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Self-advocacy 101: Find Your Congressional Representatives

FWIW: This is the first-ever post to OTYCD, uploaded on January 7, 2017.

Before you can start pushing back against Trump, you need to know who represents you in Congress.

Find out who your Congressional representatives are by plugging your zip code and your state into this web site:

This web site is better for learning who stands for you in the House of Representatives (plug in your zip code and it will narrow the choices to two. The name that seems more familiar to you is probably your House rep):

Once you have pinned down your two Senators and your House Rep, pull up their web pages. Scroll to the bottom. If their offices aren’t listed there, go to the Contact page and find them.

Pick the state office that is closest to you (*NOT the Washington D.C. one).

Find the phone number for that office.

Put it in your phone.

Repeat for your other two representatives.


* You can put the Washington, D.C. numbers in your phone, but call them last. You are far more likely to reach a real person if you call the district offices.


Update: Connecticut Special Election Results: Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad

Connecticut held a trio of special elections on February 28, 2017. Democrats won two out of three races, and control of the state’s senate remains split between the Democrats and the Republicans.

Democrat Douglas McCrory trounced Republican Michael McDonald to claim the District 2 senate seat, and Democrat Dorinda Borer beat Republican Edward Granfield for a house seat in the 115th district.

Democrat Greg Cava lost to Republican Eric Berthel to win the senate seat in District 32, but there is a silver lining. Cava did a lot better than expected. District 32 has been described as “the most Republican senate district in the state” and he lost by only 10 points.

Turnout for the state senate races was reportedly low, hovering around 18 percent.

Read several stories from local, state, and national papers on the results of the races:



Original OTYCD post is below.


On February 28, the state of Connecticut holds three special elections–two for state senate seats, and one for the state house of representatives.

The Connecticut state senate races are extra-interesting because as of now, party representation is tied, 18 t0 18. The Democrats have a chance to gain control of the state senate through these special elections.

Do you live in Connecticut? Do you have friends and family who do? Support Douglas McCrory and Greg Cava for the state senate and Dorinda Keenan Borer for the state house of representatives in three special elections on February 28.

Democrat Douglas McCrory, now a seven-term member of Connecticut’s house of representatives, will run against Republican Michael McDonald in the special election for the 2nd State Senate District. (Eric Coleman, also a Democrat, vacated the seat to pursue a judgeship.) While the 2nd leans blue, McCrory is bracing for a fight. His Republican opponent has reportedly qualified for public financing.

Democrat Greg Cava hopes to claim the senate seat for district 32, which has been vacated by Robert Kane, who defeated Cava in the last state senate election. (Kane is leaving to join the state’s office of the Auditors of Public Accounts.) Cava will have two competitors: Republican Eric C. Berthel and Dan Lynch, who has no party affiliation.

Democrat Dorinda Keenan Borer hopes to keep the district 115 house of representatives seat blue. It, too, is open because its occupant, Democrat Stephen Dargan, left for a job with the state board of pardons and paroles. She will battle Republican Edward Granfield for the seat. (She does not yet have a campaign web site; we’ll update this post to include it when it appears online.)


Learn more about the McCrory-McDonald race:


See McCrory’s Connecticut House of Representatives web page:


Donate to McCrory’s campaign fund:


Visit Greg Cava’s web site (which reflects his 2016 race):


Community Activism · Elections · Good News · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends · Vote with your Dollars

Hooray! We Defended Delaware’s Trifecta!

Update: Congratulations! Stephanie Hansen won her Delaware race, preserving its Democratic trifecta. Thanks to all who helped make this happen, with a double helping of thanks going to former Vice President Joe Biden.

The Democratic party claims only six “trifectas” nationwide–states where the party controls the governorship, the state senate, and the state house.

Delaware is one of the six, and it is in danger of losing its trifecta.

Do you live in Delaware? Do you have friends and family who do? Help elect Democrat Stephanie Hansen to the Delaware State Senate on February 25.

