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Read Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? by Obama Alum Alyssa Mastromonaco

Read Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House, a refreshingly open and honest book by Alyssa Mastromonaco, alumna of the Obama administration. 

Mastromonaco served as the White House deputy chief of staff for operations and assistant to President Barack Obama from 2011 to 2014.

Her book is a riveting account of what it’s like to work in high-profile political jobs and it’s a breezy read, too. She salts it with useful tips (if you save your bosses money, make sure to tell them; never be a jerk; everyone is replaceable) but its greater value is in showing someone facing challenges and overcoming them.

Mastromonaco’s book, like Al Franken’s book, is one that you need to read right now. She never uses the phrase ‘impostor syndrome’, as far as I can remember, but her approach, her openness, and her willingness to talk about things others would just find too embarrassing, such as how she wrestled with episodes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) on the road, make it a gem.

Mastromonaco is like the senior executive sitting down nervous interns or entry-level staffers on their first day and telling them, “You can do this. I did it, and here’s how.” If you are interested in running for office or helping someone run, it will give you confidence that you can do it.

Note also: Her Twitter bio says she has a new podcast coming soon. We suspect it’ll launch with Crooked Media, given that Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Favreau, and Tommy Vietor are peripheral characters in her book. We’ll update this page accordingly when the time comes.

 

Buy Mastromonaco’s book at these independent bookstores:

http://www.strandbooks.com/index.cfm

http://www.powells.com

 

Follow Mastromonaco on Twitter:

@AlyssaMastro44

Community Activism · Ethics · Read, Educate Yourself, Prepare

Read There Is No Good Card For This: What to Say and Do When Life Is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love

Read There Is No Good Card for This: What to Say and Do When Life is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love, by Kelsey Crowe and Emily McDowell.

 

TINGCFT might seem like a not-quite-on-topic choice for a political blog, but bear with us. It’s a great textbook on how to have awkward conversations, how to listen, and how not to be a jerk–skills that are ever more precious and valuable in the time of Trump.

 

McDowell is the genius behind a series of greeting cards that you’d actually want to send to someone who’s going through hell but still has a sense of humor. Crowe holds a doctorate in social welfare, and founded Help Each Other Out, which teaches people how to avoid being the person who ghosts or says and does unhelpful things when bad stuff happens to friends and family.

 

The whole book is a gem, but in particular, it goes over how to help people in the grip of illness, fertility issues, divorce, unemployment, and grief.

 

Some general takeaways:

 

It’s better to do something than nothing. Saying ‘I’m sorry’ is doing something.

Remember it’s about them, not you. Don’t make their problem about you.

Listen.

Your kindness is your credential.

The person who needs help may not respond to your overture the way you’d expect. Don’t hold that against them, and don’t let their response deter you from helping others.

 

 

Buy There Is No Good Card for This at great independent book stores such as The Strand or Powell’s:

http://www.strandbooks.com/index.cfm

http://www.powells.com/book/there-is-no-good-card-for-this-9780062469991/1-5

 

 

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Action Alerts · Community Activism · Elections · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Learn to Evangelize (In a Good Way)

Learn, and practice, how to tell the story of the candidates you support, and become an evangelist for them.

 

One of the most important things you can do to push back against Trump is convince people to come out and vote against his democracy-destroying agenda. But if you really want to be effective, you want to immerse yourself in the merits and the story of a non-Trumpish candidate, fully master it, and be ready to make a powerful, personal, eloquent case for voting for them.

 

Now, a personal confession. Sarah Jane here. I’m the founder of the OTYCD blog and the lead wrangler of research and of its anonymous writers. This is my 2016 story.

 

So it’s late 2015 or so and the election is starting to gear up. I resign myself to voting for Clinton. I’m meh on her but I don’t think Bernie can do the job, the Republicans are all thoroughly horrible, and the third party options look miserable, too.

 

But at some point I see clips from that eleven-hour Congressional Benghazi hearing.

 

And I see Clinton own those Republican twerps like the boss she is. Own. Them. Completely and thoroughly. She cleans the floor with them till she can see her face in it, and she doesn’t even break a sweat. She slays. She dominates. She destroys. Through her actions and her attitude, she reveals the hearings for what they are–a formal, coordinated attempt to kneecap her 2016 presidential campaign–and she ain’t havin’ it. At all.

