This week has given me heartburn.
It’s hard to keep your eyes open, isn’t it? But if you’re a passenger in a car and the driver starts veering into traffic, do you shout and grab the wheel or do you close your eyes and hope they miss the semi? Personally, I’m a shout-and-grab-the-wheel kind of person. If you’re reading this I think you are too.
It’s possible (dare we hope?) that we won’t even have a Trump administration. One elector has already chosen the high road; some reports suggest that others may follow suit. It’s heartening that fellow Americans are standing up to this challenge. But, we need to prepare ourselves as though there will be a Trump administration. We need to steel our resolve, educate ourselves about our freedoms, and start thinking long-term strategy.
As part of that long-term strategy we need to take stock of who and what we are, what we value, what we hold dear, and what we need to protect. If you are not yet following Sarah Kendzior, please take a moment to go to her website https://sarahkendzior.com and bookmark it for review later; you can follow her on Twitter at @sarahkendzior. As a writer and a scholar on authoritarian regimes (*cough* Russia), her perspective is both alarming and essential. In her most recent article, she reminds us that regardless of how many freedoms are stripped from us, no regime can ever take away our humanity – and our humanity can be a point of light in an otherwise very dark time. So take her lead, and pen your own personal essay to remind yourself during difficult times who you are and what you stand for. Set aside some quiet moments to reflect upon what you value, what you think is beautiful about this country, and what being a citizen means. Dream about the future. And then take a few moments to reflect on the things that you will never, ever do. Write all of these things down – the dreams, the hopes, the promises – so that if you ever need to think back on this time, you’ll have something to guide you. If you only do one thing from the list this week, make it this.
And now for specific actions. We cannot afford to take a break from advocacy now. Once Trump takes power, he will be much more difficult to fight. Stand up now. (See this article by Sarah Kendzoir for an in-depth discussion about what may be coming, and why the time to act is now.)
Do not let up on calls to your congressmen/women and Senators. Find them here and here. Here’s a cheat sheet of committees and issues to raise, as well as specifics regarding Missouri representatives:
Russian Interference: (for the background story on this issue go here)
Once again, Senator McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham have stepped up to the plate, joining democrats to officially demand a “thorough, bipartisan investigation of Russian influence in the U.S. elections.” Senator McCain rightly called any Russian hacking into Democratic campaign accounts an act of warfare. Let’s let them know that we appreciate their courage and their willingness to be statesmen.
- John McCain:(202) 224-2235
- Lindsey Graham:(202) 224-5972
Senate Committee on Intelligence: (Roy Blunt is a member, he can be reached at (202) 224-5721 or at local office lines found here). Notably, Mitch McConnell supports an investigation by this committee, rather than a bipartisan commission, as Senator McCain has suggested. A bipartisan select committee would help insulate from partisan politics and seems the clear choice for a thorough and fair review. (By the way, Mitch McConnell’s wife is nominated for Transportation Secretary.)
A few weeks ago, democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee wrote a letter hinting that significant information about Russian interference in the US presidential election remain secret and ought to be declassified. The republican members, however, sat on their hands.
More to the point for Missouri voters, Roy Blunt sat on his hands. Boy, he had a close election, didn’t he? Just three points separated him and Jason Kander, even though Missouri broke for Donald Trump by 12 points. Did Mitch McConnell’s decision to silence this information tip the balance in his close race? Maybe. We’ll never know. But it’s time to call his office and:
- ask whether he will explain to Missouri voters why he did not sign the letter signed by his democratic colleagues asking to declassify the briefing on Russian interference.
- tell him that you want him, as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and as your senator, to support briefing the electors. This information is too important to keep from those who will be electing our leader.
Again, he can be reached at (202) 224-5721 or at his local office lines found here)
Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs, Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations; (202) 224-4751: (Claire McCaskill is the ranking Dem on the Subcommittee, she can be reached at (202) 224-6154 and local office lines that are found here): Request an investigation into the extent of and intention behind the Russian interference in the election. Request that they review Donald Trump’s taxes and foreign entanglements, because the extent to which he is beholden to another nation impacts our national security. See this article for a nice review of the banks that Donald Trump is beholden to. (Note a big problem with that committee: the chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wi) said that the hacking by Russians was “much ado about nothing” and that dems are simply being sore losers.)
