Community Activism · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Believe It, You Matter, Part XIII: The GOP Really Is That Bad

Believe It, You Matter: the GOP really is that bad.

 

Sarah Jane here. I write all the Believe It, You Matter pieces for OTYCD.

 

Some time in 2018, I came across tweets from David Roberts (@drvox) that referenced the results of focus groups convened at various times between 2000 and 2014 with voters. They laid out information that showed what the GOP intended to do, if elected.

 

I’ve had trouble finding direct reference to the George W. Bush-era focus groups, but I was able to find them for the Romney-Ryan campaign in the 2012 cycle.

 

It describes groups convened by a Democratic Super PAC that attempted to alert voters to the extreme nature of the Romney-Ryan platform–promises to cut taxes for the wealthy and essentially destroy Medicare.

 

They hit a truly startling finding.

 

Apparently, a large number of the focus group recruits simply refused to believe that what the Super PAC described was, in fact, the Romney-Ryan platform.

 

They couldn’t wrap their heads around the notion that real politicians would advocate such unpopular and ruinous policies. Did not make sense. Did not compute. So they rejected the notion that the platform was the platform. It couldn’t be. It was cartoonishly evil. Real American politicians aren’t cartoonishly evil, because democracy, and civility, and American values, and rules and norms, and blah blah blah.

 

I’m going to drop the cites here before pivoting. Here’s a passage taken from a 2012 piece by David Roberts for Grist:

 

“If it’s hard for many folks to see the centrism already on offer from Obama, it’s also hard for the general public to see — to really understand — the radicalism on offer from the GOP. In the middle of Robert Draper’s recent New York Times Magazinepiece on Priorities USA Action, a Democratic super PAC, comes this astonishing detail:

Burton and his colleagues spent the early months of 2012 trying out the pitch that Romney was the most far-right presidential candidate since Barry Goldwater. It fell flat. The public did not view Romney as an extremist. For example, when Priorities informed a focus group that Romney supported the Ryan budget plan — and thus championed “ending Medicare as we know it” — while also advocating tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, the respondents simply refused to believe any politician would do such a thing.[my emphasis]

That is, of course, an entirely accurate description of the Ryan budget plan. It’s precisely what Romney and the congressional GOP have said they will enact. And yet when voters hear it, it sounds over-the-top, like fear-mongering.

My guess is that most voters wouldn’t believe that the GOP has embarked on a nationwide effort to disenfranchise low-income and minority voters, but that’s just what they’ve done. (Here’s the latest.) Most voters wouldn’t believe that Romney and the GOP want to end the Environmental Protection Agency as we know it, but that is precisely what they have said they will do; Romney has expressed only eagerness to work with the most anti-environmental House of Representatives in the history of the institution.”

 

Here is the July 5, 2012 New York Times piece in which Roberts found the information about the focus group. (Scroll down to the subhead with the words “Last December” in bold:

 

And here is a MaddowBlog piece that references the post-9/11 focus groups. Not an ideal cite, but unfortunately, I can’t find other sources talking about it (I invite others to send them if they find them):

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/why-focus-groups-incredulity-matters

 

 

I realized I should pass on this information about the focus group results, but for months, I couldn’t figure out how. One of the fundamental tenets of OTYCD is to offer bad news with substantial side dishes of, you know, THINGS YOU CAN DO to fight back against what the news represents.

 

The focus group results are important, but they don’t offer anything inherent to act on.

 

Well, I’ve finally figured it out.

 

You can use this information when you talk to friends and family about the importance of voting.

 

It seems gross and Pollyanna-ish to find a silver lining in the torrent of bullshit that Trump has rained upon us since November 2016, but there is this:

 

The disbelief that people expressed earlier in the century about the GOP should have evaporated by now.

 

People should be far more likely to believe that the GOP and its goals are cartoonishly evil.

 

Only people who are cartoonishly evil would stick with Trump, despite the mountains upon mountains of evidence that he’s incompetent, incapable, venal, self-serving, and thoroughly corrupt.

