A mind that is stretched by new experiences can never go back to its old dimensions. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes
Individually, we sparkle. Together, we light the way. ~Me
Happy anniversary, friend.
It’s election Tuesday. That cold day in November when we go to our polling places and we fill out the little circles or push the little buttons. The day when we get our little sticker that says “I voted!” in cheerful letters hugged by a patriotic banner.
That day that now marks an anniversary celebrated with equal measures of mourning and motivation.
I’ll bet that you remember November 8, 2016 like it was yesterday. I do, too. I remember being surprised that I was so emotional about casting my vote for who I thought would be the first female president. I remember a big fat tear falling off of my eyelash as I filled in the little circle. I remember hugging a woman outside my polling place (much to her surprise) and saying “I can’t believe it! Can you believe it?” I remember her laughing, and nodding – two complete strangers sharing a moment celebrating a dream that would not come true.
So, I’ve thought a lot about how to mark a day like today.
And I think the best way to honor it, and this movement, and our country, is to reflect on where we’ve been and who we’ve become.
Last year, I stayed up and watched the returns. By the end of the evening I was inconsolable, terrified and in complete shock. (I think the Trump campaign was also in shock, but that’s another story.)
The next day, I felt like I was living in a dream.
The next week, I was ready to fight like hell. And I saw many of you out there, too – ready to fight for who and what we are as Americans.
And the next week, I started Small Deeds Done.
Month after month, I heard from people telling me about what they were (and are) doing to fight for our values. I heard from people who had never called their Congresscritter before, and from those who had forgotten how a bill is made into law. I heard from people in small towns, in big cities – in my state of Missouri and from all over the country.
And I started to think – hey – we can do this.
And as the fabric of democracy has been pulled and stretched, we’ve pulled and stretched ourselves too. We’ve learned more about legislation, about the powers of the judiciary and the congress and the presidency. We’ve learned how to best pressure our elected officials – and who they are beholden to. We’ve started new organizations, joined already-existing ones, started coffee groups and mommy groups and had postcard parties. We’ve started supporting candidates – or we’ve become one ourselves. We’ve had our setbacks, sure. But we’ve had a lot of successes, too.
As a society, and as a movement, we’re paying attention and participating in our democracy in ways that just one year ago were unimaginable. One year ago, I could never have imagined that I would be writing these words – or that they would be carried far and away to be read by people all over the country who love our democracy so much that they’ve changed their lives to save it.
I remember telling my son as we were walking away from our polling place on November 8, 2016 that he had been part of something historic. And he was part of something historic. It just wasn’t historic in the way I wanted it to be.
But maybe – just maybe – it was better.
Let’s get to work.
Tuesday: Vote, and Get Your Loved Ones to the Polls Too!
You don’t need me to tell you that elections have consequences and that we all need to get out there and vote. So today, get your boots on and head out to your polling place! While you’re at it, call your friends and neighbors and remind them that their participation in democracy is really important.
And hey – once they get in the habit of voting, they’ll become more regular voters. (In technical politic-y talk they’re “high propensity voters”.) Once they get comfortable voting and they see how easy and quick it can be, they’ll be more likely to make a plan and vote in the next election. (*cough* 2018 *cough*).
So let’s give them a little push in that direction!
Wednesday: Oppose the Tax Bill
Wowza, this tax bill is a doozy.
It’s bad for the middle class, bad for students, bad for PhD candidates, bad for people with complicated and expensive medical conditions (including people in nursing homes), bad for adoptive parents, bad for … well … everyone that’s not Donald Trump or Scrooge McDuck (or his McDuck-lings). Exceptions and special gifts are sprinkled throughout for business owners, and folks that get most of their income from investments.
To put the inequity in context, consider this: the Trump tax plan’s annual tax cut for the top 400 households is $15 million. That’s more than five times the typical college graduate’s lifetime earnings (estimated at $2.8 million).
And here’s another chart, courtesy of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, that does a great job of showing us just how inequitable this plan is:
I mean, c’mon. It’s like they’re not even trying to hide it.
The process they are using is just as terrible. They’ve set this up just like they set up the ACA repeal – using a special reconciliation process that only requires a majority vote. They’re refusing to have hearings, and they’re rushing this bill through so quickly that even their own caucus doesn’t understand its implications.
