November 28, 2016

Hello, friends! First, some motivation. Then some action.

Three cheers for grassroots efforts! Today, all of the democratic members of the House Committee on Oversight wrote a letter calling upon Chairman Jason Chaffetz to open an investigation into Trump’s conflicts of interest, stating: “Americans across the country have flooded our Committee’s offices with thousands of calls in strong support of this investigation, jamming our phone lines with more calls than we have ever received in response to any other issue.”

Indeed we did. So let’s keep it up!

Action #1: Calls Supporting Investigation into Conflicts

Now we can support the democratic members of the House Committee on Oversight by calling Chaffetz’s offices to show our solidarity.

House Oversight Committee, 202-225-5051 

Chairman – Jason Chaffetz (R, Utah)

Chaffetz DC Office: (202) 225-7751

Chaffetz Provo, Utah Office: (801) 851-2500

Let his office know that you support the investigation into Trump’s conflicts of interest. Additional talking points:

  • The letter signed by the democratic members of the Oversight Committee quoted Chaffetz’s own statements from August: “If you’re going to run and try to become the president of the United States, you’re going to have to open up your kimono and show everything, your tax returns, your medical records.  You are going to just going to have to do that.  It’s too important.  … I promise you, you I don’t care who is in the White House.  My job is not to be a cheerleader for the president.  My job is to hold them accountable and to provide that oversight.  That’s what we do.”
    • Our job as American citizens is to hold our elected officials accountable, and that’s the reason we’re calling him now.
  • According to his own US Rep biography, “[h]e ran for office on the promise of returning to the core conservative principles of accountability, strong national defense, limited government and fiscal discipline.” Conflicts of interest of this nature touch on all of those principles. Let him know that you agree with his principles and that the President-elect is violating them.

Action #2: Calls to Support Clark’s Bill

Call your House Representative (find them here) to express support for Katherine Clark’s bill requiring the “the President and Vice President to place their assets in a certified blind trust or disclose to the Office of Government Ethics and the public when they make a decision that affects their personal finances”. (Action #2b) If you live in a blue district, adopt a red district near you and call to see if that Representative has reviewed the bill and has made a statement. Encourage them to do so – this bill should be a no-brainer.

Action #3: Calls Opposing Appointments

Call your Senator to oppose any or all of the following:

  • Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education (requires confirmation by Senate) DeVos has no government experience (but is of course a well-known republican donor) and because her children went to private schools, she also has no experience with public schools. She’s a strong proponent of charter schools and voucher programs. Her positions on public education are very controversial, to say the least.
  • Jeff Sessions for Attorney General (requires confirmation by Senate) Sessions is controversial, among other reasons, because he was rejected by the Senate previously for racist comments. His positions on drug policy are also antiquated.
  • Michael Flynn as Trump’s National Security Advisor; Flynn’s conflicts of interest are stunning; he was receiving sensitive national security briefings while he was also being paid by an ally of Turkey’s president to lobby for them. That this is not even getting attention right now is proof of the magnitude of the mess this administration is in. You can read more about Flynn’s conflict here.
  • Steve Bannon as Trump’s Chief Strategist; at this point Mr. Bannon needs no introduction. Head of Breitbart, described as terrifying by Glenn Beck, and a man who has very clear ties to white nationalism. We cannot back down on this.

Action #4: Make Your Life Easier!

Before you put your phone away! Program the telephone numbers (DC and district) for your Senator and Representative into your telephone. Make calling them to express your opinion easy to do on a regular basis. Get on a first name basis with the staffers. If politics is about relationships (and it is) then we need to start cultivating now.

Action #5: Sign Up for Class

Local to Missouri/St. Louis? Sign up for Stacey Newman’s January 14th class entitled “Government 101: What You Can Do Now After the Election” in Saint Louis. The session goes from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and will be located on Washington University’s campus. Tickets are $10 each. Participants will “[l]earn the inside scoop of how the Missouri state legislature really works, how to testify effectively & how you can fight FOR progressive policies and AGAINST those we know are dangerous.” Sounds fun, right? I know!

Action #6: Download Boycott Trump

With holiday season underway, there are many ways to vote with your wallet. The helpful Grab Your Wallet spreadsheet is a great resource, but if you have a smart phone you can also download Boycott Trump. It’s a free app that provides a list of companies with ties to Trump so that you can check on the go. Just search for Boycott Trump in the app store and you’re on your way. Grubhub, Target, and Penzy’s Spices are other retailers that have supported diversity and inclusion and have seen some backlash from Trump supporters, so they could also use some extra attention this holiday season.

Action #7: Sign Up for Smile.Amazon.com

Boycotts on both sides target Amazon.com; Grab Your Wallet includes them on the anti-Trump boycott list because they sell both Donald and Ivanka Trump products. But Amazon is also on the pro-Trump boycott list because its CEO has criticized Trump. If you decide to continue using Amazon.com, take a few seconds to sign up for Smile.Amazon. If you sign on to Amazon through https://smile.amazon.com/ part of your purchase price is donated to a charity that you choose. Like, say, the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood or any number of wonderful organizations that support and protect our freedoms. There are nearly one million charities to choose from and you can change the charity you support any time you want, as many times as you want. It takes literally 30 seconds to sign up, it’s of no cost to you, and you get the same prices and selection as amazon.com.

Action #8: Fight Normalization

The most important thing this week – and for many weeks to come, actually – is to remind ourselves that the world we are in right now is not normal. Combatting the normalization of this administration will take vigilance. For example, on November 26 the AP wrote, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published, an article that referred to Steve Bannon as a “conservative provocateur.” Another opinion piece in the Kansas City Star asks whether Bannon really is that bad after all – or if “it [is] possible to allow white supremacists and woman-haters to traffic on your website and still be considered something less awful?”

Let’s face it – we want to justify and rationalize this insanity. We do not want to believe that a white nationalist has a corner office in the White House. It is easier to let ourselves be lulled into believing that Bannon is a little incendiary but otherwise a perfectly reasonable choice.

He is not. Repeat. He. Is. Not.

Referring to Steve Bannon as a “conservative provocateur” is misleading and normalizing. Rush Limbaugh is a provocateur; Glenn Beck is a provocateur. Steve Bannon is an entirely different, more dangerous, animal. In fact, even Glenn Beck referred to him as “terrifying.” To use such normalizing language lumps him in with everyday rabble-rousing conservatives, and invites the public – us – to become complacent and to accept this administration as our new normal. The role of the free press in the next four years will be vital to retaining our democracy. (I’m not being hyperbolic.) Please don’t allow the media’s language to imply acceptance of what is unacceptable, and hold them accountable when they start to soften.

How do you hold them accountable? Contact them. Here’s the link for the AP; just provide them with the headline and the link to the piece you’re referring to and your comment. It took me less than five minutes.

For other papers, you can send a letter to the editor. Both the Kansas City Star and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch make this process pretty simple. Let them know that you are watching and paying attention.

A Parting Note

We’ve all heard the advice that this is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s true – we need to have the heart and the energy to continue this work for as long as it takes. And it takes a lot of energy to be angry. So, when possible, let’s try to motivate ourselves with love of country rather than (or in addition to) hatred toward an incoming administration. It’s more sustainable for me, personally, and perhaps for you too.

Let’s get to work.

 

 

 

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