Elections · Read, Educate Yourself, Prepare · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends · Vote with your Dollars

Think About Which House Reps to Support, or Oppose, in 2018

Think about which incumbent members of the House of Representatives you want to support, or oppose, in 2018.

The strength, and the bane, of being a member of the House of Representatives is you have to run for re-election every two years. If you won your seat in a special election, as Greg Gianforte did in Montana, you have less time than that before you have to go a-stumping again.

Now’s the time when you should think about which members of the House of Representatives you want to throw time and money behind.

Here’s the good news: Mid-terms traditionally favor the party that’s out of power.

Here’s the better news: Democrats are PISSED by Trump and his bullshit, and the Republicans in Congress and their bullshit, and are super-motivated to chuck the latter out of office. FiveThirtyEight, in an article we’ve posted a link to below, posits that the Democrats can retake the house without making overtures to Trump voters.

Tackle this question by starting with your own House rep. Is he or she a Dem? Is he or she doing a good job? Plan on giving them your time and money.

Is your House rep a good Dem, and vulnerable to being primaried, or likely to face a Republican challenger? Plan on giving them even more time and money.

Is your House rep a Republican? If he or she is sane, and responsive to the needs of their district as a whole, consider helping.

If your House rep is an asshole Republican, plan on devoting time and money to his or her opponent.

If your House rep is a good Dem in a super-safe district or a Republican who’s unlikely to be defeated, throw some support to vulnerable Dems.

Tom O’Halleran, of Arizona’s First, might need you. He’s a rookie in a pale blue district. Same again for Stephanie Murphy of Florida’s Seventh; Jacky Rosen, of Nevada’s Third; Carol Shea-Porter, of New Hampshire’s First; and Josh Gottheimer, of New Jersey’s Fifth.Tim Walz, of Minnesota’s First, could use you, too. Elected in 2006, he’s in a tossup district that went for Trump by five points.

Alternately, you could target Republican incumbents. Steve Knight, of California’s 25th, and Darrell Issa, of California’s 49th, are vulnerable. So too is Mike Coffman of Colorado’s Sixth, Jason Lewis of Minnesota’s Second, Will Hurd of Texas’s 23rd, and Barbara Comstock of Virginia’s 10th.

Now let’s go over what form support can take. Yes, set aside some money to donate. Yes, buy and display a lawn sign or a bumper sticker. Yes, join a postcard GOTV campaign. Yes, set aside time to phone-bank. And go out on the appointed day and vote, and bring eligible friends and family with you!

For the house race that affects you directly, we at OTYCD are asking you to become fluent in the backstories and the platforms of your preferred candidate. Become an expert in House Rep Lastname or Challenger Lastname. Embrace them. Become an evangelist for them. Be ready to sell your friends and family on that person for your district.

If you can, start now. Learn what you need to know at your leisure, while we’re still in 2017. Review the material at night before you go to bed. Figure out how to express your support for House Rep/Challenger Lastname in your own words, with feeling. THAT is what convinces other people to vote–an authentic, heartfelt endorsement from someone they know and trust.

Work on it. It’ll be worth your time.


See the Wikipedia page on 2018 House of Representative elections:



Read the FiveThirtyEight piece on how Democrats don’t need Trump voters in 2018:


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

Read This Incisive Report from Flippable on Four Months of Supporting State Elections

Read this incisive, clear-eyed report from Flippable on what its organizers have learned in its first four months. 

Flippable is one of many activist organizations that launched in the wake of the 2016 election. Its goal is to turn America Democratic one seat at a time, on every level–federal, state, and local. Its report on its first four months of existence makes for incisive reading and provides fuel for hope.

The biggest takeaway for you: Early money–and attention, and volunteer support–really is like yeast. Cheryl Turpin, who ended up losing her house seat race for Virginia’s 85th district, lost by only 362 votes and nearly erased the lead her Republican opponent had built.

Key quote from the story:  “When we asked Cheryl what would have made the difference for her—what would have secured her those extra 362 votes—she replied, “One extra week. And maybe not having a blizzard on election day.”

