None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful. ~Mother Teresa
Last week I told you about the hearts.
It was just a petition really – to vaccinate teachers. But we added a twist.
Every signature was turned into a paper heart, cut and signed by hand. (I have the blisters to prove it.)
And once we added the “twist,” what started as a small petition got bigger, and bigger, and bigger… as word of the hearts spread and more people joined in.
We ended with over 3,300 hearts.
It’s an impressive sight, really. Seeing the names of thousands of people who care about something as much as you do – scripted out on colorful construction paper hearts. Every one written by hand. (Some you could tell were completed by children. Those are my favorites.)
The day before we were to deliver the hearts, the administration’s position was solid: no imminent vaccinations for teachers. Period.
On that day, the Director of Health and Senior Services told a state representative that it would be weeks or months before teachers would be vaccinated. And on that day, the Governor responded publicly to tweets about teachers being vaccinated – saying he “looked forward to the day” when teachers could be vaccinated – but that with the “limited supply of vaccine” they needed to “remain committed on those most vulnerable.” (Never mind that per their guidelines, a 64-year-old special education teacher whose students cannot socially distance or wear masks would not be eligible – even if she had type one diabetes.)
But just twenty five hours after the Governor sent that tweet saying there just wasn’t enough supply to vaccinate teachers?
He had a press conference where he announced opening the teachers’ tier.
The public pressure worked. It really worked.
Our petition wasn’t the only public pressure, of course. There were news articles (some of which mentioned our petition) and state legislators questioning the administration’s priorities.
But I still think the idea of having us deliver a big clear box of thousands of colorful, handwritten, hand-cut hearts demonstrating our support for teachers was just too much to bear. It was just going to be far, far too good of a photo op.
So right before we delivered the hearts he got in front of it, and did what we wanted him to do.
I think it’s an important success story, as well as a reminder.
It’s too easy to give up before you begin.
It’s too easy to talk yourself out of taking action by saying – nah. There’s just no way he/she/they are going to do what we need them to do – it’s senseless to even try. Why waste my time?
You’re not wasting your time. Even the impossible becomes possible … with dedication, and time, and heart. But ONLY with dedication, and time, and heart.
It’s like the man I told you about a few years back who, over decades, cut a path through a mountain with a chisel. (Click here to read it again). Would anyone think it would be possible for one man to carve a road in a mountain with his bare hands? Absolutely not. But he did.
Because he tried.
Every day, every action, every phone call – it’s another shovelful of dirt that gets you closer to your goal.
Democrats especially have a hard time with being self-defeatist, for some reason. I’m hearing it all the time right now – very logical arguments about why and how we will lose.
I know very well there are reasons we could lose any number of upcoming legislative fights. But remember “We’ll never be able to save the ACA.”?
Remember “We’ll never win both Senate seats in the Georgia special – one, maybe. Maybe. But both? No way, man.”
When we put our hearts into something, there’s no limit to what we are able to accomplish. We’ve proven it time and time and time again.
But if we don’t even try? Well, then our defeat is certain.
Now our job is to stay motivated, and to get out of our own way.
And, of course, to get to work.
Actions for the Week of March 1, 2021
Tuesday: HR1/SR1 – For the People
This is a make-it-or-break-democracy bill, to be blunt.
Okay, a bit of backstory, because HR1/SR1 passage depends upon the elimination of the filibuster, and we’ll be dealing with this legislation and the filibuster in both today’s and tomorrow actions.
Right now, we’re in a minority rule situation. Because the filibuster has, for some unknown reason, achieved some mythical magical sanctified unicorn status, 40 Senators dictate what the rest of the country can do.
Let’s break that down – over at It Starts Today we wrote a whole piece about it and if you have the time you should read it HERE. From that article:
The 50 Senate Democrats represent dramatically more people – 41.5 million more, as a matter of fact.
That’s … a heckuva lot more people. To put it in context, 41.5 million is more than the combined populations of: Connecticut, Utah, Iowa, Nevada, Arkansas, Mississippi, Kansas, New Mexico, Nebraska, Idaho, West Virginia, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Maine, Montana, Rhode Island, Delaware, South Dakota, North Dakota, Alaska, Vermont, and Wyoming.
But in our current partisan Senate, legislation supported by 50 Democratic Senators (+ the VP) who represent over 60% of the country can be killed by 41 Republican Senators representing just 20.7% of the country.
Forty-one Senators can filibuster any legislation. That means the 42 Senators from the 21 smallest states representing just 11.22% of the country (36,961,175 people) can filibuster any legislation.