So, what needs to happen now is a hearty response from you and I. The healthcare bill met its demise because of our tireless efforts to shine bright lights on all of the terrible clauses that hid in its deep dark corners. We need to do the same thing with this tax bill.
So, charge up your phone and let’s hit the switchboard!
The House is expected to vote next week. The Senate will vote sometime after Thanksgiving. So, start with your Rep, but call your Senator too – it’s never too early or too late to share your opinion.
Script: Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a constituent at ____. I’m calling because I am really concerned about the current content of – and the process surrounding – this tax bill. Not only will it add $1.5 trillion to the deficit, but it will actually increase taxes for a lot of the middle class and lower income Americans. The content of the bill is inequitable and terrible – but that’s probably because the process has been so partisan. I’m really disappointed that this bill hasn’t been drafted in a more bipartisan manner. There haven’t been any hearings, and it looks like it’s just going to be rushed through the process. That’s not democracy. [When talking to your Senator: John McCain was right when he said that the Senate needs to return to regular order. Please tell the Senator to oppose this tax plan as it’s been proposed and to support a return to regular order.]
Thursday: Support Every American, and Oppose the NRA
You no doubt are well aware that there was yet another mass shooting in our country this week. Gun violence touches our society in ways that it does not impact any other country, because the NRA has an extremely effective lobby and the GOP has done a masterful job of misinforming a large portion of our population.
So, please head over here to the Center for American Progress, which has put together a wonderful resource that debunks a lot of the GOP gun-related talking points. Then go to Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and check to see if there is a local chapter in your area, or an event close to you.
Are you an educator? First, thank you! Second, you can sign onto this educator-specific Moms Demand campaign. So please check it out.
Lastly, we need to call our Senators and Representatives and let them know that we support common sense gun legislation, and that while thoughts and prayers are always appreciated, they simply aren’t enough.
Reminder: while Trump has suggested that mental health issues were the cause of the last two mass shootings, he and the GOP-led Congress have actually loosened restrictions on gun ownership for those with proven mental health problems. In February Trump signed into law a resolution that overturned Obama-era regulations intended to keep guns out of the hands of those who the SSA has determined lack the mental capacity to manage their finances. Check here to see if your Representative voted in favor of the resolution, and here to check on your Senator.
Script: Hi, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent at ___. I’m calling because I’m concerned about the gun violence in our country. I believe in and support common sense gun legislation that would keep guns out of the hands of people who have mental health problems and those who have committed acts of domestic violence. I am [happy that the Senator/Congressman/woman has supported those measures in the past] [disgusted that the Senator/Congressman/woman has refused to support these kinds of common-sense measures in the past, and hope these recent tragedies show him/her of the need for targeted regulation].
Friday: Call Your Senator: CHIP and FQHC Funding
You have to admit, the GOP is pretty creative in its efforts to undermine the ACA. Its most recent attempt is to use the very popular Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Federally Qualified Health Centers (also known as community heath centers) as leverage to pull the rug out from the ACA. (We’ve talked about those programs for the past few weeks – if you want a refresher, head over here!)
So here are the details: The good news is that the House voted to fund CHIP and FQHCs for an additional two years. (Huzzah!) But that sound you’re hearing is the other shoe dropping. House republicans decided to fund those programs by undercutting the ACA.
It’s a little complicated, but in essence House GOP wants to use money from a fund created by the ACA that pays for public health efforts like vaccines for kids and fighting the opioid epidemic. And the bill “would shorten the grace period for consumers who fail to pay their share of premiums for health insurance” purchased through the ACA marketplace. That means a few hundred thousand people will lose coverage – leading to the savings that the GOP wants to use to pay for CHIP and FQHCs.
As some Dems have characterized it, it’s robbing Peter to pay Paul. So let’s hit the phones, call our Senators, tell them that we see the House GOP’s shenanigans and we aren’t standing for it.
Script: Hi, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent at ___. I’m really glad to hear that the bipartisan consensus is that CHIP and community health centers should be funded. I know that the house recently passed a bill that provides funding for an additional two years. But I’m calling because I’m concerned that the House bill creates funding for those programs by undermining the ACA. CHIP and community health centers are critically important, but so is funding for the opioid crisis and childhood vaccines – which are paid for by the funding pool the House GOP plan wants to use to fund CHIP and FQHCs. I simply don’t understand why it’s acceptable to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit to pay for tax cuts for millionaires, and we can’t find any room in the budget for sick kids and rural American hospitals.
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!
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