 

And I realized: She can do this, and she wants to do this. She is crazy-smart and ludicrously skilled, and she has a skin as thick as a rhino’s, and she actually wants to be president. She’s been through hell and back so many times, from so many different directions, she could write a guidebook on it for Lonely Planet. She has taken far more than her allotted ration of shit in this life. She has long since earned the right to walk in the woods and play with her grandkids. But she wants to do this. Damn. Whoa.

 

In that moment I became a Clinton convert. The scales fell from my eyes. I went from ‘meh’ to ‘yeah!’ I was *excited* to vote for her. Not as much as I was for Obama, but I was excited.

 

Now, here’s my sin: I didn’t tell anyone about my change of heart. At no point before the 2016 election did I speak up to anyone else and say why I was excited to vote for her.

 

I donated to her campaign. I voted for her in the primary. I stayed on top of the issues. I watched all three debates. I voted for her for president. But never did I ever sit with friends and family and spontaneously say why I was so jazzed to vote for Hillary Clinton.

 

I live in a state that went overwhelmingly for Clinton. I can tell myself that not speaking well of her once I started thinking well of her made no difference.

 

But c’mon. What if more of us had shown genuine enthusiasm for voting for her? What if more of us had evangelized for her?

 

What if our friends and family made note of that, and passed the word to others–that there are people out there, sane and fine people, who actually like Clinton and want to vote for her?

 

Don’t get me wrong–I realize she had a fine contingent of folks who did speak well of her, early and often, and I realize a goodly number of them read this blog. I’m wondering how things might be different if that contingent were bigger, and if folks who share my Clinton journey had stepped up and joined it.

 

The overriding perception was that those who cast votes for either major presidential candidate in 2016 did so while holding their noses.

 

Remember the ‘Giant Meteor 2016’ bumper stickers? Judging by the way the election was covered, no one would blame you for thinking it was a giant nationwide game of ‘Would You Rather?’

 

It wasn’t, or at least it wasn’t for me. I liked Clinton, and I still like her, and what she stands for. And I’ve gone from being irked to pissed to stabby about how the right wing noise machine has done its level best to smear her for 30 goddamn years.

 

It’s too late to do right by Hillary Clinton, the presidential candidate. But you can devote yourself to becoming a better evangelist for non-Trumpish candidates running in special elections and in 2018 who will restore and defend our democracy. (“Non-Trumpish” candidates include Republicans and conservatives who have spines, btw.)

 

You don’t have to formally join their campaigns to be effective. Heck, you might be more effective if you don’t. Just do your damnedest to learn about them, and what they stand for, and figure out what it is about them that you connect with most, and tell others why.

 

You have power. You have friends and family who listen to you and value what you have to say. Hearing people you trust speak happily, and authentically, about a candidate for office helps that candidate’s chances of winning that office.

 

Speaking up is scary. Some people will challenge you, talk over you, even yell at you and try to shout you down. But you need to speak up anyway. It’s too important. Do not succumb to silence. Do what you have to do to learn how to speak up, and get good at it, and start working on it now, in summer 2017, well before the primaries.

 

We need you. We need every voice. Our democracy depends on it.

 

Update: Since I wrote this I realized (headsmack) that many of those who stuck up for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign got shouted down, and they’re still getting shouted down months later. I can only point back to my own experience.

 

I know most of my crowd was pro-Clinton, but no one expressed spontaneous enthusiasm for her. I don’t think I would have felt any pushback if I had voiced my enthusiasm in real life (online is of course another matter) but I can’t know because I did not think to try.

 

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Elections · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms · Voting Rights, Fighting Voter Suppression

VOTE. HELP YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY VOTE. TODAY IS THE DAY. THE MIDTERM ELECTIONS ARE HERE.

The time has come.

 

It’s worth all caps.

 

VOTE. HELP YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY VOTE. TODAY IS THE DAY. THE MIDTERMS ARE HERE!

 

Know also: Some Democrats will lose some races. We at OTYCD would be delighted if every Democrat wins every race everywhere, but come on, that’s not gonna happen.

 

Know also: Trump, notoriously, has done nothing to secure America’s voting infrastructure against onslaughts from Russian cyber-attacks.

 

Whatever happens, stay strong, stay realistic, and stay here and carry on the fight.

