What to do this week of February 4, 2018
Americans of Conscience Action Checklist
By Jen Hofmann
64 weeks down, 40 weeks to mid-term elections.
This checklist features clear, hype-free actions for Americans who value democracy, equality, voting, and decency. Additionally, we practice gratitude, self-care, and celebration to stay engaged. Urgent actions are highlighted in yellow.
This is the first week the Research Sous Chef volunteers contributed to the checklist. I’m so grateful for their time, patience, and diligent work. We—all of us—are stronger together.
I value equality.
Out of many, we are one. Stand with your rainbow of neighbors from every religion, race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, age, and ability.
Action: Stand with people at risk of religion-based discrimination.
Call: Your 2 senators and 1 House rep (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP], calling about the US Dept. of Health and Human Services new division that condones discrimination against our own citizens. The denial of medical treatment is unconscionable and risks our neighbors’ lives. I don’t want providers who discriminate to receive governmental compensation. Can you tell me what [name] is doing to address this?
Bonus: Donate to Lambda Legal which represents people affected by this new HHS policy.
Action: Stand with Dreamers who call America home.
Call: Your two senators and one House representative (look up). A deal is near.
Script: Hi. I’m calling from [ZIP] about the president’s anti-immigrant agenda. People who immigrate to the U.S. from other countries bring new jobs, create new business, and enrich our communities. I want [name] to support the Dream Act (S.1615/H.R. 3440), family unification, and no funding for a wasteful wall or surplus border staffing. Thank you.
Action: Stand with at-risk pregnant women and young families to ensure health.
Call: Your 2 senators (look up). (This bill already passed in the House.)
Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] calling to ask Sen. [name] to support S. 1829 and reauthorize funding for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. This voluntary, evidence-based program has shown strong returns on investment for individual families and society more broadly. Will s/he commit to restoring funding and supporting our vulnerable neighbors?
Action: Stand with Black Americans by advocating for slavery history education.
Write: Your local school district (lookup).
Script: Dear Board of Ed., For Black History Month this year, I would like the board to consider evaluating the current curriculum for America’s history of slavery. Recent research by the Southern Poverty Law Center showed that the average high school senior cannot answer basic questions about this painful period in our country’s history. Please review the SPLC’s report and consider the importance of preparing our students for leadership. Thank you. https://www.splcenter.org/teaching-hard-history-american-slavery
Action: Stand with Americans who are poor, disabled, and/or unable to work.
Find: Your state Medicaid director’s address (look up, scroll down for address).
Write: Dear [Name], I am deeply concerned about the CMS letter on 1/12/18 allowing states to deny medical care to vulnerable citizens. With a majority of Medicaid enrollees already working, in school, or medically unable to work, compliance enforcement is an unnecessary waste of taxpayer money. We must take care of our neighbors in need. This new policy penalizes people living in poverty and with disabilities, cutting them off from a powerful poverty-reducing program. I entreat you to continue providing Medicaid to all [Staters] who need it. Thank you for your consideration. Name, town.
I value secure, convenient voting and fair elections.
Democracy thrives when all citizens can freely elect those who represent their values.
Action: Oppose using the inaccurate, unsecure Crosscheck system in your state.
Search: Discover if your state uses Crosscheck. (look here) If so…
Write: Your state-level election official (look up).
Script: Dear [name], I am a resident of [town] and am writing to request that [State] become the 9th state to exit the Interstate Crosscheck System. Its history of purging legitimate voters, leaking citizens’ data–including social security numbers–and creating fraud false-positives jeopardizes an essential tenet of our democracy: the vote. Please serve your state by choosing a more secure, less-partisan option. Thank you.
Action: Get ready for the 2018 election. Make a note of your state’s next primary.
Search: Look up your state’s primary dates here.
Record: The primary date in your calendar, set a reminder, and add the national election too (Nov 6).
I value showing respect to all people, no matter where they were born.
People who immigrate to the US make our country stronger and build our economy. As our neighbors and as fellow human beings, they are entitled to basic respect and compassion.
Action: New action to stand with Salvadoran dads separated from their children by ICE and CBP.
Update: Juana and I continue to be in contact with Pueblo Sin Fronteras (Town Without Borders) whose work has led to a tiny ray of hope for reuniting asylum-seeking dads and their children. In collaboration with the legal advocacy group Al Otro Lado (To the Other Side), PSF is raising funds to post bond and reunite all four dads with their children.
We can help: Read their story, donate if you can, and share widely.
Action: Oppose an invasive new ICE program of tracking license plates.
Call: Your 2 senators and 1 House rep (look up).
Script: Hi, I’m calling from [ZIP] to express my concern about ICE’s plans to install license plate readers to track and photograph US citizens and immigrants. I understand that [name] is limited in impacting this department’s practices, but this technology risks violating citizens’ privacy and increasing anxiety in our communities. This is not the direction I want for my country. What can [name] do to reign in ICE overreach?
Deep breath innnnnnn… Deep breath ouuuuuuuut… And again…
Acts of Gratitude
Get out your stamps, postcards, and sparkle markers for some gratitude mail.
