To many Democrats, the results of the 2016 presidential election hurt. But not everyone takes their hurt and turns it into activism as Philip Germain has done.
Germain, though just 20 and a College of the Canyons student, is behind California 25 United for Progress (25UP), a non-profit liberal group dedicated to educating people about the issues.
“We are here to present the issues and let the members of the community decide what to do,” Germain said. “We talk to our neighbors because all politics is local.”
In this hyper-partisan era, 25UP is hardly the only group in the area getting its message out. The conservative Right On SCV also has an Internet presence — and has recently attacked the Gazette and publisher Doug Sutton (a conservative) over some of its (and his) coverage.
25UP has targets in mind, too: President Donald Trump and Congressman Steve Knight (R-Palmdale), who currently represents the state’s 25th congressional district, although Germain says his job is not to call for Knight’s defeat; it’s to inform people who their representative is and how Knight has voted. Germain says he has met Knight and “I find him to be prickly and condescending … (but) if he’s my representative, he’s my representative. I do not agree with him 90 percent of the time.”
It was Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton that led to Germain creating 25UP. He worked in the campaign offices shared by Democratic challengers Bryan Caforio and Christy Smith, and the day after the election, as he cleaned a pile of signs outside the office, a woman walked by with her daughter.
“She picked up a sign and got sad,” Germain said, “and she said, ‘I want to thank you for trying,’ and she put down the sign and kept walking.”
Germain said he doesn’t know who that woman was, but it showed him that “People looked lost. People looked confused. I wanted to provide a way to get out of that.”
So, along with former COC student Mai Do (now at Washington College in Maryland), 25UP was born. It now has 150 members and about 1,000 followers, many of whom donate as little as $25 at a time, which has helped the organization place ads trumpeting its opposition to what Knight does.
Its website lists its views on issues, including:
It favors keeping the Affordable Care Act and takes Knight to task for voting for the American Health Care Act, the repeal-and-replace program the House passed in May.
It supports Planned Parenthood and opposes Republicans’ plans to defund the organization, something Knight voted for when he voted for the AHCA.
It believes climate change exists and favors keeping the Environmental Protection Agency. Closer to home, it favors closing the Chiquita Canyon landfill, and regulating and cleaning the Aliso Canyon natural-gas site.
It favors restricting people on the No-Fly List from buying a gun, and expanding background checks.
It opposes ending President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA, which has been blocked by the courts; the Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 on the matter).
It favors protecting LGBTQ veterans and wants expansion of the Los Angeles VA facility.
Some of the local Democratic candidates applaud Germain and his group.
Caforio, who unsuccessfully tried to unseat Knight and is trying again, said he attended 25UP’s first meeting and tries to go as often as possible. “(Germain) tapped into the energy of the people tired of our representative not representing us,” he said.
Christy Smith, who lost to Dante Acosta for the state’s 36th Assembly District seat but will challenge him again, calls Germain “a bright young man who’s got a great future. I’m astonished he took it on and got it off the ground (so quickly).”
Germain said he expects the group to exist through 2020 and possibly beyond, provided somebody takes it over when he transfers to a four-year college or university.
“We’re filling a need,” he said. “We’re not just spouting partisan (stuff). “We’re talking about issues.”