 

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. In the lead-up to the midterms, we’re re-running important posts. Please click on the announcement from Sarah Jane to learn why you’re not seeing timely daily posts.

 

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 · Candidates · Choose Your Core Four · Community Activism · Read, Educate Yourself, Prepare · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends · Vote with your Dollars · Voting Rights, Fighting Voter Suppression

Work Like Never Before: Countdown to the Midterms

Sarah Jane here. I’m the lead writer and editor on the One Thing You Can Do blog.

 

We’re post-Kavanaugh. We’re angry and exhausted but anger is winning out.

 

Here is the silver lining: The pushback against Kavanaugh scared the crap out of the GOP, and while they won (which is bad, don’t get me wrong), they won by a hair, a sneeze, a twitch, a wiggle, a blink, and they had to fight like hell and take damage and break shitloads of rules and norms and traditions to eke out that whisper of a win.

 

The GOP know how precarious it is, and they’re feeling it. The boasting at Kavanaugh’s formal confirmation ceremony (which is damn weird and wrong in context, because c’mon, we’re talking about SCOTUS here, and SCOTUS is supposed to be above politics, right?) is just as much to shore themselves up and sell themselves on what they just did as it is to perform ritual cruelty and recommit to general assholic behavior.

 

They want you to go away. GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell is convinced this will all blow over.

 

Show McConnell that he is wrong. Show him this won’t blow over. Show the GOP you are not going to go away.

 

Assuming you’ve had a rest–because you should really, properly step away and rest for a bit after all this–stoke the glowing embers of your anger and light your way through the last few weeks before the midterms.

 

If you’re not using the Core Four strategy, check it out, then pick two Democrats to support in each chamber of Congress, an incumbent and a challenger for each.

 

Donate to worthy Democratic incumbents and challengers.

 

Canvass–knock on doors to talk to people in person about the merits of a candidate for office.

 

Phone-bank and text-bank–like canvassing, except it’s over the phone or via text.

 

Write get out the vote (GOTV) postcards and help underwrite Tony the Democrat’s postcard-writing army.

 

Follow Celeste Pewter (@Celeste_Pewter) on Twitter for updates on the state of the (admittedly difficult, thoroughly worth it) quest by Democrats to claim control the Senate.

 

Follow Swing Left (@swingleft) on Twitter for updates on the state of the quest by Democrats to claim control of the House of Representatives (doing well at the moment but as we’ve said before, always act like your candidates are 10 points behind, even if they aren’t).

 

Follow Flippable (@flippable_org) on Twitter for updates on efforts to flip state legislatures blue, and see what you can do for your own state’s legislature. We need to turn the state legislatures blue to, for example, remove anti-abortion laws sitting on the books that would go into effect if Roe vs. Wade is overturned.

 

Follow Tokyo Sand (@DHSTokyo) on Twitter and subscribe to the Political Charge blog for updates on state voter registration deadlines as they approach and arrive, plus vital related news about the midterms.

 

Assuming it’s not too late in your state, consider filling out and returning an absentee ballot now, to free yourself to help others get to their polling places on November 6. Take the day off work if you can and volunteer to help others vote.

 

Learn if your state is one that allows 17-year-olds to register to vote if they’ll be 18 by November 6, and help them register, if there’s still time.

 

Put campaign signs on your lawn and campaign stickers on your car.

 

Talk to friends and family about voting. Help them make a plan to vote on November 6. Help those who want to do more than just vote.

 

Be welcoming and kind to Independents, Libertarians, Republicans, and others who don’t normally vote for Democrats but are doing so in the 2018 midterms.

 

Talk to people who didn’t vote in 2016. Donate to organizations that help people register to vote.

 

Don’t compare yourself to other activists. Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to do as much as you want to do. See the value in what you are doing, and keep doing it.

 

Give as much time as you can to as many candidates as you can on the federal, state, and local levels [as well as ballot questions, if that applies in your state].

 

Months ago, we asked you to donate two hours a week to helping your preferred candidates. Now that we’re T-minus one month from the midterms, we’re asking you to take your schedules in hand and figure out how much time you can devote to the democracy bucket brigade between now and November 6.

 

Anything you do from the list above counts. Include routine self-care in there, too.

 

And, Believe It: You Matter. It’s true, and it never stops being true. You matter, your vote matters, and your activism matters.

