Raising Hell

You ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes. ~Mother Jones

Mother Jones (the woman, not the magazine) was once referred to in the Senate as the “grandmother of all agitators ” (and was also called the “most dangerous woman in America”). Clearly Senator Warren’s predecessor, she was an Irish immigrant and widow who mobilized working men and women, taking the United Mine Workers of America from 10,000 members to over 300,000. It’s not entirely clear at what age she started her activism work because she exaggerated her birthdate, but she was at least in her late 30s, and probably in her 40s. With her sharp tongue and fearless attitude, she criss-crossed America working tirelessly advocating for better hours, wages and working conditions for America’s working class. At the turn of the century she was immensely powerful and popular, raising hell from coast to coast and instilling fear in politicians far and wide.

And do you know what’s even more amazing? For most of her life, she wasn’t even able to vote. She was actually quoted as saying – “You don’t need the vote to raise hell.”

You may never have heard of her before right now. But she devoted her life to fighting for working people and against corporate interest and political greed. She did one hell of a lot in her lifetime, even though she got a relatively late start. She showed just how much one person can do to change the world – even though she was a member of a powerless and voiceless class of Americans at the time.

And you know what? You’re one person, too. And I’m pretty sure Mother Jones would agree, that no matter if you’re new to activism or not, you have the ability and the duty to get out there and fight. Once again, this is the fighting age.

It’s time to get out there and raise hell. 

How can you raise hell this week? I’m so glad you asked!

Actions

Tuesday: (and Wednesday, and Thursday pre-vote) Call your representative re: Health Care

Background: The ACA repeal/replace plan is a “disaster,” to use POTUS’s favorite term. Right now the bill is in the House, and they will vote on it on Thursday. There’s a good chance that if we continue to push, the pressure from both the left and the right can squish this bill like a cockroach before it even hits the Senate floor. So, call early and often and remind them that they literally have their constituents’ lives in their hands when they take this vote – and that you will be watching.

When calling your MOC, it’s helpful and persuasive to have coverage information/statistics, and to ask the person on the telephone how your representative plans to care for constituents that are impacted. Here are two wonderful charts/sites where you can find information about the actual impact of the bill (both for number of people covered  by congressional district and financial implications for those whose coverage continues). If you’re looking for a deeper dive into the impact, this white paper by the Democratic staff of the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is top-notch. And our friends at Indivisible have put together an awesomely cheeky response to the GOP’s talking points.

For Missouri activists, here are the nitty gritty details and stats. According to the Center for American Progress, the net cost increases under the House plan for a low income Missouri individual would be $5,088; for a low-income family it would be $11,618. The net cost increases for an older individual would be $8,752; for an older family it would be $13,838.

The district-by-district data on who would lose coverage is set out below:

Wm. Lacy Clay (MO-1) 48,800
Ann Wagner (MO-2) 35,600
Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-3) 38,800
Vicky Hartzler (MO-4) 39,900
Emanuel Cleaver (MO-5) 42,800
Sam Graves (MO-6) 39,200
Billy Long (MO-7) 41,700
Jason Smith (MO-8) 44,800

Find your state/district coverage loss data here, or check out this nifty interactive map (also by the Center for American Progress).

Because as you know, I think detailed scripts are more persuasive and show that we are all doing our homework, the script below is tailored for Ann Wagner’s district in Missouri; Wagner has been rumored to be considering a run for Senator Claire McCaskill’s seat when McCaskill runs for reelection in 2018, so she’s got a bit of a target on her back. If you are not in her district, you can still use the script – you’ll just have to add in the appropriate details on number of people covered and costs from the sources above.

Script: Hello, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent in zip code ____. I’m extremely concerned about the American Health Care Act – it increases costs for individuals, and it decreases the number of people covered.

  • [For MO-Wagner residents: Representative Wagner said in her newsletter last week that she met with President Trump about the American Health Care Act, and that it is a “fiscally conservative solution” that will “lower patient costs and start returning control from Washington back” to constituents like me.]
  • I want to know why Representative [Wagner] believes raising health care costs for an older Missourian by over [$8,000] – and for a low-income Missourian by over [$5,000] is “fiscally conservative”? How are her constituents supposed to pay for that increase?
  • I want to know why Representative [Wagner] believes that eliminating health insurance for [35,600] people in her district is “returning control from Washington” back to members of her district?
  • I will be watching very closely on Thursday to see how Representative [____] votes on this bill.
Wednesday: Sign up for ProLog

Maybe you live in a blue district and want to help but don’t know how. Maybe you have some special skills that you would like to share with the broader resistance but not sure how to get your name out there. Or maybe you’re a campaign manager or staffer that’s looking for a way to quickly and easily find amazing people to help. Enter Pro Log. Professionals from across the country and across disciplines sign up with their area of expertise and are entered into a searchable database of professionals willing to donate time and talent to turn this country blue. Campaigns subscribe (you must be approved, and must be a Democratic candidate) and can then search the database for rock star professional help. An amazing, awesome idea that we should all support. Head on over and sign up!

