Slow-Baking Democracy

Progress however, of the best kind, is comparatively slow. Great results cannot be achieved all at once; and we must be satisfied to advance in life as we walk, step by step. ~Samuel Smiles

Hello, friends.

Can I make a confession? After a 24 hour bout of food poisoning (the wrong way to lose five pounds, but huzzah for looser fitting jeans!) I’m just mentally pliable enough to throw caution to the wind and be painfully honest.

This year has been very different than I thought it would be.

As I was hyperventilating late in the night on November 8, I thought we were totally and hopelessly doomed. Truly, I did.

But then something amazing happened. On November 9, I saw how many people were searching for ways to fight for what they (we) believe in. The next month, I was amazed that we were all still together.

And today? Well. Here you are.

And here I am.

I’m not going anywhere, and, based on the fact that you’re reading this, I don’t think you are, either.

And that’s what we need. In a world that moves so fast, and where we’re used to microwaved results, we are getting reaccustomed to the slow-baked kind. The kind that takes longer, but tastes better because of all of the work and love that goes into it.

But just because we don’t see immediate “snap-of-the-finger” results doesn’t mean we’ve been unsuccessful. Quite the opposite. We’ve slowed this administration’s legislative agenda – so much so that it’s now a massive GOP liability; we’ve educated our friends and neighbors and gotten them involved in their government so they can be powerful forces now and in the years ahead; and heck – we’ve learned a lot of new stuff ourselves.

On November 8, I thought this year was hopeless.

On November 9, you proved me wrong.

Let’s get to work.


Tuesday: Keep Trump’s Little Fingers Off of the Nuclear Football

It’s becoming more and more apparent that the Trump administration is considering armed action against North Korea. As you no doubt recall, Senator Corker (the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee) – has claimed that Trump is potentially putting us on a path to World War III. And that’s even before the most recent revelations that the administration is going to make it easier to call up reserve pilots and is putting bombers on 24 hour alert.

It’s nigh-past-time for our MOCs to publicly vote to protect us from a dangerously impulsive president with unilateral ability to launch nuclear weapons.

Months ago, bills were introduced in both the House and the Senate that would restrict any President’s ability to issue a first strike of nuclear weapons. Frankly, this should have been the law all along. It’s high time that we make it so. It’s broadly supported by a number of groups, including the Union of Concerned Scientists (who are apparently more concerned than usual).

The House bill is HR669; on the Senate side it’s S.200. Both are titled the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act. Let’s take to the phones (and faxes!):

Script: Hi, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent at ____.  I’m really concerned about the Trump administration’s escalation of the North Korean crisis. I know that the Senator/Congressman/woman can’t restrict Donald Trump’s access to Twitter. (Not even his Chief of Staff can do that, apparently.) But it’s the Senator/Congressman/woman’s duty to restrict his ability to act impulsively with nuclear weapons. Congressional approval is needed to declare war; it should be needed to issue a first strike of nuclear weapons. We need the Senator/Congressman/woman’s leadership right now, and I hope he/she will use it to protect his/her constituents and support the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act. Thanks for your time!

Wednesday: It’s Groundhog Day! (Not really – but time to rehash our ask for FQHC and CHIP funding)

We’ve talked about this before, but just to recap: Federally Qualified Health Centers – also known as community health centers – provide care for low-income and underserved individuals, often in rural areas. Like CHIP (which I discuss again in the action item below), the legislation providing funding for community health centers has received bipartisan support, and everyone thought it would be renewed by the September 30 deadline. It wasn’t, and here we are in mid-October. Because the funding for those community health centers has not been renewed, they face losing 70% of their grant funding on January 1 – which means they are already having to make difficult decisions – do they lay off workers? Strip programs or services?

If nothing is done, 9 million patients will lose access to care, 2,800 delivery sites will be closed, and 51,000 providers and staff will be laid off.

Go here for a more detailed breakdown of the impact on your state, including the number of patients and jobs lost, and lost revenue.

This is as serious as a heart attack, and it needs to be addressed before giving tax cuts to billionaires.

