When 13 Indivisible RI activists visited Congressman Jim Langevin’s Warwick office today, it wasn’t only to implore him to resist Trump, it was also to thank him for co-sponsoring House Resolution 111.
Progressive activists had phoned Langevin’s office the day before asking him to co-sponsor the bill “directing the Attorney General to transmit certain documents to the House of Representatives relating to the financial practices of the President” and he obliged.
In a sit-down meeting around a conference table, Seth Klaiman, Langevin’s chief of staff, in turn thanked Indivisible RI for helping alert Langevin to the legislation.
“The best thing you can do, as soon as you know, call or email and say, ‘hey, are you going to get on this,'” Klaiman said. “As I tell people all the time, whatever the bill may be, there are thousands, so until it gets our attention, not that we don’t look at it, we may not know it exists.”
It was a much more civil interaction than many members of Congress have experienced lately. One woman praised Langevin’s recent appearance on a recent Sunday talk show. Another suggested every Democrat in Congress should hire legions of staffers and interns to help fight the Trump agenda.
“I don’t really see the fight from him,” said Jonathan Daly-LaBelle. “When the right piles onto him nobody wants to come to his aid because we haven’t seen him fight for us.”
Another man said, “We have leaders who don’t stick up for the things I’m screaming at the TV about.”
Referring to Langevin and Senator Jack Reed, one woman said, “They need to get more energized, and have a little more fire in their bellies.” Someone else added, as if to explain why: “These are not normal times.”
Klaiman said Langevin understands, and the uptick in citizen activism serves as strong barometer of the times. “He’s never seen activism like this,” Klaiman said. “And it is making a difference to him, it really is.”
As for showing more fire in his belly, Klaiman, who worked for Reed before working for Langevin, defended both, and drew a distinction between the other two members of the congressional delegation.
“There are two that have a certain style,” Klaiman said, “and then two that have another similar style. Sen. Reed and Congressman Langevin, it’s not their natural style … but it’s not for a lack of caring.”
Indivisible RI and Klaiman brainstormed best approaches to defending to Affordable Care Act, and eventually pushing for universal health coverage. They also discussed whether Mike Pence would be a better president than Trump.
While everyone feared Pence is more ideologically conservative than Trump, there was also a sense he would be more normal. “At least we’d have some semblance that the government is working,” one woman said. “He’s more conventional,” said a man.
Klaiman seemed to agree. “The real issue with Donald Trump is you don’t want your children to look up to him,” Klaiman said. “With Pence, he’s more of a classic conservative. I think we can deal with that.”
Klaiman angered some in the group when he didn’t malign House Speaker Paul Ryan, calling him “essentially a decent human being.”
Klaiman’s point was he thinks Ryan won’t want to associate with Trump for very long. “I can’t believe a year from now Paul Ryan is marching next to Donald Trump.”
The activists weren’t so confident that mainstream Republicans would eventually distance themselves from Trump.