Bethany Hall-Long vacated the seat, in the 10th state senate district, when she rose to the post of Lieutenant Governor. If Hansen fails, the Democrats’ 40-year hold on the state senate would end.

Hansen faces two rivals: Republican John Marino, and Libertarian Joseph Lanzendorfer. Flippable reports that the 10th district is competitive, and could be nail-bitingly close. Hall-Long won by just 267 votes in her last race.


Learn more about the special election:


Donate to Stephanie Hansen’s campaign:


Sign up to phone bank (make calls for) Stephanie Hansen (yes, you can do this even if you don’t live in Delaware):


Like Stephanie Hansen’s Facebook page:


Read Flippable’s take on the Delaware senate race here, and learn about other upcoming state-level elections:





Community Activism · Elections · Voting Rights, Fighting Voter Suppression

Help Florida’s Ex-Felons Regain The Right to Vote

Help ex-felons in Florida regain the right to vote by supporting efforts to change a punitive state law.

Full Frontal With Samantha Bee shone a light on this issue recently. Florida is one of just three states that revokes ex-felons’ voting rights for life. As you read this, more than 1.5 million Floridians cannot vote. That amounts to roughly 10 percent of Florida’s adult population, and about 20 percent of all African-Americans living in the state.

Some Floridians hope to change the law. They need 700,000 of their fellow citizens to sign a petition that will place the question of restoring voting rights to ex-felons on the state’s 2018 ballot.

If you haven’t yet, see the Full Frontal With Samantha Bee segment:


If you live in Florida, click the link below and sign the petition to place the question on the 2018 ballot. If you don’t, print out the PDF at the link below and send it to someone you know who does:


Donate to the Say Yes to Second Chances effort:


Read about the effects of the Florida law, and read about the people who are trying to change it:


Also, visit the Full Frontal with Samantha Bee website:


Follow Full Frontal With Samantha Bee on Twitter:



Like the show on Facebook:


And check out the spiffy merch in the show’s online shop:

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Thwart a Constitutional Convention by Electing Democrats to State Legislatures

Thwart any plans the Republicans might have to call a Constitutional Convention by helping to elect Democrats to state legislatures–your state’s, and other states. 

You know the importance of electing Democrats at all levels–federal, state, and local. You’ve read our blog posts on state-level legislative elections, and you might have done something to help. But there’s another reason to stay alert to state legislative elections, both in your state and in other states, and work to ensure that Democrats get elected.

The country can call a Constitutional Convention if two-thirds of the states band together and ask for one. Such a convention would allow its members to amend or even rewrite the Constitution.

What’s the problem? In order to call a Constitutional Convention, 34 states would have to  pass bills in their own legislatures to ask for one. A total of 38 states are needed to pass any measures cooked up at the convention.

As of mid-2017, 32 states have Republican-controlled legislatures, and 24 of those states have Republican “trifectas”–Republican governors AND a Republican-controlled legislature. Democrats have only six trifectas, and six more legislatures are split.

Worse, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative think tank, has been steadily working toward changing the state legislative landscape to open the door to a Constitutional Convention. It’s agitating for a balanced budget amendment–which would prevent Congress from passing a budget that increases the national debt.

To lay it out plainly: If a Constitutional Convention happens anytime soon, it will be dominated by Republican-leaning states, and will almost certainly be dominated by measures that reflect Republican and conservative points of view. They could write amendments that bans gay marriage, or abortion. They could augment the second amendment in a dangerous way. Heck, they could rewrite the first amendment to curtail protests. They could get up to all sorts of nasty shenanigans. That’s not to say their amendments will convince 38 states to vote in favor, but still.

You can thwart this in many ways.

First, learn which party, if any, controls your state legislature, and assess the strength or weakness of the party’s control.

If your state is controlled by Democrats, learn how to strengthen the party’s control by increasing their numbers. This might mean spending time or money on electing, re-electing, and defending state candidates who need your help.