 

Go forth and do good, people.

 

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!

Action Alerts · Call Your Senators · Community Activism · Marches and Protests · Postcard Campaigns · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms · Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Call Your Senators to Oppose SCOTUS Nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Oct 6 Update

Update from Sarah Jane, Oct 6: The Senate invoked cloture early yesterday. The move closed debate on Kavanaugh’s nomination and started a 30-hour clock leading to the final floor vote.

 

Lisa Murkowski delivered a surprise when she voted no on cloture, which also signaled her intention to vote no on the nomination.

 

Unfortunately, the other three Senators who had been undecided–Jeff Flake, Joe Manchin, and Susan Collins–voted for cloture and stated they would vote yes.

 

I won’t rehash their rationales. I will only remind you that today is the last day to call and oppose Kavanaugh.

 

Yes, you can still do that, provided the vote hasn’t been held when you read this. The Senators can change their minds right up until they formally enter their choices.

 

Odds are too many of them will do the wrong thing. You can still thank those who will do the right thing and make it difficult (politely! Always politely!) for those who will do the wrong thing.

 

Scroll down for calling scripts, which come courtesy of Celeste Pewter (@Celeste_Pewter).

 

Another way to fight is to join an anti-Kavanaugh #NoJusticeNoSeat protest. Several are planned for today across the country. See this link to find one near you:

https://act.weareultraviolet.org/event/no-justice-no-seat_attend/search/?akid=s691842..oEaapt

If you can’t attend, watch and boost the #NoJusticeNoSeat hashtag.

 

Continue to check the feeds of Celeste Pewter (@Celeste_Pewter) and Ben Wikler (@BenWikler) for news on the vote and on protests, respectively.

 

Taking some time away is perfectly legit. This Kavanaugh madness has been long and tiring. If you need my dispensation to get extra rest, you have it. Just please come back. You’ve got to stay here and carry on the fight.

 

Still another good way to direct your energy is to pour it into the campaign of a worthy Democrat or two. You’re familiar with our Core Four strategy, yes? If not, learn about it here:

https://onethingyoucando.com/2018/08/17/choose-your-core-four-for-2018-2/

 

Then get to work. Choose two Democrats per chamber, one incumbent and one challenger for each. Work to make sure Democrats take the House of Representatives and do what you can to help Democrats win control of the Senate (this is a longer shot but it’s not impossible).

 

The Senate is the tougher get. The map favors Republicans. If the Democrats hold all their Senate seats and gain two, they’ll win control.

 

The Road to 2018 showcases incumbent Senate Democrats (and one Independent, Angus King of Maine) who are perceived as vulnerable.

Site is here: https://www.roadto2018.com

The Road to 2018 is one of Celeste Pewter’s projects. She encourages you to adopt a Senator by supporting him or her however you can–donating, phone-banking, canvassing, spreading the word.

 

The most endangered among those shown on the page include Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, who bravely came out against Kavanaugh the day before the cloture vote; Bill Nelson of Florida, who is in a tough battle with Republican Governor Rick Scott for the seat; and Claire McCaskill of Missouri.

 

Several strong Democratic challengers are aiming to push Republican Senate incumbents out of their seats. They include:

Beto O’Rourke, who aims to unseat Ted Cruz in Texas

Kyrsten Sinema, who’s seeking the Arizona seat that Jeff Flake is vacating

Jacky Rosen, who wants to push out Nevada Republican Dean Heller

 

Once you settle on a few candidates to boost, go to ActBlue and donate, then visit their websites and see what other sorts of help they need.

 

Here are links to several past OTYCD stories on Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives. Most are challengers. This is far from a comprehensive list, and probably doesn’t include everyone we’ve written about who advanced to the general; this is just to give you ideas.

