PHOTO: Founders of Indivisible Leah Greenburg (Left) and Ezra Levin (Middle) speak with U.S. House Democratic candidate Justin Kanew (Right) at The Coffee House in Franklin on Friday. / Photo by Alexander Willis
By ALEXANDER WILLIS
The political advocacy group Indivisible met in Franklin on Friday as part of their nation-wide tour of the United States, garnering support and momentum for local Democratic candidates, including Tennessee District 7 candidate Justin Kanew.
The group was started by the married couple Leah Greenburg and Ezra Levin after the 2016 election, which Levin described as “not standard politics.”
“Right after the election in 2016, we received this wave of energy around the country,” Greenburg said. “People were trying to figure out how to respond to the election, how to resist the incoming Trump administration.”
Greenburg and Levin are both former congressional staffers, and said their experience in Washington has helped them communicate how important it is for people to organize locally.
With more than 6,000 local groups across the country, Indivisible groups have managed to stall Republican legislation, such as the Trumpcare bill. Indivisible has also published the “Indivisible Guide” online, which details tactics citizens can use to “resist Trump’s agenda.”
“It’s far outside the bounds of what is normal for U.S. politics,” Levin said, speaking about the Trump administration. “What we’ve seen this administration do is not just put forward conservative policies, but put forward direct attacks on the foundations of American democracy; freedom of the press, independent judiciary, the right of people to organize, and the safety and security of our citizens. This is not standard politics.”
While the local chapters of Indivisible endorse local candidates, the group as a whole will endorse some candidates nationally, after undergoing a process. Justin Kanew, who is running for Tennessee House representing the 7th District, is one such candidate.
“I’ve never run for office before,” Kanew said. “This is the first time I’ve ever done anything like this, but I have a two-year-old daughter at home, and this country felt like it was heading in a dangerous direction, so I wanted to do whatever I could to help keep it together.”
Kanew, who jumped into politics a little over a year ago, said he has not and will not accept any donations from political action committees (PACs) or special interest groups. Kanew also argued against hyper-partisanship, saying party lines are divided enough as they are.
“I think we need bridge builders,” Kanew said. “I think we need people who are going to reach across the aisle and talk to everybody in our state, in our district. I don’t think we need to elect more extremists who are going to draw the lines even deeper.”
Kanew’s opponent for U.S. House representing Tennessee’s 7th District is Mark Green, who currently serves in the Tennessee Senate. Green, a veteran of the U.S. Army, was nominated by President Trump in 2017 to serve as the U.S. Secretary of the Army, though Green later withdrew his nomination amidst alleged past statements about the LGBT community and Islam. Green called the reports of his comments “false” and “misleading.”
“He’s a guy who’s pretty extreme, he was too extreme for this president,” Kanew said about Green. “He supported the extremist Roy Moore in Alabama. He kept Medicaid from expanding in our state, putting politics over people.”
“Another thing that he voted against was municipal broadband, which would have helped bring broadband to the rural parts of our state,” Kanew said about Green. “Not having broadband, not having hospitals… that means jobs don’t come, that means investment doesn’t happen, so those are two big strikes against Mark Green in my opinion, and that’s something that he needs to answer for.”