Even though it was the second strategy meeting to combat the Trump agenda held in Evanston in as many weeks, an audience packed into the gymnasium of the Fleetwood-Jourdain Center March 6.
Much like the Feb. 27 Equality Illinois event which filled the Unitarian Church of Evanston, this session hosted by the Chicago-based grassroots organization Indivisible included a panel of state and national political, advocacy and activist leaders including 9th District Rep. Jan Schakowsky ( D-IL ), 5th District Rep. Mike Quigley ( D-IL ), Sen. Heather Steans, 14th District State Rep. Kelly Cassidy and Sen. Daniel Biss.
They were followed by representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union ( ACLU ) of Illinois, the Sister District Project, Chicago Women Take Action and the Women's March on Chicago.
Each fielded a deluge of questions from people eager to find an effective way not only in confronting Trump and a GOP-controlled Congress but in ending a statewide budget stalemate which has crippled vital services and advocacy organizations across Illinois.
Quigley briefly discussed the House Intelligence Committee on which he sits with the goal of investigating Russian interference in the General Election.
"There has to be public pressure from across the country," he said. "We're the most underfunded committee on The Hill. That has to change. [FBI Director] Comey briefed us last week and it was underwhelming. We have to have subpoena power, public meetings as well as private ones. In the final analysis, we need to know exactly what the facts were on the degree of Russian involvement and if there was collusion."
"I think that this whole story of Trump and Russia and the rigging of our election is unraveling for the Trump administration," Schakowsky added. "The media is pulling every single thread. The American people, Republicans and Democrats, want to know what does Russia have on Donald Trump that he is willing it seems to sell out or NATO allies? This might be his undoing."
On a state level, Steans said "it is possible Illinois is more dysfunctional than Washington D.C."
"We used to always be able to get things done in Springfield by reaching across the aisle," she added. "That really changed with [Governor Bruce] Rauner coming in and this outrageous budget impasse. We're the only state in the country that has ever gone 20 months without a budget. It is immoral. We have been bending over backwards working with Republicans to get a deal and Rauner decidedly killed it last week."
"We have heard a great deal about how all of this is [House Speaker Mike] Madigan's fault," Cassidy noted. "I've been critical of the Speaker but the bottom line is that I am proud owner of at least three vetoes of bills that I have negotiated with this administration. I know first-hand the moving goal-posts method that this governor adopts. He doesn't want to make a deal. The bottom line is we are in a situation with a leader [Rauner] who doesn't want this to end."
While Biss concluded the evening with a call-to-action and political combat both on a state and national level, he told Windy City Times that he is presently examining the possibilities of a run to replace Rauner as governor in 2018.
For more information on Indivisible Chicago, visit: indivisiblechicago.com .