On Day 3 of the Young Fabians Operation Stop Trump delegation we travelled from New York City to the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. We arrived in DC to sunshine and sweltering heat.
We travelled straight from Union Station to our first meeting at Generation Progress, an innovative think tank which advocates on behalf of millennials. General Progress aims to educate, engage, and mobilize a new generation of young progressives into a grassroots movement and advocate for beneficial public policy solutions. We met with Generation Progress’s Managing Director Layla Zaidane.
We had a thought-provoking discussion about the issues most impacting millennials such as the economy/unemployment, student debt and the cost of living crisis. We were impressed by the work Generation Progress is doing to advocate for young people who are underrepresented in Politics.
As we had spent the day travelling we decided to spend the evening relaxing at our Airbnb, watching Fox News for entertainment.
Day 4 of our delegation saw us meet with two influential organisations- the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for LGBTQ rights and Working America, the political arm of the AFL-CIO- America’s biggest trade union. We learnt much from both organisations.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has proven itself to be an effective lobbyist for LGBTQ rights, most significantly playing a key role in the battle for marriage equality by funding legal costs.
The Human Rights Campaign aims to mobilise the LGBTQ community into a cohesive political voting bloc. LGBTQ voters could make up the margin of victory in the presidential election in key swing states such as Florida. HRC promotes and supports political candidates at every level who support LGBTQ rights.
HRC’s influence is evidenced by the fact Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine was scheduled to attend their fundraising dinner. The event would be a way to introduce Kaine to the LGBTQ community and for him to prove his commitment to standing up for their rights.
Ty Cobb, Director of HRC’s Global Outreach told our delegates the Obama administration has made progress for the LGBT community and the positive step forward must continue. He said the LGBTQ community was impressed by Hillary Clinton’s advocacy for Transgender rights.
With regards to Trump, Ty Cobb explained HRC really don’t know what to expect as he is a little bit everywhere- Trump’s incoherent policy stances/unpredictability is a theme that came up time and time again with the different organisations we met.
HRC has harnessed social media to great effect to engage members and raise issues. The organisation also has a pop culture presence- in the recent ‘Will and Grace’ reunion for the election campaign, the Human Right’s Campaigns’s poster can be seen in the background in Will’s apartment.
Our next meeting was with Working America at the AFL-CIO. We were inspired by the AFL-CIO’s beautiful lobby where there is an ornate mural celebrating workers.
Working America is the political organising arm of the AFL-CIO and advocates on behalf of working families. The key take-away we got from this meeting was Working America’s
canvassing conversations are about the experiences of the person, not about their voter intentions- a crucial lesson for both the Democrats and Labour.
Matt Morrison, Working America’s Political Director noted face to face conversations on the doorstep where you really listen and understand the issues are incredibly powerful. We also discussed the role of trade unions and lessons we can learn from Working America.
The most potent statement of the meeting was “Trumpism is what keeps me up at night as much as Trump himself” which we all agreed was a very scary thought. Although Trump himself is odious, the fact his message is tapping into a feeling many Americans have is the scariest thing.
We spent the afternoon stopping by the White House, exploring the National Mall and visiting the American History Museum. We had a lovely walk down the Mall to the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. We found it very moving to visit the Lincoln Memorial and reflect upon the great ideal of ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’.
We continued our presidential theme having dinner at one of President George W. Bush’s favourite restaurants, Tortilla Coast on Capitol Hill.