The 50-State Resistance Strategy

You’re gonna have such great health care at a tiny fraction of the cost, and it’s going to be so easy. ~Donald Trump, October 2016

Last night we got to see what happens when we raise our collective voices in unison.

As you are no doubt aware by now, last night Senators Jerry Moran (KS) and Mike Lee (Utah) announced they would not vote for the BCRA to proceed – effectively eliminating the ability of majority leader Senator Mitch McConnell to move the bill forward.

It was an unexpected and significant defection.

But let’s talk for a moment about one of the most under-covered aspects of Lee and Moran’s defection: They weren’t the main targets of the Resistance.

Case in point: Trumpcare Ten is a wonderful website and resource for folks lobbying against the BCRA. But, as its name infers, it focuses on the 10 Senators that were collectively deemed to be the most prime targets for advocacy.

Neither Lee nor Moran are listed.

Trumpcare Toolkit is another fantastic website and resource that broadens Trumpcare Ten’s list of targets – it includes a full 18 Senators that were thought to be “most likely” to vote against Trumpcare.

Again, neither Lee nor Moran are listed.

In article after article, post after post, site after site, attention and resources were given to advocacy efforts targeting moderate Senators, while other Senators – like Moran and Lee – were passed over.

I’m not bringing this up to suggest that anyone got the targets wrong. They didn’t. I’m bringing it up as proof that anyone and everyone can and should be a target.

That’s a lesson that the Democratic party needs to really internalize.

Critics have scorned the Democrats for lacking a 50-state strategy, for failing to financially support – or even nominate candidates for – races that don’t seem winnable. That kind of neglect has caused a decay of party structure and strength in many of the red states – Missouri (where I currently live) included. Fellow red-state activists often lob that criticism at the party; I’m sure you’ve heard these conversations.

But we, as activists, need to recognize our tendency toward focusing only on the winnable, too. If you’re not calling your Senator because you don’t think that your voice is going to make a difference, you’re doing exactly the same thing that we criticize the party for doing.

It’s never a waste of time or energy to tell our elected officials how something will impact us – even if changing their mind seems impossible. It’s a mistake to count anyone out when our message is brought with passion, dedication, and honesty.

The people who called their red-state Senators, even though there seemed to be a snowball’s chance in hell that their Senator would change his/her mind won a helluva battle yesterday, didn’t they?

And we all (re)learned a lesson.

Nothing – and I mean nothing – is impossible.

Let’s do this!

Tuesday: Call Your Senator re: BCRA/ACA Repeal

Does it sound odd to call your Senators about healthcare? After all, it seems like the BCRA is dead. Right?

Well. Yes, and no.

Senator McConnell issued a statement Monday night, repeated on the floor of the Senate today, that in the coming days the Senate will take up a repeal first, replace later bill. The bill would repeal the ACA and provide for a two-year window for Congress to figure out a replacement.

This would be a total disaster – the Congressional Budget Office scored this idea previously, and not only would it eliminate healthcare for even more Americans (32 million) but it would increase premiums by 100%. It would also throw insurance markets into total disarray.

So let’s burn the phone lines and ensure that this idea goes down with the BCRA.

And you red-state activists? Even if your Senator doesn’t seem convincible, take a page from the Kansas City Indivisible project’s playbook, and lobby them anyway.

Script: Hi, my name is ______ and I’m a constituent at _____. I’m calling because I’m concerned about a potential repeal-first-replace-later bill. The CBO scored that idea and said that even more Americans would lose health insurance, and premiums would skyrocket. It would also throw our markets into turmoil. This is just a terrible idea, and I hope the Senator sees that. I’d be really happy to see the Senator come out in favor of what John McCain suggested – an open and public process that involves members of both parties.

Wednesday: #RespectMyVote During the Inaugural Trump/Kobach Voter Suppression Committee Meeting

At 10:00 A.M. (EST) the Election Integrity Voter Suppression Committee Meeting will kick off in Washington, D.C. As you no doubt are aware, this “Election Integrity” Committee is a sham, and an excuse to suppress votes in 2018 and beyond.

If you happen to be in D.C., please join Democracy Initiative, Unite Blue, Rock the Vote, People for the American Way and others to rally against the Committee as it holds its first meeting. You can check out the event details here. If you have friends or contacts in D.C., share the event information with them, and let them know how important it is to speak out about this nefarious group.