“Why such an emphasis on timing? Cheryl said, “The opposition, Rocky Holcomb, had started campaigning in June…Despite Rocky’s five-month advantage, he won by only 362 votes—in a place known as the second most Republican city in the country. I’m confident that with another week, we could have succeeded.”


Read the Flippable report:




Follow Flippable on Twitter:



Like Flippable on Facebook:



Donate to Flippable:








Community Activism · Fighting Bigotry, Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, Transphobia... · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Learn from Daryl Davis, A Black Man Who Convinced More Than Two Dozen KKK Members to Leave the Group

Learn from Daryl Davis, a black musician who has devoted himself to convincing white supremacists to leave the Ku Klux Klan, with surprising success.

In a February 2017 Atlantic magazine article titled ‘Every Racist I Know Voted for Donald Trump’, Conor Friedersdorf spoke with Davis about his approach. The piece contains wisdom that you can apply when speaking to family and friends who voted for Trump, and even in conversations with diehards.

To summarize Friedersdorf’s distillation of Davis’s approach:

Before you engage, be as familiar with the other person’s position as you are with your own.

Invite them to a conversation–NOT a debate.

Look for things you and they have in common.

Keep talking, even if you have to break off and resume later in the week, or the month, or the year. Being able to keep a conversation going–however tumultuous–is better than refusing to talk. Silence can lead to violence.

Stay patient.

Make deliberate efforts to escape your bubble.

If you argue, don’t condescend.

Let the other person explain their cause. Don’t explain it for them.


You may never get as good at talking to your opponents as Davis is–some klansmen have given him their old uniforms as they abandon their bigoted beliefs. But if you can reach even a few people, and get them to think and engage, that is a victory in and of itself.


Read ‘Every Racist I Know Voted for Donald Trump’:



Listen to the episodes of the Love + Radio podcasts where Davis talks about his adventures at length:



Purchase and read Davis’s book, Klan-Destine Relationships: A Black Man’s Odyssey in the Ku Klux Klan (warning: As of April 2017, it’s out of print and pricey):



Visit Davis’s web site:



Learn to Welcome Others to the Movement, Period, Full Stop

Learn to welcome others to the movement, period, full stop.

In November, New York magazine published a fascinating article that didn’t get the recognition it deserved. Titled Why Some Protests Succeed While Others Fail and filed under its Science of Us blog, the story contained mind-blowing revelations about how best to cultivate and direct the anti-Trump energy that arose after the election.


First, let’s list the takeaways from the piece, as identified by the writer, Jesse Singal. These boil down to:

Use Trump to draw people in, but don’t make him your lasting focus. Otherwise, your energy and your momentum will evaporate along with him when he goes.

Welcome everyone who wants to protest with youand make them feel welcome.

Don’t be violent.

The mind-blowing bits appear in the section where Singal discusses the second point, about the value of making people feel welcome. He cites the work of sociologist Ziad Munson, who has studied why people join and become increasingly active in causes such as the pro-life movement. Here are the mind-blowing bits, quoted in full (bold is added by OTYCD):

One of the key things he’s found, over and over and over, is that people often get involved in movements without having particularly strong ideological commitments to them.

Take the anti-abortion activists who were the subject of Munson’s book The Making of Pro-life Activists: How Social Mobilization Works. “I went back and I tried to determine what were their beliefs about abortion the first time they were involved in some kind of pro-life activity,” whether a protest in front of a clinic, the March for Life, or whatever else, he explained. “At that moment, only half of them would have considered themselves pro-life.” Moreover, a quarter “would have openly said they were pro-choice.” So why do they get involved? Someone asks them to. In one instance, for example, a woman’s eventually intense, long-term involvement in anti-abortion causes began simply because her doctor, whom she respected a great deal, asked her to come to an event. Prior to that, it just wasn’t something she had thought of.

Why is this mind-blowing? It shows you how much power you have.

Yes, you.

You’re doing so much good work to push back against Trump. You have one more task to add to your To-Do List: Ask someone to join you in pushing back against Trump.

You don’t have to do it thisverysecond. But you should think about who you want to invite, and when, and what you want to invite them to do.

Maybe you ask them to go to a protest with you. Maybe you ask them to go to a League of Women Voters’ meeting with you. Maybe you ask them to phone-bank for a Democratic candidate with you. Maybe you ask them to go to a member of Congress’s next local town hall meeting with you. Maybe you ask them to write and stamp postcards with you.

