Why Our Leaders Need To React, and Act, and What I’m Watching This Week

“We’re still in the midst of a concerted, well-funded effort to undermine American democracy.” ~Hillary Clinton

“I’m astonished that more people don’t see, or can’t face, America’s existential crisis.” ~Hillary Clinton

“Donald Trump has never stopped figuratively shooting people on 5th Avenue. Unsurprising, because that’s who and what Donald Trump is. What is entirely inexplicable is the steadfast refusal of good people in government to take the gun from Donald Trump’s hand.” ~Glenn Kirschner

Something has been nagging me.

I think it might be nagging you, too.

Last week, a Senate report came out entitled Subverting Justice, detailing the unbelievable efforts of our former president to steal the election from the popular and electoral college winner. It was a bombshell, heavily resourced. It should have been on the front page of every newspaper. (As should have the Eastman Memo, which was Trump coup’s instruction manual. But we’ve already discussed that.)

However, generally speaking, the reaction I’ve seen to the Senate findings amounts to a shrug and an off-hand “We already knew all of that,” rather than “OMG we HAVE to do something immediately!”

That’s a problem.

Our democracy is undergoing an amount of strain that’s unprecedented in modern times. (As you know, I’m not being hyperbolic.)

But that real, serious, existential threat is too-easily dismissed when it’s drowned out by GOP-manufactured and self-induced emergencies (in the form of intra-party fights, horse-race reporting, and unrealistic expectation setting)…

It is also too-easily dismissed when national leaders don’t show they are alarmed, or don’t otherwise focus the energy of this massive, dedicated, grassroots world.

Because when leaders – national organizations, elected officials, party committees – don’t demonstrate with their actions that something’s a big deal, it’s hard to convince people that it’s something to focus on at all.

That’s how we humans are hardwired, you know.

We’re social creatures that gauge our responses based upon the reactions of others. We look around to see whether anyone else thinks something is a problem before we act, assuming if it were really a big deal, someone would already be doing something – or would at least ask us to do something about it.

It’s so predictable a response that if you have an accident in a busy place, or suffer a heart attack in a crowd, the general advice is for you to single someone out, point at them, and tell them that you need their help.

Because if you just leave it up to the crowd – assuming that someone will help – chances are pretty good that nobody will.

Instead, everyone will look at everyone else to see if anyone else thinks it’s serious and, seeing no reaction, will continue on.

Friend, right now in our country, everyone is looking at everyone else to see if anyone else thinks what is happening is serious.

And I don’t think our leaders are behaving as though it is. Certainly, they’re not behaving publicly as though democracy is at stake.

We have Trump Gang members who are openly defying congressional subpoenas, and thumbing their noses at the rule of law. In response to their direct defiance, the House Congressional Committee issued a “strong statement” that they “will swiftly consider advancing a criminal contempt of Congress referral.”

That was [checks calendar] four days ago.

Swiftly, eh?

Toothless.

The average person looks at that reaction and figures – “Hmm. Must not be a big deal then. Whatever the democrats wanted to ask the guy must not be important enough to enforce the subpoena.” They’d be justified in making that assumption – because you’d think with democracy on the line leaders would take fast and significant action. Wouldn’t you?

To be fair, last week some folks outside the official Party started raising the alarm.

Bill Mahr, in a great monologue, detailed the “slow moving coup” that is going on before our eyes … and told of what 2022 and 2024 will bring unless we get serious (You should watch it: https://youtu.be/7cR4fXcsu9w). In two different interviews, Hillary Clinton explained why she’s so concerned – saying that she doesn’t understand why people don’t see or can’t face our existential crisis. Back-to-back essays in the New York Times and Washington Post from Republicans reiterated that democracy depends upon people voting for Democrats in 2022.

And yet, from my view in the cheap seats, I see a lot of sleepwalking. I’m hoping that changes. Quickly.

The next election is 12.5 months away. That’s all that stands between us and losing an all-too-critical House majority.

If we lose the House, all Democratic legislative priorities come to a screeching halt.

