What Susan Collins Has Taught Us About the Resistance

Individually we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean. ~Ryunosuke Satoro

It occurred to me when I saw the Crowdpac campaign take off.

You’ve probably seen the campaign I’m referring to. It’s a sortof hybrid crowdfunding initiative for Senator Susan Collins’ opponent in 2020. But the money only goes to her Democratic challenger if Collins votes to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. If she doesn’t vote to confirm him, donors’ credit cards aren’t even charged.

Clever. Very clever.

And it started modestly enough. A few donors here. A few there.

But then it started climbing. Faster, then a little faster.

It’s now (as of the time I’m writing this) at nearly $1 million.

And that’s from just 35,000 pledges.

Maybe that sounds like a lot of people.

It’s not.

Between 3 and 5 million people participated in the Women’s Marches across the United States in January 2017. Estimates are that between 500k and one million women marched in D.C. alone.

73.5 million people who voted in 2016 did not vote for Donald Trump.

Tens of millions of people disagree with this administration and what it’s doing. Tens of millions of people disagree with the GOP platform.

And yet, with just 35,000 people, we’ve raised nearly $1 million in a few weeks to try to encourage Susan Collins to vote the right way.







(Ahem.) Sorry – I don’t mean to shout.

But again and again I’ve seen this movement underestimated and diminished – so much so that I think some of us have started to believe it. Maybe we’re underestimated because we’re mostly women. Maybe it’s because we’re mostly newcomers. Who knows.

But I see pundits scoff, and consultants snort, and lots of folks still peddle the same old tired political advice. As if we are still living in a predictable, controlled-experiment kind of political world.

But if you stop looking at polls, and A/B tests, and “likely scenarios” and start looking around you, you’ll see it right in front of your face. WE have the people. WE have the passion. WE have the message.

WE have the power.

We just have to harness it, and then point it in the right direction.

Now, to be honest – that is a more difficult task than you might think, because we are Democrats and we don’t necessarily like to be told what to do.


We’ve shown the ability and willingness to mobilize en masse when given a specific task (e.g., get Collins to vote no) that is urgent (vote’s gonna happen in the next few weeks whether we like it or not) and is intended to push back on something that’s monumental.

We saw it with the ACA fight. We saw it with the Muslim ban. We saw it with family separation. (A fight that is not yet over.) Again and again we mobilized; again and again we fought back decisively, with a unified voice; and again and again we got results.

But Senator Susan Collins proved a different use for that model – by showing what is possible when just a tiny, eensie-weensie fraction of our people work together to crowdfund.

If one percent of the people who participated in one of the Women’s Marches can raise nearly $1 million … then imagine what would happen if 350,000 did?

Imagine what would happen if one million did? (Psst: You don’t really need to imagine it – you can actually join It Starts Today and fund every Democratic nominee for House and Senate right now. Just sayin’.)

Imagine what flexing our muscles like that would do – not just to fund campaigns, but to show the GOP that we’re organized and serious and powerful. Imagine what it would be like for millions of grassroots activists like you and I to work together and go toe-to-toe against corporate donors… and win.

We really are unstoppable.

But only if we work together.

So when you start to waiver and wonder what on earth we can accomplish, look back at the Susan Collins Crowdpac campaign.

Look at what happens when we act together, and act decisively.

And then do that.

Let’s get to work.


Tuesday: Honor 9/11 by Advocating for Our National Security

*Thank you to national security expert Susan C. for today’s action!

A Digital 9/11? Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats recently warned that, just like the lead-up to 9/11 “the warning lights are blinking red again,” as our digital infrastructure is “literally under attack.” Because we haven’t imposed serious consequences on Russia or taken steps to harden our election infrastructure, Russia continues to sow discord on our social media platforms and is poised to interfere in November’s midterms.

What’s a democracy to do? A functional legislature would pass legislation that provides funding to states to update their systems and gives them access to the classified threat information about that they need. So you could call your Senators and ask them to pressure the Rules Committee to allow the Secure Elections Act to come to the floor. (If you live in Missouri, call Sen. Roy Blunt, the chair of the committee, who killed the bill, despite the pleas of 21 Attorneys General who support the legislation).

But perhaps a more productive task is to visit your state’s Secretary of State website and confirm your address and polling location prior to the midterms.  Encourage your friends to do the same.

Then, check out what grade your state gets on election security here.  The Center for American Progress assessed all states based on their voting machines, audit procedures and security and – spoiler alert – not one state gets an A.  Based on what you learn, call your Secretary of State’s office.

“Hi.  I’m really concerned about the threat Russia poses to the integrity of our elections.  What is our state doing to ensure every vote counts and the results are verifiable and resistant to tampering by actors seeking to undermine our democracy?”

Wednesday: Keep Pressuring Sen. Collins!

I mean, I’d be crazy not to include an action that encourages you to contribute to the Senator Collins Crowdpac campaign, wouldn’t I? Whether it’s $1 or $10 or $100 – please consider donating to add your name to the tens of thousands of people who want her – and the rest of the GOP – to vote against Kavanaugh’s confirmation. It sends a message to Senator Collins, but also to the rest of the GOP.

Thursday: Call Your Senators re: Kavanaugh

Last week we learned a lot about Judge Kavanaugh. Reports suggest that on Thursday the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on whether to pass him out of committee. (Even before they’ve had an opportunity to read/review all of his documents.)

There are so many different reasons he should not be confirmed. Sigh. Whether you want to focus on his record of lying to the Senate Judiciary Committee or his reference to contraception as “abortion-inducing drugs” or his hostility to Roe v. Wade or his expansive view of executive power… it’s a veritable “choose your own adventure” of reasons to oppose him. So use any which one you want, but give your Senators a call!

You can also go to https://www.istandwithpp.org/dear-senators – a website operated by Planned Parenthood – and share your story, see sample tweets, or record a video to share.

Friday: Hands off Snap; Tax Cut 2.0 Information

While GOP leaders in the House merrily introduce legislation to make permanent the individual tax cuts for rich people that they rammed through Congress in 2017, they’re also keen on gutting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (food stamps). Makes perfect sense if your motivation comes from catering to wealthy donors. Otherwise I’m left scratching my head.

But there is a silver lining. The Republican Tax Cut 2.0 is not being received well (not that the first one got a warm welcome). It actually looks like there might not be much movement on it until after the election- which is good. But the key here is for all of us to know that it makes the tax cuts permanent, and that it’s yet another giveaway to millionaires, while deficits balloon and people are starving. When you get a chance to tell people about it, you absolutely should.

Now for SNAP. Trump threw his support behind a Farm Bill with SNAP “work requirements” last week. Why does that matter? First, SNAP already has work requirements: “individuals age 18 to 50 are limited to three months of benefits out of every three years unless they work or participate in a training program.” The version of the Farm bill that the House passed expands those work requirements to parents of school-aged kids – and would require that the prove they are working or enrolled in 20 yours of training per week. If they can’t comply, they – and the minor children in their house – could be locked out of the program for three years.

One group of researchers interviewed food-insecure families – and particularly kids. They asked those children:

“If you could tell the president something about food, what would it be?” we asked dozens of the kids we interviewed. More than one child wanted to tell the president about their favorite food. Eight-year-old Phoebe’s answer has stayed with us: “That I don’t have enough.”


The House passed its version that includes work requirements; the Senate version does not. The House and Senate reps are in conference committee. Go to https://www.handsoffsnap.org for a roster of who is on that conference committee, as well as sample graphics, sample tweets and telephone numbers.

If your Senators/Rep aren’t on the committee, you can still call. Hungry kids should not be a partisan issue.

But here we are.

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.

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