Thursday: Remind Washington that budgets impact people

Background: So, the proposed budget came out last week, and it was a total dumpster fire. I’m sure you’ve already heard about all the insane cuts and increases, and I’m sure you’ve had the same reactions that I’ve had. (Shock, dismay and disgust – followed by a lot of chocolate.)

But here’s the good news: POTUS can suggest all the budgets that he wants, but Congress holds the purse strings. So it’s incredibly important that we all reach out to our MOC and stand up for the programs that impact us.

How do you do that? First, a question: what was it about the budget cuts this week that really stuck in your craw? Maybe you have a background in world affairs and believe in diplomacy, so the 29% decrease in the State Department budget may leave you speechless. Maybe you live in rural America and enjoy watching your local PBS station and listening to your local NPR station, so defunding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting really struck you (those cuts adversely impact rural areas, because over 65% of federal funds to the CPB go to keeping rural PBS and NPR stations alive). Or maybe you or a family member are/is a cancer survivor, scientist or medical professional – so the severe cuts to NIH might have made you grit your teeth. I could go on with other examples but my point is this: we each have our area of speciality – whether that’s from personal or professional experience. And now is the time to call your MOC and tell that story and explain why this budget is wrong-headed. Better yet – reach out to other members of your family, social group or professional life and encourage them to do the same thing.

I wish I could give you a script for this one, but because I’m depending on you to use your own experience as the guide, I’ll just provide a general script and hope that you expand on it.

Script: I am horrified by the proposed budget. This budget does nothing to reduce the deficit, but cuts programs that help Americans each and every day. Cutting programs like Meals on Wheels, the National Endowment for the Arts and reducing funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting while designing and building a vanity wall that security experts say won’t increase security is not fiscally responsible – and it’s un-American. What is Representative/Senator ______ ‘s position on the budget?

Friday: Phone bank or volunteer for some really special special election candidates.

There are two special elections coming up – Jon Ossoff on April 18 for Georgia’s 6th District (Tom Price’s district) and James Thompson on April 11 for the 4th District in Kansas (Mike Pompeo’s district). Thompson is a civil rights attorney who wants to make Kansas work for everyone; Ossoff was a national security staffer in Congress, and currently owns a company that that investigates corrupt politicians and organized crime. (Frankly, considering the current climate, Ossoff’s skill set will be a particular asset to Congress.) You can phone bank for either campaign by going here for Thompson and here for Ossoff. I’m sure they’d love more boots on the ground as well, so if you’re close to either district consider helping knock on doors – which is the best way to reach and persuade voters. Let’s turn these districts blue!

All week long: Call your senators and support Senate Bill 27 (advocating for a bipartisan select committee to further the Russia investigation).

I know, I know. Here I go again. Support Senate Bill 27 (which creates a bipartisan select committee to investigate the Russian interference) for reasons that are set out well in this Washington Post editorial penned by the editorial board itself. As Adam Schiff noted, there is circumstantial evidence of collusion and direct evidence of deception. We need to get to the bottom of this ASAP. Yesterday FBI Director Comey testified before the House Intelligence Committee, and while Democrats (and some Republicans) asked probing questions about Russian interference and the resulting impact on democracy, some Republicans wanted to focus their attention on leaks. So, yes – members of Congress can launch and conduct their own investigations, but the highly partisan nature of Congress – and the public’s current perception of Congress – will taint the results of those investigations, no matter what they might be.

Call: Your senators. First check here to see if your Senator is one of the 24 co-sponsors (and if they are, call them to say thanks!).

Script (Senator): Hello, my name is _____. I’m calling to again ask that Senator ___ support Senate Bill 27, which creates an independent committee to investigate Russian interference and connections. We need a bipartisan, transparent and independent committee to handle this – and Senate Bill 27 provides for that. What is Senator _____’s position on this independent investigation? Does Senator _____ oppose fully and fairly investigating the Russian interference in the election?  Has the Senator publicly supported an independent investigation? If not, why not? If so, why hasn’t the Senator co-signed Senate Bill 27?

Final thoughts:

If you ask yourself whether making calls to your Democratic congresspeople and Senators makes a difference, read this great article written by the communications director for Representative Gwen Moore (Wis). It made me smile, and maybe it will give you an extra spring in your step while you call to thank/encourage your blue MOC.

Pray for the dead; fight like hell for the living. ~Mother Jones

Fight like hell, friends. Let’s get to work.

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