Even more urgently, Trump’s strategy to overturn the election involved a process that would kick the election to the House of Representatives. In 2024, if he loses the popular vote again, his strategy to overturn the election will once again run through the House.

Who will be the Speaker of the House in those critical moments will be determined in the next election. If Republicans retake the House in 2022, that person will be Kevin McCarthy. [shiver]

Listen, I get it. As a party, Democrats would bring a white paper to a knife fight, so I’m not surprised that in the middle of a democratic meltdown we comfort ourselves with over-rationalization and intra-party bickering instead of action … I’m just concerned that we are running out of time.

And this time what’s at stake is not just a policy platform.

It’s democracy.

And yes, I know our leaders all say in their tweets and their press statements that they believe democracy is under attack. They “support” voting rights, and blah blah blah.

What I want to know is – what are they going to do.

So this week, I’ll be watching national Democratic organizations and leaders. I’ll be watching to see whether they hold the Trump Gang’s feet to the fire and enforce subpoenas and the rule of law. Whether they’ll show that they take the threats to our democracy seriously.

And whether they’ll use their significant platform to mobilize and focus people to take action – like I know they can.

Like I know we can.

Like I know you can.

In 2018 “everyone said” that there was no chance we’d overtake the House. But we did. Because of you, and because we were laser-focused on that goal. With that focus, we can beat expectations in 2022. Frankly, we have to.

Republicans may have more money, but we have more people. When we all work together, we can move mountains.

We just need to know where to move them.

Let’s get to work.

Actions for the Week of October 12, 2021

What Better Way to Celebrate Indigenous People’s Day Than With Voting Rights Support?

If your Congresscritter tweeted yesterday about Indigenous People’s Day but isn’t a co-sponsor of the voting rights legislation that would give people living on reservations equal access to voting, today’s the day you can set them straight.

It’s the Native American Voting Rights Act.

There are a variety of ways that the NAVRA helps Native American voters – who have unique challenges. Marc Elias’s team at Democracy Docket does an amazing job summarizing the Act and how it helps Native voters here: https://www.democracydocket.com/news/the-native-american-voting-rights-act-unpacked/

Here’s what intrigues me: as of today’s post (October 12) there are only 18 co-sponsors of the Act, who are listed below (go here to see if your rep has joined since: https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/5008/cosponsors?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22hr5008%22%2C%22hr5008%22%5D%7D&r=1&s=1)

Rep. Davids, Sharice [D-KS-3] (Original sponsor)

Cosponsors:

Rep. Cole, Tom [R-OK-4]* (Original co-sponsor)
Rep. McCollum, Betty [D-MN-4]
Rep. Grijalva, Raúl M. [D-AZ-3]
Rep. Kilmer, Derek [D-WA-6]
Rep. Case, Ed [D-HI-1]
Del. Norton, Eleanor Holmes [D-DC-At Large]
Rep. Pingree, Chellie [D-ME-1]
Rep. Gallego, Ruben [D-AZ-7]
Rep. Suozzi, Thomas R. [D-NY-3]
Rep. McGovern, James P. [D-MA-2]
Rep. Carbajal, Salud O. [D-CA-24]
Rep. Jackson Lee, Sheila [D-TX-18]
Rep. Titus, Dina [D-NV-1]
Rep. Eshoo, Anna G. [D-CA-18]
Rep. Pappas, Chris [D-NH-1]
Rep. Bonamici, Suzanne [D-OR-1]
Rep. Huffman, Jared [D-CA-2]
Rep. O’Halleran, Tom [D-AZ-1]

If you have a Democratic Representative, it’s pretty likely that they tweeted something out yesterday about Indigenous People’s Day. (Mine did.) It’s pretty easy to reply to their Tweet.

Here’s a potential reply to a Rep’s Tweet about Indigenous People’s Day: Happy Indigenous People’s Day! So important to honor Indigenous leaders. One of the BEST ways to do that is to become a cosponsor of Native American Voting Rights Act (HR5008)! Legislation that honors their work + protects rights + preserves democracy=win/win/win.

Please feel free to use that as a jumping off point.

