Transition Time

Indivisible Elmwood was founded to get rid of Trump, and that mission has been accomplished. The national Indivisible organization was a great help posting their guide, not so much to work out a set of policies, but helping Democrats gather and fight. Indivisible Berkeley is disbanding, while Indivisible East Bay plans to continue organizing.

We will gather for a discussion about our future Sunday, November 22, 4:30–5:45. Zoom link.

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.



In addition to all the links that Andy has posted below, anyone who wants to write postcards should get in touch with Bill for names and addresses (give him a few days to get some) at Email me if you want some of our leftover cards. Tons of people will be trying to get Georgia addresses for postcards so I encourage everyone to think about Vote Forward letters, phone banking and texting. Donating to the groups that build ground game is a really good idea, as we learned so vividly this election.

Georgia runoff donation & volunteer opportunities

I received this link-rich email. Anything that starts with Stacey Abrams has to be on the right track.

This is a fairly comprehensive list if you’re interested in getting involved in the Georgia senate races beyond donating directly to the candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.

  1. Support Anchor Georgia Organizations. Stacey Abrams and allies have been building the infrastructure to turn Georgia blue for over a decade. It’s finally happening and we need to keep investing. Some key groups recommended by our advisors:
    • The New Georgia Project: (501c3, 501c4) We have a short window to maximize voter registration before  the December 7th Voter Registration deadline. The New Georgia Project is the lead partner on Georgia Voter Registration. Since Stacey Abrams founded the organization in 2013, they have already registered 400,000 Georgians. NGP is an ambitious effort working to transform GA’s political landscape. 
    • Fair Fight (501c4, PAC) / Fair Count (501c3): Fair Fight was founded by Stacey Abrams in the wake of her 2018 Governors race to fight for voting rights in Georgia and around the country. They have launched an emergency fund to ensure Georgians have the resources they need in the January 5, Senate Runoff Elections. The fund will invest in critical voter protection and GOTV efforts.
    • Black Voters Matter Fund (501c3, 501c4): Black Voters Matter Fund is dedicated to expanding Black voter engagement and increasing progressive power. Increasing voter registration and turnout is an important aspect of building power, but this is just the beginning of their work.
  2. Support Georgia’s Grassroots Organizations. BIPOC organizers working in the key swing states delivered democrats the presidential election — we need to double down on our support to dozens of grassroots BIPOC-led orgs now to make sure they have the support needed to help us win the senate, including:
    • Song Power (501c3, 501c4): SONG Power equips justice-loving Southerners to bring about liberation in our lifetime. SONG Power pushes policy demands; organizes thousands of LGBTQ Southerners to support progressive policies and candidates; and builds Southern movement infrastructure.
    • Asian American Advocacy Fund Atlanta (501c3, 501c4): AAAF is the nation’s largest legal and civil rights organization dedicated to building a politically-conscious, engaged, and progressive Asian American base in Georgia.
    • Georgia Shift (501c3, 501c4): Georgia Shift gives marginalized young people a seat at the table of democracy through civic media, hands-on education, and action. They envision a Georgia where marginalized young people are a fundamental driver of political impact and policy at every level of government.
  3. Support Key National Organizations. Below are four national organizations that run highly effective programs in the Georgia general mobilizing key constituencies for the senate race. 
    • Alliance for Youth Action (501c4)- It is critical that we engage young people of color in Georgia whose votes were critical to the narrow margins of victory last week. AYA is building an expanded text, mail, and phone program for GOTV and ballot chase to ensure young Georgians can vote in the runoffs. The program will target nearly 800,000 non-white Gen Z and Millennial voters. 
    • Care in Action (501c4)- Care in Action works on behalf of women of color – especially domestic workers – to build the civic power of this critical segment of our electorate. They have been engaged in deep organizing in Georgia since the 2018 midterms and will scale their program for the senate race.
    • Black Male Voter Project (501c4)-  BMVP engages Black men in the political process, focusing on shifting the voting habits of Black men and increasing the number of super voters through intentional and authentic one-on-one conversations and relational organizing.
    • Mijente (501c4)- A vibrant hub for Latinx and Chicanx organizing, Mijente combines cultural, electoral, and issue organizing to advance a broad agenda of social justice in solidarity with other oppressed communities.

How to Volunteer:

We know many people want to contribute time as well as funds to win in GA. More volunteer options are being organized now and will be available in the coming weeks. Right now, Fair Fight is planning a virtual Runoff GOTV Weekend of Action Phone and Text Bank for 11/14-15 for volunteers across the country. 

The election in Georgia

Trump supporters are asking online why no one is talking about the fraud that Georgia has only 3.7 million residents, how can it have so many votes. They Googled and got the population of the country of Georgia.

Some of you have asked what the next steps will be for the Georgia runoffs. I can say: I don’t know. Money will flood in on both sides, including our money. I will try to find out how best to support whatever Stacey Abrams is doing, because she is clearly the magician behind Biden’s win in the state. And of course, we can donate directly to the candidates up to the legal limit. We are also researching what volunteer activities we can join.

It’s very clear that Ossoff and Warnock will be campaigning as a team. I like that. I am also encouraged by Trump dragging out his concession, because I think it puts the Republican candidates in a bind. They can’t repudiate Trump’s truly delusional claims, but their support of a clearly-doomed crusade is unlikely to inspire Trump voters who at least understand the outcome of the Presidential race.

