Indivisible groups around the state and nation are putting pressure on their Congressional representatives to act promptly to forestall additional damage to our democracy and national security from Trump and his followers. Scripts from national Indivisible for calls or emails are online here and here. If you prefer a shorter version, I’ve emailed this message to Diane Feinstein and Barbara Lee:
Trump is an immediate threat to American democracy and national security. It is absolutely essential that you take a leadership role in getting him removed from office ASAP via the 25th amendment, impeachment, or any other constitutional means—before he pardons anyone else, incites any more violence, or does further damage. Every hour Trump remains in office, he presents increased danger to democracy and safety.
As we look back on the achievements and shortcomings of our Indivisible Elmwood work over the past months, our support for the Movement Voter Project has represented something a bit different—a longer term investment in the future we’re hoping for. The MVP approach is described on their web site here, and they’ve just produced a YouTube video that’s worth watching if you’d like to feel good about our political efforts this year. And needless to say, the Movement Voter Project could put new donations to good use in Georgia and beyond! B&B
When “Defund the Police” became a progressive slogan and a priority for Indivisibles this spring, my inner alarm bells went off. Memories of Willie Horton reminded me of how easily right-wing media have exploited—for political gain—any apparent ‘softness’ towards criminals on the left. I learned later that James Clyburn had the same reaction, fearing it could set back the vital work of Black Lives Matter despite national revulsion at the killing of George Floyd. Yet when I raised my concerns in a CA state Indivisible call, the response was a lecture from a national Indivisible leader to the effect that I was ignorant or misguided—that ‘Defund the Police’ didn’t really mean what it said. Actually, I’d read the fine print and largely agreed with it, but felt that the slogan itself was an open invitation to GOP fear-mongering.
I was attracted to Indivisible in the first place out of a sense that it was not just another leftist movement, but an organization grounded in political reality, where the history of what’s been effective or ineffective in actual practice would inform actions going forward. As a long-time resident of Berkeley, I get it that progressive realists face pressure and shaming from the far left. I understand the liberal guilt and self-doubt that accompanies any hesitation to endorse a minority-led campaign—the temptation to prove bona fides and “wokeness” by endorsing any initiative launched by Black activists. But I’ve thought Indivisible was more pragmatic, more alert to how ill-chosen actions and slogans can hurt the causes they were designed to support.
On Monday’s Indivisible NCN call, the issue came up again following leaked discussions of Democratic Party leaders in which Representative Abigail Spanberger warned of the damage ‘Defund the Police’ headlines have done to Democratic electoral prospects. Again, the reaction from Indivisible leaders was to argue that the problem was in the candidates’ messaging. Somehow we should be able to make sure even the occasional voter has a nuanced understanding of a complex issue whose trumpeted slogan doesn’t mean what it says. When has that ever worked?
The Indivisible movement has to choose between two possible roles. It can be part of the ultra-progressive left, trying to shift the range (the ‘Overton window’) of what’s politically acceptable by pushing radical change. Or it can work to elect majorities of reasonably progressive senators and representatives who can get critically important legislation passed and signed into law. Both roles have value and can find adherents within the movement. But Indivisible may not be able to do both. Trying too hard for the former may doom the latter.
I hope we can have a discussion of this at a future meeting.
Wednesday’s Indivisible CA statewide call was rich with ideas and opportunities for activism. Here are links for the call notes and chat box comments, which in turn provide links to key resources for national and state actions.
At the state level, Nina Moussavi pointed out that seven of the State Strong priority bills are still awaiting signature by the Governor, and urged support for those bills at email@example.com. The call notes have other links to state actions for TJ Cox, Christy Smith, and other key California races. In a discussion of upcoming propositions, various CA Indivisible groups provided links to published analyses of what’s at stake with each proposition. At the national level, Nina supplied extensive lists of actions and resources for the critical weeks ahead, all recorded in the chat box.
During the May 20 state Indivisible call, Aram Fischer hosted a presentation on the MVP, a national group funneling investment into social justice work and grass-roots democracy. It hit home with us.
It’s frustrating to live in a deep blue corner of a deep blue state and have few outlets for activism. We’re tired of sky-is-falling emails from campaigns warning that all will be lost without a midnight cash infusion. We know that money sent to a campaign can evaporate in TV ads or consultant fees. We’d like to see donations to a political group actually reach the grass roots and have a lasting impact. And we think there’s an alternative approach worth considering—the Movement Voter Project or MVP at https://movement.vote/
The Movement Voter Project “works to strengthen progressive power at all levels of government by helping donors – big and small – support the best and most promising local community-based organizations in key states, with a focus on youth and communities of color.”