Whatever works. Whatever makes sense. Just do it.

Then keep doing it. Keep inviting other people–especially those who like you and trust you–to join you in pushing back against Trump.

Keep doing it until Trump is gone and we’ve cleaned up all the wreckage he’ll leave behind.

Community Activism · Fighting Bigotry, Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, Transphobia... · Read, Educate Yourself, Prepare · Save These Tools · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends · Vote with your Dollars

Enroll in Resistance School

Update: Resistance School is not currently sitting in-person classes or live-streaming, but you can see full videos on the website, http://www.resistanceschool.com.

Enroll in Resistance School, a free course in political advocacy that is available in person at Harvard University’s Kennedy School, or online.

A group of Harvard graduate students created the course, which teaches you the ins and outs of advocacy, organizing, building a movement, and sustaining it.

The in-person course takes place during the month of April 2017, with online streaming links to follow. The first class will be held Wednesday, April 5. As of the first weekend of April, students from 48 states had enrolled.


Sign up for Resistance School here:



Like its Facebook page:



Follow its Twitter page:



Action Alerts · Community Activism

Help Footsteps Help People Who Leave Ultra-Orthodox Communities

Help people who leave Jewish ultra-orthodox communities by supporting the work of Footsteps, an organization that helps people transition to secular life.

Leaving an extreme fundamentalist community is exceptionally difficult by design. These groups try to make themselves as immersive as possible, so that leaving means leaving behind everything you know and love–your family, your neighborhood, your school, your place of worship–absolutely everything. Unsurprisingly, people who leave are vulnerable to deadly despair.

Ultra-orthodox Jewish communities in America make things even harder through their effective shunning of those who go. The authoritarian level of control that prevails in these areas maximizes the pain of breaking away. And those who leave have to face a bewildering new world which they are ill-prepared to navigate.

Footsteps is a New York-based entity founded in 2003 that helps people who have left ultra-orthodox Judaism behind. It assists leavers who are at every stage of the coming-out process with resources, confidential services, and community-building programs. It has helped over 1,100 leavers to date, about 20 percent of whom identify as LBGTQ.


Visit the Footsteps website:



Read its FAQ:



Donate to Footsteps:



Read a New York Times Magazine piece on the ex-Orthodox and how Footsteps helps them:


Learn about the high stakes faced by people who leave ultra-Orthodox communities:





Community Activism · Escape Your Bubble · Read, Educate Yourself, Prepare · Stand Up for Norms · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends · Vote with your Dollars

Read George Lakoff’s ‘Don’t Think of An Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate’ 10th Anniversary Edition

Stop whatever it is you’re doing, get a copy of the 10th anniversary edition of Don’t Think of an Elephant! by George Lakoff, clear your schedule, and read it. If you already own it, reread it and refresh yourself on it. Do not stop rereading it until you are fully fluent in its concepts. If you are fluent in its concepts, buy and give the book to someone else who isn’t.

Lakoff is a cognitive scientist and linguist. He knows what the rest of us know all too well: left-leaning folks suck at messaging. Unlike the rest of us, he has solid ideas about how to fix it.

In one slim, elegant volume, Lakoff lays out what the right-leaning folks are doing successfully; why they are successful; and what we can learn from them.

Best of all, he shows how left-leaning values are American values and gives us all hope that we can reclaim the national debate by reframing the national debate. It’s doable. It won’t be easy, but it is doable.

While there’s too much to summarize, a big thing to remember is to flatly refuse to embrace and repeat language popularized by right-wingers. Using their language validates the screwy ideas they embody. We need to devise and repeat our own language,  and it can’t just be a mess of talking points–it has to spring from an authentic, cohesive worldview. Conveniently, Lakoff shows how the left does in fact have one, and he talks about how to articulate and defend it.

This is a direct order: Read Don’t Think of an Elephant! and make it the engine that drives your activism.

Buy the 10th anniversary edition of Don’t Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate through Powell’s (this is the 2014 edition):


Read Lakoff’s blog:


Like him on Facebook:


Follow him on Twitter: