How the Assembly District Election meetings could affect Trump’s presidency
■ By Halima Haider / Editorial Assistant
We all watched as millions took to the streets in at least 500 U.S. cities and more than 60 countries around the globe in support of “Women’s March on Washington,” the day after President Donald J. Trump was sworn into office.
Who would’ve thought a simple grassroots initiative could balloon into a global movement leading throngs of women [and men] to march not just for women’s rights, but also against the new controversial commander-in-chief?
That these protests would find their way to the far reaches of our valley, propelling us to host our very own #WomensMarch in Hemet? Well, it did, and lesser known grassroots movements aimed to destroy President Trump’s version of America have long been underway. Just as you were getting ready to loosen your belt buckle, and say “what’s done is done,” self-proclaimed “Berniecrats” of Hemet are here to remind you: not so fast.
Women’s March aside, something colossal happened in Hemet earlier this month: On Jan. 7, progressive grassroots candidates of District 42, which covers Central Hemet, San Jacinto, Yucaipa, Banning, Beaumont, all the way to Palm Springs, went head-to-head with GOP grassroots nominees, winning every seat in the Assembly District Election Meetings (ADEMs) held in the 500 block of E. Florida Avenue. To progressive democrats in the swim, it marked the start of an unsung movement of heroism –– a “political revolution” waiting to happen, if you will.
Is an uprise of enraged progressives well in the works? In truth, it’s too soon to tell, though not a matter to be taken lightly especially considering the gravity of ongoing protests against the incumbent president worldwide and his patchy first week in the oval office (depending upon who is doing the reporting) consisting of false, petty claims about the size of the Inauguration crowd, the deletion of climate change and LGBT pages from the White House website, “deeply saddening” former CIA Director John Brennan after a retaliatory, lackluster CIA speech, and hastily signing off on executive orders “to ease the burden of Obama-care,” and go forward with the construction of Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines despite its undeniable direct adverse environmental effect with the sole intent to “undo” former President Barack Obama’s policies. Is “Trumpocalypse” further fueling and uniting progressives near and far? It’s highly possible.
Take Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (D-Vermont) Women’s March speech in Montpelier, Vermont for instance, in which he says loudly and clearly: “Mr. Trump, I’ve got bad news for you. You’re not going to divide us up by gender, by race, by who we love. In fact, your bigotry, and your ugliness is going to bring us together in a progressive movement. Mr. Trump, we are not going backwards, we are going forwards!”
As for California “Berniecrats,” their collective mantra seems synonymous with Sen. Sanders’ speech, with special focus on banning hydrofracking, establishing single-payer health care, and leaping toward sustainable energy, and more pressingly, defeating former president of Los Angeles Stonewall Democrats (a division of the Democratic Party supporting LGBT rights) Eric “Boss” Bausman as chair of the state party. Their collective outcry is that Bausman is a “corrupt bully,” not far off from how the party might perceive Mr. Trump and his cabinet.
“Trump won in part by appealing to the worst in people,” quipped Joey Aszterbaum, 2017 District 42 ADEMs delegate. “But he also won by addressing the needs of working people whose economic situation has been devastated by bad trade deals and useless wars. He won by lying to them and won’t help them; a try progressive agenda (think FDR) will energize and uplift working families, providing a real alternative to the politics of right-wing authoritarianism.”
According to Aszterbaum, the reform-minded Berniecrats feel that “Trumpism” is a sheer result of “lukewarm liberals” belonging to the Democratic Party who have become “too cozy” on the topics of U.S. warfare and Wall Street at large.
“An example of war and Wall Street liberalism is Cory Booker, and the 12 sellout senators,” added Aszterbaum. “Booker impressed liberals by giving a soundbite speech against Mr. Trump’s appointee Jeff Sessions, but then voted against a budget amendment introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders that would allow people to import medicine from Canada. The reason is fairly apparent: Booker received more than $250,000 in campaign contributions from Big Pharma last year –– the third highest recipient. Progressives want to throw that sort of liberal out.”
As tight-knit as the San Jacinto Valley is, it’s been oddly divided into three districts: the mentioned District 42; District 71, which covers East Hemet to El Cajon in San Diego; and District 67, covering West Hemet to Lake Elsinore including Menifee, Murrieta, and Perris. Valley residents on the slate who won District 42 include Aszterbaum, Bryan Hash, Judy Rice, Maryanne Ennis, Drew Church and Hawa Russell. Valley residents who won in the other districts of Hemet are Keith Johnson of District 71 and Jennifer Hinchliff of District 67. Only two seats on the three districts were filled by non-Bernicrat-led slates. Political unknowns defeated established democrats from the likes of Mayor Bob Moon of Palm Springs and Ruth Debra of Stonewall Democrats in Palm Springs.
According to CADEM, delegates typically take part in important decisions including voting on endorsement recommendations and helping to promote the California Democratic Party’s Platform and agenda. One study says that this month, Berniecrats took over the Democratic Party in California, winning 618 of 1120 seats in the ADEMs and 44 of 80 executive boards.
ADEMs elections are held every two years to elect seven women and seven men as Assembly District Delegates for their area. Delegates are responsible for planning and attending informational meetings throughout their appointed region and working with other delegates to represent their community. They are elected by voters in their district to vote on behalf of the community they represent at Regional Meetings, the California Democratic Convention, and those who are also elected to serve as an executive board member are responsible for voting and representing their community at the semi-annual E-Board meetings.