Let’s prove the doomy pundits wrong—again!

Despite the TV pundits predicting a GOP wave in the fall elections, there are many reasons to think there’s nothing inevitable about that at all. Follow this link to a remarkable sequence of slides showing how progressives can embarrass the doomsayers, yet again:


At Sunday’s Indivisible Elmwood meeting we’ll review this presentation and discuss possible future actions.  If you can’t make it to the meeting (it’s at our alternative site), be sure to download the slides and be inspired!

Actions to help Virginia

(From Ion at Indivisible CA) If you don’t know already: Virginia’s races are really close, but still definitely winnable. Calling over the next four days, especially to inform voters about where and how to vote is a very good use of time. As with CA’s multi-state recall effort winning these elections will have long-term benefits far beyond one state.

How to help out:

– Start here: https://bit.ly/WinVirginia2021 and jump in. Many of the major efforts from Grassroots Dems to Sister District to the Center for Common Ground (responsible for Reclaim Our Vote among other work) to Activate America (once Flip the West) are there. This is a link to share with others.

Separately here’s a list of links collected by people sharing them on one Slack or another. I’ve tried to include information about who is doing them, when they are happening, what they cover and anything else that stood out. Make sure to double check the times in advance. Apologies in advance if anything is not correct. Nearly all the groups are changing things up as Tuesday fast approaches.

Most of calls are focused on getting out information on how and where to vote. The number of people who don’t vote because they aren’t sure how to is large and reaching them makes a big difference for both them and the outcome.

Note that some calls are focused on areas that are neglected and thus especially important. See the notes under each group.
    – People who are first-time voters or voters who are registered but didn’t vote in the last Virginia election.
    – Assembly races

Virginia Turnout Project

These calls are happening every day and all day(from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM Eastern)

Sat Oct 30, Sun Oct 31, Mon Nov 1

Center for Common Ground / Reclaim Our Vote

Center for Common are focusing on voters, particularly voters of color who are registered but didn’t vote in the previous election.

Every Day

If you have had training these calls are happening every day (from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM Eastern)
Training is done beforehand by video: https://www.centerforcommonground.org/phonebanks#pb-campaign-virginia

Grassroots Dems HQ

Sat Oct 30

Mon Nov 1

Swing Left

Saturday Oct 30

Sister District

Sister District is focusing on downballot races and VA Assembly seats.

Saturday Oct 30

Sunday Oct 31

Democratic National Committee

Saturday Oct 30

Activate America

Every Day

If you have had training these calls are happening every day (8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Pacific)

Monday Nov 1

Call For Change

Sunday Oct 31

Commit to Flip Blue

Monday, Nov 1

It’s action time around the GOP recall

Indivisible groups around California are taking action to get out the NO vote in the recall election, following polls showing a real risk of Newsom falling below the 50+% vote he needs  to stay in office.   Newsom has accomplished a lot as governor, and whatever his shortcomings, the alternatives on the GOP side are scary: a Trump-supported right-winger like Larry Elder could replace him with as little as 20% of the vote!  Your ballot and the ballot of everyone you know saying “NO” TO RECALL on question 1 will be critical.

Other Actions to Support Governor Newsom & Stop the Recall:

Part 1: Actions

Write postcards, send text messages, or phone bank with other Indivisible groups. Northridge Indivisible has a website with extensive resources and links to action centers at https://www.trnindivisible.org/noontherecall/.  Indivisible SF has voting information and links at their site: https://indivisiblesf.org/vote

Check in with the CA Democratic Party–CADEM for phone banking and canvassing opportunities. New actions are being added every day.  https://docs.google.com/document/d/1utBAR291y6Iuv2Oz4DkGSWWjD0-32_qgEdDb80Z_K1Q/edit

Use your social media to show your support with these ready -made social media posts for Facebook and Twitter. bit.ly/norecallsocial

If you are a Spanish speaker or know someone that is a Spanish speaker you are in high demand!  Sign up here to textbank with Voto Latino!

Part 2: Voting Options:

Return your ballot by mail. It must be postmarked no later than September 14 and received no later than 7 days following Election Day. Complete the ballot using a blue or black pen. No postage is required. Sign and date the envelope. Make sure your group numbers (on the ballot and on the envelope) match. If they do not call 800-815-2666 select option 2.