Next stage–GA Senate races

Well, it’s far from what we hoped, but at least not the abyss that seemed possible. I imagine most of you have received the Flip the West email about their multi-pronged GA campaign–phone banks, texting, and postcards. We all know the drill. I just signed up for texting and post carding. Since I can’t figure out how to post the Flip the West call and volunteer links here, I’ll forward them to Andy. Or just email me at if you’d like me to email it to you personally. Onward, and solidarity

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning

[Psalm 30:5 KJV, if you are keeping track]

OK, it isn’t joy. Just relief. Downballot we lost badly, although the magnitude isn’t yet clear. Let’s get straight to the good news:

  1. At the moment, Biden is leading in 270 EV, including Nebraska–02, which is called. This means Trump can’t insist on a nationwide stoppage of counting just because it is now Wednesday. Biden overtook Trump in Wisconsin and Michigan in the middle of the night, and there is no reason to believe he will relinquish it. WI is almost done and Trump is already demanding a recount, which will be just as ineffective as the ones we ordered in 2016.
  2. The rest of the 270 comes from Biden leading in Arizona. Nate Cohn of the NY Times explains that the uncounted votes are late by-mail, which have tended Democratic, but more outstanding ballots are Republican. (Perhaps more Republicans deliberately didn’t vote?) The votes also appear to be from the Phoenix and Tucson areas, favorable.
  3. Trump is claiming Nevada. They probably hoped to be ahead at the last tally on Tuesday (see Point 1) but they are 8000 behind. The remaining votes include at least 50,000 mail ballots from Clark County (Las Vegas), which will drive up the margin past whatever I can imagine they reclaim from the numerous provisional same-day-registrant ballots.
  4. About 10:30 last night, Atlanta finally began to report, and the NY Times needle quickly shifted to expecting a tiny Biden victory in Georgia(!). The count has been stuck at about 92% in for hours. It’s also possible that Ossoff can climb into a runoff from the final Atlanta votes. (Warnock and Loeffler will be in a runoff.)
  5. If, and it is a big if, the Pennsylvania number of remaining mail ballots is correct, the NY Times says Biden will pull ahead, even though he is 8 points behind now. The Red Mirage Blue Shift in action.

Summary: Biden needs one of Arizona, Georgia, or Pennsylvania. He is ahead in AZ, and apparently better than 50/50 chances to catch up in the other two.

E-Day minus 2

What I would have said at today’s meeting, if it weren’t the off Sunday.

Again, Joe Biden will win the legitimate election. Nate Silver has Trump’s chances at 11%. That is with the Selzer poll showing him well ahead in Iowa. In 2016 he had 30%. That is a big difference. Trump’s private pollster has told him that he is ahead in MI and WI, tied in PA. If that is so, it would mean a massive polling miss, above the usual “margin of error” across numerous states and down ballot races. Somehow, the Theory of the Shy Trump Voter coexists with the Reality of the Obnoxious Trump Voter.

Early voting statistics are difficult to follow in most states, but an acknowledged expert is Jon Ralston in Nevada. Nevada is an unusually good state for this analysis because early voting was already common there, although this year there was less in person and more mail. It also helps that the vote is highly concentrated by geography. Clark County (Las Vegas, Henderson; favors Blue) is two thirds of the state. Washoe County (Reno) is half the remainder (about even D/R). All the other counties are consolidated as “the rurals”. They went Republican by over 40 points in 2016. This year it looks like they need at least +50. Short version: Trump is running behind his 2016 loss.

So, on to the illegitimate election. Not that there are surprises, but Trump aides have leaked the plan. Step one: Trump wins Florida, which counts fast. Not impossible: 538 has his odds there at 34% and I think that’s low. Step two: Trump leverages a large lead in Election Day votes in two of PA, MI, WI [just PA is not enough for 270 Trump EV] to declare victory even while those states are still counting the heavily-Blue mailed ballots already received (this isn’t about the throw-out-late-ballots lawsuits). Trump encourages supporters to celebrate victory and stop further counting of “fraudulent” mailed ballots in those states. I assume this will be accomplished by physical intimidation, since even the current Supreme Court can’t find a reason to throw out millions of mailed ballots timely received—although I do expect them to enforce any witness or secrecy envelope requirements, even ones that were purportedly waived by executive action on account of COVID–19. Step three: Trump asks Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus how you stay in power despite protests and general strikes. (And Trump will probably come closer to legitimate victory than Lukashenko did.)

I don’t think this will work. Not because of the fabled, but hollow, American government institutions, but because at this point Florida looks like Biden’s fourth-best state in the once-Red Sunbelt (AZ, NC, GA, FL, TX, probably in that order). If Biden holds leads in MI and WI at, say, 11:00 pm ET, Trump has to be sweeping all four of these states. Impossible. Arizona will only just have closed the polls. Suppose Trump is still ahead in the MI-WI-PA. His leads will be dropping literally by the minute as the count continues prominently on TV, even if he wins PA in the end. (He is not winning full counts of MI and WI; they are about 10 points against him in multiple polls.) A victory claim at 1:00 am ET Wednesday morning is not going to have enough impact before the light of day burns off his fog of lies. Kos has a similar explanation, including why Trump relies on Michigan over Wisconsin (Milwaukee reports fast).

His second problem will be selling victory to a very skeptical media, including the Fox Decision Desk, which is legit.

His third problem is that the Democrats seem prepared this time, unlike Bush v Gore. I know the top-flight legal team is in place, and I think the PR team has learned from Warren Christopher’s feckless 2000 performance. I just hope we also have some muscle in case Team Fascist has fantasies of stormtroopers stealing the ballot boxes.

Two more days. Breathe.

Quick Update

  1. Please note that Andy changed our gathering time Tuesday to 6:00 pm–bring dinner or drinks or both. Here is the link: Join Zoom Meeting
  2. Check out our final $$ total. Amazing!
  3. Just got off a phone bank to Florida–helped a 91 year-old Biden voter figure out that what she thought was a mail-in ballot is really a request for a ballot and she can vote early today and tomorrow in her county. Lots of confused voters out there. Hope everyone is jumping in where they can and staying sane.