Leave Your House

This OTYCD entry originally posted in August 2017.


If you’re going to effectively push back against Trump, you have to commit to leaving your house more than you might like. 


Robert Putnam’s 2001 book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, is a classic for good reason. He traces how civic and community engagement started falling in the 70s or so and continued to drop. He also examines many factors that might have contributed to the decline (increased TV-watching and longer commutes seem to matter). The data he gathers shows that the generation who lived through World War II were the last exceptionally engaged group of Americans. Their children (commonly called the Baby Boomers) somehow failed to follow their example, and the generations that followed the Boomers were even less engaged. This is a problem because widespread civic engagement is the gasoline that fuels democracy–it can’t function without it.


In a subsequent 2010 paper published in the Journal of Democracy, titled Still Bowling Alone? The Post 9/11 Split, Putnam and his co-author, Thomas H. Sander, note that people who were young during the 9/11 attacks–from elementary school to college-age–show more civic involvement. This is good news. (Scroll down for a link to this paper.)


Cataclysmic events that affect everyone, such as World War II and 9/11, seem to have a lasting impact in the form of greater civic engagement among those who live through them. Let’s be dead clear on this–the Trump administration is not on the order of those events, but the 2016 election shocked and mobilized millions of people into action, or into becoming more active than they had been.


Bowling Alone appeared in August 2001, before social media really took hold, but the book makes it clear that routine face-to-face engagement with other human beings is absolutely vital to the survival of democracy. This doesn’t mean that social media lacks value. It means that its greatest value is in cementing and enhancing relationships that also exist in the real world.


Which brings us to the headline of this post: Leave your house. If you’re reading this blog, you’ve done that already, if only to join the big national and international protests that happened throughout 2017. But you need to think about leaving your house on a semi-regular basis to push back against Trump. You need to show up and contribute to groups devoted to that cause, and you need to cultivate friendships that you make in those groups.


Putnam notes that the Rotarians, the Lions Club, the Odd Fellows, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and similar organizations were hemorrhaging members as the 20th century yielded to the 21st. If we work at it, we can ensure that the new anti-Trump groups–the Indivisibles, the Solidarities, and other local coalitions–rise to take their place and keep the garden of democracy watered and nourished.


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Purchase and read Bowling Alone:




Read Putnam and Sander’s 2010 paper, which serves as a hopeful update to Bowling Alone:



Join Run For Something, And, You Know, Run For Something

This OTYCD post originally appeared in November 2017.


Support Run for Something, an organization that recruits people who are under the age of 35 to run for elected office.


Look at Congress and an inescapable fact jumps out at you. Most of the members–the good ones and the bad ones–are on the old side. Some are downright elderly. To be fair, age is not, in and of itself, a barrier to holding elected office, nor should it be. But history shows that Congressfolks are all too happy to coast on their momentum as incumbents long after they’ve lost their drive to effectively serve their constituents.


Run For Something launched on Inauguration Day 2017. It’s one of many progressive organization that sprung up in the wake of the November 2016 election. Its purpose is to recruit young talent–people aged 35 and younger–to run for elected office as state legislators, mayors, city councilors, and the like. It is dedicated to helping more young people get on the ballot generally, and it hopes to build a progressive farm team of left-leaning political talent.


The organization will talk to everyone who fits the profile and expresses interest. It will liaise with similar organizations, such as EMILY’s List, She Should Run, Emerge, the Latino Victory Project, and others. In select cases, it will furnish money and staff.


Since we wrote and queued this post, Run For Something proved itself in spectacular fashion on November 8, 2017. It ran 72 candidates in 14 states for state and local races across the country, and 32 of those candidates won. (That number might rise to 34 once recounts in two Virginia House of Delegates races are completed.)


Those neophyte candidates backed by Run For Something notched a success rate of more than 40 percent, when 10 percent is far more typical.


Its winners included Danica Roem, the transgender woman who defeated a longterm incumbent and an avowed homophobe for a Virginia legislature, and Chris Hurst, a former journalist whose journalist girlfriend was killed live, on-air, by a deranged, armed man. He ran for a Virginia state seat on a gun safety platform and beat a three-time incumbent who was backed by the NRA.


Run For Something also supported Ashley Bennett, who got angry when a representative of hers in Atlantic City, N.J., mocked attendees of the Women’s March by wondering if the protest would end in time for them to come home and cook dinner. She ran for his Atlantic County board seat and wrested it away from him.


Run For Something is doing powerful work at the most granular level of government–school committees, planning boards, and the like–spotting young, promising talents and building a strong, progressive farm team from which tomorrow’s political stars will come. It deserves your support.


Visit the Run For Something webpage:



Learn about the current slate of Run For Something candidates:



Donate to Run For Something:



Follow Run For Something on Twitter:



Like it on Facebook:



Read stories about Run For Something and its November 2017 success:





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Support the Committee to Protect Journalists

This OTYCD entry originally posted in July 2017.


Support the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent nonprofit that defends the rights of journalists to report the news without reprisal.


We at OTYCD knew we would devote a post to the CPJ at some point. Trump’s July 2, 2017 tweet threatening CNN forced our hand.