If you aren’t on social media, pick up your phone and give your rep a call! This legislation should be getting more traction than it is. I’m disappointed that it’s languishing.

I called my Congresswoman’s office this morning (Cori Bush, 202-225-2406) and asked why the Congresswoman had tweeted her support about Indigenous People yesterday – but wasn’t a cosponsor of this Act, the very nice young man who answered hesitated a bit. I told him that I know she supports Indigenous people, and that I know she supports voting rights – which is why I wanted to raise this issue and bring the bill to her attention. I said, basically, “Tweeting support is wonderful, but when I see a tweet about supporting Indigenous People, but don’t see her as a cosponsor of a bill that will actually support Indigenous voting rights, I’m understandably confused. I’m urging the Congresswoman to become a cosponsor. ASAP.”

(Also, my husband watched this conversation and I think he got a kick out of it.)

Script: Hi, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent at ___. I’m calling because Native American voters deserve to have as much access to polls and voting as any other American, but right now states can severely restrict their access by limiting polling locations and setting ID requirements that make it harder for them to vote. That’s not right. That’s why I’m asking the Congress(wo)man to support and cosponsor the Native American Voting Rights Act, which was introduced on a bipartisan basis.

All Hands On Deck: Virginia is a Must-Win Race

So, it looks like the race for Virginia Governor has … tightened. As much as I hate to admit it, it’s looking close.

We cannot – cannot – lose the VA Governor’s race. That means this is an all-hands-on-deck situation, guys. The good news is that although the race is less than a month away, there are plenty of ways to get involved from wherever you are in the country.

A great organization, PostCards4Va, has a similar program to Postcards to Voters, but is VA-specific. (They also have some great craftivism ideas here: https://postcards4va.com/craftivism/). You need to sign up with them just like you do for other postcarding/writing organizations.

Do that here: https://postcards4va.com/#signup

The send-by date for postcards with Postcards4Va is October 15, so don’t delay!

Second, Vote Forward! It’s similar to Postcards4Va in that you’re writing to Virginia voters, but this involves letters (that you print out and personalize with a handwritten, non-partisan message). (Learn more about their process here: https://votefwd.org/instructions.) So far, 70% of the addresses have been adopted, leaving 76k on the table. Let’s leave NO VOTER behind! Learn more and sign up for an account here: https://votefwd.org/district/VA2021_GOTV_A

Writing postcards doesn’t float your boat? No problem – Jessica Craven at Chop Wood Carry Water has created a FABULOUS roundup of ways to help in the VA elections. Go here: https://languid-fall-4d0.notion.site/WIN-VIRGINIA-0c029a6ac49a46979649cb3cfa86257d

Why It’s Time to Drop AT&T:

So, this week we learned that AT&T has been bankrolling OANN (One America News Network), the conspiracy-laden, violence-supporting “news” network that helped foment an insurrection.

For coverage: https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-oneamerica-att/ and https://www.thedailybeast.com/john-oliver-torches-his-atandt-bosses-over-oan-reveal-you-make-the-world-worse

But AT&T has been tinkering around the anti-democracy edges for a while. See Judd Legum’s excellent summary in Popular Information here: https://popular.info/p/how-at-and-t-fuels-right-wing-extremists

In the face of all of this, you’d assume that AT&T would be going to bat for itself, wouldn’t you? That they would be on all of the news programs, doing interviews, telling everyone – “Oh no! We don’t support insurrection or crazy tinfoil-hat conspiracies. Not us!”

Well, friend. You’d be wrong. Because there has been radio silence from AT&T. Not so much as a peep.

That concerns me deeply.

That’s why, if you’re an AT&T customer, it’s time to do more than sign a petition. It’s time to make a switch. Companies see green in greater clarity than they see red, white, and blue. And the best news is that YOU are in charge of the green!

I know it sounds scary to switch, so here is a resource for you on how you can change your carrier – and keep your phone number – and it’s really simple. https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/blog/how-to-switch-cell-phone-carriers/

Don’t have AT&T? Share that information with your network to help nudge them along, and tweet @AT&T that you’re doing so.

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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