Illinois Democrats respond to Trump presidency at packed Evanston event


Jeffrey Wang/Daily Senior Staffer

A crowd waits outside the Unitarian Church of Evanston, 1330 Ridge Ave., Sunday afternoon. Several Democratic leaders, including U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky and State Sen. Daniel Biss held a post-election meeting to discuss the future of the Democratic party under a Trump presidency.

Sam Krevlin, Reporter

When Evanston residents vented their frustration in the election of Donald Trump at an event on Sunday, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) told them she would remain firm in her beliefs while avoiding total gridlock in Washington.

Several Democratic elected official answered questions from an audience of more than 400 on Sunday afternoon, discussing the party’s future and how it will handle Trump’s administration. Schakowsky was joined by state Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), state Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) and other officials.

“If I see a plan coming out of the Trump administration or the Republicans that would actually be good for us and all of us would agree, then we certainly want to cooperate,” Schakowsky said. “But when I say we need to reach out to the people who voted for Donald Trump, that is not to say that we will support his agenda.”

Carol Ronen, a Democratic committeewoman in Cook County and former state senator, consoled those who may feel “betrayed” or “left-behind” by the idea of working with Trump.
Ronen said the Democrats will fight on the behalf of marginalized people.

“Standing by minorities is not a political thing. It is standing up for values that make this country great,” Ronen said. “We cannot allow a demagogue to rule and get away with playing on the fears of individuals.”

Schakowsky said the leadership of the Democratic Party will be instrumental in protecting the rights of all Americans. However, the representative in the House who will lead the Democrats in this effort remains uncertain. Schakowsky told the audience she endorses Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to continue to lead the House minority.

Schakowsky addressed concerns that the Democrats needed a new young face millennials could back. She said while Rep.Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) is a great spokesperson for the party, his youth should not be valued over Pelosi’s firm stance and experience with progressive values.

“There is room for young people to take leadership positions,” Schakowsky said.” As someone who spends a lot of time thinking about legacy and thinking about encouraging young women and men to run for office, we can not toss out really effective leadership like Nancy.”

As Schakowsky works in Washington, Biss assured the audience action can still be done on a local level. He said the potential Illinois Clean Jobs bill could show the Trump administration what progressive leadership looks like.

Wilmette resident Mark Kraemer compared Trump’s win to George W. Bush’s victory over Al Gore in 2000. Kraemer was concerned over Bush’s stance on the environment, but said he found hope in the fact that California was extremely effective in passing clean energy bills during the Bush presidency.

He said he hopes Illinois can still enact the Clean Jobs Bill without subsidizing coal and can continue to make progress on the state level.

“Things can change,” Kraemer said. “It may seem really bad now, but things can change for the better. We have a chance now even with a new president to still make progress.”

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