First, there’s some positive news to report: Lindsey Graham has announced that he will be drafting legislation to extend legal protections to the “Dreamers” – undocumented immigrants who came here as children. AND the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied an easement that was needed to allow the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline to continue! AND Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Md) also encouraged people like you and me to continue putting pressure on their congresspeople because their telephones have been ringing off the hook with democrats and republicans seeking investigation into Donald Trump’s conflicts of interest.
If you’re only looking at the broader context of the incoming administration, these may seem like small wins. It might seem, for example, like we’re just hitting a neo-nazi with a handbag. In a cynical sense, it might seem like our small wins don’t matter – but they do.
Small wins are exactly what they sound like, and are part of how keystone habits create widespread changes. A huge body of research has shown that small wins have enormous power, an influence disproportionate to the accomplishments of the victories themselves. … Small wins fuel transformative changes by leveraging tiny advantages into patterns that convince people that bigger achievements are within reach.
― Charles Duhigg, The Power Of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business
So, let’s keep building upon these small wins, day by day, until the weight of them is crushing.
1. Show your support for Graham’s Dreamers legislation
Please call Lindsey Graham’s office to tell him and his staff that we appreciate this legislation, and that we will do what we can to support its passage. He can be reached at 202-224-5972.
Then call Roy Blunt’s office to ask him to support the legislation: 202-224-5721. Note that based upon his public positions it may well be a tough climb to get Blunt to support the bill, but you don’t get what you want without trying.
You can also utilize Roy Blunt’s “Mobile Office” hours to meet with a senate staffer one-one-one. His office has these office hours throughout the state every month. Go here to find a location near you.
Then call Claire McCaskill (202-224-6154, or 314-367-1364) and tell her that you support the legislation, too. She’s going to be up for reelection in 2018, so she needs to hear how much we have her back.
2. Demand investigation into Donald Trump’s conflicts of interest
Call out Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight for not opening an investigation into the incoming administration’s massive conflicts of interest. In an interview on December 1, he explained that Trump hasn’t even gotten sworn in yet – suggesting that he has no jurisdiction to investigate until the president-elect is the president. (Of course, that’s malarky.) If you have the stomach for it, you can watch the full interview here. And here’s a wonderful video of Elijah Cummings responding to Chaffetz’s refusal to investigate and encouraging people like you and me to continue to demand action.
The committee has broad jurisdiction and it can investigate government management and accounting issues in general. Among the many other apparent conflict of interest issues is the president-elect’s current GSA lease of the old post office; if nothing else (and it seems pretty clear that their investigation could be much broader) they could investigate the conflicts of interest with that known entity. They should demand his tax returns so that broader conflicts of interest with foreign nations can be assessed. But we have to start somewhere. Heck, even the Office of Personnel Management explains why it conducts federal investigations into applicants (not just employees):
“The interests of national security require that all persons privileged to be employed in the departments and agencies of the government shall be reliable, trustworthy, of good conduct and character, and of complete and unswerving loyalty to the United States. This means that the appointment of each civilian employee in any department or agency of the government is subject to investigation. The scope of the investigation will vary, depending on the nature of the position and the degree of harm that an individual in that position could cause.”
Sheesh. When a low-level appointee or applicant is subject to greater scrutiny than the president-elect, we’re in trouble.
What can you do? Call Jason Chaffetz’s office at (202) 225-7751 or (801) 851-2500. Tell them that you recognize that he supports the “core conservative principle of accountability“and that you want to know when he’s going to begin the investigation into Donald Trump’s conflicts, ties to Russia and other foreign entanglements.
3. Support Senator Warren’s request for a GAO audit.
Senator Warren has also asked for an audit of the president-elect’s finances and transition. You can read her full letter here. Now, normally I’m a big fan of calling over e-mails regarding a particular topic, because e-mails can be batch sorted and are usually less likely to get as much attention. In this particular instance, however, they are unable to tally calls; they are instead asking that you e-mail the GAO in support of her request for an audit. Please send your e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can just cut and paste what I wrote:
Good morning/afternoon: I’m writing in support of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s request for an audit of the President Elect’s finances and transition, including assessing the conflicts of interest that would prevent him from carrying out the responsibilities of the office without corrupt influence. Thank you for your attention to this pressing matter.
