Just Kick the Football, Charlie Brown

Lucy van Pelt:
Oh, Charlie Brown, I’ll hold the football and you kick it.

Charlie Brown:
You *say* you’ll hold it, but what you really mean is you’ll pull it away and I’ll land flat on my back and I’ll kill myself.

Lucy van Pelt:
But I feel I have really come to know you. I now understand that you are kind, compassionate, brave, and funny. No one would pull a football away from someone with all *those* qualities.

Charlie Brown:
[to himself] She’s right. I would never pull a football away from someone with all *those* qualities. I am gonna kick this ball all the way to the moon. [He starts running up and, as expected, Lucy pulls the football away from him] AAUGH! [Wham!]

Lucy van Pelt:
And gullible. I forgot to mention gullible.


No matter how many times you’ve seen It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! or Charlie Brown Christmas – whether once, or twice, or 5,000 times – you’ve probably got one particular gag seared into your brain.

You know the scene. Perfectly coiffed Lucy van Pelt offers to hold a football for poor, hapless Charlie Brown. She promises to hold it so that he can kick it … only to pull it away just before his foot connects with the ball – so that he not only misses the kick, but sails through the air – “AAUGH!”

Flat on his back, in his melancholy voice, he blames himself for trusting Lucy. Again.

Because this is a running gag, of course – the tragic/hilarious part being that no matter how many times poor Charlie kicks himself onto his back, we all know that the next time she offers to hold the football he’ll accept.

And she will once again pull the rug out from under him.

We shake our heads at Charlie Brown, and chuckle because we can relate a little.

As Democrats, we should relate a lot.

Our earnestness, our fervent desire to trust, is admirable. It’s also one of our biggest faults.

I see it here in Missouri all the time. It goes something like this: A GOP critic claims that his uninformed, crazy opinion would change if Democrats did X (or if X happened). Democrats move heaven and earth to do X, or make X happen… maybe even diverting resources from other ideas.

Only to see, upon presenting our success to the GOP critic, that they’ve moved the goalposts back 20 yards.

I was reminded of this yesterday, when the FDA gave its full and final approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. As you’re certainly aware, “vaccine skeptics,” egged on by Republicans, have expressed concern over the FDA’s “emergency use authorization.”

The “emergency use authorization” process is not a rushed process; they did not cut corners – they cut red tape.

In any regard, it made some people a little twitchy to see “emergency use” – and they equated it with “experimental.” (I suppose because they begin with the same letter.)

“I’m not going to get vaccinated until the FDA gives its full approval!” we heard in all its variants, time and again from the pages of the Washington Post. Pollsters and pundits claimed that if the FDA just would give full approval (“what’s taking so long!?”) all would be fine and plenty of people would get vaccinated.

Yesterday, the FDA gave folks what they said they needed – a full and final seal of approval.

And the ball has just been pulled off the field.

In the past 24 hours, Ron Johnson and Marjorie Taylor Greene have openly questioned the FDA’s approval process and said that because it was rushed, the approval means nothing. Fox News framed the discussion in its typical “let’s stoke the conspiracy fires” manner as: “FDA just giving full approval to Pfizer’s COVID vaccine, it’s the first vaccine to get that full approval and in record time too, that has critics asking if the process was rushed. Was it?

This is all very predictable. As predictable as Lucy pulling the football.

It’s one of the pitfalls of trying to actually govern (as opposed to burning government down) that you take other views, opinions, and ideas into account – and try to answer the questions that come to you. We absolutely must continue to do that. Heck – for some reasonable, information-seeking folks, the FDA approval will do exactly that – answer some questions and quell some lingering doubts – and we will see some increased vaccinations because of it.

But for others, it’s just another opportunity to yank the goal away and move it out of reach.

So, how do we do the business of governing, and avoid falling flat on our backs?

It’s as simple as it is when we see Charlie Brown and Lucy: we just stop agreeing to let them hold the football.

We stop setting goals based upon what they claim will satisfy them. Stop assuming they’ll be on “our team” if we do X or Y or Z. Stop hoping they’ll see reason, if we only show them X research or Y data.

Stop governing on the terms set by the party that does not want to govern – but wants to tear government apart.

And start holding our own football.

Let’s get to work.

Actions for the Week of August 24, 2021:

Tuesday: How to Help Afghan Refugees

In last week’s post, I included a number of ways you can help Afghan refugees. I won’t go through all of them again, but will note that your local resettlement partner will likely have opportunities – for volunteering or donations – soon. You can check this map to find out who they are and where they’re located. https://rcusa.org/get-involved/volunteer/#map

The New York Times also followed up this week, and provided a helpful roundup of recent opportunities. Check it out: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/20/world/asia/how-to-help-afghanistan-refugees.html

Wednesday: California Recall Vote

Oh, California. We take your reasonableness for granted, don’t we?

So here’s the deal, if you haven’t been watching. CA Governor Gavin Newsom is up for a recall. The recall process is stupid.

Yes, it’s stupid. It’s both a recall and an election wrapped up into one.

The ballot Californians get in the mail has two questions: Whether to recall Newsom (yes or no) and who to elect as replacement governor (out of the list of horribles that is provided).

That means if Newsom gets 49.99% of the voters voting FOR him to stay governor…. he will no longer be governor, and someone from the list of horribles will be.

That’s because he CANNOT be the replacement governor for his own recall.

Therein lies our problem. If Newsom is recalled, there will be a terrible GOP replacement. It’s just the reality. The choices are Newsom or GOP.

This WILL impact you regardless of where you live. California is a HUGE state with a chugging economy. The reverberations of turfing out Newsom will reach all of us.

The Recall is a nail biter. The latest CBS poll has the recall at 48 Yes – 52 No. Republicans are 7 points more likely to say they care about the election than Democrats. So, we need to increase that enthusiasm and help folks understand the implications of this election.