 

Only people who are cartoonishly evil would support placing babies in cages.

 

Only people who are cartoonishly evil would go mute in the face of Trump’s outrageous capers with Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-Un, Mohammad bin Salman, and other autocrats.

 

Only people who are cartoonishly evil would plow ahead with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh after the president, who was, by then, credibly accused of a felony by Michael Cohen, placed 93 percent of Kavanaugh’s work product under the veil of executive privilege, and off-limits to their evaluation.

 

Only people who are cartoonishly evil would stand by while Trump refuses to safeguard elections and announces he’d be open to accepting information about opponents from foreign governments, which is a crime.

 

Only people who are cartoonishly evil… I could write so many more of these. You get the point.

 

When you talk to friends and family about the importance of voting, you can say “I don’t know what happened, but the GOP has completely gone around the bend. [Reel off a bunch of things they’ve done under Trump, describing each with neutral, factual, uncharged language. That means don’t use the phrase “cartoonishly evil,” btw.] Even if you don’t normally vote for Democrats, it’s important you do so now, to help the country find its way back to something that looks like sanity.”

 

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Community Activism · Elections · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends · Vote with your Dollars · Voting Rights, Fighting Voter Suppression

Help Andrew Gillum Register Floridians to Vote in Time for the 2020 Presidential Race

This OTYCD post originally appeared in March 2019.

 

Help Andrew Gillum register Floridians to vote ahead of the 2020 presidential race.

 

Gillum made headlines when he fought valiantly in 2018 in the Florida gubernatorial race. (He was narrowly defeated by Republican Ron DeSantis.)

 

Far from being cowed by the loss, Gillum has devoted himself to fulfilling the promise of Amendment 4, which voters passed last year.

 

The amendment passed with 65 percent of the vote, more than the 60 percent required to make it law. It will re-enfranchise more than a million Floridians–possibly as many as 1.4 million, the numbers vary–who were barred from voting after a felony conviction.

 

Republicans know all too well that the more people vote, the more likely their candidates are to lose.

 

And they also know all too well how critical Florida has been to presidential contests. The 2000 contest hit a serious snag there, with recounts and hanging chads and other absurdities. Ultimately, the Supreme Court stepped in and ruled in favor of Republican George W. Bush over Democrat Al Gore in a decision that deserves eternal side-eye.

 

Though Amendment 4 was well-written, state-level GOP are doing their damnedest to neuter it. They’re trying to pass a law that would force all ex-felons to pay any and all remaining court fees before they’re allowed to vote again, a move that many have called out as a variation on a unconstitutional poll tax. [Update, June 2019: the state legislature did indeed pass that law, which makes support for Gillum’s efforts that much more important.]

 

Gillum, who had many options available to him after his impressive campaign and close loss, has chosen to invest his momentum in an effort to register as many new Florida voters as possible.

 

Gillum created Bring It Home Florida to ensure that Amendment 4 works as designed, and to make the state as fierce a fight as possible for Trump in 2020.

 

We at OTYCD are going to beat the voter registration drum hard in 2019, but we’re starting here.

 

The most important thing you can do this year, the year before the presidential contest, is to register or help register as many people to vote as possible.

 

We need to recruit new voters and we need to encourage people to vote. The more who vote, the more likely we are to vote Trump out of office in 2020.

 

If your funds are limited, the smartest use of your money in 2019 is giving it to Get Out the Vote (GOTV) organizations such as Bring It Home Florida. Even more so than giving it to candidates, to be honest.

 

If your budget allows, please, do both. But if it doesn’t, put your money into signing people up to vote and removing barriers to voting.

 

An interesting final note on this. Rick Wilson, a onetime GOP operative who lives in Florida, and author of Everything Trump Touches Dies, had this to say about Bring It Home Florida on Twitter on March 21, 2019, not long after Gillum unveiled the initiative:

 

1/ A few words about Andrew Gillum’s plan to register a million new voters in Florida.

