LOCAL DEMOCRATS TO ORGANIZE IN WAKE OF TRUMP VICTORY
Three days ago, a Facebook page called “New Jersey Awakens” was formed. Despite how new it is, the group already expects to draw a crowd of nearly 100 tonight in Hoboken at the Pilsner Haus Biergarten, with more than 200 indicating they may come. The election of Donald Trump to the presidency has led to groups of disaffected Democrats and Independents springing up all over the country to meet, commiserate, and plan for the future.
New Jersey Awakens, founded by Hoboken resident Dana Wefer, is aimed at “organizing Democrats and other progressives to reform the Democratic party and our political system from the ground up” according to the group’s page. Wefer herself is no stranger to local activism as she engaged in a very public battle to curtail fiscal mismanagement and ethics issues at the Hoboken Housing Authority, where she remains chairperson of the Board. “I started the Democratic Social Club because I was disillusioned by the formal democratic committee in Hoboken,” Wefer said. “In 2013 we had a good Democratic candidate for governor, Barbara Buono, but statewide Democrats threw their weight behind Chris Christie. It was really disappointing to me and the results have been obviously disastrous for the state.” The club gathers monthly for a happy hour, has been registering voters at local festivals, and campaigned for Hillary Clinton making almost 800 calls to Pennsylvania voters on Election Day and organizing canvassing opportunities into Pennsylvania.
“Wednesday morning, I was just shell shocked,” Wefer says. “I thought, I want to get in a room with other Democrats who feel similarly, we need to talk to each other.” Envisioning ten people in a coffee shop, Wefer sent an email to her group and had more than 30 RSVPs by the end of the day. When she put the event on Facebook, it continued to gain traction and attention outside of Hoboken. Wefer rebranded the group “New Jersey Awakens” and hopes that it will serve as an organizing force for Democrats disappointed with the lack of grassroots effort in the Democratic Party. “The Democratic Party is, in many ways, suffering from the same issues that we see in our society at large, especially social stratification,” Wefer said. “It’s hard to run for office unless you have a lot of money, so our leaders end up being wealthier than the population they serve. Many have lost touch with the grassroots supporters and are insulated from the everyday issues facing people. We need to get back to our grassroots as a party.”
On Monday night the group will be organizing into committees and recruiting volunteers. “We’re going to be compiling resources ready to mobilize if President Trump or his cabinet members attempt to implement policies discriminating against anyone on the basis of race, religion, orientation, ethnicity, or sex,” Wefer said. The group is also organizing phone banks to call voters in Louisiana, where a Senate race will be decided next month, and locally to reach more Democrats. “People are really motivated right now. We need to harness that and give people a productive outlet to effectuate change,” Wefer said. “We can’t just sit by."
Tonight's event at the Pilsener Haus Biergarten: 6:30 - 8:30