We can actually THANK some Senators for supporting and sponsoring legislation that will continue funding for federally qualified health centers (aka community health centers) and will provide a longer-term fix than other proposed legislation. Senator Blunt (R-MO) (!!!) sponsored S.1899, which has been cosponsored by a bipartisan group of 13 senators. The same bill is kicking around the House as HR3770. Check here to see if your Senator has expressed support, and here to see if your Congressman/woman has supported the bill. (Missouri residents – Blunt, McCaskill, Clay and Hartzler are the MOCs that are sponsoring.)

Script: Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a constituent at ____. I’m calling to ask the Senator to support S.1899/Congressman/woman to support HR3770, which extends funding for community health centers. Those health centers provide care for low-income and underserved residents of our state. Without funding, community health centers will close – jobs will be lost and residents of our state will suffer. The National Association of Community Health Centers estimates that if funding is not restored, 9 million patients will lose access to care and 51,000 jobs will be lost. That’s unacceptable. Please support these community health centers and restore their funding.

Thursday: It’s Groundhog Day! (Not really – but time to rehash our ask for FQHC and CHIP funding)

Once again we need to call our legislators about CHIP – the Childrens’ Health Insurance Program. We talked about this for the last two weeks: It’s a bipartisan, highly effective and well-liked program… the funding for which our lovely members of Congress allowed to expire at the end of September. Some states will run out of funding in the next few months; others will have a bit longer to plan. (Check the link for a map, where you can check the status of your state.) But all states are confronted with the distinct possibility that their CHIP funding will disappear.

Until Congress re-funds CHIP, states are put in the terrible position of having to wind the program down. They can’t presume that our lovely leaders will grant their funding, and state governments don’t turn on a dime. So the best case scenario now involves your state having to waste your taxpayer dollars winding down a program that enjoys bipartisan support because our MOCs couldn’t get their act together.

Nine MILLION kids’ insurance is in immediate danger. I honestly don’t know why this isn’t a bigger priority for our legislators.

So let’s take to the phones (or faxes) to let them know how we feel, shall we?

Script: Hi, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent at ___. I’m calling because I’m really surprised that the funding for CHIP hasn’t been renewed. Our state will now have to expend funds and resources winding down a highly effective program that’s gotten bipartisan support. So, because of the federal government’s inability to pass the CHIP funding bill before September 30 – or in the weeks since – our state government is going to waste even more taxpayer money. This is ridiculous. I urge the Senator/Congressman/woman to do whatever he/she can do to move a clean CHIP funding bill forward.

Friday: Introducing a Little Project of Mine…

On a personal note, in my quest to find as many ways as possible to impact our democracy, I’ve become the State Project Director for It Starts Today. You might remember IST – which helps us fund every single candidate for House and Senate with monthly donations of $4.68 (one penny for each House and Senate race).

I’m really excited to announce that yesterday, we launched It Starts Today-Missouri which, like IST, uses recurring small-dollar monthly donations to crowdfund candidates… but in this case it’s for the Missouri state legislature. It’s also even less expensive – only $2.48 (one penny per state house race, and one nickel for each state senate race to account for their larger size).

If you’re a Missouri resident, you know that the situation here is dire. Last year, 60% of the state legislative races either had no nominee, or the nominee was so underfunded they didn’t even have enough for a single district-wide mailer. We can do better. We need to do better.

And if there’s anything we’ve learned from this last year, it’s that we’re an insurmountable force when we join together and take regular, small actions. Our response thus far has been fantastic – and if everyone reading this would sign up we’d be well on our way to our goal of giving each candidate a floor of $.50 per district resident. (That’s $18k per state house candidate and $88k per state senate candidate.)

So, please join me and help fund all of Missouri’s Democratic state legislative candidates.

This is just the first of what we hope are many state campaigns, so if you don’t live in Missouri, never fear. We are likely (hopefully!) coming to your state soon. And if you want to lobby for your own state to be included – I’d love to hear from you!

Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every e-mail. (Really! I really do!) We’re in this together.

If you want one more quick action, make someone’s day and 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. Welcome, friend!

Lastly, if you’d like to support this work (thanks to those who have done so!), you can become a supporter here.

Have a thought? A small deed to suggest? Share it here!

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