 

2/ Once upon a Time in the dark ages of the early 90s the Republican party of Florida got off its ass and started registering voters. This was during the era of Tom Slade, a two-fisted balls-out party chairman and after.

 

3/ Then came the era of complacency and corruption with Charlie Crist and Jim Greer. (Wrote about it in years ago. You can Google it.) Rick Scott hated the party and ran his own independent operation. We kind of slacked off on the whole voter reg thing.

 

4/ Fastest growing voter demo in Florida forever has been non-party affiliated. Basically a tie ball game between the Republicans and the Democrats. Democrats have seen greater greater growth in South Florida, Republicans in North Florida, broadly speaking.

 

5/ Democratic party of Florida is a gigantic trainwreck without the ability to get out of its own way, to mount a serious campaign operations, or to win statewide races by and large.

 

6/ Current #: R: 4.7 D: 4.9 NPA: 3.6 The NPA FL voter in the last 20 years is *broadly* a Shy Tory R voter. Call it 55-60ish%. or may disagree, but we can parse it later.

 

7/ So if is serious, and registers and IDs and *activates* even 500,000 it’s a game changer up and down the ticket. Hillary Clinton’s people talked about doing something similar, but it was a complete Potemkin village.

 

8/ It would be of much greater consequence than a quixotic presidential bid. If roughly half the Democratic field did the same they would alter the shape of American politics, but doing the gut work of politics is boring and hard.

 

So, please, let’s support the guy who passed up a run at the presidency to do the boring, hard gut work of politics.

 

 

See the Bring It Home Florida website:

Home

 

 

Donate to Bring It Home Florida:

https://secure.actblue.com/donate/bringithomefl

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the blue button on the upper right or checking the About & Subscribe page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

Like Bring It Home Florida on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pg/BringItHomeFlorida/photos/?tab=album&album_id=787690298266063

 

 

Follow Bring It Home Florida on Twitter:

@BringItHomeFL

 

 

Read about the passage of Amendment 4 in 2018:

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/election/article220678880.html

https://www.npr.org/2018/11/07/665031366/over-a-million-florida-ex-felons-win-right-to-vote-with-amendment-4

 

 

Read about Gillum announcing the creation of Bring It Home Florida:

https://www.politico.com/states/florida/story/2019/03/20/gillums-red-flag-plan-to-stop-trump-1m-new-florida-voters-927053

Andrew Gillum announces voter registration effort: ‘Are y’all ready to flip Florida blue?’

 

 

Read about the Florida GOP legislator’s attempt to neuter Amendment 4 by creating what amounts to an unconstitutional poll tax:

 

 

Community Activism · Marches and Protests · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Invite a Friend to Come With You to Marches

This OTYCD entry originally posted in July 2017.

 

Are you going to a protest or a march in your area? Invite at least one friend to come with you.

 

First, please read the post titled Learn to Welcome People to the Movement, Period, Full Stop:

https://onethingyoucando.com/2017/04/03/learn-to-welcome-others-to-the-movement-period-full-stop-2/

 

Part of your power is the power to encourage others to join you in protest. If you’re going to any of the marches this month, make a point of inviting others to come with you. If you’ve already invited people to come with you, try to add someone who has never come to a protest march before, or hasn’t come to one in the Trump era.

 

Be prepared to offer extra help. Do they need a ride? Do they need money for lunch or snacks? Do they need cold-weather gear? See what you can do to remove whatever’s standing in the way of their participation.

 

It’s not about offering someone an engraved invitation. It’s about using your power as someone your friend respects and trusts for good. You matter, and they matter. Going to protests matter. Join forces and do so together.

 

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Community Activism · Good News · Read, Educate Yourself, Prepare · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Believe It, You Matter, Part III: The Parable of Eating Less Meat

This OTYCD entry originally posted in June 2017.

 

Believe it, you matter. Every little thing you do to push back against Trump matters, no matter how small. 

 

Eating less meat is, generally speaking, a good idea. It’s better for your health and it’s better for the planet, because raising animals for meat demands more resources than growing plants for food.

