“We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense. ” Barack Obama
This political blog was created as a central resource of civic response to the current administration’s policies and legislation. Its format will be Inform, Respond and React, and Reflect.
Inform: This section will have information to read regarding proposed legislation, executive orders, budget cuts, bans, civics, upcoming elections, and more.
Respond and React: Each post will provide information and/or links to actions. Responses can vary depending on how much time you have available:
Donations – Donate within your means.
Boycott – Affect change with your wallet.
Hold your representative accountable for each and every issue, regardless of whether he or she is a Democrat or Republican:
- Send a postcard
- Attend town hall meetings and ask questions
- Attend public events with your Member of Congress and ask questions.
- Talk to your Member of Congress in person, at the district or congressional office.
Participate in an organized march – I’ll give notice for scheduled marches. Handwritten signs are very effective. Have your children and grandchildren help with these, and join the march.
Join or organize a group in your neighborhood. Meet, organize and plan. Small locally based discussion groups are a powerful tool. They can have a big impact on the national debate.
An excellent resource for organized civic response is Indivisible. Look for a local group to join through this site. Many of their recommendations are imbedded within this blog.
Volunteer for a Congressional election campaign.
- Keep your sights on this crucial midterm election with the goal of changing the makeup of Congress. Senators run for election every 6 years, and terms for 33 Senators in Class 1 expire in 2019. House Members run for office every two years, and all 435 seats will be contested in 2018.
State elections are equally important.
- Twenty-seven of the 38 governorships up in 2017 and 2018 are Republican-held. Republicans also control a record number of state legislative chambers.
Reflect: This section will have quotations and reflections to keep us grounded.
Connect To Your Members of Congress
The 115th Congress (as of March 1 2017)
52 Republicans, 46 Democrats
(2 Independents : both caucus with Democrats)
Minority Leader: Senator Chuck Schumer
Majority Leader: Senator Mitch McConnell
President of the Senate: Senator Mike Pence.
House of Representatives
237 Republicans, 193 Democrats
Minority Leader: Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi
Majority Leader: Congressman Kevin McCarthy
Speaker of the House : Congressman Paul Ryan
(The House Speaker is both the presiding officer of the House of Representatives and the leader of the majority party. The Speaker is also second to the Vice-President of the United States in the line of succession to the Presidency.)
Remember, you are a constituent, and your voice and vote counts.
What your Member of Congress (MoC) Office does:
- Provides constituent services – visas, grant applications, etc.
- Communicates with constituents directly– takes calls, writes letters, follows up on policy issues that constituents have expressed concern about
- Seeks and creates positive press – shape coverage and public information to create a favorable image
- Hosts and attend events in district – your MoC does this to connect with constituents, understand their priorities, and get good press.
- Actual legislating: MoCs and staff decide their policy positions, develop and sponsor bills, and take votes based on a combination of their own beliefs, pressure from leadership/lobbyists, and pressure from their constituents.
Do you believe your Member of Congress “cares about me, shares my values, and is working hard for me.”?
What a MoC cares a lot about:
- Verified constituents from his or her district
- Advocacy that requires effort: the more effort, the more they care: calls, personal narrative emails, and especially showing up in person.
- Local press and editorials
- An interest group’s endorsement: Open Secrets is a guide to money in U.S Politics, including campaign money amounts and sources.
- Groups of constituents, locally famous individuals or big individual campaign contributors.
- Concrete asks that entail a verifiable action – vote for a bill, make a public statement, etc.
- A single ask in your communication – letter, email, phone call, office visit, etc. (not a laundry list of all issues)
Respond and React
- Identify and connect to your Members of Congress
Identify your 2 Senators and bookmark their website. Once on their website, add their phone numbers and local district address to your contact list. Sign up for their newsletter, and follow them on Twitter:
The United States Senate – Senators of the 115th Congress.
Identify your House Representative and bookmark his or her website. Once on the website, add the phone number and local district address to your contact list.Sign up for the newsletter, and follow him or her on Twitter:
The United States House of Representatives – Representatives of the 115th Congress.
Help your personal network do the same, especially those who may not use a computer. Many of these people want to participate, and are effective in actions such as calling, postcard campaigns, and in-person visits. Offer lifts to town hall and district office meetings, in addition to marches.
- Follow your Representatives’ votes on key Congressional Bills
An excellent site for understanding bills under consideration by Congress is Countable. It streamlines the process of contacting your lawmaker, in addition to summarizing the pros and cons of each bill. Countable will inform you when and how your representative voted. It’s available as a website and an app.
This is an effective way to use consumer power to respond to the evident conflict of interest between this president and his businesses while in office. It is also a way to flex your consumer power in favor of a more respectful and inclusive society.
Grab Your Wallet encourages shoppers to boycott retailers that sell all manner of Trump-branded goods, as well as to avoid Trump properties such as golf courses, hotels, and wineries. It also provides contact numbers. Business Insider has reported on its success.
Sleeping Giants is a Twitter and Facebook campaign that is trying to stop racist websites by stopping their ad dollars through boycotting. You would need to belong to either social site to join. This CBS article reports on how effective the campaign has been in regard to Breitbart News.
You will be stronger and more effective if you create healthy boundaries for your time and actions in the next four years. Take it one step at a time. We are all in this together.
The democracy process provides for political and social change without violence. Aung San Suu Kyi
The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just. Abraham Lincoln
Future posts will focus on the Affordable Care Act, Immigration, the Environment, Budget Cuts, Planned Parenthood, Elections and more.