Who Represents Us Matters

The more you are motivated by love, the more fearless and free your action will be. ~Dalai Lama XIV

We’re building a politics of love. Because I love you, I care that you have food to eat. I care that you have a roof over your head. I care that you have what you need to thrive. That’s how our government should work. – Congresswoman Cori Bush (D-MO)

My congresswoman has been evicted three times.

Her name is Cori Bush, and the rest of the country met her this week, when she showed the nation what it looks like when an organizer holds office – and kept 9 million people from being evicted.

Cori Bush is in her first year as a Congresswoman, having unseated a legacy Congressman who had served in Congress for two decades … after taking the seat his father had held for three decades.

It’s been an abrupt change, as you’d expect it to be after the toppling of a 50+ year political dynasty.

But we didn’t just go from one polished decades-in-government official to another. It’s hard to even describe how different this is.

She wears sparkly nail polish, carries a bedazzled phone, and sports T-shirts with the names of every neighborhood in the 1st District.

She laughs really hard, and dances, and wears sneakers.

Yesterday she visited the site of Michael Brown’s murder in Ferguson; she was there on the streets of Ferguson after his death seven years ago, marching and organizing and protesting. It was fitting that she was there to pay her respects, because she was there when the movement started. She’s not an outsider in her community.

She’s stands out by fitting in.

She has been vocal about her own experience being unhoused, sleeping in her car with her young children, eyes watering as she tried to stay awake before she’d go into her shift.

She’s had to take out payday loans. She’s lived paycheck to paycheck. She knows the struggle, and knows it’s not a personality flaw, or a lack of intelligence that leads people to a dangerous and terrifying place.

That’s powerful – to have that lived experience. It’s also powerful for other Congresspeople to see that their colleague has lived that experience.

Recently I read a moving piece about Cori. It told the story of how one day, as she sat in the parking lot outside the payday lender she had to visit for the $300 she desperately needed and couldn’t get anywhere else, she asked herself “Who speaks for us?”

It’s a simple question. Who speaks for us?

Every candidate will tell you that they will. But when the campaign signs come down and the real business of governing begins, it’s often hard to stick to that passion. The grind of the political machine strips the sparkles off of candidates-turned-electeds. I’ve seen it firsthand.

People who came to governing with stars in their eyes and promises that they would speak truth to power and be the ones to fight for change … suddenly wilt under the stress and strain. It’s a lot to take. I don’t blame them for being exhausted. Worn out. Bruised from the daily wringing. It’s part of why it’s so important for us to push and praise them as much as we can.

But by now it’s clear that Cori is coming at this from an entirely different place, which is immune to the exhaustion: love.

Her press briefings and messages often end with – “Don’t you ever forget, your Congresswoman loves you.”

It’s something people in Missouri’s First Congressional District have needed to hear for a very, very long time. More importantly, it’s something we’ve needed to feel coming from our elected leaders.

And last week she showed it to the country.

When the federal eviction moratorium was ending at the end of July, her colleagues left for their vacations. By her own admission she was dumbfounded. How could people turn their backs on people – PEOPLE – who were going to be turfed out of their homes while they waited for their federal rental assistance to be approved? (Most states and localities have been very slow to get the many millions of rental dollars they’ve been given out the door. There are a number of reasons why, but it’s the reality – and means that families that have filled out all of their paperwork properly and timely are at risk of being evicted even though they qualify for and will eventually get help.)

So, she went back to basics – the organizing that she honed on the streets in Ferguson, Missouri. She got out her folding chair and camped out on the steps of the Capitol.

She was joined by others, eventually. And then still others.

Eventually the White House extended the Eviction Moratorium, which will be challenged in court and will likely fall – but will also give states and localities time to get help to the people who need it.

Nine million people are sleeping a little bit better because Cori Bush was willing to put it all on the line on the steps of the Capitol.

With her sparkly phone, her orange sleeping bag, and her heart.

When she was on those steps, you could feel that the reason she was doing it wasn’t for the attention (a happy by-product, certainly) or the recognition (again, great to get) – but because it was the last best thing she could think to do to snap people’s heads to attention.

It felt desperate, because it was desperate.

It was her radical love – coupled with her ability to internalize and relate to struggle – that led to the desperate measures that ultimately worked. She is unique in her ability to channel her experience and love. That’s going to do quite a lot for this district and, I think, the country.

I’m not the only one who’s seen that powerful combination.

After the White House announced the Eviction Moratorium extension, I saw video of Senator Elizabeth Warren skipping up to hug and congratulate Cori. Near the end of the clip, she tells her a little story.

“You know, when I came here I never thought about running for elected office. And when I came here, I used to ask myself the question – ‘Does it matter that I’m here, instead of someone else?’” Then Senator Warren turns to Cori, and gently touches her arm, “And you’ve answered that question. It matters that you’re here. Not someone else.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Let’s get to work.

Actions for the Week of August 10, 2021:

TUESDAY: Recess Can Wait and IPCC Green New Deal

First: Call for the Green New Deal

Yesterday the IPCC climate report was released – and it’s bad. I’m providing a link to the actual report at the end of this action, and I encourage you to check it out, look at the interactive atlas, and download the regional fact sheets. All of this will motivate you, I think, to call on our elected officials to get with the program and help save humanity.