 

But what if you can’t quit meat entirely for the rest of your days? What if you need it for health reasons, or cultural reasons, or hey, you just like meat too much to give it up once and for all?

 

Despite what some nasty, one-upping vegans and vegetarians would have you think, if you make a conscious choice to eat less meat, and you faithfully commit to making a change, that’s a win. Even if you never give up meat entirely, that’s a win, because you thought the matter over, you chose to eat less meat, and you stuck to your choice to eat less meat.

 

You are part of the resistance. Many of us–those behind this blog included–cannot devote ourselves to the resistance full time. We have jobs and family obligations and housework and a host of other demands on our time. There are some days when we don’t have the chance to do anything at all to advance the cause. (If WordPress forced us to write fresh posts every day instead of banking evergreen posts at our leisure and bumping them forward as needed to make room for breaking news, this blog would not exist.)

 

And there are some people who can’t advance the cause as often as they might like. Maybe they live in an environment where it’s not safe to resist Trump openly. Maybe they have crazy-demanding job or school schedules. Maybe they’re 24/7 caregivers. Maybe they’re disabled. Doesn’t matter why, it just is, and they have to work around it.

 

The point: As long as you’re doing something, you win. Even if it’s not as much as you want to do. Even if it’s not as much as you think you should do. Even if it’s not as much as your neighbor did, or your cousin did, or your best friend from your Indivisible group did.

 

Resisting Trump is not a competition, nor should it be. Something is better than nothing, no matter how small that something is. We should celebrate every contribution that we make in the effort to push back against Trump. All of it helps.

 

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Action Alerts · Community Activism · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Make an Appointment to Donate Blood Every Time You Hear About a New Mass Shooting

This OTYCD post originally appeared in November 2018.

 

When news breaks of a new mass shooting in America, make an appointment to donate blood (if you’re eligible to do so). 

 

Because the majority of Americans are in fact sane, we are sickened when we learn of a new mass shooting. It makes us feel powerless as well (and don’t even ask about the decades, yes, decades of effort many of us have devoted, and will continue to devote, to trying to get our gun laws changed).

 

After the June 2017 shooting at the Congressional Republican baseball practice, we at OYTCD suggested that readers donate to the three charities that benefit from the game and also consider donating blood, even if they didn’t live in or around Washington, D.C. Blood donations drop in summer, what with vacations and the other schedule disruptions that come with the season. And Steve Scalise, the Congressman who suffered the worst injuries, definitely needed blood transfusions and continued to need them.

 

So here’s something to consider. Every time you hear about a mass shooting, consider making an appointment to donate blood at a facility near you.

 

Ok, we can almost read your mind–“But I won’t have any blood left if I do that!” If it’s too early for you to donate blood, offer to escort a friend. Or offer to volunteer at a blood donation facility. Or if you’re due to renew your driver’s license and you haven’t indicated you’re an organ donor, do that.

 

Or substitute some other bit of routine community activism that fits. Spend an hour at the library tutoring someone whose first language isn’t English. Donate peanut butter and tuna fish to a food bank. Do something to make your community better that you’ve been meaning to do but haven’t gotten around to yet.

 

Answer an act of random violence by making the world better. Every bit helps, however small it might seem.

 

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Community Activism

Help Children in Illinois Prisons by Donating to Liberation Library

This OTYCD post originally appeared in May 2018.

 

Help children serving sentences in Illinois prisons through Liberation Library, which gives them books.

 

Liberation Library is a volunteer-led group based in Chicago that serves children in prison and juvenile detention centers in Illinois. Its members ask the kids what they’d like to read, and gets those titles.

 

They believe access to books is a right, not a privilege. Twice a month, it hosts “packing days,” in which volunteers prep and mail books to young readers.

 

It also sends birthday cards to incarcerated children year-round, and holiday cards around Christmas.

