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Learn When to Call Your Members of Congress a Second Time on the Same Issue

June 2017 Update: It’s the last week of June. The Senate version of the AHCA is out. It’s terrible. Some Republican senators are wavering. Now is the time to call, call, call and tell your senators that you oppose the AHCA.

Call every day this week (June 26-30) but please, only call your own senators.

If you or your family would be hurt by the passage of the AHCA, think hard about whether you are comfortable telling your story. If you can tell it, please do.

Calling is especially urgent if your Republican senators are any of the following people:

 

Susan Collins of Maine

Lisa Murkowski of Alaska

Rob Portman of Ohio

Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia

Cory Gardner of Colorado

Dean Heller of Nevada

Bill Cassidy of Louisiana

Jeff Flake of Arizona

 

Text of the original post follows.

You’ve called your senators and your house rep to oppose the Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare. (OTYCD suggested this action on January 5.)

But ACA issues are still making headlines. In the early hours of January 12, the Senate voted 51-48 on an action that would help them bulldoze the law later on. It paves the way for the passage of a reconciliation bill, a type of bill that can’t be filibustered:

Should you call your members of Congress every time the ACA comes under threat?

Usually, the answer is no, you should not call your members of Congress if you have already called to speak your mind on a specific issue.

But there are a few exceptions. If they apply to you, go ahead and call again.

 

You have new information that the member of Congress can freely use. An ACA-related example would be your willingness to share a story about how the ACA’s repeal would hurt you directly and personally, which you did not share when you called the first time.

Important side note: “Free use” means you’re letting your reps talk about your ACA story in public, in their own words, as they see fit, in whatever venue they choose, and on whatever media platform they choose (social media or otherwise). Once you give them your story, you lose control over it.

You are never obliged to share personal medical information in public. And if the ACA story is not about you–if it’s about a spouse, a grown child, a minor child, a friend–you must get that person’s permission before you share it with your reps.

But many members of Congress who are trying to defend the ACA have explicitly called for personal stories from their constituents. Offering yours can help the cause, if it’s your story to tell and you feel comfortable sharing it. (End of side note.)

 

You can call to thank or complain to your members of Congress after a key vote takes place. Some Democratic senators voiced objections during the Jan 12 actions. Two were Ron Wyden of Oregon and Maria Cantwell of Washington. Do they represent you? Then you could call and say thank you–but you should be specific, and cite exactly what they did to merit the thank-you.

Sample thank-you script: “I am (Firstname Lastname) from (town, zipcode). I see that Senator (Lastname) spoke up during the late-night session that ultimately voted to weaken the Affordable Care Act. I thank you for fighting for the law, and I will remember that you did the right thing.”

If you are angry about how your senator behaved during the vote, you could call and complain. But again, be specific. Tell the senator exactly what they did to make you complain.

Sample complaint script: “I am (Firstname Lastname) from (town, zip code). I see that Senator (Lastname) voted for Senate Resolution 3 on January 12. This bill paves the way to cripple, even kill the Affordable Care Act. My family and I depend on the ACA for our health care. I oppose what Senator (Lastname) just did, and I will remember that you did the wrong thing.”

Updated to add on May 21: You can also call multiple times on the same issue if you are joining a campaign that requires daily calls. A good example is the recent effort to ask your MoCs, daily, to pursue an independent investigation of the #TrumpRussia scandal and encourage them to slow or stop the work of Congress until that happened.

Never forget: Do not call anyone who does not represent you. Stick to your two senators and your one house rep.

Also, only call the relevant reps. The January 12 vote took place in the Senate, so you should call your senators, and only your senators; you should not waste time and energy calling your house rep.

And still call if your members of Congress don’t reflect your views. If anything, it’s more important for you to call. If you don’t say something, it’s that much easier for your reps to believe that people who think like you don’t exist.

