Column: Suffolk Dems energized by anti-Trump movement

COURTESY PHOTOS Congressman Lee Zeldin, left, and President Doanld rump.
COURTESY PHOTOS Congressman Lee Zeldin, left, and President Doanld rump.

The presidency of Donald Trump has resulted in a “huge increase” in interest and involvement in Democratic Party activities in Suffolk, says the county’s Democratic chairman, Rich Schaffer. “People have been reaching out to town [Democratic] committees through the county and to us,” Mr. Schaffer said other day.

Since the election, the Suffolk Democratic Party has received thousands of telephone calls and emails “from people who want to get involved — and do something,” the party leader added.

Meanwhile, anti-Trump “resistance” groups have sprung up in Suffolk and with the Suffolk Democratic Party they are committed to opposing Mr. Trump and defeating officeholders backing him.

Mr. Schaffer has sought to coordinate with these groups. He held a meeting recently with 50 people from the groups at Suffolk Democratic Party headquarters. “We all have the same goals — defeat of [Lee] Zeldin and [Peter] King.” Congressman Zeldin (R-Shirley, who represents the Island, is an avid supporter of Mr. Trump.

He has ties to the president that go back to 2014 when Mr. Zeldin first ran for Congress and Mr. Trump contributed to his campaign and made a robocall describing Mr. Zeldin as “a terrific guy” and “very conservative.”

Congressman Peter King (R-Seaford), initially said Mr. Trump was “not fit to be president.” But after Mr. Trump clinched the GOP nomination Mr. King endorsed him with reluctance — “I don’t agree with Donald Trump on everything,” he said. The third congressman representing Suffolk Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove).

The district of Mr. Zeldin the lst C.D., in addition to the Island, includes the four other East End towns, Brookhaven and most of Smithtown. The district of Mr. King, the 2nd C.D., includes Babylon and Islip towns and extends west into Nassau County. Mr. Suozzi’s district, the 3rd C.D., takes in Huntington and also extends into Nassau.

All seats in the House of Representatives will be up for election next year.

“It’s important that we supplement each other to achieve our goals,” Mr. Schaffer said of the anti-Trump “resistance” groups. The Democratic chairman, a former Suffolk County legislator, spoke about how “every day the actions of Trump and his cast of characters — on health care, the environment, on issue after issue” provides added momentum to the opposition to the Trump presidency here.

The situation in Suffolk mirrors the national picture.

The Washington Post published an article last month headlined: “Democrats partner with political newcomers aiming to create anti-Trump wave in 2018 midterms.”

It began: “A wave of first-time candidates eager to fight President Trump and his young administration plan to challenge House Republican incumbents, giving Democratic Party leaders hope that they can capitalize on the anger and intensity of grass-roots protests and town hall meetings across the country this year … Democratic strategists are trying to take advantage of the groundswell of engagement.”

One of the anti-Trump “resistance” groups in Suffolk is IndivisibleNY01 in the lst C.D. of Mr. Zeldin. As it says on its website — — under “Mission,” “To share knowledge of our political process and performance of our elected officials so that we can inspire our community to contribute to their and their family’s future, by persuading our representatives to represent US.”
Under “Our Principles,” it states: “The current administration and elected officials will take America backwards and MUST BE STOPPED! Any elected officials that don’t represent us properly MUST BE STOPPED! … Whenever one of our representatives acts, whether sponsoring or co-sponsoring a bill, makes a speech, votes on legislation, etc. that doesn’t consider our concerns,” that representative “must be told, loudly.”

An early action of the group was a demonstration at an event involving Mr. Zeldin.

A recent meeting of IndivisibleNY01 was addressed by Bryan Erwin of Riverhead whose background in government includes being an aide to former U.S. Senator Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota). He discussed political strategy.

John A. Smith, founder of InvisibleNY01, says: “We see that there are a lot of angry and scared people in our communities. We want to direct that anger and fear into something constructive. We want to educate and register those people in our communities to vote and get involved. We want them to realize they have a voice and that we need their voice to change the racist, authoritarian and corrupt agenda being carried out by the president and the party in control of the county.”

Anti-Trump energies in Suffolk are also being channeled through social media. In a recent Facebook posting, psychotherapist Michael Z. Jody of East Hampton cited various “monstrous” appointments by Mr. Trump, among them Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry who has said he wanted “to shut down” DOE; Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA which he “Pruitt has been battling for years;” Betty DeVos as head of the Department of Education although she “does not believe in public education … And on and on it goes … We need resistance like our lives depend on it,” wrote Mr. Jody, because they “just might.”