Drop Box –  to locate a drop box closest to you, go to https://www.acgov.org/rovapps/maps/ballotdropbox_map.htm

Bring your ballot to an early polling location or vote early in person.

Vote in person on Election Day or turn your ballot in at your polling place.

Deadline for Democracy Rally July 7

On July 7 from 6 to 7 pm a large group of progressive Bay Area organizations will host a Deadline for Democracy Rally in Oakland at the Frank Ogawa Plaza in support of S-1, the For the People voting rights act.  The event is sponsored by Indivisible East Bay and Indivisible SF, in partnership with East Bay Activist Alliance, Indivisible Sonoma County, Indivisible Livermore, Rise Up To Action SF, and the Wellstone Democratic Club. 

Speakers at the include: Elisha Crader, Nor Cal Organizer from Working Families Party; Bruce Hartford, 1960s Field Organizer for  Dr. Martin Luther King in Alabama/Mississippi, webspinner for Civil Rights Movement Archive; Queen Jackson, grassroots leader with Community Change Action and MoveOn; Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Council Member-at-Large and Vice Mayo; Janani Ramachandran, social justice lawyer, artist/activist, running for CA State Assembly, and Aisha Wahab; Mayor Pro Tempore & City Council Member of Hayward.

The Oakland rally is part of a national Deadline For Democracy effort by Indivisible and 70+ other organizations during the July congressional recess to demand that lawmakers act urgently to defend democracy and pass the For the People Act by August. There should be significant media coverage.  You can sign up to attend at here.

Progressives put pressure on Senator Feinstein over Democracy & the filibuster

On Monday, June 21, 2021 a group of over 100 progressive organizations, including Indivisible Elmwood, sent a open letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein.  It urges her to “publicly acknowledge that our democracy is in danger,” and support abolishing or reforming the 60-vote legislative filibuster in order to get the election legislation, known as the For the People Act, passed through the Senate.  The letter has drawn media attention: here’s a link to a Politico article. Text of our letter:

Dear Senator Feinstein,

We, the 101 undersigned advocacy, civic, environmental and labor groups in California representing over 288,000 of your constituents, ask that, in advance of this week’s procedural vote on the For the People Act, you publicly acknowledge that our democracy is in danger. We also ask that you publicly affirm that you will do everything in your power to help pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act through all means possible, including, if necessary, through abolishing, reforming, or providing an exception to the Senate filibuster.

While in the past you have expressed openness to these possibilities, on June 10th, you were quoted in Forbes as stating, “If democracy were in jeopardy, I would want to protect it,” but “I don’t see it being in jeopardy right now.” Jay Rosen, a professor of journalism at New York University, responded aptly to your statement by saying, “We live in a two-party system. One of the parties is anti-democratic. The other is not sure that’s a problem.”

We are dismayed that such a considered and thoughtful Senator as yourself could fail to perceive the danger of the current moment to our democracy and our country. Below is a partial list of clear indications that our democracy is in serious jeopardy:

  • The Big Lie of election fraud has led to:
    • At least 86 lawsuits being filed as part of a broad based attempt to overturn 2020 election results and increase funding and support for the Big Lie;
    • An unprecedented attack on our Capitol on January 6;
    • The introduction of at least 389 bills this year to restrict voting rights in 48 states
  • The passage of more than 20 laws this year that will make it harder for Americans to vote. Some of these new laws even allow partisan legislatures to overturn valid election results. Additional voter suppression laws are likely to be enacted soon since many legislatures are still in session; 
  • The belief held by 56% of Republicans, according to a May poll from Reuters/Ipsos, that the results of the 2020 election were the result of illegal voting or election rigging;
  • The rise of hate crimes to their highest record in a decade, according to the FBI; Further, hate crimes against Asian-Americans rose 164% between May 2020 and May 2021, according to a recent study by California State University-San Bernardino.
  • Our democracy is drifting toward authoritarianism:
    • Those with the most knowledge on the topic – historians, political scientists, former officials from both parties, and experts in tyranny – are all raising the alarm that our democracy is in serious danger;
    • Post-census gerrymandering alone could cement generation-long minority rule in multiple states and in both Congress and the Presidency.