If you are so delighted, or angered, by the actions of an out-of-state member of Congress  that you must say something, find a street address for their office and mail them a postcard. Alternately, you could leave a message on their Facebook page or tweet at them. But please keep the phone lines free for their own constituents.

 

Bonus resource: Below is a link to Liberal Spirit, an exceptionally useful web page on the topic of contacting your members of Congress. In point 3, the author generally recommends against calling your reps a second time on the same topic.

https://www.liberalspirit.com/dca

 

 

 

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Tell Your Democratic Senators To Stop the AHCA by Playing Hardball

JUNE 2017 UPDATE. It’s the last week of June. The Senate version of the AHCA has been released. It’s terrible. Republican senators are wavering. This is our last best chance to kill the bill.

For this reason we have cleared the OTYCD decks for the week of every new queued post, except for extra-time-sensitive ones, and we’re reposting calls to action on the AHCA. It’s that important.

Call your Dem Senators, thank them for standing strong against the AHCA, and tell them you have their backs if they play hardball.

Call your Republican senators and tell them you will spend time and money getting their opponents elected if they vote yes on the AHCA. And mean it. Be ready to uphold your pledge.

Call your friends and tell them to call and oppose the AHCA. All this week. Please.

Original text of this post follows.

Are your senators solid Democrats? Ask them to stop the AHCA by playing hardball to combat the furtive, anti-democratic way their Republican colleagues wrote the bill.

The Senate Democrats are united in opposition to the AHCA, the bill that the Republicans intend to replace the ACA, but that doesn’t mean much when they don’t control the senate. The Republicans are showing their colors by tackling the smoking heap of malfunctioning rubble sent over by the House in secret.

It should be illegal to secretly write a bill that remakes one-sixth of the country’s economy and takes away the health insurance of as many as 23 million people, but it isn’t.

The Senate Democrats can do something to protest the anti-democratic actions of the Republicans, however, and you should call and urge them to do it. The Democrats can grind the business of the Senate to a halt. It’s called withholding consent, and doing so makes it damn near impossible to carry through the day-in, day-out work of the Senate.

You might ask, why are the Dems holding back? Why haven’t they moved to withhold consent already? Well, withholding consent is a hardball tactic. It’s not nice. It’s not mannered. It’s using the Senate’s own rules as a weapon. In short, it’s the sort of thing that Mitch McConnell would do. And in the wake of the shooting at the Republican practice for the Congressional baseball game, Democrats are loathe to break the bipartisan let’s-come-together aura.

But, again. The Senate Republicans are working to kill Obamacare in secret. They’re doing it in secret because they know damn well that at least 80 percent of the country would rise up in anger and rain that anger on their heads, individually and collectively. It’s the sort of act that justifies the serious step of withholding consent.

You need to call, and keep calling, to oppose the AHCA, and you need to urge your friends all over the country to keep calling, too.

Now, if your senators are Republican? You know what to do. Call them, call them, call them, and voice your opposition to the AHCA, and specifically voice your opposition to their writing the bill in secret.

If your Republican Senator is one of the 13 men (yes, they’re all men) in the group that’s rewriting the bill behind closed doors, it is extra-important for you to call, call, call, every damn day. See this link and scroll down to the Dylan Scott tweet to see their names:

https://www.bustle.com/p/the-13-senators-working-on-the-health-care-bill-are-all-men-56291

If your senators are Democrats, here is a script to use when you call:

“Dear Senator (Lastname), I am (Firstname Lastname), and I am calling to voice my support for you if you choose to withhold consent for Senate business over the way in which your Republican colleagues are handling the AHCA bill. Working behind closed doors on a law that would, if passed, affect one-sixth of our economy and take health insurance away from as many as 23 million people is unconscionable, and it calls for action. I want you to know that if you choose to withhold consent, and choose to slow or stop the business of the Senate in protest over the way in which the AHCA is being written, I fully support you, and you will have my vote the next time you’re up for re-election.”