I’m giving two options here for you to pitch in. Activate America, and Postcards to Voters.

Activate America: https://www.activateamerica.vote

Activate America (formerly Flip the West) harnesses grassroots power to help Democrats retain and grow their majorities in the House and Senate. We recruit volunteers and provide them with opportunities for direct voter contact, including phone banking, texting, postcarding, Instagram Direct Messaging, and canvassing. 

In the 2020 election cycle, our volunteers made more than 13 million voter contacts, helping to elect four new Senators from Arizona, Colorado, and Georgia, and giving Democrats control of the Senate. This narrow majority gives Democrats the votes needed to approve federal judges and pass bold policies like the American Rescue Plan through the U.S. Senate.

AA is sending postcards to California voters, providing a short script. You can request 25-500 addresses. The send by date is August 30th. They used a semi-automated system, so orders take an average of 24 hours and often can be up to 48 hours. If it has been longer than 48 hours, please first check your Spam folder for a message from the email domain “@activate-postcards.vote” and then message Ellen@ActivateAmerica.Vote. Go HERE to get started and request addresses.

Postcards to Voters:

Over 3,200 volunteers like you have mailed 136,000+ fun, friendly, and fully-handwritten postcards to Democratic voters in California reminding them to vote No on the rigged Republican Recall.  There’s still plenty of time for you to write 5 or 10.  We have over 120,000 volunteers enrolled.  That means nearly 117,000 of you could still make a huge difference in the outcome of this Recall election by writing as few as five postcards this week.

Please take a moment now to request your CA Recall voter addresses:

► Reminder of Postage Rate Increase.
On August 29, postcard rate postage will increase from 36-cents to 40-cents.  Any of the Forever POSTCARD stamps you buy from the USPS before the increase can be used after the rate changes without adding more postage stamps to cover the 4-cent increase.  Buy a roll today from the Post Office and save yourself $4 per 100 postcard rate stamps.

The postcard rate stamps most of you have used are FOREVER stamps.  You can tell because they have the word POSTCARD and no denomination printed.  The Coral Reef, Seashells, Coastal Birds, and Barns series are all FOREVER postcard rate stamps.  Any that you already have or buy up until August 29, 2021 at 36-cents will still be valid after the rate goes up to 40-cents.  You can buy these from the USPS directly.  Click here to buy from the USPS.

Thursday: Join Vote Forward and Voto Latino and send bilingual letters to voters (even if you don’t know Spanish!)

Moving forward with their ambitious research agenda for 2021, they’ve just launched a Vote Forward Labs experiment to test the impact of bilingual English/Spanish letters on boosting voter turnout. From their website:

Here’s the plan

In late 2020, our pilot bilingual letter experiment for the U.S. Senate runoff elections in Georgia appeared to increase voter turnout among the voters assigned to receive bilingual letters. This year, we’re testing the impact of bilingual letters on voter turnout in a larger randomized trial centered on the Atlanta and Miami mayoral elections on November 2.
For each city, we have a control group, a group set to receive standard “please vote” letters in English, and a group set to receive bilingual “please vote” letters in English and Spanish. In both Florida and Georgia, voters self-identify their race/ethnicity when they register, so we’ll be using this information to target Democratic-leaning voters who self-identified as Hispanic on their voter registration.
Everyone can participate

Volunteers do not need to be fluent in Spanish to participate in this experimental campaign. To increase participation, we collected messages that many volunteers already add to their letters and crafted Spanish translations for them. These messages are available in Vote Forward’s English/Spanish Message Library. We encourage you to select an “I vote because” message from this library to use on these letters. Volunteers also have the option of reaching out to someone who is fluent in Spanish to translate a different message.
Ready to write?

Excellent/¡Excelente! Please visit our bilingual letter campaign page to choose a campaign and start writing “please vote” letters to voters in Atlanta and Miami.

The mail date for this campaign is Thursday, October 7. Please mark your calendars, and look out for reminder emails from our team when we get closer to the mail date.


Thank you for being part of this experiment to help Vote Forward prepare for the 2022 midterm elections. If we can repeat what we saw during the pilot bilingual letter experiment in this larger campaign, we’ll know we have another powerful tool for boosting voter turnout.
—The Vote Forward Team
P.S. Don’t forget! “Forever” stamp prices increase on August 29. There is still time to buy stamps at the current price at usps.com or your local post office.

Friday: March on For Voting Rights

This weekend, there will be a March On for Voting Rights: a nonviolent, nonpartisan mass mobilization to demand that elected officials protect democracy, denounce voter suppression and ensure fair, easy access to vote. There WILL BE virtual options, so even if there is no in-person event near you (or you are not comfortable going in person right now) you can join online. Check it out: https://marchonforvotingrights.org

From their website:

Since January, 48 states have introduced 389 bills that amount to shameful, outright voter suppression, and many have already become law. These laws suppress voting methods that enrich our democracy and lead to high turnout: banning ballot drop boxes and mail-in voting, reducing early voting days and hours, restricting who can get a mail-in ballot, prohibiting officials from promoting the use of of mail-in ballots even when voters qualify, even criminalizing the distribution of water to voters waiting in the long lines these laws create.

Racist, anti-democratic voter suppression laws amount to rigging the game. But in America, elections are not a game—and lives depend on their outcomes.

That’s why, on August 28, 2021, we’re marching on Washington, Atlanta, Miami, Houston, Phoenix and cities across America. The March On for Voting Rights is a nonviolent, nonpartisan mass mobilization to demand that elected officials protect democracy, denounce voter suppression and ensure fair, easy access to the vote for all through the passage of comprehensive federal legislation.

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.

Have a thought? A small deed to suggest? Share it here!

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