Since its founding in 1981, the CPJ has vigorously defended journalists around the world from all sorts of threats. At its core it is devoted to promoting and defending the value of accurate information in a free society. It tracks how many journalists are killed for simply doing their jobs, how many have been jailed, and how many are missing. It monitors the levels of censorship in various countries. It shines a light on attacks on the press. It issues safety guides and dispatches emergency response teams to journalists and media crews working in dangerous areas.


The CPJ does good, necessary work. Please support it.


Visit the CPJ website:



Like the CPJ on Facebook:



Follow it on Twitter:



Donate to the CPJ:


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Remember to Donate to Food Banks During the Summer Months, When Schools Are Closed

This OTYCD post originally appeared in April 2018.


Remember to make a point of donating to your local food banks during the summer months, when schools are closed.


Students who receive free and reduced-price school meals can suffer during the summer, when their schools close. Their schools are often their most reliable source of nutritious meals. While many communities have programs that feed children under 18 during the summer, not all do.


It’s almost a cliche to volunteer at soup kitchens and food banks during Thanksgiving and Christmas, but summer is when the need can be keenest.


Food donations are always welcome at food banks, but donations of money are even more effective. Also ask your food bank if they accept donations of diapers, toilet paper, and feminine hygiene products, which cannot be purchased with food stamps.



Find your nearest food bank:




Donate to the AmpleHarvest.org food pantry network:




Find the nearest summer meals program in your community:



Support Change the Ref, Created By the Parents of Joaquin “Guac” Oliver, Who Died in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Attack

This OTYCD post originally appeared in May 2018.


Support Change the Ref, created by the parents of Joaquin “Guac” Oliver, who was one of the 17 who died in the attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.


Manuel and Patricia Oliver started Change the Ref after they lost their 17-year-old son in the shooting at his high school on Valentine’s Day 2018.


According to a Washington Post article, the organization’s name came from a frustrating basketball game Oliver played days before he died:


“The name of the organization was inspired by a conversation Oliver had with his son only days before he was killed. Joaquin and Manuel were frustrated by a basketball referee’s calls during a game they were playing.

Joaquin noted that the referee may have had connections with the other team.

“Immediately [after the shooting] I remembered that conversation I had with my son, about the need to have a fair game and the need to change the ref,” Oliver said. “If we have politicians that have agreements with powerful groups or lobbyists, they don’t have even an intention of starting a debate.”


Change the Ref is dedicated to the memory of Joaquin and those who died in the Parkland shooting. It exists to engage young people and help them learn to be activists for causes that matter to them.


Initially, Change the Ref hopes to do this by offering scholarships, hosting town halls, forums, and speaking events at colleges, as well as workshops for budding activists. It also intends to create an app that will help young voters research issues and candidates.



Visit the Change the Ref webpage:




See its About page:




Donate to Change the Ref (as of mid-April 2018, this GoFundMe had raised almost $35,000 of its $100,000 goal):




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Like Change the Ref on Facebook:




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Buy Change the Ref merch:




Read an April 14, 2018 Washington Post article about Change the Ref, which includes a link to a video of Manuel creating a mural in honor of his son:



Support The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

This OTYCD blog post first appeared in January 2018.


Support the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, America’s premier civil and human rights coalition.


Founded in 1950, it has coordinated national lobbying efforts on behalf of every major piece of civil rights law since 1957. More than 200 national organizations that concern themselves with civil and human rights belong to the Leadership Conference.


Recently, it has been all over efforts to defend DACA and the Dreamers; it has fought efforts to suppress voting rights; and it has pushed back on Trump’s attempted ban on transgender military personnel. Trump’s been keeping the conference busy, that’s for sure.


The Conference also sounds the alarm about lousy federal court appointments and tracks the civil and human rights voting records of each session of Congress, among other things.



Visit the home page of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights:




Check out the civil and human rights voting records of every session of Congress from the 91st to the 113th, and learn about crummy pending federal appointments that you should oppose:




Visit its online Action Center:




Donate to the organization:




Like it on Facebook:




Follow it on Twitter:




Also follow its president and CEO, Vanita Gupta, on Twitter:



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See the Complete List of Congressional Committees and Caucuses

This OTYCD entry originally posted in March 2017.


This blog is called One Thing You Can Do. Its advantage is also its drawback. OTYCD posts one new item per day. That’s it. Just one.


It’s entirely possible that you, the reader, have sat there and waited for us to get around to posting about something you desperately want to hear about, so you can go do something about it. You can always call your members of Congress and ask them to address what worries you, but it’s hard to beat the nagging feeling that your plea could be more precise.


Here’s a tool that might help you get where you want to go. Below is a link to the full current list of all the committees and caucuses in both chambers of Congress:



If you’re concerned about something you’ve seen in the news, and you want to target your complaint more precisely, check this list first and figure out which committee seems to be the best match.


For example, let’s say you want to tell your members of Congress to push back against Trump’s executive order on getting rid of two laws for each new law that is passed, a topic that OTYCD has yet to post about. You might want to check the House and Senate committees on Small Business, see if any of your representatives are members, and tailor your statement accordingly.


Or let’s say you’re angry about Trump’s plans to dismantle Dodd-Frank legislation, another issue that OTYCD hasn’t gotten to yet. Before calling your MoCs, see if they belong to the House Financial Service Committee or the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.


The clever folks at GovTrack have their own page on Congressional Committees that has an Upcoming Committee Meetings tracker at the top:



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