BY SAMAN SALAHUDDIN
Ever since the Donald Trump’s inauguration, liberals and democrats have finally awoken and millions have joined- the “resistance” against the President. During the nine weeks that Trump has been in office, we have seen the biggest organized protest in modern American history; thousands have gathered in airports all over the country to protest the Muslim ban, angry constituents have flooded townhalls, donations to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood have skyrocketed, and progressive grassroot movements have taken hold all over the country.
To find the resistance, we need not look further than our hometown of Orange County. For the first time since 1936, Orange County turned blue, with Hillary Clinton slightly edging past Trump, in what has always been a known republican stronghold. However, despite the blue shift, four republican incumbents managed to hold their congressional seats this past November. This puts Orange County in a rather unique position. There is no doubt that there is a growing democratic presence in this county, especially in cities such as Santa Ana and Costa Mesa. This means that there is an increasing number of angry constituents who have one tangible goal: to remove their republican congressmen and women come 2018’s midterm elections and deliver the current administration an undoubtedly crushing blow. That places a lot of power and spot light on Orange County’s resistance efforts.
Groups such as Indivisible OC, Liberal OC and The Democratic Party of Orange County are leading the path to resistance. One of their targets is Mimi Walters, the representative of the 45th District which encompases Irvine and surrounding areas. Mimi is a staunch Trump supporter and has seemingly made every decision possible to ignore her angry and afraid constituents. She has repeatedly refused to hold a town hall despite hundreds of constituents signing petitions, calling her office daily, and holding long stake-outs in front of her Irvine office asking her to do so. Instead of acknowledging their fears, Mimi sent out an email to her supporters, making the absolutely baseless and incorrect claim that the hundreds of constituents protesting outside her Irvine office have been organized by “paid liberal organizers”. The only method of communicating with Walters has been through calling her Irvine and Washington offices. The process goes a little like this: your call will be answered by one of Walters’s office staffers; you will passionately lay out your concerns to an overworked and underpaid staffer who has spent his or her day dealing with angry constituents; the staffer will either respond by reiterating Mimi’s vague policy stances or will simply respond by saying that he/she will pass on your concerns to the representative. That’s it. That is the extent of Walters’s communication with her own constituents. That, to me, is extremely troubling because not only is she neglecting to perform her job, which is to represent each and everyone of us, but her constituents are left in the dark in regards to her stances on pivotal policy issues such as climate change, health care and women’s rights. All we can do is hope and pray that she acts in our best interest.
But those hopes seem to be dwindling because just last week, Walters, a member of the House and Ways Committee, voted for the American Health Care Act or “Trump
care” which, if passed, will push 24 million Americans off of healthcare and raise premiums dramatically for everyone especially for the poor and the elderly. In my eyes, this path presents itself as highly undemocratic given Representative walters made such a consequential decision without even consulting her constituents through something as simple as a town hall.
It is only reasonable to assume that she is acting the way she is because she believes too firmly in her reelection come 2018, despite the protests, sit ins and angry constituents. In fact, she has already began fundraising by sending emails to her supporters and holding fundraising events in Sacramento and D.C (all outside her congressional district). Mimi Walters should not get comfortable just yet. Republican congressman Darrell Issa, of the 49th congressional district, which encompases parts of San Diego and Orange County, won reelection last year with the slim margin of 0.8 percent against his democratic challenger Doug Applegate. Much like Mimi’s constituents, Issa have had him under pressure for months. It’s largely the reason why this vocal Trump supporter has begun to lean left, expressing concerns about Republicans replacement for Obamacare and being one of the first Republicans calling for Jeff sessions to recuse himself from any investigation in regards to Russia. Issa correctly recognized the power of his constituents and held a town hall on March 11th in which some 500 constituents participated and hundreds more watched live on Facebook. He knows his seat is under the line of fire of Orange County Democrats. I hope that Walters takes the cue and follows suit.
The silver lining amongt all of this is that as members of the 45th district, we have power. We have the power to flip the congressional seat blue and exert our voice in Washington. The only way this can happen is if we continue to hold Mimi Walters accountable and most importantly, find a viable challenger for her seat. In order to win against Walters come 2018, we must galvanize a dramatically higher voter turn out and engage citizens in what could be a brutal fight come 2018