“Sometimes very simple ideas are the most brilliant ones,” writes Arlene Avakian. “The idea behind MVP is to connect the dots between grassroots activism and electoral politics. MVP does what no other group does. It seeks out, vets and supports progressive community-based organizations around the country, particularly in communities that are most affected by economic and racial injustice. Based in their communities, these groups know their neighbors, know the issues people care about. They are successful in engaging people to make real change in their communities year round. At election time they turn out votes up and down the ticket.”
MVP-supported local groups helped elect Maggie Hassan to the Senate in 2016, helped mobilize the voters to elect Doug Jones in 2017, and helped Virginia Democrats win state elections across the board in 2019. In 2018, MVP directed $14 million to 354 groups in 42 states for mobilization and engagement. 100% of donations to MVP go to the grass roots, an investment in the critical infrastructure of democracy. This could be the key to the November election and many more to come.
The following post comes via Patti Crane of Indivisible Beach Cities/ISBLA and Michelle Maniere Fowle of The Resistance Northridge:
California Indivisibles: Tell Congress to fund #VirusFreeVoting and to protect the Post Office!
Here’s the toolkit for Thursday’s Virtual Protest: http://bit.ly/vfvdigitaltk
Join Indivisibles and others nationwide in our #VirusFreeVoting Virtual Protest on Thursday from 3-5 pm PT!
We ask Congress to fund $4 billion for Vote at Home and we insist on protecting the Post Office. Show that NO ONE can take away our vote and our voice.
Please tag your electeds and get the #VirusFreeVoting hashtag trending.
Click the online toolkit so you can take a selfie with a sign, make a video, post a tweet or an Instagram message, share a message on Facebook. You can also send a letter to your electeds, trigger phone calls to Congress, and do even more for two straight hours of digital activism.
This week is critical because it may be our last chance to demand that Congress ensure relief to every person in this country, regardless of tax or immigration status, age, or disability.
Here’s the solution: demand your representatives pledge to vote ‘no’ on the next coronavirus package unless it prioritizes the People First Agenda
The package must include these four policies:
- Keep people on payrolls: Stop mass layoffs, and preserve employment relationships for all businesses, including small businesses. Ensure federal dollars go to workers and small businesses, not enriching CEOs and Wall Street.
- Provide financial relief: Expand aid for the most vulnerable in the COVID-19 epidemic, including direct cash assistance, increased food aid, debt relief, and eviction protections.
- Protect public health: Guarantee full health coverage for all COVID-19 care and protections for all frontline workers.
- Defend elections: Enact a vote-by-mail requirement for 2020 federal elections while maintaining access to in-person voting for those who do not have access to mail voting.
If it doesn’t, representatives must vote no.
On Tuesday, April 14, 2020 the Declaration for American Democracy Coalition will kick-off a national call-in campaign to compel Congress to Protect Our Vote. In the midst of the COVID 19 pandemic, Congress must institute reforms that will allow voters to safely cast their ballot and provide states the $4 billion in funding they need to run safe and secure elections.
On April 7th, voters in Wisconsin were forced to choose between protecting their health and participating in our Democracy. This cannot happen again.
Call your Senators today at 1-888-415-4527 to ask them to include $4 billion in funding to secure our elections in the next stimulus package.
This critical funding should be used by states to increase vote-by-mail, expand early voting and online and same-day registration, and to ensure the safety of voters and poll workers, amongst others reforms.
Voters should not have to choose between their health and their vote. Voting by mail or absentee ensures that the voters can participate in our elections without having to venture outside during the pandemic. And expanded early voting will ensure that voters that need to vote in person won’t be faced with long lines and massive crowds. In order to win funding in time for the November election, we need to demand our elected officials act now!
Learn more about how you can take action to protect our democracy by participating in the coalition’s Digital Town Hall series, which kicks off on April 20th!
The following gallows humor is circulating on the Internet and bringing cheer to many of us:
Captain Trump of the RMS Titanic here.
~There isn’t any iceberg.
~There was an iceberg but it’s in a totally different ocean.
~The iceberg is in this ocean but it will melt very soon.
~There is an iceberg but we didn’t hit the iceberg.
~We hit the iceberg, but the damage will be repaired very shortly.
~The iceberg is a Chinese iceberg.
~We are taking on water but every passenger who wants a lifeboat can get a lifeboat,
and they are beautiful lifeboats.
~Look, passengers need to ask nicely for the lifeboats if they want them.
~We don’t have any lifeboats, we’re not lifeboat distributors.
~Passengers should have planned for icebergs and brought their own lifeboats.
~I really don’t think we need that many lifeboats.
~We have lifeboats and they’re supposed to be our lifeboats, not the passengers’ lifeboats.
~The lifeboats were left on shore by the last captain of this ship.
~Nobody could have foreseen the iceberg.