Ed Note: This guest editorial is from Beatrice Leverett, a longtime Seattle resident, fourth-year medical student at the UW School of Medicine, and member of local resistance group Seattle Indivisible.
The efforts of Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell to resist the Trump agenda have so far been mediocre at best. FiveThirtyEight.com is tracking House and Senate votes on issues where the Trump administration has expressed a clear stance and calculating a “Trump score” for each senator and representative, equal to the percentage of their votes matching the administration's positions. At the end of Trump's third week in office, Murray’s Trump score was 30.8 percent and Cantwell’s was 38.5 percent. In other words, the senators representing the state which was recently hailed by The Washington Post as "the epicenter of resistance to Trump's agenda" have, on average, voted to support that agenda over a third of the time.
While only 38 percent of Washington voters cast ballots for Trump in November, the senators’ voting records to date align closely with those of democratic senators from states with a far higher percentage of Trump supporters. For example, Senator John Tester of Montana, a state in which Trump won 56 percent of the popular vote, has a Trump score identical to Patty Murray’s. Furthermore, the minority of Washingtonians who voted for Trump need their senators’ resistance just as much as those who opposed him, if not more.
The Washington counties where the highest numbers of people receive health insurance through the Affordable Care Act are rural counties where the majority of voters supported Trump. As a physician-in-training at the University of Washington, I routinely care for patients from these areas; farmworkers airlifted to Harborview after industrial accidents, parents who drive over snowy mountain passes for their children's specialty clinic appointments, families who uproot their lives to spend months in Seattle with their hospitalized loved ones. A repeal of the ACA would be a crushing blow for them. Murray and Cantwell opposed the budget resolution allowing for repeal, and voted against the confirmation of ACA opponent Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services. However, their failure to consistently resist the Trump agenda as a whole calls into question how hard they will fight to preserve access to healthcare for Washington's most vulnerable residents.
Trump's immigration policies also threaten his supporters in our state; the farms that are a cornerstone of rural Washington's economy rely on undocumented farmworkers to function. Yet both Murray and Cantwell voted to confirm John Kelly as Secretary of Homeland Security. Kelly has fiercely defended Trump's immigration ban, as well as the recent increase in ICE raids and deportations. While Murray and Cantwell likely could not have prevented his confirmation, their support for him demonstrates a disturbing discontent from their state's priorities and needs.
Regardless of political ideology, Washington voters cannot accept this lukewarm resistance effort from our senators. The stakes are simply too high.
I am proud to count myself as a member of a local group which is demanding that our senators start resisting Trump's agenda with the dedication their constituents deserve: Seattle Indivisible. We are a local chapter of the Indivisible movement, a nationwide resistance effort inspired by a document written after the election by former Congressional staffers, outlining how grassroots organizing can be used effectively against the Trump agenda.
Founded by two people on January 1, 2017, Seattle Indivisible now includes nearly 4,000 members and a dedicated team of over 100 volunteers. These numbers will likely increase even further as the Indivisible movement continues to attract attention from lawmakers and the media nationwide. Senators Murray and Cantwell can expect to hear from us continuously through our coordinated phone calls to their offices, our weekly #ResistTrumpTuesday rallies in front of the Federal Building, and our presence at their local public events. We insist that they correct their thus-far disappointing track record by committing to reject Trump’s remaining cabinet nominees, filibuster SCOTUS nominee Neil Gorsuch (Murray has indicated that she may be willing to do this, but Cantwell has not), protect the ACA, and withhold consent for all Senate business until the immigration ban is withdrawn entirely. This is no time for compromises; the safety and well-being of Washingtonians across the political spectrum depends on their senators' complete resistance.