 

 

See the Liberation Library webpage:

http://www.liberationlib.com

 

 

See its About page:

http://www.liberationlib.com/about.html

 

 

See its FAQ page, which includes advice on how to find a Liberation Library-type organization in your community, or set one up:

http://www.liberationlib.com/faqs.html

 

 

Sign up for its newsletter:

http://liberationlib.us10.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=b3d1719ad4771efe8f1a9b022&id=a7c868d487&orig-lang=1

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

Donate money or gently used books to Liberation Library (please check if the books are on LL’s Amazon Wishlist first):

http://www.liberationlib.com/donate.html

 

 

Donate birthday cards for use by Liberation Library, or purchase blank birthday cards from its Amazon Wishlist:

http://www.liberationlib.com/birthday-cards.html

 

 

If you live in or near Chicago, volunteer for Liberation Library:

http://www.liberationlib.com/volunteer.html

 

 

Like its Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/LiberationLibrary

 

 

Follow it on Twitter:

@liberationlib

Candidates · Choose Your Core Four · Community Activism · Elections · Voting Rights, Fighting Voter Suppression

Believe It, You Matter, Part XIV: Feel Your Feelings and Vote Anyway

Believe It, You Matter, Part XIV: Feel your feelings and vote anyway.

 

Hi, I’m Sarah Jane. I write all the Believe It, You Matter entries. I’ve long since forgotten what Roman numeral I’m up to so I apologize if I’ve used 12 before.

 

Anyway. I’m here to talk about voter suppression, in part because the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) bizarrely (and irresponsibly, IMO) threw up its hands (well, five of the nine did) and essentially said it couldn’t do anything to stop gerrymandering, not even the ludicrously extreme gerrymanders drawn to explicitly corral and nullify the votes of one party.

 

This is the latest bit of news that could dispirit us. And hey, it’s OK to feel dispirited about such a thing. But please, please, do not let it stop you from voting, ever.

 

No matter what, show the fuck up and vote, and help others vote, too.

 

Republicans know, and have known, they can’t win if they can’t stop people from voting. Blatant, flagrant cheating, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis attempting to defang Article 4’s re-enfranchisement of more than a million felons by requiring them to pay assorted fees before they can cast a ballot, is one such move.

 

But the vote-suppressors work in subtler ways as well, ways that get less attention.

 

One of those ways is fostering despair and disgust with the whole voting process.

 

They try to make people feel that voting doesn’t matter, and it’s not worth the trouble.

 

It does, and it is.

 

As we advance into 2020, be alert to attempts to dispirit you and yours about the act of voting. It’s already happening, it’s happening in particular on social media, and not all of it is the work of bots, btw.

 

They’re doing it because it works, even if it’s kind of oblique and hard to quantify. The vote-suppressors don’t have to get everyone to stay home, or specific people to stay home. They need just enough people to stay home to make a difference.

 

You need to carry on talking to you and yours about the importance of voting, and removing obstacles to voting, both literal and figurative.

 

You need to tell people they matter, and their vote matters, and there are people out there who want them to give up and stay home. Fuck those people.

 

Now, when you talk, you should be straight with them. Acknowledge that fuckery is likely in 2020. Trump has explicitly said he would accept information foreign governments offer him about his opponents, which prompted the chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission to issue a statement saying that accepting anything of value from a foreign government is a crime. Mitch McConnell has consistently refused to advance bills that would protect the integrity of the 2020 election.

 

Republicans, in particular, are doing whatever they can to suppress the vote.

 

Go out and vote anyway. Go out and vote, faithfully and always, and help others vote, too. Every time. No matter what fuckery abounds.

 

Hell, go vote IN SPITE OF the fuckery. Flip the bird by throwing the lever for a Democrat.

 

Also, keep talking to your friends and family about the importance of voting.

 

Talk about how excited you are to vote for specific candidates, and say their names, out loud, often.

 

Do this even if it feels like it’s not enough.

 

Do it even if you feel like no one is listening to you.

 

Do this even if the crisis du jour is turning your mood grim. If you need to take a break to work through your feelings, do it, and come back.

 

Vote even if the Democratic candidates look like they’re running away with it.

 

Vote, because you matter, and your vote matters.

 

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