American Insomnia

If you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up. ~JM Power

Once you wake up and smell the coffee, it’s hard to go back to sleep. ~Fran Drescher

Over the last year, sleep has become … interesting.

Recently I went to an acupuncturist to see if he could do something about it.

He listened, he asked questions, he nodded and he smiled at all the right times.

And then he said, “I think the most important thing is for you to let it go.”

“Let it go?” I asked, head tilted to one side with one ear perked – because certainly I had heard him wrong.

“Yes, let it go. The world will still be here tomorrow, regardless of what you do. The country will continue moving forward. Really, it will.”

I physically recoiled.

“If we all felt that way, we’d really be in dire straits,” I said. “If nobody stood up, then we’d all be at the mercy of the worst among us.”

He smiled.

“Oh, now. Do you really think that’s where we are?” And with the little chuckle men reserve for women they don’t respect, he folded his hands one over the other.

As though the demolition of democracy and the systematic dismantling of institutions and norms was simply a little thing in my head.

“I think you’ll feel much better and get better rest if you just stopped listening for a while.”

Stopped listening.

Stopped watching.

Just closed my eyes to rest and let “things take their course…”

How tantelizing.

How tempting.

How simple.

How. Stupid.

It’s far easier, isn’t it, to just go back to sleep? To assure ourselves that we’re unimportant and unnecessary – and insignificant anyway. So why make all the fuss in our own lives? Why make our own lives so difficult if we don’t matter?

Friends – when did we decide that our contributions aren’t meaningful?

When did we decide that we were so powerless?

When did we forget that all ideas originate in ONE person’s head? And that every one of us has the power to be that one person who creates an entire movement?

Because you do matter.

You do make a difference.

And you have an impact beyond what you can see directly.

The conversation that you have with a staffer today may impact the decisions they make as a legislator 10 years from now.

The fifteen dollars that you give a campaign today gives them funds to put up a yard sign tomorrow. That yard sign might be seen by a young woman with two kids – who sees it on her way to pick the youngest up from preschool. It might be the thing that reminds her that this time she really has to make time to vote.

The words that I’m writing today might be the thing that reminds you that you are quite special. That you’re quite worthy. That you’re making a difference.

And that together we’re changing the world.

I’m glad we woke up.

I’m not going back to sleep.

Are you?

Didn’t think so.

Let’s get to work.


Tuesday: Tell Your Senators: No on S2155

The Senate will soon (as in, imminently) have a floor vote on Senate Bill 2155, which is being sold as a bill to help community banks (which recorded a 9% increase last year and have seen record profits so they aren’t exactly destitute), but at the expense of financial stability and consumers like you and I. For example, it deregulates 25 of the biggest banks in America, and will exempt manufactured home lenders from rules that prohibit them from steering consumers toward more expensive loans. It also will exempt lenders from appraisal requirements for many rural loans. It’s time for us to call our Senators and tell them that we see just how terrible this bill is, and we expect them to oppose it.

Script: Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a constituent at ____. I’m calling to ask the Senator to oppose Senate Bill 2155. I know there’s a great deal of interest in helping community banks, and I support that. But deregulating 25 of the largest banks in America and exempting manufactured home lenders from lending regulations doesn’t do anything to help community banks. Actually, both of those things do a lot to hurt the very communities that community banks try to serve. Please ask the Senator to oppose this bill.

Wednesday: Help Support Teachers in WV

Teachers in West Virginia have been an inspiring force this past week. West Virginia teachers are paid less than almost anywhere else in the nation; their substandard pay, coupled with rising health care costs triggered by their state legislature led teachers to the breaking point, and they went on strike. That strike was supposed to end on Thursday, but because the state senate refused to pass the full 5% raise that was promised (and instead tried to sneak by with 4%), teachers refused to return. The strike is ongoing, as of March 6.

Their collective action and persistence is inspiring – but so is their passion for their kids, many of whom depend upon school lunches for food during the school week. Teachers have banded together with community members and nonprofits to help supply food to these needy kids – and seeing that level of commitment to their communities is just … wow.

If you have the capacity, consider chipping in a few bucks to help these teachers. The strike fund (not union-sponsored, but associated with RiseUp WV, a grassroots organization in WV) is here, and all funds will go to teachers and other staff – all of whom have to apply for funds. Over $100k in applications have been granted, and more applications are arriving than there are funds to disburse.

Thursday: Weekly Call – Hey Senator, How Are You Saving Democracy?

Every week, we all get together and talk about what we can do to push back against this administration, and I know it’s hard to keep railing about the same thing. But here’s the deal: the most important issue that’s facing us is the “special relationship” that Trump has with Putin. It’s chilling that our leaders are not doing more publicly to call out Trump on his Russian ties, his absolute refusal to implement sanctions to push back against Russian interference in our election, his refusal to use the monies set aside by Congress to combat Russian meddling… I could go on, but we are all on the same page. (Read this article for a nice summary of the various things that this administration has failed to do, and why it’s making a mockery of our nation.) (Then bookmark this page, The Moscow Project, which is “dedicated to uncovering the truth about Trump’s involvement in Russian attacks on our democracy”).

So, this week and every week thereafter, our most urgent call needs to be to our Senators to ask them what they are doing specifically to combat Russian interference in our 2018 midterms, what they are doing about the sanctions that they enacted but that the Trump administration refuses to enforce… and how we can help them stand up for themselves. Because just like three-year-olds testing their boundaries, the Russians (and Trump) will push the limits as far as we let them.

Script: Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a constituent at ____. I’m beyond shocked that Congress has done nothing and said nothing about the administration’s failure to implement the sanctions the Senator voted for. The administration is failing to use resources that were afforded it to combat Russian interference in our elections this year. The United States is literally under attack, and the administration is doing nothing to protect us – so where is Congress on all of this? What is the Senator doing right now to protect our country? [What can I do to help?]

Friday: Comment on Zinke’s Plan to Permit Oil/Gas Drilling Off U.S. Coasts

Had enough of the GOP’s willingness to sell off our natural resources to the highest bidder (a la Russia in the late 1990s?)? Me too.

Actually, so have many governors (both R and D) of coastal states that would be impacted by the Secretary of the Interior (Ryan Zinke)’s plan to permit drilling for oil and gas exploration in our coastal waters.

What’s that plan? To make 90% of our coastal waters open to drilling leases.

Hear that smacking noise? It’s the oil and gas lobby licking their chops.

So BY FRIDAY (March 9) head over here to voice your opposition. The comment period closes on March 9. No script for this one – (if we all say something similar, we risk being considered ‘bots,’ or not being counted as individual responses) so just speak from the heart!

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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