Sunday, February 12, 2017

One nation, indivisible: Steven Cottrell on our local activists, thousands of whom crossed Bridge of Lions January 21st

Posted February 13, 2017 12:02 am
By STEVE COTTRELL Public Occurrences
STEVE COTTRELL: ‘One nation, indivisible’ has a nice ring to it

Many, many years ago a cartoon appeared in The New Yorker magazine that went something like this:

A frantic cub reporter rushed into his editor’s office waving wire copy he had just ripped from the noisy Associated Press Teletype machine, shouting, “Christ has returned! Christ has returned!”

The editor looked up at the young reporter and said, “Sounds like an interesting story, kid, but what’s the local angle?”

“Teletype” and “ripping wire copy” may not be familiar terms to young readers, or even some young journalists, but before there was a World Wide Web –– and a flutter of Twitter feeds –– there were bulky Teletype machines delivering bulletins and routine stories to newspapers around the world.

And while newsrooms no longer have to contend with the Teletype’s cacophony of clattering keys and ringing bells, editors still ask, “So, what’s the local angle?”

It would not be surprising, then, for the Opinion Page editor of this newspaper to wonder why I would write about a national — actually, international — movement.

I am referring to the indivisible phenomenon that has drawn millions of marchers in cities around the world, including a march in St. Augustine on Jan. 21.

Organizers of the local event billed it as Unity of Community and expected a couple dozen people –– mainly women –– to gather for a walk over the Bridge of Lions and a rally in the Plaza de la Constitucion. Not a big deal, but at least it was a way for a few people to work off their frustrations and demonstrate their displeasure at the sea change shift of power and policy in Washington, D.C.

Instead of a couple dozen marchers, however, the event drew a couple thousand, and Indivisible St. Johns was born. It is now one of over 4,000 such groups nationwide and one of two-dozen within 50 miles of St. Augustine.

They may have different organizational names, but they are all associated with the growing Indivisible movement, and they have been organized in Palm Coast, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fleming Island, Jacksonville, Atlantic Beach, Ormond Beach and elsewhere.

So, yes, there is a “local angle” to this unexpected international reformation.

An important indivisible goal is to get organized better at the local level and begin to see more like-minded, progressive men and women running for local public office. That’s an approach I’ve previously written about in this space, and I remain convinced that political movements grow from the bottom up, not the top down.

Being elected to a recreation board or airport commission might not seem very important, but it is from local offices that future state and national leaders often emerge. And it is the aim of Indivisible St. Johns to do exactly that.

Dan Rather recently suggested, “If you want change, you have to do what the Donald Trump people did. Organize, get to the polls, get other people to the polls, be Locally, Mary Lawrence, an organizer of the Unity of Community march that evolved into Indivisible St. Johns, said, “This is on-the-ground, person-to-person community organizing.”

We applaud Mary and others who have stepped forward to organize and lead the local indivisible group, and we wish them great success. If they are able to sustain their effort and energy, and work to get fresh, enthusiastic candidates on local ballots and tireless volunteers knocking on doors to promote their candidates, they will have accomplished a great deal.

In fact, when the 2018 election season rolls around, activism by Indivisible St. Johns might well influence the future political landscape of St. Augustine and St. Johns County.

What they are doing is not radical. Heck, not even close. They are merely exercising their Constitutional right to “petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

It was Theodore Roosevelt who, in a 1918 newspaper editorial, wrote, “To stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”

That kind of perspective seems downright bully to me.

Steve Cottrell can be contacted at

1 comment:

Warren Celli said...

The people are protesting on the streets (as they should because their corrupt system has failed them), and system tool Steve Cottrell, in a transparently ingratiating ruse article, asks them to again bang their heads on the system wall by continuing to participate in the energy dissipating system scam.

Go back under your rock Steve.

Stay on the streets kids!

It is time to update and rewrite the Suffolk Resolves.