Note: Next week, we’ll be sending valentines. If you have the time and means, purchase or make 10-20 valentines for next Sunday’s checklist.
Thank Sheriff Stacey A. Kincaid (D-VA) for terminating an agreement with ICE to hold inmates beyond the duration of their jail sentences to enable possible deportation. I am also grateful that ICE must now produce a court-issued criminal detainer to hold any person. I appreciate your decision to respect and protect the precious few rights of undocumented people. Name, State, Party
Address: 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22030
Thank Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) for her commitment to bipartisanship and dialog. I’m especially grateful for your recent efforts to gather senators of both parties and find a solution to keep 800,000 Dreamers stateside. In times of increasing polarization, your leadership is even more remarkable. Thank you. Name, State, Party
Address: 68 Sewall Street, Room 507, Augusta, ME 04330
Thank Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) for continuing to advocate for funding community health centers across the US. I appreciate your commitment to supporting this vital resource and urging Congress to care for their neighbors. Name, State, Party
Address: 2000 Market Street, Suite 610, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Thank Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) for signing a petition to add a measure restoring voting rights to formerly-incarcerated people to the Florida ballot . Thank you for recognizing that the right to vote is not a partisan issue, and for working to enfranchise Floridians who have become contributing members of society. I’m grateful you believe in second chances. Name, State, Party
Address: 12851 SW 42nd Street, Suite 131, Miami, FL 33175
Thank Scott Pruitt (R) for choosing to protect the world’s largest salmon habitat in Bristol Bay, AK, to ensure the livelihood of the fishing industry, and to uphold the highest environmental standards in mining. I am deeply grateful. Name, State, Party
Address: ℅ EPA, Office of the Administrator 1101A, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20460
Thank Netherlands Ambassador Henne Schuwer for sharing information with the CIA and NSA about Russian interference in American elections. As an American who values the integrity of free and fair elections, I thank your government for its support of our citizens and revealing this information for investigation. Name, State
Address: Netherlands Embassy, 4200 Linnean Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20008
Thought-provoking, in-depth reading that’s worth your time.
- Calling out racism effectively, and why it’s good for your health (WaPo).
- How wobbly is our democracy? (NY Times)
Decent people everywhere are speaking up, doing good, and working together.
- Candidates of color are showing up and speaking up.
- The EPA and Scott Pruitt defend salmon habitat and fishing in AK’s Bristol Bay watershed.
- Democratic Women and Black Congressional leaders used the State of the Union spotlight to oppose sexual harassment, injustice, and the president.
- The president signs into law the RAISE Family Caregivers Act that supports those who care for aging or disabled people so they may receive care in their own homes.
- The president signs a bill recognizing six Virginia-area Native American tribes after their two-decade effort.
- US community health centers get a short reprieve from funding concerns.
- A federal judge orders the release of immigrant rights leader Ravi Ragbir after a month of ICE detention.
- Pennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down gerrymandered districts, signaling that the tide may be turning against partisan gerrymandering.
- Federal judge rules as unconstitutional Florida’s ban on voting by people who’ve served time in jail.
- This November, a bipartisan initiative to restore voting rights to 1.5 million citizens who have completed their prison sentences will be on the ballot in Florida .
- Two Alabama Republicans introduce a law that would abolish civil forfeiture before criminal conviction, allowing citizens to keep their private property until proven guilty.
- A Mississippi school bans corporal punishment.
- The US Senate failed to take away women’s reproductive choices and criminalize health care providers.
- With pressure from civil rights groups, Savannah, GA ends its discriminatory Crime-Free Housing Program that harmed low-income renters and people of color.
- The California Senate approved a bill prohibiting federal immigration agents from entering schools, courthouses, and state buildings without a warrant.
- MT Gov. Steve Bullock signed an executive order denying state contracts to internet providers that block websites or charge variable rates within the state.
- KS Rep. Brett Parker introduces bipartisan bill to remove voter ID requirements, permit early voting, allow same-day voter registration, and exit Crosscheck.
- KY quietly pulls out of the Interstate Crosscheck System, citing concerns about reliability and privacy.
- WI DMV releases information on how residents can get a free ID to vote.
- Hostiles is a new western movie offering a nuanced and unflinching portrayal of Indian and settler lives in the 1890s.
- Cleveland baseball team will stop using its racist mascot on team uniforms.
- Burger King video hilariously explains net neutrality in terms of Whopper availability.
- CNN anchor expresses regret for false equivalence between 2016 presidential candidates.
- The Greenville School District in Mississippi bans corporal punishment.
- Dallas high schools schools convert classrooms into drop-in centers for homeless teens to receive support and services.
- A Sanford, NC community task force sets up its first emergency shelter for homeless residents.
- As an alternative to ineffective jail time, Scranton, PA city council approves a medical treatment program for people addicted to drugs.
- New Brooklyn NY bookstore allows women to pay less for each title.
- I asked my twitter followers what’s going well lately—personally or politically—and it turns out the resistance is getting crafty!
- See more good news at Small Victories, Marla’s Good News, and What Went Right.
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