 

Read about how Senate Democrats are considering measures such as withholding consent to protest the AHCA:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/17/politics/senate-democrats-gop-health-care/index.html

 

Read about the fact that 13 Republican Senators–all men–are rewriting the AHCA:

 

Read about how the Senate Republicans are deliberately writing the AHCA bill in secret:

http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/senate-s-health-care-bill-remains-shrouded-secrecy-n772456

 

 

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Join the Impeachment March on July 2

Got another march for you. The Impeachment March, designed to shine a light on Trump’s impeachable offenses, takes place July 2 across America.

The march’s home page lays out three different grounds for impeachment: violation of the foreign emoluments clause, violation for the domestic emoluments clause, and obstruction of justice.

The march endeavors to be a worldwide movement, but as of late June it appears to list only American cities.

 

See the Impeachment March web page:

http://www.impeachmentmarch.org

 

See the list of sister marches:

http://www.impeachmentmarch.org/sister-marches.html

 

Like the Impeachment March on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/impeachmentmarchworldwide/

 

Action Alerts · Health Care · Senate Bills, Federal · Stand Up for Civilization

Recruit Your Red State Friends to Call Their Senators to Vote NO on the AHCA

ANOTHER JUNE 2017 UPDATE. It’s the last week of June. The Senate version of the AHCA has been released. It’s terrible. Republican senators are wavering. This is our last best chance to kill the bill.

For this reason we have cleared the OTYCD decks for the week and we’re reposting recent calls to action on the AHCA. It’s that important.

Call your Dem Senators, thank them for standing strong against the AHCA, and tell them you have their backs if they play hardball.

Call your Republican senators and tell them you will spend time and money getting their opponents elected if they vote yes on the AHCA. And mean it. Be ready to uphold your pledge.

Call your friends and tell them to call and oppose the AHCA. All this week. Please.

IMPORTANT RED ALERT UPDATE for June 2017. Mitch McConnell has invoked Rule 14, which fast-tracks the AHCA in the Senate. Their aim is to pass something before the July 4 recess. The best time to stop this wretched bill is now. If it gets back to the house, something like it gets passed.

We know you’ve called your reps over and over on this, and this isn’t the first time we’ve asked you to take to the phone.But you now need to call your Senators, daily, AND urge your red state friends to call their Republican senators, daily, on this, through the end of June. The AHCA is literally life and death for many. Please make this effort.

 

IMPORTANT RED ALERT UPDATE May 26. Ok all, see this May 25 tweet from Topher Spiro, who writes often on health care issues and tweets as @TopherSpiro:

INTEL: Several GOP Senators have privately said this recess is the test – if they get blowback at home, they’ll tell McConnell it’s over.

We know you’ve called your reps over and over on this. Now it’s time to call your Senators, daily, AND urge your red state friends to call their Republican senators, daily, on this. The AHCA is literally life and death for many. Please make this effort.

Pull out your address book. Identify how many friends you have in red states. Recruit them to call their members of Congress.

In the past, OTYCD has asked you to call friends and family in red states to urge their Republican MoCs to vote against cabinet nominees and legislation. Today, we’re asking you to take some time to sit with your address book, identify who your friends are in red states, and see who among them you can call, email, or nudge on social media to push back against nasty things the Republicans are trying to do.

Living in a solidly blue state is a double-edged sword. Your MoCs agree with you, but it’s the Republicans who own everything at the moment. Republican MoCs in other districts and states won’t listen to you (and rightly so) because they need to concentrate on their own constituents.

The next-best thing you can do, once you’ve done what you can do directly, is urge friends in red states to call their MoCs and speak out.

So, step one: Pull out your address book, or Christmas card list, or whatever database or master list you keep of friends and their contact info. Ideally, this info includes street addresses.

Step two: Identify who lives in red states.

Step three: Rank the red staters in order of how strong your relationship is.