 

Katie Porter, California’s 45th District, where she faces Republican Mimi Walters:

https://onethingyoucando.com/2018/08/25/support-katie-porters-run-to-unseat-california-house-republican-mimi-walters/

 

Amy McGrath, running in Kentucky’s 6th District:

https://onethingyoucando.com/2018/08/20/support-democrat-amy-mcgraths-run-for-a-house-seat-in-kentucky-s-6th-district/

 

Gil Cisneros, running for the open seat in California’s 39th District:

https://onethingyoucando.com/2018/08/22/support-democrat-gil-cisneross-campaign-for-ed-royces-old-california-house-seat/

 

Andrew Janz, who is running against Dana Rohrbacher in California’s 22nd District:

https://onethingyoucando.com/2018/06/09/keep-an-eye-on-andrew-janz-whos-running-for-devin-nuness-house-seat/

 

Maxine Waters, who needs no introduction:

https://onethingyoucando.com/2018/06/09/support-democrat-maxine-waters-for-re-election-to-a-house-seat-in-californias-43rd-congressional-district/

 

Mike Levin, who is running for the open seat in California’s 49th District:

https://onethingyoucando.com/2018/06/09/keep-an-eye-on-mike-levin-who-is-aiming-to-push-california-republican-darrell-issa-out-of-his-house-seat/

 

Jana Lynne Sanchez, who is running in Texas’s 6th District:

https://onethingyoucando.com/2018/05/26/keep-an-eye-on-jana-lynne-sanchez-who-is-running-for-a-texas-house-seat-in-2018/

 

Chrissy Houlihan, who is running in Pennsylvania’s 6th District:

https://onethingyoucando.com/2018/05/26/support-chrissy-houlahan-democratic-candidate-for-a-pennsylvania-house-seat-in-2018/

 

Joseph Kopser, who is running for a seat in Texas’s 21st District:

https://onethingyoucando.com/2018/05/26/support-democrat-joseph-kopser-who-is-challenging-republican-lamar-smith-for-his-texas-house-seat/

 

Adrienne Bell, who is running in Texas’s 14th District:

https://onethingyoucando.com/2018/05/26/support-adrienne-bells-run-for-the-house-seat-in-texass-14th-district/

 

Conor Lamb, who is running for a corresponding Pennsylvania seat now that the state has redrawn its maps to be less gerrymandered:

https://onethingyoucando.com/2018/05/18/support-conor-lambs-run-for-a-pennsylvania-house-seat-in-a-march-2018-special-election/

 

Randy Bryce, aka Ironstache, who is running for the seat that Paul Ryan is leaving in Wisconsin’s 1st District:

https://onethingyoucando.com/2018/04/08/support-randy-bryces-bid-to-unseat-house-rep-paul-ryan-in-wisconsin/

 

Same again here as with the Senators. Once you’ve made your picks, donate through ActBlue and contact their campaigns to see how you can help.

 

If you’re a regular OTYCD reader, it’s unlikely that Postcards to Voters is new to you. But! Tony the Democrat says that they’d need to recruit a few thousand more writers before they could consider assisting Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota.

This is not to imply Tony has a Heitkamp campaign lined up, or even under discussion; he simply said the postcarder army would have to add many more recruits before they could give her the help she’d need to get out the vote across the entire state.

So! How about recruiting new writers to the Postcards to Voters cause? Here’s the FAQ page for Postcards to Voters. Get fluent in these answers, and start convincing others to sign on.

https://postcardstovoters.org/faq/

 

Now, the calling scripts from Celeste Pewter (@Celeste_Pewter). Scroll past them to learn how to show your appreciation for her outstanding work.

 

For Dem Senators who are firm no votes [don’t forget to thank them]:

 

Script for bullheaded GOP Senators who are tilting toward yes:

 

 

Script for Joe Manchin (only call if you live in West Virginia):

Script for Susan Collins (only call if you live in Maine):

Script for Lisa Murkowski (only call if you live in Alaska):
Script for Jeff Flake (only call if you live in Arizona):

Script for all Senators (but only if you live in their home states, please):

Lastly, here are general tips for leaving a voicemail message:

You can show love for Celeste Pewter in many ways.

 

You can follow her on Twitter: @Celeste_Pewter

 

You can tweet about calling your Senators, using the #ICalledMyReps hashtag.

 

You can follow @ICalledMyReps on Twitter.

 

You can adopt a vulnerable incumbent Democratic Senator by checking out The Road to 2018, an organization Pewter created. Read about it here:

 

https://onethingyoucando.com/2018/08/08/support-the-road-to-2018-which-defends-democratic-senators-2/

 

You can follow The Road to 2018 on Twitter: @Roadto18

 

And you can subscribe to her peerless newsletter, It’s Time to Fight:

http://itstimetofight.weebly.com

 

 

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!