Bi-Partisan Letter to Trump asking for a hard line on Russia: Last week, 27 senators, including John McCain and Lindsey Graham signed a letter to Trump asking him to take a hard line on Russia and support Ukraine. You can read the letter here. If your senator didn’t sign it – time to call and ask why. (Missouri friends: Neither McCaskill nor Blunt signed.)
- New just today (I swear, things are happening so fast I can’t keep up) – Senate Dems are introducing a bill in January to force Trump to shed his conflicts. Voice your support for this bill with your senator.
- This week 23 senators sent a letter urging Trump to have an independent party control his assets. Check the link to see if your senator joined – and if not ask why the heck not. (Missouri friends: Neither McCaskill nor Blunt signed.)
Cabinet Posts (for a full list, go here):
First, a few notes. Trump’s picks for various cabinet posts have surprised a lot of folks: an EPA administrator who doesn’t believe in regulating the environment, an Attorney General who doesn’t believe in the Voting Rights Act, a Secretary of Education who doesn’t believe in public education, a Secretary of Housing and Urban Development who doesn’t believe in the Fair Housing Act, a Secretary of Health and Human Services who doesn’t believe in public health insurance, a Secretary of Energy who famously advocated to abolish the agency (although he couldn’t remember its name at the time – oops!), and a Secretary of State who is endorsed by Vladimir Putin himself.
I wish this surprised me. It doesn’t. Steve Bannon is a white nationalist and mysognist and hero of the alt-right. But he is also a Leninist that literally wants to dismantle our entire government. He “want[s] to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” And what better way to dismantle the current system than to put people in charge of the agencies who will dismantle them for you? Pushing back on these appointments is vital.
And make no mistake – your calls do matter. You are not simply shouting into the abyss with no hope to make change. Don’t forget, in 1993 constituents flooded senators’ telephone lines with protests about the Clinton nomination for Attorney General, who had not paid her nanny’s social security taxes. What the new administration had thought was a minor hiccup caused a massive public backlash. Her nomination was eventually withdrawn. So keep the pressure on.
I’ll just focus on two for today: Rex Tillerson and Andrew Puzder.
Rex Tillerson: As CEO of Exxon, he has implemented global policies that were decidedly against U.S. interests. Tillerson also has extensive ties to Russia – going all the way back to the 1990s when he cut his executive teeth working Russian accounts. He has received the Russian Order of Friendship, Russia’s highest honor given to a non-citizen. Perhaps most glaringly, he penned a $500 billion oil exploration deal with Putin that went by the wayside after the U.S. implemented sanctions against Russia. If the sanctions with Russia are lifted, the $500 billion dollar oil exploration deal that he penned with Putin would be back on – and Tillerson would personally stand to gain millions.
Andrew Puzder: The CEO of Carl’s Junior and Hardee’s, Puzner has anti-labor tendencies, has argued against raising the minimum wage, and against providing insurance and paid leave to employees. He also supports automation, because machines are “always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall or an age, sex or race discrimination case.” Missouri residents take note – Roy Blunt supports Puzder, tweeting “Andy Puzder is a good friend and forward thinker. The Department of Labor will benefit from his dynamic leadership.” (emphasis mine.) I suppose if you support automation and the elimination of your workforce, Puzder is a “forward thinker.” But Roy Blunt has assured his constituents that “our top domestic priority should be growing more good-paying, full-time jobs for American workers.” Puzder does not support that same goal.
This is too long already, so I’ll just leave you with one more suggestion: Share good news.
Do you know why Trump was able to spend half as much as Hillary Clinton and still get his “platform” out there as much (if not more) than she did? Free press. We can pretty easily take a page from that playbook. How? By sharing positive and bipartisan news about legislators (regardless of stripes) that are doing good things and are up for reelection in 2018. Go to their Facebook pages and twitter accounts, and follow up with what they are doing. When they do something positive – like, for example, working hard to keep the buy American provision in the water infrastructure bill which was hacked out by Paul Ryan behind closed doors – you can comment on and share their good work via social media. The algorithms on Facebook “reward” posts that are shared or engaged with by sending them to more users. So by simply “liking,” commenting, and sharing their post you increase their public image and help them reach more potential voters. You also tell them that you’re watching, that you appreciate the fact that they’re doing something positive, and you give them free advertising. As a bonus, it costs you nothing financially and very little time. And it educates your followers on the politics that happen between elections.
Okay, I’m hitting “publish” before something else happens that I feel compelled to add.
Let’s get to work.