4. Learn about and advocate against Right to Work.
A little local interest! Some of the bills that will be introduced in Missouri’s legislative session (which begins on January 4 – mark your calendar!) have already been pre-filed, and are available here.
Of the bills that have been filed, a few are expected to move quickly – among them the so-called “Right to Work” bills like HB42 and HB37. Are you familiar with Right to Work? If not, here’s a very helpful video by Robert Reich that sets out why Right to Work is Wrong.
Then sign this petition to register your opposition to right to work in Missouri.
And find out who your Missouri legislators are here and here.
You could write their phone numbers down, give them a call to introduce yourself and to let them know that you understand Right to Work bills have been pre-filed, and that you oppose any Right to Work legislation.
Have kids? Never underestimate the power of adorable children. There are many ways to include children in advocacy, from sending your legislator a picture that your child has drawn to having a group of children organize a petition or make a statement on an issue – like Right to Work.
5. Sign up for a class!
Are you interested in learning more about how you can be an effective and efficient advocate for issues that you care deeply about? Well, then Results.org has a great training for you. On Tuesday, December 13 from 7-9:00 p.m. at the St. Louis County Library, 1640 Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis MO 63131 you can learn how to have direct impact on world-changing decisions Congress makes about poverty. RESULTS volunteers are ordinary people doing extraordinary things. They use letter-writing, phone calls, media writing, and – most of all – face-to-face lobbying skills to influence members of Congress to make decisions to end poverty. Before you leave, you will know how to call your member of Congress and write an effective letter about poverty or whatever issue you are passionate about. Give Results STL a “like,” see the event page and RSVP by going to https://www.facebook.com/RESULTSSTL/
Missouri NOW will have their annual retreat to discuss legislation and set priorities for action in the upcoming legislation session in Columbia, Missouri on Sat. Jan. 16, 2016 beginning at 8:30 a.m. To register, visit their Facebook event page. Join activists from across Missouri in working for legislation that will enhance the lives of Missouri’s women, and bring a friend!
6. Make advocacy a habit.
By now we all know that we are in this for the long haul. Making advocacy part of your everyday life is … well … it’s as easy as baking a cake (just take my friend’s video below as proof!). http://endpoverty-ccyl.blogspot.com/2014/05/advocacy-made-easy-call-in-action.html
You’re already making the big step of seeking out resources and ways to get and remain involved. (Woot!) So, make advocacy easy; create a phone list of your state and federal representatives and committees like the House Committee on Oversight that you’ll be calling often. I’ll be right there with you trying to find ways to make advocacy a daily activity and routine – so share any ideas that you have with me, so that I can share with the greater group for the greater good.
7. Share accurate information from reputable sources, and squash fake news.
One major challenge that we will have going forward is how to share information with and among each other. It’s a cliche, but information is power. The more information we share, the more informed people feel. The more informed people feel, the more comfortable they are – because they won’t feel awkward for not understanding the issues at a meeting or in a conversation. The more comfortable they are, the more engaged they will be. The more engaged they are, the bigger voice we will have. The bigger voice we have … the greater changes we can make. Sharing information seems like a small thing. It’s not. It’s respect, inclusion, welcoming, expanding our tent and expanding our power.
So, share information from reputable sources, like the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Post-Dispatch. As I’ve said before – supporting the press is more important now than ever before, so subscribing to local and national newspapers is one step you can take to support them. (Here are the subscription links for the Washington Post, The New York Times, and the St. Louis Post Dispatch.)
Beyond that, report the fake news you see on Facebook. Many of us saw completely false (and usually ridiculous conspiratorial) stories spread like wildfire on social media. There’s even a story tonight about a fake story called “Pizzagate.” Rather than just debunking it with your friends, we need to start squashing it when we see it. So, take a moment to learn how to report fake news on Facebook.
Great acts are made up of small deeds. -Lao Tzu.
Let’s get to work.
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