If your state splits control between the parties, see what you can do to broaden and boost Democratic control. Again, this might mean spending time or money on electing, re-electing, and defending state candidates who need your help.

If your state is controlled by Republicans, you will want to commit time and money to increasing the number of Democrats, especially if your state has a Republican trifecta.

If you want to help affect legislatures beyond your state, target states with Republican trifectas and do your damnedest to break them.


Learn about upcoming state elections through Flippable:




Read about Constitutional Conventions, the modern pro-convention movement, and what’s at stake:


Check this Wikipedia page to see which party, if any, controls your state legislature:


Read about how Republicans now control many state legislatures:


Call Your State Legislators · Community Activism · Elections · Voting Rights, Fighting Voter Suppression

Learn If Your State Is Passing Laws That Restrict Voting, and Fight Back

Is your state trying to pass laws that make it harder to vote? Consult the Brennan Center’s info and maps, and if the answer is yes, fight back.

Voting restrictions are a scourge on democracy, but as long as they benefit Republicans, Republicans will try to pass them. We feel that if you are eligible to vote, and you want to vote, you should be able to vote, and you should be given many options for doing so to let you choose the means that works best for your schedule.

The Brennan Center for Justice, located at the New York University School of Law, tracks state bills that intend or have the effect of making it harder to vote.


First, read the Brennan Center’s Voting Laws Roundup for 2017, and see if your state is mentioned:


Also see the Brennan Center’s interactive map of New Voting Restrictions in America:


Once you know what’s going on in your state, call your state-level reps to speak out against laws that restrict voting.

Don’t know who your state house rep and state senator are? Plug your address and zip code into this search tool (note–the address is key. If you only give your zip code, you won’t get the two names you most need):

Then click on the names of your state house rep and state senator. Their contact info will come up.

Here’s a sample script that you can modify accordingly:

“Dear (State Senator/House Rep Lastname), I ask you to oppose (House/Senate bill ####), which will have the effect of making it harder to cast a vote. Everyone who is eligible to vote, and wants to, should have the opportunity to do so. Bills and laws that make it harder to vote are inherently anti-democratic. Please do not sponsor, co-sponsor, or support bills that stop people from voting. Thank you.”

Community Activism · Elections · Escape Your Bubble · Read, Educate Yourself, Prepare · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Removing Trump Is Not Enough

Just sayin’. Your work is not done when Trump is. We have to remove all the elected Republicans who installed him as a candidate, and all the Republicans who have placed country over party. 

If you learn nothing else from the Trump crisis, learn this: Democracy is fragile, and it needs you to make it work. Yes, you personally. The price of gaining a voice is gaining the responsibility to use it.

Trump will go, but you must not. He is the fetid product of decades of political rot promulgated and abetted by the leaders of the Republican party.

In order for democracy to work in America, we need at least two functional parties. Given the difficulty of launching a viable party in this country, we’re more likely to be stuck with the Republicans for a while yet. A malfunctioning heap of smoking rubble beats a shiny new political machine if the heap of rubble has name recognition and familiar infrastructure.

Trump is not the sole problem. Every Republican who assented to choosing Trump as its candidate is part of the problem, as is every Republican who side-steps rules and norms if they get in the way of what the party wants.

That said, not every Republican did those things, but too many did. Even after Trump is removed, we have to work to elect Republicans who respect facts and reality rather than making up their own versions and trying to group-think them into being.


The types of Republicans who have to go include:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who broke the rules by refusing to give Merrick Garland a hearing as a Supreme Court nominee when Obama was president, and pushed through a far-right candidate, Neil Gorsuch, under Trump. McConnell made up a bullshit excuse about presidents not getting to choose SCOTUS candidates in the last years of their terms to bar Garland, and later refused to entertain the notion that perhaps Trump’s pick shouldn’t get consideration while he was under investigation by the FBI–a far more serious set of circumstances.

