Democracy’s Court Date

The corrupt and powerful used to bury their crimes with silence. Now they do it with noise. ~Sarah Kendzior, They Knew

Crime committed brazenly is over time redefined as something other than crime. It is entertainment, and then it is autocracy, and then it is too late.” ~Sarah Kendzior, Hiding In Plain Sight

Well, here we are.

Donald Trump has finally been indicted. Today he’ll face a judge. He’ll enter a plea. He’ll be processed.

The law has finally caught up with the twice-impeached peach-skinned charlatan from Queens – the 76-year-old “Teflon Don” who until now has been able to publicly wriggle out of criminal liability.

It feels like something I should celebrate. After all, there are congratulatory coffee mugs and T-shirts like you’d see after your team won The Big Game.

I’m having a hard time joining in. Maybe if this felt like closure, it would be more satisfying.

But it doesn’t.

Maybe because this isn’t a sports contest. It’s democracy. And having the rule of law apply to a former president who so obviously and publicly broke the law (in multiple ways, on multiple occasions) should be unremarkable. Not cause for a parade.

Maybe because there are so many other criminal liabilities hanging out there, ripening.

Maybe because I think his most heinous crime is the damage he’s inflicted on democracy here and around the world.

That crime isn’t punished by a judge or a jury.

It’s punished by voters. People like you and me.

Maybe that sounds a little dark – and I don’t mean it to be. But every day we see just how much Republicans have learned by watching and imitating Trump, and how far they’re willing to go to get their way.

They’re willing to go pretty darn far, as it turns out.

Just look at what’s happening right this second in Tennessee. Last week, as gun violence protesters chanted in the gallery above, three Democratic state legislators joined in (with a bullhorn) from the Tennessee House floor.

In retaliation, yesterday the speaker of the TN House stripped them of their committee assignments.

On Thursday, the TN House will vote on resolutions to expel those elected lawmakers altogether.

Most news agencies were so breathless about what Trump was wearing to his arraignment that they didn’t cover this democracy-breaking situation at all.

Fox News covered it, but actively lied about the situation (go figure), its headline describing the TN House members’ actions as “storming” the Tennessee House. (I refuse to link to that article.) The TN Speaker picked up what they were putting down and described the situation as akin to January 6. (That’s just ridiculous on its face.)

The Democratic lawmakers have pointed out the disparity between what they did (actively and peacefully protesting gun violence with their constituents) and the actions other Republican lawmakers who haven’t been disciplined at all – let alone expelled: “We had a child molester on the floor for years, they helped him get reelected and did nothing to expel him,” Johnson said. “We’ve had members pee in each other’s chairs. We’ve had members illegally prescribe drugs to their cousin-mistress, and nothing happened. But talk on the floor without permission, and you’ll get expelled.”

I could cite more examples of the extremism coming from Republican statehouses. Whether its the Texas legislature holding concurrent hearings on 30 voter suppression bills (noticed up less than 48 hours before) or the Missouri legislature zeroing out library funding in retaliation for the Missouri Library Association suing over book ban legislation, they’ve proven they’re willing to silence constituents and punish anyone who gets in their way.

It’s not hard to see where they got that playbook. They’re just following their Dear Leader’s example.

Devalue democratic institutions. Dehumanize Democratic leaders. Don’t just say all the quiet parts out loud – scream them. Retaliate against those fighting you. Stifle those who disagree.

Now we’re seeing Republican statehouse after Republican statehouse not just run the plays in Trump’s book, but push the envelope to see how much they can get away with. How far can they go? Will anyone stop them? Can anyone stop them?

Before Trump, I’d not have imagined state legislators would have the audacity (let alone the ideas) to undermine our democratic institutions.

But Trump freed the Republican party from the shackles of democracy. Now we’re playing whack-a-mole with autocrats who are popping up at all levels of government.

That, to me, is Trump’s worst crime.

But the good news (and there is good news) is that there are more of us democracy-loving peeps than there are disciples of Trump. And we still have the power to hold him and all of the rest of these autocratic leaders accountable.

But we need to act. Now.

We need to call attention to what’s going on in places like Tennessee, and Texas, and Missouri. Yes, these are red states, but they matter. First, because the people who live there are trying as hard as we can to hold the line. We deserve respect – not ridicule.

And because these red states are the petri dishes where autocrats run their experiments. So we all – all – need to pay attention to what’s happening in every state.

When the national news breathlessly dissects the color of Donald Trumps socks but doesn’t cover the Republicans dismantling democracy in red states, you and I need to step into the breach. Keep our networks informed. Do what we can from afar.

We have to demand democracy – everywhere.

And we have to hold lawmakers accountable – everywhere.

Donald Trump has his court date today. His apostles will face accountability on election day.

Let’s start prepping our case, now.

And let’s get to work.

Actions for the Week of April 4, 2023

Vote! And Phone Bank to GOTV in Wisconsin

Today is an election day in many places across the country. So go vote! Afterwards, go phone bank with the Wisconsin Dems and make sure we get as many Democrats to the polls. The WI Supreme Court race is a critical, critical race. Every vote matters! Sign up here:

National Student Walkout Tomorrow

Students Demand Action is organizing a planned school walkout on Wednesday. Share this great resource on the walkout with the students in your network:

The organizing call for the walkout was Monday (last night) but that doesn’t mean students can’t still set up a walkout. There are loads of great resources for students to put their anger at the GOP to good use.

Demand that Missouri Restore Library Funding

Last week the Missouri House passed a budget that zeroed out public library funding in retaliation for the ACLU filing a lawsuit on behalf of the Missouri Library Association. A few facts.

The ACLU is providing their legal services free of charge. No state funding is being used – at all – in the course of litigating the book bans that are at the center of the lawsuit.

The Missouri Library Association is a volunteer organization.

The Missouri constitution quite literally mandates funding for public libraries. By not funding them, the legislature is acting unconstitutionally.

The public libraries most heavily impacted will be rural, small-town libraries that rely on this funding and matching federal funding to stay afloat. Without state funding they would lose both the state and federal funding and would have to rely upon their dwindling tax base to stay open. In many rural areas, those libraries are the places where kids can get access to the internet/wifi.

Read more mere:

Then contact your Missouri State Senator and tell them that restoring library funding is critical. You can do that here, via a form provided by the Missouri Library Association,

Or you can just call them – find out who your State Senator is here:

The results will give you the name and telephone number of your state senator.

Script: Hi, my name is __ and I’m calling from __. I’m calling because the House approved budget zeroed out public library funding. I’m shocked they would do that to constituents – especially kids. I want to make sure our libraries get the resources they need and that my taxes pay for. I’m urging the Senator to support library funding. What is her/his position?

Ohio: Reproductive Rights On the Ballot

Are you in Ohio? Have family or friends there? Then you should get involved with the reproductive rights ballot initiative. Pro-choice advocates from all over Ohio, including the Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights and Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom, have worked really hard – and organized really, really quickly – to get a ballot proposal ready for this fall.

Their biggest hurdle? Collecting the signatures they need by July 5 to make the Nov. 7 ballot. They need 413,446 valid voter signatures – so they’ll need to collect about double that to make sure they can satisfy any signature challenges.

That’s … a lot of signatures. But there are a lot of people in Ohio!

Red, Wine & Blue has an amazing resource page that includes events where signature gathering will be happening (there are MANY) and links for training events for signature gatherers.

If you live in Ohio: get trained as a signature-gatherer, and canvass your own neighborhood and friends. That’s a really simple – and very effective – way to help them get to the number they need.

Go here for Red Wine & Blue’s Ohio resource page. It’s really, really great!


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. I read and respond to every e-mail. (Really! I really do!) We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.

P.S.: If you want to help support this work you can do so via Patreon at or via paypal at
My deepest gratitude in advance.

P.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.S.: If you want to help support this work you can do so via Patreon at or via paypal at
My deepest gratitude in advance.

P.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.

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