Published in the May 25, 2017 Santa Maria Times.

Connie Ford, president of the Democratic Club of the Santa Maria Valley, has as one of her primary goals to educate local voters so they know who they are voting for.

She is convinced, as are many others, that one of the reasons for Donald Trump’s victory last November was the fact many of those who voted for him did not know who he really was and what he stood for.

“These are people who are voting against their own interests,” she said, referring to the poor people in red states who voted for Trump, and ironically will be harmed the most by draconian cuts to social programs he is proposing.

She believes if these people had been better educated on what the election and the candidates were really about, at least some of them would have voted differently. She acknowledges, though, that knowing where Trump stands can be difficult to discern because “the man has no compass — he goes in one direction and then another without slowing down.”

Connie became president of Santa Maria Democrats in January, just before Trump’s inauguration. She took the job on out of a desire to oppose Trump and the entire right-wing agenda, and credits Trump with energizing American progressives in a way not seen in a generation.

As the Trump administration continues, people are waking up to see the threat authoritarian leaders like him present.

“His followers see enemies everywhere,” said Connie, “and that includes anyone who opposes them. Trump’s election has caused people to see the importance of democracy.”

Another of Connie’s priorities is reaching out to and working with other like-minded groups in the area. The Santa Maria Democrats are affiliated with the North County Coalition, United Domestic Workers, Fund for Santa Barbara, Planned Parenthood, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770, NAACP of Santa Maria and Lompoc, and Central Coast Alliance for a Sustainable Economy.

Connie is a passionate believer in educating voters so they make intelligent choices when they go to the ballot box. She thinks it vitally important voters know who their representatives are, not just what they claim to be in their literature and TV ads, but what they really stand for and what they will do while in office. By providing information about their representatives, she hopes voters will exercise good judgment when they cast their votes.

For the Santa Maria Democrats, the concept of “think globally, act locally” is no mere slogan, but a reality to be followed. Connie believes in shaking the world but from our own backyard, and to do this, volunteers are needed to get the word out. Younger volunteers are especially welcome, so they can carry the message forward into the future.

The Santa Maria Democrats agree, if there is any good to come out of Trump’s election, it is that it has galvanized progressives into realizing the importance of getting out the vote and not being complacent in the face of a threat a man like Trump represents. The Democrats of Santa Maria, like many others across the U.S., are energized, organized and ready to resist Trump and his agenda.

Meetings are held on the third Thursday of each month at the IHOP at 202 S. Nicholson Avenue, in Santa Maria. Guests are welcome. While the meetings start at 7 p.m., the doors open at 5:30 for fellowship. For more information you can visit the Democratic Club website at www.santamariademocrats.info.

Mark James Miller, President, Part-Time Faculty Association of Allan Hancock College, CFT Local 6185, Santa Maria, CA