Jury Duty

I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of the constitution. ~Thomas Jefferson

For once, I have something in common with my two ultra-conservative Missouri Senators: I’m serving jury duty.

It is annoying, going to jury duty.

I had to find arrangements for my kiddo after school (not easy). I had to get up early. I don’t know if I’ll be here for a day, two days, or two weeks. I’ve had to sit all day in a too-hot room, too close to people I don’t know (some of whom look far too ill to be around other people), listening to well-intentioned lawyers ask too many prying questions of all of us.

In other words, it’s not my favorite thing to be doing right now.

So I feel like I can relate just a little bit to what’s going on in the heads of my ruby-red senators Josh Hawley and Roy Blunt – two jurors in one of the most important trials in our country’s history. Their schedule is all messed up. Every day the sand shifts under their feet. And sitting there all day long listening to other people talk (rather than themselves) must be especially annoying for them.

Honestly, it would be better if it were over fast, I’m sure they think.

But you know what?

I’m here.

Me – just a regular old person – sucking it up and doing my duty as part of this grand experiment.

And so are a helluva lot of other people. Some wearing suits, looking impatient. One guy opening a pizzaria named after his grandmother missed an environmental inspection today. Another guy is worried he’ll miss a doctor’s appointment he’s had scheduled for months.

Another woman with white hair talked too loudly on her phone before we were called into the courtroom, explaining to her friend that she doesn’t know if she can come to a meeting later “Honey, I left my appointment book at home,” I heard her say with a laugh.

A woman in the back row tried to follow along with the questions the attorneys asked her. “I’m trying,” she smiled. “I am not so good with English.” She looked proud to be included in the pool of potential jurors.

We’re seated in old-fashioned wooden church pews for hours. We can’t have our phones. We’re all put out, a little confused, a little hungry, a little uncomfortable.

But we are here anyway. Listening to instructions, trying our best, answering truthfully, doing our duty. 

And we’ll get $12 a day – just over a dollar for each hour of our trouble. That will make it harder for some people to feed their family this month. It will mean some folks have to dip into savings to pay the babysitter.

And so it pains me to see and hear Republican Senators grouse about having to live up to their constitutional responsibility – by sitting in beautiful desks with all the comforts they could ask for and listening to “boring” arguments in the most important trial – arguably in the history of our country but certainly in the last 50 years.

We should be able to ask them to take things more seriously.

Because that’s what’s asked of each of us.

Yesterday morning, as the hundreds of us shuffled along in line to be checked in, we were forced to watch a slide show set to too-cheerful music. It played on a loop so we couldn’t miss a frame.

It’s biggest, most important reminder?

The slide explaining the importance of jury duty: “In a very real sense, the people must rely on jurors for the protection of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!”

That we, as a society, rely upon each other to do what is asked for us in the name of our country and our constitution. And that when we are called upon to do so, we’ll do our part.

So if we ask that of ourselves, and we expect that from our neighbors …

Then we must ask it of our leaders.

We deserve nothing less.

Let’s get to work.


Actions for the Week of January 28, 2020

Tuesday: Call Your Senators (do this all week pls)

With the news that John Bolton’s book, expected to be released in March, will completely contradict Trump’s defense against impeachment, it’s pretty clear that he needs to testify. The problem, of course, is that Republicans have thus far thwarted attempts to call witnesses and obtain documents.

There’s a real legal question as to whether the votes of 51 senators are required to call witnesses, or if the house managers can simply ask for a subpoena from Justice Roberts. If you haven’t yet, you should read Neal Katyal’s analysis here. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/27/opinion/john-roberts-impeachment-witnesses.html

But even so, our Senators should pay attention what the American people want. Poll after poll shows that the American people want witnesses. So let’s all call our Senators – Democrats and Republicans alike – and tell them they need to do whatever they need to do to call witnesses.

Super Simple, folks! Script: Hi, my name is _____ and I’m a constituent at _____. I’m calling to encourage the Senator to vote for witnesses and documents in the impeachment hearing when that vote comes up this week. A majority of Americans want this, and I’m one of them. Thanks, have a great day.

(And one of my Senator’s voice mail boxes was full – I called the local office and got through. Let’s keep those phones ringing off the hooks!)

Wednesday: Swarm the Capitol (In DC)

If you live in DC, Indivisible and Remove 45 are having a “Swarm the Capitol” event on Wednesday. Check it out here: https://www.remove45.org/post/trump-is-guilty-day-of-action

or here: https://act.indivisible.org/event/attend-impeachment-august/150781

Thursday: Oppose School Lunch Rule Changes

The Trump administration has proposed a rule rolling back the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables that have to be served at school cafeterias. They have already rolled back rules regarding low-fat milk, sodium content and whole grains.

Now they’re after fresh fruits and veggies.

The new rule rolls back how much fresh fruit and veggies schools have to provide, and gives them greater flexibility in how to offer them. Under current standards that went into effect in 2010 as part of Michelle Obama’s signature healthy eating initiative, a school breakfast would provide one cup of fruit; under the new standards it’s just 1/2 cup.

Under current standards they have to provide a variety of leafy greens – the new rule relaxes that requirement, which experts warn will cause an increase in french fries and other starchy offerings.

Those favoring the rule claim it’s intended to reduce food waste, but food waste has been a problem since before the Obama-era standards took effect. And the USDA’s own research showed that there have been no dramatic changes in food waste since the healthier standards took effect. (https://www.fns.usda.gov/school-nutrition-and-meal-cost-study) The goal should be to provide healthy foods – with enough time for children to actually consume them (which is a problem in many schools where 20 minutes is provided for kids to eat lunch).

And lastly, the 2010 rules were put into place to try to improve healthy eating in kids. And there’s evidence it worked; the “Healthy Eating index (which measures the quality of the diet) shot up drastically, from 49.6 in 2009-2010 to 71.3 in 2014-2015.”

The proposed rule has just been posted. Is there anything we can do about it? YES!

Per Crystal FitzSimons, the director of school and out of school programs at the Food Research and Action Center, an advocacy group that targets hunger and undernutrition, says:

“[T]here’s a huge opportunity here to weigh in on this, to let people know that we don’t want to see these standards rolled back. And people should really take that step and take the time to let the administration know that they want healthy meals in their school breakfast and school lunch programs.”

You heard the woman! Head over to: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/01/23/2020-00926/simplifying-meal-service-and-monitoring-requirements-in-the-national-school-lunch-and-school

And submit your comment. So far there are only 120 comments, so please add yours! Include why you think the school lunch program standards should remain as they are, citing any evidence that you’ve read. If you have personal experience, make sure you mention it!

Friday: Adam Schiff – Profile in Courage

Both Rogan’s List and Chop Wood Carry Water (which you should follow if you’re not already!!) included this action, and I just love it.

Adam Schiff has been taking body blows from the GOP and right-wing media for months, but he’s not backing down. He’s gotten threats from Trump’s twitter feed, and he soldiers on. He’s tenacious, principled, and, in a word, courageous.

So it’s fitting to nominate him for a Profile In Courage award. I have a feeling there will be thousands of us that will nominate him for this award. You should go here to join us in submitting his nomination: https://www.jfklibrary.org/events-and-awards/profile-in-courage-award

WHEW! GO TEAM!

P.S.: Why don’t you make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two? I bet they need it.

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!

P.P.S.: If you want to help support this work you can do so via Patreon at
https://www.patreon.com/smalldeedsdone or via paypal at https://www.paypal.me/smalldeeds
My deepest gratitude in advance.

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. Don’t you forget it.

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