Step four: Now, think. Who have you talked about politics with on this list? How did it go? Reshuffle the list to move those who share your politics, and those who may not share your politics but who seem sane and like to talk politics with you, toward the top of the list.

Those with strong bonds and who share your politics should be on top, followed by those with strong bonds who show an interest in politics, but who might not always agree with you 100 percent. Then come the people with more distant relationships but who share your politics, followed by more distant relationships with politically aware people who seem sane.

Also, be alert to sharp exceptions. You might have someone in your orbit who’s largely apolitical except on a specific issue that damn near consumes them. Many mothers of school-age kids who didn’t care about politics or were only mildly interested got pretty damn interested right quick when Betsy DeVos was nominated to run the department of education.

Sift these single-issue red state folks out and rank them below the broader-interest folks. If you agree with their outlook on their single issue, make a point of engaging with them on that issue alone and sharing action items that would interest them.

Step five: Look at the first group–the people you have strong bonds with and who you share the same political outlook with. How often are you talking to them? Can you invest more time in them? These are the people you want to cultivate first.

And when we say ‘invest more time in them,’ we mean overall. Do NOT make it all about politics! Work on maintaining and strengthening your bond first and foremost. Use the 80/20 rule that social media mavens tout: For every action that serves your goals (in this case, urging your friend to call their Republican MoCs), perform at least four other actions that have nothing to do with your goals. (Bonus points if most or all are in service of your friend. At least half of the four should be.)

Once you feel like you have things humming along with the first group (and take as much time as you need to reach that point–never rush it!), then turn to the second group: the people you have strong bonds with, but who you don’t really talk politics with.

In the course of strengthening and maintaining your bonds with them, try dropping mentions of how you feel about something that the Republicans are trying to do. Don’t be angry, do be factual, and make it clear that you are stating an opinion.

Pay attention to how they react. Stick to the 80/20 rule. Keep watching how they react. If they show a pattern of changing the subject, showing annoyance, or actively shutting down, lay off for a few months and try again. If they ultimately ask you to quit it forever, then quit it forever. It’s more important to show that you’re able to listen to them and honor their requests.

If they show a pattern of reacting positively or even neutrally, stay alert to political events that are happening locally that they might like, and encourage them to go. Maybe it’s a Town Hall meeting with an MoC. Maybe it’s a protest. Maybe it’s giving them a ride to the polls. Think about what they would like best, tell them about it, and if you live close enough, offer to go with them.

Future posts will elaborate on cultivating the more distant red state friends and family on your list. But overall, remember:

Friendship comes first. If you wouldn’t want to invest time in this person if they lived in a blue state, then don’t bother. Just don’t. Don’t treat fellow human beings like a 10-point buck you’re dying to bag and mount on your wall. People can smell that crap a mile away.

Remember the 80/20 rule. For every time you talk about politics or ask them to do something political, you should be doing at least four other things that aren’t about politics, and at least two of those four should be things your friend enjoys.

If they complain that you’re talking about politics too much, back off. Again, see points one and two above. Don’t completely stop talking about politics, mind you, if talking politics is part of who you are. But listen to your friend, give it a rest for a time, and keep your talk to venting rather than you asking them to do something.

This is soft activism, and no form of activism yields results overnight. This is gardening. This is exercise. It takes time. Remind yourself that it takes time, and that it may not pay off as spectacularly as you hope it will. But you will have succeeded in deepening a relationship with another person who you care about, and you will have gotten them to think about and care about making a difference. That’s worth it. That’s always worth it.

 

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Help All Out Help Gay Men in Chechnya Escape to Safety

Help All Out, an organization devoted to LGBTQ rights, help gay men escape torture and persecution in Chechnya.

Chechnya is a region of Eastern Europe that is heavily Muslim. On April 1, the Russian paper Novaya Gazeta broke the news that Chechen authorities had rounded up more than 100 gay men, detaining them in camps, and torturing them. As many as three might have died.

