The long game involves finding a way back to a time when differences of opinion are not only tolerated but respected, and people from all sides of the political spectrum can - and do - come together out of shared interests to find solutions to the wicked problems that affect our community and our individual lives. Over time, it is this long game that moved to the forefront for me.

As Carie was deciding to put her hat in the ring to be elected as the new chair of the local Democratic party, I began thinking about how we might best build on our first year with a focus on this long game question. It was then that I remembered one of the most respected long-game organizations I know - the League of Women Voters. The League was founded almost 100 years ago but that founding came after 72 years of work by thousands of women to get the right to vote. With more than 700 local and state organizations in the United States, the mission of empowering voters and defending democracy, and a strong identity as a political but nonpartisan organization, the League felt like a promising home for what I and others wanted to accomplish here in Lavaca County.

After networking with League members in other Texas communities, visiting with members of the League of Women Voters of Texas board of directors, and getting the commitment from four other local women to join me in forming the founding leadership team for a new League in Lavaca County, we began taking steps to become recognized by the state League as a new League at Large, the first step in becoming a fully constituted local League. We received that recognition on January 27, 2018.

Forming this League is not a split from what we were doing. It is not way to ask people in our community to chose between being active in a political party and joining the League. It is not a sign that we were disappointed in the Indivisible network. It is not wimping out or seeking "nice" rather than "powerful". It is simply the next segment of a journey as we envision a democracy where every person has the desire, the right, the knowledge and the confidence to participate. There is a need for strong, active local political parties - and there is a need for a nonpartisan political organization like the League to create that welcoming, safe space in the middle for members of our community to work together in the best interest of our community and our country, empowering voters and defending democracy. It is an investment in the long game of building a more productive, positive civic culture here at home.

Please join us on the journey. All are welcomed.