What to do this week of March 4, 2018
Americans of Conscience Action Checklist
By Jen Hofmann
69 weeks down, 35 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.
I believe I can make a difference in our democracy.
Action: Make (or recommit to) an activism plan.
Action: Make an activist self-care plan.
Make a cuppa, grab a pen, and spend ten minutes with this worksheet.
I value equality.
Stand with your rainbow of neighbors from every religion, race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, age, and ability. Out of many, we are one.
Action: Stand with readers and learners in prison.
The Prison Book Program is a volunteer-run nonprofit that sends free books to people in prison in 44 states. Last year, they sent well over 12,300 books and received touching letters about how much they mean to people behind bars.
Buy requested books: Purchase on Amazon.
Buy GED study guides: Donate here.
Action: Stand with people in need of medical care.
Call: The local offices of your 2 senators and 1 House rep (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] and concerned about allowing states to impose lifetime caps on Medicaid coverage. I don’t understand why congressional Republicans are shredding the social safety net. I want my taxes to provide medical care to my vulnerable neighbors. I oppose Medicaid work-for-service and lifetime caps. Tell me, how is [name] protecting our own citizens’ medical needs?
Bonus: If you’re in AZ, KS, UT, ME, and WI (lifetime limits) or in AZ, AK, ID, KS, KY, ME, MI, NC, OH, UT, and HI (work requirements), call your 2 state legislators to oppose this (look up).
Action: Stand with hungry Americans.
Call: Or write the local offices of your 2 senators and 1 House rep (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP], calling about the urgent need for food security in our community. I just read that SNAP benefits are already too low in 99% of US counties and this administration proposes to cut SNAP by 30%. I don’t understand why congressional Republicans are shredding the social safety net. I want my taxes to feed hungry neighbors and give them the dignity of choosing what foods best meet their family’s needs. What is [name] doing to increase food access for our neighbors in [state]?
Action: Stand with Americans who deserve equal access to public spaces.
Call: The local offices of your 2 senators (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] and concerned about efforts to turn back the clock on the Americans with Disabilities Act. My neighbors deserve to learn, have access to businesses, get hired, and keep a job—just like everyone else. H.R. 620 is now in the Senate and would burden people with fighting for their access to these spaces. What is [name] doing to protect [staters] from discrimination?
Action: Stand with non-violent offenders and oppose expensive, ineffective sentencing.
Call: Your two senators (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m calling in support of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2018 (S. 1917) which is just out of committee. This bipartisan effort addresses the problem of expensive, ineffective mandatory sentences for non-violent drug offenders. It also empowers judges in sentencing and funds programs that aid re-entry and reduce re-offending. Will [name] co-sponsor and vote for S. 1917?
Action: Stand with homeless and low-income veterans.
Call: Or write your 2 senators and 1 House rep (look up).
Script: Hi, I’m calling from [ZIP] concerned about veterans making up about 11% of the US homeless population. Many veteran families live paycheck to paycheck. I want [name] to support programs that prevent homelessness among our veterans. Specifically I’d like [name] to co-sponsor S. 1072/H.R. 104, a bipartisan bill would provide supportive services, referral and counseling services, and legal services related to housing, family law, and income support. Can I count on [name] to support our veterans?
I value secure, convenient voting and fair elections.
Democracy thrives when all citizens can freely elect those who represent their values.
Action: Advocate for the digital integrity of our voting systems.
Call: Your 2 senators and 1 House rep (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP], calling to express my concern about the digital vulnerability of [state’s] voting systems. Russia is committing acts of aggression against our country’s elections. We can’t ignore this problem and hope for the best. [Staters] need [name] to co-sponsor H.R. 5011 (House)/ S. 2261 (Senate) to protect our vote in the coming primaries and midterms. Thanks.
Action: Ensure you’ll have a ballot for 2018 primaries and midterms.
Take 5 steps to verify your right to vote (this takes 60 seconds).
- Check that you haven’t been removed from your state’s voter rolls (check here). Extra important if you’re in NV!
- Ensure that you meet your state’s voter ID requirements (check here). If you need help with getting ID or transport, go here or here.
- Put your state’s primary dates in your calendar (check here).
- Make sure your polling place hasn’t been moved (check here).
- Important: Share these steps on social media so your friends can vote too.
I value showing respect for 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: Help reunite dads with their kids. ASAP.
When 4 Salvadoran dads presented themselves at the US border for asylum, they were within their legal rights to seek our protection. Instead, ICE and CPB took away their children and held them in indefinite detention. Now, three of baby Mateo’s dad-friends are eligible for humanitarian release…but with sky-high bond. We can do this.
Donate. All of us giving a few dollars together will reunite these families.
Visit: Fundraiser by our allies, Al Otro Lado and Pueblo Sin Fronteras.
Action: Advocate for the release of 2-year ICE detainee on hunger strike.
Sign petition: Visit site (and unsub from future emails).
Call or email: Using these instructions.
Action: Advocate for accountability in ICE abuses of power.
Write: The local office of your 2 senators and 1 House rep (look up).