So today, let’s join the Sunrise Movement and call our DEMOCRATIC Reps and Senators for the Green New Deal. Because the infrastructure deal is going to be passed by Dems, it’s really the Democrats that we need to reach with this action. Don’t have a Democratic rep? Go to the second action for today!

From the Sunrise Movement:

Right now, Democrats are working on a massive infrastructure bill that could usher in the Decade of the Green New Deal. But, at the same time, we know Exxon and their friends are swarming Democratic offices to do everything they can to weaken action to stop the climate crisis. They might have the money, but we have a movement. 

We need you to call your Representatives & Senators to make sure they listen to us, not Exxon. Call on them to pass an infrastructure bill that meets the scale of the climate crisis, creates millions of good, union jobs, and directs money to communities most impacted by the climate and economic crises.

Here’s a GREAT Script from the Sunrise Movement: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1MURvP_eFmqsuyJuKz_goWddRIVVPtvQqOdGCQuXT_h8/edit

You can make the call directly from the Sunrise Movement page here: https://www.callforthegnd.org/?fbclid=IwAR2Hw8s5ifMRZkaSm75F2paLkMftc2GJwOhguW5OSfYcF3ahEEVmgZWpa8I

Here is the ACTUAL IPCC report, with an interactive atlas that gives you more detail. https://www.ipcc.ch/report/sixth-assessment-report-working-group-i/

(Here’s the atlas: https://interactive-atlas.ipcc.ch/)

Note that there are regional fact sheets that are really enlightening: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/downloads/factsheets/IPCC_AR6_WGI_Regional_Fact_Sheet_North_and_Central_America.pdf

ALSO Tuesday: The Democracy Can’t wait Day of Action

Join the Declaration for American Democracy Coalition’s day of action! From their website:

Now is the time for the Senate to do their job and pass the For the People Act! 

On August 16th, the census data will be released, allowing states to begin drawing new maps for state and federal districts. If passed before the deadline, the For the People Act will ensure fair districting, keeping our communities whole and ensuring our communities can thrive for the next 10 years and beyond.

When it comes to our districts, we draw the line. And the stakes have never been higher. 

The freedom to vote is under attack by extremist state lawmakers across the country who want to put up deliberate barriers to make it harder to vote — especially for people of color. 

And in response to this urgent threat to our democracy, people all across the country raised their voices and showed up to fight for the passage of this bill.

Now the Senate needs to step up, do their job, and pass the For the People Act to protect our votes and our democracy before the 8/16 deadline. 

Join us August 10th to tell our Senators: democracy can’t wait – pass the For the People Act, and get it done now.

Find a rally near you here: https://www.mobilize.us/dfadcoalition/

For explainers, posters, and letters go to https://dfadcoalition.org/resources/#posters

Wednesday: Join Sunrise Movement to Call Folks in Key States

Here’s a friendly action where you’ll be calling Sunrise Movement members in key states and districts to encourage them to pressure lawmakers to support an infrastructure bill that meets the scale of the climate crisis.

Again, per the Sunrise Movement: Right now, Democrats are working on a massive infrastructure bill that could meaningfully bring us towards the Green New Deal. But, at the same time, we know Exxon and their friends are swarming Democratic offices to do everything they can to weaken action to stop the climate crisis. They might have the money, but we have a movement. 

These five Democrats are chairs of key committees.

  • Richard Neal (MA-01)
  • Frank Pallone (NJ-6)
  • Bobby Scott (VA-3)
  • Sherrod Brown (OH-Senator)
  • Joe Manchin (WV-Senator)

They are in the driver’s seat determining how close this bill brings us to the Green New Deal. We need to pass an infrastructure bill that meets the scale of the climate crisis, creates millions of good, union jobs, and directs money to communities most impacted by the climate and economic crises.

On this phonebank, we are going to call Sunrisers who are represented by the targets asking them to call their offices because research shows grassroots constituent calls work.

We are fighting for an infrastructure package that will bring us towards a Green New Deal. This must include:

  • Bold investments across the economy towards housing, schools, transit, and clean electricity. 
  • A fully funded Civilian Climate Corps
  • Worker protections as outlined in the PRO Act 
  • At least 40% of investments to frontline communities 
  • An end to fossil fuel subsidies 

We’ll train you on everything you need to know, and we guarantee you’ll have a lot of fun too 🙂

The phone bank is at 11am. Join here: https://www.mobilize.us/sunrisemovement/event/403248/

Thursday: Remind Folks That ACA Open Enrollment Ends Sunday August 15

Okay, folks – it’s time to remind your network that open enrollment for the ACA ends on August 15. There are so many plans that are affordable – I checked what would be available for our family, and was shocked at how low monthly premiums are. (Honestly, I was blown away.)

Head over to www.HealthCare.Gov – and tell your friends!

Friday: What’s In the Recovery Package?

Plenty of actions this week – so Friday’s “action” isn’t really an “action” so much as a resource. I did want to share this great explainer about what is in the Recovery Package, the various steps, and how to advocate for more. Check it out: https://indivisible.org/resource/recovery-explained?fbclid=IwAR1qKjnPX5qY3G7KK9QM74RHaz8FlyV8sI_g32WEy2SMcMGDUhPdiicskN0

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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