(Read the whole piece here: https://itstarts.today/how-un-democratic-is-the-filibuster/)
So to repeat, legislation supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans can be jettisoned by a super minority. That is …. crazy. Really, truly crazy.
Like, completely undemocratic.
And what’s even more undemocratic about it is that this very same minority is now flooding state legislatures with bills that will make it harder for some people to vote. Note that I say it’s going to make it harder for some people. Because when they can, they’re being laser-like precise – making sure that it’s harder for “Democratic” voters. (Or, at least, that we can’t make it easier for urban residents to comply with their restrictions. Take Missouri’s photo ID law, for example. Under their restrictive legislation, photo IDs must be issued by the state or US government – so cities and municipalities couldn’t have mass photo ID events for their residents.)
All this to say – it’s critical that we pass the For the People Act, which is HR1 and SR1. It’s a massive overhaul – making it easier to vote, curtailing gerrymandering, making elections more secure, and reforming the campaign finance system. It’s … great.
This bill is going through the process right now. So call now – this morning – and demand your Representative vote YES on H.R. 1 when it reaches the floor. That’s especially true for those of you with Republican reps!
Script: Hi, my name is ___ and I live at zip code ___. I’m calling today to ask Representative ___ to vote for the For the People Act. This bill is so important – it addresses voting rights, protecting the integrity of our elections, gerrymandering and campaign finance reform, which are all things that we should agree on as Americans. If we don’t value and protect our democracy, what are we doing? This is a make-it-or-break-democracy moment, and I’m calling on him/her to vote for the For the People Act and show s/he cares about our democracy has much as s/he says.
Wednesday: Now the Senate!
Okay, now it’s the day to call your Senators and demand that they, too, vote for the For the People Act. But this time, for those of you with Democratic Senators, you need to add in that without passing it we face the real risk of no longer having a democracy. And for that reason they should eliminate the filibuster if it is necessary to protect voting rights. (See above arguments!)
Script: Hi, my name is ___ and I live at zip code ___. I’m calling today to ask Senator ___ to vote for the For the People Act. This bill is so important – it addresses voting rights, protecting the integrity of our elections, gerrymandering and campaign finance reform, which are all things that we should agree on as Americans. If we don’t value and protect our democracy, what are we doing? This is a make-it-or-break-democracy moment, and I’m calling on the Senator to vote for the For the People Act and show s/he cares about our democracy has much as s/he says. [If a Democratic senator: And if it requires eliminating the filibuster to do so, then s/he should vote for that, too. Why on earth should we allow legislation that will protect our democracy to be killed by a Jim Crow era rule? It makes no sense, and I’m calling on the Senator to be courageous and act on behalf of the country here.]
Thursday: Join the Indivisible March National Activist call
At 8pm Eastern, Indivisible will be having their monthly National Activist Call. All group leaders, members, and activists are welcome to attend. Sign up and join here: https://indivisible.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_oo07cXDUQGmvy1kBiJQDaw
Friday: COVID Relief Bill in the Senate!
At some point this week the Senate will take up the COVID relief bill. So, while I put it here on Friday, it’s likely that it will come up earlier – so please feel free to add it to your call on Wednesday to the Senate if you don’t want to make two separate calls. It is likely to pass with all Democratic votes, but it would be incredibly powerful to have some Republicans on board. (Unlikely but possible!)
Script: Hi, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent at ___. I’m calling to encourage the Senator to vote for the COVID relief bill that we so desperately need. [If Republican: I’m so disappointed to see Republicans unified against providing the help that people like me need to stay afloat – and that states and counties and cities like ours need to function properly. I have no idea what the thought process is to opposing this relief that will help constituents. It’s certainly not the deficit, because we all know that ballooned out of control during Trump’s reign and we aren’t falling for it. Please tell the Senator that we need this relief, and will be so proud if s/he votes for the benefit of the country rather than party.] [If Democrat: I’m so encouraged by the work Democrats are doing, and the unified force you’re providing for the country. This legislation shows the priority that Democrats place on people like me, and on our local communities. If Republicans aren’t going to be voting in favor of a bill that literally provides a lifeline for the country, then it’s pretty clear we are dealing with a party bent on destruction. Please note that I’d also like the Senator to seriously consider filibuster reform.]
DID YOU KNOW YOU’RE A ROCK STAR? I DID. SUPER PROUD OF YOU!
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.
P.P.S.: 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!
Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.