When asked about the actions, a spokesperson for Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov reportedly said, “You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic… If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.”

The All Out Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) organization that is partnering with the Russian LGBT Network to evacuate gay men from Chechnya. They have met their initial fundraising goal but it wouldn’t hurt to add your donation.

 

Donate to All Out’s fund to help gay men escape persecution in Chechnya (note–donations are NOT tax-deductible):

https://go.allout.org/en/a/chechnya/

 

Read a New York Times report on the Russian newspaper story:

 

Read a Guardian op-ed about the situation in Chechnya:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/13/gay-men-targeted-chechnya-russia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Follow Alexandra Erin on Twitter

 

Follow Alexandra Erin on Twitter.

Erin is an author, poet, trans woman and all-round smart person who lives in Maryland and has an exceptional gift for interpreting and explaining Donald Trump, whether he is tweeting madly or reading someone else’s words off a teleprompter. She makes sense when it seems like there is no sense to be made.

Sample her genius by reading this Twitter thread on Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress on February 28:

https://www.kanvz.com/alexandraerin/canvas/1488382193824

 

Follow her on Twitter:

@alexandraerin

 

Read her blog here:

http://www.alexandraerin.com

 

Support her here:

https://www.patreon.com/AlexandraErin

https://www.paypal.com/donate/?token=3OEHAVn8SOrIky4-Et3gYMrIZxIW5Z1nOQZWj5CqEvnfzABpi01GyKbzHqSgZeI3xxfLxG

 

 

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Trying This Again: UPDATED: Listen to Pod Save America and the Crooked Media Family of Podcasts

Note: Apologies to subscribers who didn’t get this substantially updated post yesterday due to a WordPress glitch.

Did you enjoy the podcast Keepin It 1600? Start downloading Pod Save America, the new broadcast from the same team.

Jon Lovett, Jon Favreau, Tommy Vietor, and Dan Pfeiffer decided that the outcome of the election called for a more activist tone. They have ended Keepin It 1600 and launched Pod Save America, which covers politics as well as how to push back against Trump.

The first episode went up on January 9 and covered the Russian hacking scandals, Obama’s farewell speech, Trump cabinet nominees, and defending Obamacare. It also featured Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory, talking about the Women’s March on Washington, set for January 21.

 

Substantial update: Since writing the original post about Pod Save America and Pod Save the World, Crooked Media has launched three more podcasts. All are good.

 

The best of the new crop is Pod Save the People. Primarily hosted by DeRay Mckesson, it is an eye-opening look at the history and living reality of fighting for social justice.

Download Pod Save the People here:

https://getcrookedmedia.com/pod-save-the-people-56bc42af53d

 

Lovett or Leave It, hosted by Jon Lovett before a live audience, brings the funny. There’s rage, too, but funny rage. Warning: The theme song is infectious.

Download Lovett or Leave It:

https://getcrookedmedia.com/lovett-or-leave-it-6077c7aca95c

 

With Friends Like These aims straight for the awkward in a gutsy, admirable way. Hosted by Ana Marie Cox, it dwells on “what divides us and what doesn’t.” It does not shy away from getting emotionally raw at times.

Download With Friends Like These:

https://getcrookedmedia.com/with-friends-like-these-aeee91fa31da

 

Download Pod Save America, the original Crooked Media podcast, from iTunes or listen here:

https://art19.com/shows/pod-save-america
Download its foreign policy spinoff, Pod Save the World, from iTunes or listen here:

https://art19.com/shows/pod-save-the-world

 

Like Crooked Media on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/TheCrookedMedia/

 

Follow Crooked Media on Twitter:

@crookedmedia

 

More on the launch of Pod Save America and Crooked Media, the company founded by three of the four ex-Keepin It 1600 co-hosts:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/01/09/the-keepin-it-1600-guys-launch-crooked-media-to-counter-trump.html