America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we, the people, have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears and true to our founding documents. ~Barack Obama, January 2009
Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations. ~Barack Obama, January 2009
When I clicked “play,” I didn’t think it would be so emotional.
Just a rendition of “This Land is Your Land” – a video linked by my son’s virtual music teacher. He and I snuggle on the couch and watch a daily video of curated music as part of a SQUILT (Super Quiet Uninterrupted Listening Time) Class. (I highly recommend it.)
The theme for this month’s listening calendar is Folk Songs. So I wasn’t terribly surprised to see This Land Is Your Land prominently featured.
But when I clicked the link to play the video, I was surprised to see not a guy strumming a beat up old guitar in a studio … but a sea of people in coats and hats. Then I saw the stage, and the backup singers in alternating red and blue jackets. Before them stood a beaming Bruce Springsteen and Pete Seeger, leading the enthusiastic crowd in their version of an American anthem…
At Barack Obama’s inauguration.
I was immediately transported back in time to January 2009. It was a lifetime ago, and yesterday.
I was glad that my son was not looking at me, because I had the hardest time holding back tears.
The people swaying and singing to the music, smiling, arm-in-arm… thousands of people just … happy.
They have no idea what’s coming, I thought. My God we have been through so much.
I remember that day. I remember that feeling – that hope rising. Feeling that the country was coming into the sunshine and we were all entering a new era.
And we were entering a new era. It just wasn’t the era we had envisioned.
The filibuster hadn’t yet been weaponized – that was Mitch McConnell’s gift to Barack Obama. Historic gridlock would greet America’s first black president, ushered in by the bespectacled Kentucky Senator, who proclaimed that his legacy would be to ensure Obama was a one-term president.
His legacy, instead, is breaking the Senate and, in many ways, our government.
The challenges we face today can’t all be laid at one Senator’s feet. But all eyes will be on him and the Republican caucus today when the Senate votes on whether to debate the For the People Act. McConnell will filibuster, of course, and then the question is what we as a country do then.
What do we do when one party won’t accept the results of an election? What do we do when they downplay an insurrection? When they don’t take a pandemic seriously? When they want to make it harder for people to vote in a last-gasp effort to remain in power?
What do we do when one party values their power above all else?
So my thoughts go back to that video. And back the original lyrics of Woodie Guthrie’s American anthem:
In the squares of the city, In the shadow of a steeple;
By the relief office, I’d seen my people.
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking,
Is this land made for you and me?
And that is the question that faces us today.
Is this land made for you and me?
I believe it was meant to be. I believe we want it to be. I believe it can be.
The question is whether we will make it so.
That’s on us, friend.
Let’s get to work.
(P.S. You can watch the entire, wonderful, heartbreaking rendition of This Land Is Your Land at https://youtu.be/HE4H0k8TDgw)
Actions for the week of June 22, 2021:
Tuesday: A Big Day For the People
Today, the question as to whether S1, the For the People Act, will be debated will come up for a vote. This is a pretty important distinction that Leader Schumer noted yesterday – they are not voting ON the bill. They’re voting on whether to TALK about the bill.
In any case, it’s expected to fail – there aren’t 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster and Republican Senators are opposed to even debating the question.
There’s a lot of speculation as to what will happen after that, but Senator Joe Manchin (and Senator Krystin Sinema) will be the one(s) to watch, as they have been the most vocal about retaining the filibuster.
It’s critical to show just how much support there is for voting rights legislation, so please do this THIS MORNING. And yes, I need you to call your Republican Senators too.
So get out your phone!
Script: Hi, my name is ____ and I’m calling to ask that the Senator vote to debate – at least talk about – the For the People Act. This is one of the most important pieces of voting rights legislation to be introduced in decades, and the American people deserve to know where the Senator stands on it. Thanks!
Wednesday: H/T Jessica Cravin! Join Activate America to Register Voters
Activate America (formerly Flip the West) is phone banking to register voters every Tuesday from 1:30 – 3:30 pm PST and Thursday from 4:30 – 6:30 pm PST. They have really good lists and a wonderful calling tool.
Excellent training will be available at the beginning of each session if you have not phone banked on CallHub (or at all) before. Go here to sign up for any shift.
Thursday: Join Swing Left and Learn About the 2021-22 Strategy!
On Thursday, Swing Left will host an organizer call to lay out the 2021-22 strategy, including how the work of other organizations (like letter writers with Vote Forward) will play a part. And you can join in! It’s a great opportunity to see how this entire community is working together, and how your local group might be able to plug in.
The call is from 8-9pm eastern, and you can join by going to Mobilize and registering HERE.
Friday: Child Care Tax Credit – Spread the Word!
The ARP did something really amazing: it created an additional Child Care Tax Credit that will roll out and start landing in people’s bank accounts on a monthly basis beginning July 15. It puts relief directly into the pockets of working families when they need it – and that’s amazing.
It’s going to help a lot of families put food on the table – and keep a roof over their heads. I could not love this more. It’s up to all of us to make sure people know about it.
The White House has created a website that makes it easy for people who have kids to see what their additional benefit might be. It also makes it easy for us to share the program details. So let’s do that, okay? It’s a simple ask. Just take to social media … and share the website! Job done!
That website is: https://www.whitehouse.gov/child-tax-credit/
In your post, say: The Child Tax Credit in the American Rescue Plan provides the largest child tax credit ever to the most working families ever. $3k for each child from 6-17, and $3.7k for kids under 6. Usually you get a tax credit when you file your taxes – no matter how much you need it now. Now you don’t have to wait until April – you’ll start getting the money in monthly installments beginning in July.
Go check it out at https://www.whitehouse.gov/child-tax-credit/
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.