If you are not in D.C. (like myself) show your support via social media. It’s easy to do!

Use the hashtag #RespectMyVote and tweet your message of support for the protestors between 10-11 EST. (You can follow me at @smalldeedsdone and just retweet or copy/paste what I write, if you’d like!).

You can also tag your MOCs to ensure they see that you’re committed to voting rights.

Thursday: Call Your Congressman/woman re: SB722.

Our focus has been – and should remain for the time being – on healthcare, which is where the pressure can keep an actual vote from happening. But make no mistake – your MOCs need to hear that you see the threat that Russia poses to our democracy – and that it matters to you.

Have you heard of S722 – the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017?

You probably haven’t heard of it by name, at least. It hasn’t gotten much press since it passed the Senate last month by 98-2. It “would enable the legislative branch to halt a reversal or lifting of sanctions by the White House with a majority vote.”

The bill has passed the Senate; it now languishes in the House. And although the GOP has accused the Democrats of stalling the bill (which is as insane as it sounds, particularly with Republican control of the House) the fact remains that they haven’t done anything with the bill and appear to be slow walking it to protect the President. Some reports suggest GOP members are trying to add amendments to the bill to kill it.

So, while GOP Congressmen/women shrug their shoulders and suggest there is simply nothing they can do about Russia – there is.

I guess we just have to remind them!

[Side note: Changes to bill might need to be made because there are some clauses that restrict American businesses from participating in projects where Russia also has an investment. That’s not a reason for the House not to take it up, or for members to not have developed an opinion on the bill. Time is of the essence – 2018 is right around the corner, and these folks well understand that the integrity of our elections is paramount.]

Call your Congressman/Woman:

Script: Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a constituent at ____. I’m calling because I am more concerned now than ever about the Russian interference in our election, and in the Trump administration’s ties to Russia. I could go on and on about why I’m concerned – but you and I have both seen the news. What I’m most interested in right now is what ____________ is doing to protect our democracy, and to get to the bottom of this situation.

In particular, I want to know what the Congressman/woman’s position is about Senate Bill 722 – the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017. It passed the Senate last month, but has gotten stuck in the House. It provides for congressional review of any attempts by the administration to relax sanctions against Russia. Unfortunately, that seems really important right now. What has the Congressman/woman done to move this bill forward? What is his/her view on the bill?

You can also sign a few petitions to share your concerns about Russia; there’s the Common Cause’s petition here and Every Voice’s petition here.

Friday: Tell Your Congressman/woman to Keep Their “Hands Off” and Get Nitty Gritty on Budget

This morning, the House Budget Committee released a blueprint of its budgetary resolution that it will mark up during committee meetings on Wednesday.

Why all this talk about budget resolutions? Because there’s no budget reconciliation process without a budget resolution. And the budget reconciliation process is the legislative procedure that lets the GOP get through the Senate with a simple majority (rather than the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster).

And, as Vox explains beautifully in this deep dive over the impending GOP budgetary civil war, the GOP has tied their hands with regards to tax reform. As they explain, “[t]he budget resolution unlocks a path to tax reform, and depending on how the instructions for budget reconciliation are written in, it can also dictate how Republican actually implement tax cuts. … In budget reconciliation, each [specific] committee is instructed how much savings they must produce … If these reconciliation instructions are written strictly in the budget resolution, the level of required mandatory savings could influence how Republicans can approach tax reform — specifically how they pay for their tax cuts.”

Although the budget resolution that was outlined today calls for $203 billion in cuts (which per rules can’t come from Social Security) the Freedom Caucus wants something more like $400 billion. They want the cuts mainly to come from social safety net programs like food stamps and Medicaid.

So, even though the talk this week will be all about “budget resolutions” and “reconciliation process” – the decisions that will be made during these budget conversations will have vast implications.

And let’s be honest – it’s also a little mind-numbing to talk about budgets. Bottom line, it’s important to continue calling the House and letting them know that you understand the implications for your own district.

Gosh. I wish there was a tool that broke that kind of data down.

Well aren’t we lucky!

The Center for American Progress has created Hands Off, a website that sets out the implications of various budget cuts per district. Now when you call your Congressman/woman you can speak not just to the general inhumanity of their proposal – you can speak to the impact on your district. Bravo!

Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every e-mail. We’re in this together.

If you want one more quick action, send this pep talk to a friend or two!

If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here!

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