Script: I’m concerned about ICE enforcement practices. ICE agents are endangering citizens rights. Some immigrants face grave dangers abroad and are legally allowed to seek asylum here. Agents are using racial profiling, entering homes without permission, stalking people at schools and courthouses, targeting activists, conducting workplace raids, detaining people indefinitely at taxpayer expense, deporting non-violent people in record numbers, and violating basic constitutional rights. Worse, ICE is destroying records that track abuses and detainee deaths. This cannot stand. For the good of our community, what are you doing to demand DHS accountability for ICE’s abuse of power and offer compassionate protection to asylum seekers? Name, address
Bonus: Write the above to Kirstjen Neilsen, Secretary of Homeland Security. Email: DHSExecSec@hq.dhs.gov
Deep breath innnnnnn… Deep breath ouuuuuuuut…
Acts of Gratitude
Get out your stamps, postcards, and sparkle markers for some gratitude mail. Ready?
Thank Sally Hudson, Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia, for bringing together University Democrats and College Republicans to discuss ranked choice voting. You are teaching tomorrow’s leaders that good government is bipartisan.
Address: Garrett Hall L032, P.O. Box 400893, Charlottesville, VA 22904
Thank Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf (D-CA) for informing Oakland residents of an upcoming ICE raid. I stand with Oakland’s sanctuary city policy and appreciate your decision to protect all of Oakland’s citizens.
Address: Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, 3rd Floor, Oakland, CA 94612
Thank Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) for persevering on prison sentencing reform. Thank you for prioritizing justice for all, reducing wasteful expense, and promoting the systemic change we need. I commend you for standing strong in the face of opposition.
Address: 135 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510
Thank Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) for her comments about the climate crisis. Certainly with sea ice at a 40-year low, sea-level erosion, and villages needing to relocate, your concern for Alaska is well-founded. Thank you for departing from your party’s ostrich approach to planet health. I am eager to see your policy ideas for improvement. Thank you.
Address: 510 L Street, Suite 600, Anchorage, AK 99501
Thank Edward Stack, CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, for his public promise to stop selling assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines, to raise the minimum age for purchase to 21, and for reaffirming store policy to not sell bump stocks. I especially appreciate you imploring politicians to implement common sense gun control. Thank you for your leadership.
Address: Dick’s Sporting Goods, 345 Court Street, Coraopolis, PA, 15108
Thought-provoking, in-depth reading that’s worth your time.
- Encouraging: The historical effectiveness of grassroots activism (NPR).
- Soothing: Insights from my 5-day silent retreat (Jen Hofmann).
- Reassuring: Are gun restrictions constitutional? (Brennan Center)
- Revealing: How ICE strategically evades constitutional law (Intercept).
Decent people everywhere are speaking up and working together. Just look.
- More than double the number of women are running for Congress than in 2016.
- ICE keeps losing federal cases.
- Small consolation: DACA program continues with SCOTUS rejection while awaiting appeals court.
- Despite the “voter integrity” commission move, no voter data will be shared with the Department of Homeland Security.
- A bipartisan anti-gerrymandering movement is growing.
- The first transgender person signs a contract to join the US military since ban.
- 20 state attorneys general cosigned a letter to Commerce Secretary Ross, opposing Jeff Sessions’ plans to add a citizenship question to the US Census.
- In first state primary of 2018, Texas participation is off the charts.
- Texas Parole Board grants clemency to death row inmate
- Indiana approves voter registration by text message.
- Illinois House passes four gun safety bills which now move to the state Senate.
- The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will redraw the state’s congressional map for the 2018 midterm elections.
- Pennsylvania is increasing the security of elections by replacing aging electronic voting machines with machines that keep paper records.
- New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed funding for early voting for 2019.
- Oregon passes a law preventing domestic abusers from owning guns.
- Hawaii court upheld a ruling that a hotel discriminated against a lesbian couple when the owner refused to let them stay.
- Ballot measure requiring tax returns of presidential candidates passed Maryland’s Senate (now to the House!).
- Twitter bans bot strategies to prevent disinformation campaigns.
- More than half of S&P 500 companies are choosing transparency about political contributions, and more are being held accountable by the SEC.
- Awaiting statement from gun manufacturer Vista Outdoor, REI suspends orders.
- Solar jobs are growing 12x faster than the US economy.
- “This isn’t Red vs. Blue, this is Death vs. Money.” ~ Emma Gonzàlez, age 18.
- Dallas mayor wants NRA convention out.
- An Indiana community stops ICE from building a detention facility.
- Norman becomes OK’s first town to end veteran homelessness.
Groups and organizations
- University of Victoria offers first Doctor of Indigenous Law degree.
- AARP’s Tax-Aide program offers free tax preparation assistance to low- to moderate-income taxpayers.
- A coalition of LGBTQ-rights organizations run an ad on FOX, criticizing the president’s views on transgender military service.
- After sharing about Norwich, VT’s 20/20 potlucks on my blog and posting it on Facebook, at least 5 communities are going to start monthly persister potlucks!
- Thanks in part to our efforts, ICE has released Eric, one of four Salvadoran dads detained at the same time as baby Mateo.
- Tylen, a transgender teen, finally gets adopted by two gay dads.
- Striking teachers at Beckley Elementary in West Virginia got creative to make sure students could still eat in their absence.
- More good news at Small Victories, Marla’s Good News, and What Went Right.
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