Where your eyes go, your body will follow. ~Bikram
Short words today, friends – because life.
But I wanted to take a moment to answer a question that I’ve gotten from many of you: How do you come up with something positive each week? How do you stay so upbeat?
The answer is fairly simple.
I look for it.
When I was just a kid learning how to ride a bike (wearing jelly shoes and no helmet) my mom kept telling me to look straight ahead – “You’ll go where your eyes go!” She would shout.
And wouldn’t you know, she was right.
Fast forward thirty years, and I was reminded of my mother’s advice during a Bikram class, as the instructor was encouraging students to stretch just a bit deeper into a spine twist than they thought they could. Twisting even one more inch was a victory, she reminded us. “Just look over your shoulder to the opposite corner of the room,” she directed. “Trust me – where your eyes go, your body will follow.”
And wouldn’t you know, she was right.
Our minds, like our bodies, go where our eyes go. And when our eyes are fixated only on the crisis, that’s all our minds can focus on. Let’s face it – the crises unfolding before our eyes are all-encompassing right now. It’s really hard to look away.
But when we force our eyes to look to the positive, our minds steer toward it too.
When I spend time looking for positive stories, encouraging signs and good news I feel more positive, too. There are websites and newsletters that send you good news, and that’s fine. But there’s something about having to search for it – having to actively seek it out, rather than having it handed over for my easy consumption. There’s something about having to focus my brain on looking to that opposite corner of the room that makes me stretch just a little bit more.
Friends, I know it’s difficult to do. But this week, try to actively look for the positive around you. Try to steer yourself in the right direction. Look to the opposite corner of your room.
Like I said, I know it’s hard.
It’s worth it.
Let’s get to work.
Tuesday: Keep Fighting for Families
Last week the government missed yet another deadline to reunify all of the families that it separated at our southern border. Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding an oversight hearing about the family reunification efforts – and hopefully we’ll get some answers.
But make no mistake, folks. As much as it hurts to think about it, there are children that are going to sleep at night not knowing where their parents are. Our government is torturing these kids. I don’t say that lightly – but it’s the only word that adequately describes the kind of emotional anguish they are causing. And with every new crazy Tweet it’s harder for the news media to focus on this humanitarian crisis.
We need to raise some hell.
Call your Congresscritter – they should be on recess right now, so perhaps they’re in your district. And call your Senators. The script is very simple. Ask them the specific and uncomfortable questions that they need to answer: What is the Senator/Congress(wo)man doing to help reunify these children? What is the Senator/Congress(wo)man doing to hold the government accountable for separating these families and being unable to swiftly reunite them? WHO in your office is responsible for this issue, and when can I speak with them about the Senator/Congress(wo)man’s efforts?
Wednesday: Demand That Kavanaugh be Fully Vetted
The more that comes out about Judge Kavanaugh, the less there is to like. (And there wasn’t much to like from the get-go.)
But from the news reports, there’s less pressure on key Senators about his nomination than there was during the ACA fight. I’ve seen some of that dynamic, too – but I think we can shift it by ensuring people are educated about what Kavanaugh is all about and why he’s a disaster on a host of issues beyond just reproductive rights.
But first, let’s be very strategic and fight specifically for him to get the same level of vetting that all Supreme Court nominees receive. That just makes sense – and in theory should be a bi-partisan position.
But the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee (Sen. Grassley) is not asking for the papers from Kavanaugh’s tenure as Pres. Bush’s “staff secretary” because he says they aren’t relevant. As you may recall from the conversations about Rob Porter (wife abuser who had that same role for Trump until he was fired after images of his ex-wife’s black eye surfaced), the staff secretary is a trusted policy advisor in the White House structure. The staff secretary determines what gets seen by the President – and they are intimately involved in policy discussions. John Podesta and Todd Stern wrote a very useful summary of their work as staff secretaries in other administrations, and why they believe Kavanaugh’s papers are relevant and essential to review.
It’s simply outrageous that the GOP would even consider voting on Kavanaugh without reviewing these papers. Please pick up the phone and call your Senators. Demand that they ask for and review these essential materials. They deserve to know who they are voting on – and we Americans deserve to know who will sit on the highest court in the nation.
Script: Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a constituent at ____. I’m calling to ask what the Senator is doing to ensure that Judge Kavanaugh’s papers from when he was the staff secretary during the Bush administration are obtained and reviewed before his nomination is voted on. His experience is incredibly relevant, and we deserve to know who is going to sit on the highest court in the land. Doesn’t the Senator believe in following the rules?
Thursday: Pressure Your Senators to Protect Elections (Day 1)
If you’ve been wondering what Congress could do to deter foreign meddling in our elections, let me introduce you to the DETER Act (the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines Act). Sponsored by Senator Rubio, it’s got 13 cosponsors already – with more piling on after Trump’s performance at the Helsinki summit. Notably, cosponsors include Democratic Senators like Warner, Blumenthal, Tester and Baldwin along with GOP Senators like Grassley, Graham, Sasse and Collins.
It’s the closest thing I’ve seen to a bipartisan bill since … well. I can’t remember when.
In sum, it specifies certain sanctions that must be implemented within 10 days if the Director of National Intelligence determines that our elections were interfered with. Right now it’s got the attention of and support from a number of Republicans and conservatives – so let’s go ahead and use that momentum to call our GOP Senators and ask them to cosponsor, or explain why they aren’t interested in deterring foreign intervention in our elections.
Script: Hi, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent at ____. I’m calling because I want to know if the Senator has cosponsored the DETER Act – S.2313, which specifies certain sanctions if foreign governments interfere in our elections. If he/she hasn’t, why not? How are we to protect our elections if we are not willing or able to punish countries that put their thumb on the scale of our democracy?
Friday: Pressure Your Senators to Protect Elections (Day 2)
We talked about the Protecting American Votes and Elections Act last week, but it really bears repeating. Senator Ron Wyden introduced this legislation, which is all about protecting our votes and ensuring they’re counted appropriately. The Act “requires paper ballots and statistically rigorous ‘risk-limiting’ audits for all federal elections – the two steps cited by election experts as necessary to give voters confidence that election results have not been changed by foreign governments or other hackers.”
Honestly, that just makes sense.
Unfortunately, it’s gotten itself hung up in the Rules Committee. There are currently six co-sponsors (one more than last week!) – Booker, Warren, Gillibrand, Markey, Merkley, Murray. Let’s see if we can get some additional Democratic senators to join those ranks, and push this baby along, shall we?
Script: (for Senators): Hi, my name is _____ and I’m a constituent at ____. I’m calling to ask the Senator to cosponsor the PAVE Act – S3049, which would help ensure the integrity of our elections. Especially now when we know that our elections are under attack, it’s important that we do everything we can to protect them. Requiring paper ballots and risk limiting audits seems like the bare minimum that should be done. I don’t know why any Senator would be against ensuring the integrity of our elections. What is the Senator’s position on this bill?
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.