We know remedies are available in the form of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the For the People Act of 2021. These critically important bills would restore the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and would protect our precariously fragile democracy from voter suppression and intimidation, extreme gerrymandering, and potentially even partisan nullification of the results of free and fair elections.

Since you co-sponsored both bills, we know that you fully understand the crucial nature of their respective provisions to the protection of our democracy.

These pro-democracy bills would require the Senate to amend an arcane rule called the filibuster since they run counter to the GOP’s stated anti-democratic interests and will surely not reach the 60 vote threshold. This rule, which is not written in the Constitution, exists to sabotage Senate proceedings, not to ensure democracy. The notion that it promotes bipartisanship only applies when both parties are vested in an outcome that benefits our country and its people. As uncomfortable as they may be to confront, the obstructionist and antidemocratic actions of the GOP make clear that democracy itself is subordinate to their desire to obtain and hold power.

Over the past seven months, scores of Indivisible chapters and other groups across California have brought this perilous situation to the attention of you and your staff via tens of thousands of phone calls, in dozens of meetings, in numerous op-eds, media briefings, protests, and postcards. We also sent you a letter on March 15 that was signed by 70 groups representing over 82 thousand of your constituents asking you to vote to end or reform the filibuster in order to pass the “For the People Act” and other critical legislation in the coming year.

We were gratified and reassured by your public statements in March and April indicating a new willingness on your part to change the filibuster should we see it being abused by the Republican side of the aisle, especially as it pertains to passing the For the People Act. However, your statements on June 10 contradict these earlier commitments.

Now that we have seen the obstruction of a bipartisan commission to examine the origins of the infamous attack on the Capitol and other bills supported by the majority of voters such as the Covid Relief Bill and Paycheck Fairness Act, the situation is clear. Our democracy is in jeopardy.

The hour is late. The risks posed by inaction and paralysis are irrefutable. Legislation must pass this summer if we are to counter the mortal threats to our foundational right to vote. We have discussed, informed, negotiated, and respectfully asked for action as your constituents. Now, in addition, we appeal to you as Americans who love our country and who believe in the promise of our democracy.

Senator, it is time for you to stand up for democracy – for yourself, for the citizens of California, and for the United States of America. Again, we ask that, in advance of this week’s procedural vote on the For the People Act, you publicly acknowledge that our democracy is in danger. We also ask that you publicly affirm that you will do everything in your power to help pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act through all means possible, including, if necessary, through abolishing, reforming, or providing an exception to the Senate filibuster.


(Signed by Indivisible Elmwood and 100 other progressive organizations)

Supporting democracy reform: the West Virginia connection

Indivisible’s national organization has been working hard to support on-the-ground efforts by progressive groups in West Virginia and has passed along the following recommendation as to how groups in other states can be of help:

“As we continue this fight for a bold democracy reform agenda, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin is playing a pivotal role in the advancement of life-changing legislation. We know that many of you are eager to get involved in the work in West Virginia. We’re happy to say that your fellow activists in West Virginia are hard at work organizing calls to action to convince their Senator to support these democracy reform bills, just like you are! We are focused on providing the resources that West Virginians need to do this work and we are putting an emphasis on West Virginians talking to their friends and neighbors. This is why for now, we are asking out-of-state groups to respect the process in West Virginia by not organizing any phone banks or postcard programs into West Virginia. The good news is, there are even more powerful ways to help West Virginians on the path to bold, progressive legislation! Instead, consider donating to the efforts on the ground. We are following a similar approach to the one we took in the highly successful Georgia Senate Runoff.

Rather than spending time and money on postcards, consider donating to one of these amazing organizations on the ground in West Virginia: 

When you donate directly to the work on the ground, your dollar goes even further than it would on a stamp. It goes right to talented activists taking on the task of shifting the progressive landscape for good.” 

Actions we can take after the failed insurrection

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.


Donations that build for the future—the Movement Voter Project

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

Whither Indivisibles?

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.