McConnell also stopped Obama from going public about the Trump-Russia revelations in 2016 in a bipartisan way, and he threatened to accuse Obama of playing politics if he tried. Anyone who radiates that much bad faith shouldn’t hold elected office at all, never mind lead the Senate.


Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who has demonstrated his lack of spine on multiple occasions. He has consistently pushed back against calls to investigate the scandals arising from Trump’s Russia scandals, and has downplayed other oddities that would have him screaming bloody murder had they been done by Democrats.

A regrettably routine example of his spinelessness appeared after Greg Gianforte won the special election for Montana’s open house seat the day after he body-slammed a reporter. Ryan decried the violence and called on Gianforte to apologize but said he would still seat him in good faith: “If he wins, he has been chosen by the people of Montana who their congressman is going to be. I’m going to let the people of Montana decide who they want as their representative.”

Not seating a guy who attacks a reporter who asked him a simple question that he should have expected is a no-brainer. If Gianforte can’t handle the stress of campaigning in Montana, one of our most rural states, how will he handle having mics shoved in his face all day, every day? Ryan should have insisted that he complete some anger-management classes first, at minimum. Failing to enforce norms teaches that it’s OK to body-slam a reporter who’s just doing his job. Not only is that not OK, it eats at the very foundations of our democracy–the first amendment is first for a reason.


And speaking of Gianforte, he’s another Republican who has to go–not just because he attacked a reporter, but because he lied about what happened in his official statement. This fact that gets glossed over in recounting the incident, and it’s vitally important that we not lose sight of it. Here, for the record, is the statement Gianforte released:

Bozeman, Mont. — “Tonight, as Greg was giving a separate interview in a private office, The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions. Jacobs was asked to leave. After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground. It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.” — Shane Scanlon, spokesperson for Greg for Montana.

So, Gianforte didn’t just attack a reporter, his campaign spokesman wildly mischaracterized what happened. Anyone who’s heard the audio or read the account from the Fox news crew who saw the attack knows this statement is blatantly at odds with reality. Any candidate who lies in this manner about something so critical, knowing there are witnesses to his behavior (it’s not clear if Gianforte and his team were aware of the audio recording), is unfit for high office.


Yet another Republican who needs to go is Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, for defending a $2 trillion error in the FY2018 and expressing confidence in the flagrantly borked numbers.

It’s no secret that the Republicans crave tax cuts for the rich like vampires crave blood, but they’ve never resorted to alternative math on quite this big a scale before. Embracing a $2 trillion error on top of math that was already a fantasy (the budget assumed a three percent growth rate, which economists say just doesn’t happen) shows that too many Republicans are just not serious-minded enough to handle the hard, tedious, unglamorous work of governing.


Electing Democrats is not enough. We have to work to elect sane Republicans as well. Republicans such as John McCain and Mitt Romney.

We heard that groan, and we feel you. But! We won’t be able to elect a Congress of 100 percent Democrats–not gonna happen, ever. Sorry. And sitting aside bemusedly, election after election, as sane Republicans got knocked out in primaries by mendacious loony-cuckoopants Republicans helped get us into this mess.

To be clear: sane Republicans are Republicans who you don’t agree with on much, or at all, but who act like grownups nonetheless.

They are people who would never pull the shit that McConnell did. They are people who would react far more strongly to Gianforte’s transgressions than Ryan did. They are people who would seek tax cuts through talking to the whole Congress and making their case, not by waiting till they have a majority and putting out budget numbers that are so wrong and unworkable as to be insulting.

As much as it might pain you, you need to be alert to the sane Republicans in your midst, and you need to support them with time and money. Please think about it.


Read about how McConnell blocked Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland, and how Trump thanked him subsequently for his efforts:


Read about how McConnell tanked Obama’s effort to get a bi-partisan admission of Russian interference while the 2016 campaign was still live:


Read about how Ryan said he would seat Greg Gianforte even though he assaulted a reporter:


Read reactions to Gianforte’s attack:


Read about the $2 trillion budget error and Mulvaney’s admission that it’s an error, and he nonetheless stands by the numbers: