What to do this week of February 16, 2020

by Feb 17, 2020Opinion, What To Do This Week0 comments

170 weeks down, 37 weeks to the presidential election.

The AoC Checklist features clear, well-researched actions for Americans who value democracy, equality, voting, and respect. To stay engaged through challenging times, we practice gratitude, self-care, and celebration.

Note: Every action on the AoC Checklist is now *clickable*. Help us track our collective impact by clicking any action you complete within two weeks of the publish date, and we’ll count it in our monthly tally.

I value equality.

Support the dignity of your rainbow of neighbors from every religion, race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, age, and ability.

Action 1: Support due process for disabled people by February 18. [h/t Association of Administrative Law Judges]

Submit a comment: On the Federal Register using these tips: 1) Introduce yourself. 2) State why you oppose the administration’s proposal to allow appeals judges to decide disability benefit cases and, if applicable, 3) Share a story of how you or a loved one are impacted by Social Security disability benefits. Review this article and personalize the points below. (Scripted comments are not counted.)

    • Congress pushed back on a similar rule in 2016, concerned that appeals judges lack proper experience and independence to preside fairly over these complicated cases.
    • Pending cases are at an all-time low.
    • Administrative judges are judicially independent, while appeals judges report to Social Security Administration management.

Call: Your two senators (look up).

Script: Hi. I’m calling from [ZIP], because voting rights are fundamental to democracy. Since 2013, a Supreme Court ruling has allowed states to enact practices like ID laws and purges that impede voting by the elderly, Native Americans, and other vulnerable communities. I’m asking [NAME] to support the Voting Rights Advancement Act (S. 561) to protect every citizens’ right to vote. I also want [NAME] to urge the Majority Leader to advance this bill immediately since it passed the House nearly three months ago.

Bonus: Contact Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to urge a vote on S. 561. Address: 317 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510


Call: Your two senators and one House rep (look up).

Script: Hi, I’m a constituent from [ZIP], concerned that residents of Washington, DC have no voting voice in Congress, despite paying taxes like all other citizens. I would like [NAME] to support DC statehood and the rights of the 700,000 Americans who live there. It’s long overdue. (For House reps: Please vote for H.R. 51 when it comes for a vote; for senators: Please co-sponsor S.631.)


Call: Your two senators and one House rep (look up).

Script: Hi. I’m calling from [ZIP], because I believe in caring for people in need. The president’s budget proposal shreds the safety net while extending tax cuts for wealthy Americans. I want [NAME] to reject this budget. Specifically, I ask [NAME] to oppose cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, SNAP, and ACA subsidies. [Share any personal impact of these programs.] Thank you.


Call: Your two senators and one House rep (look up).

Script: Hello, I’m calling (again) from [ZIP] to express my continued outrage at the unconstitutional Migration Protection Protocols (MPP) or Remain in Mexico (RIM) policy, which to date has forced nearly 60,000 vulnerable individuals seeking sanctuary in the U.S. to wait for months in notoriously dangerous parts of Mexico. In violation of U.S. laws and treaties, trials are being held via video conferencing in makeshift tent courts with no translators or legal representation available. I want [NAME] to act to reassert Congress’ role in creating a functional, secure, and humane immigration policy for our borders. I want [NAME] to defund MPP and allow public access to tent courts.


Call: Your one House rep (look up).

Script: Hello, I’m calling from [ZIP] to express my strong support for the NO BAN Act, which challenges the current administration’s authority to enact and expand on travel bans that specifically target majority-Muslim countries. We cannot allow any branch of government to create policies based on discrimination and bigotry, especially with no evidence of a threat to national security or public safety. I would like [NAME] to co-sponsor H.R. 2214 and make a public statement of support.

Bonus: If your representative has already co-sponsored this bill (check here), reach out to say thank you.


Call: Or email John Harnett, New Orleans Acting ICE Field Director, at 318-992-1594 or John.Hartnett@ICE.DHS.Gov.

Script: Hello, I am calling to make two demands regarding the LaSalle Detention Facility asylum seekers who are hunger striking to reclaim their dignity and basic freedom. First, stop subjecting them to force-feeding or force-hydration, as both are human rights violations that defy medical ethical guidelines and basic decency. Second, release them immediately to receive urgent medical attention and be with their loved ones while their legal asylum cases are proceeding. Thank you.


Call: Your one House rep (look up).

Script: Hello, I’m calling from [ZIP] to express my support for the New Way Forward Act. Current immigration practices in the U.S. inhumanely punish the legal act of seeking asylum and citizenship in our country, fueling racist rhetoric and resulting in racial profiling, horrific detention conditions, and the cruel treatment of those trying to build a better life. I would like [NAME] to support a more tolerant approach to immigration by co-sponsoring H.R. 5383. Thanks.


I value democracy.

With respect and collaboration, we work to create a nation that welcomes all people, expands freedoms, and upholds the Constitution. Each citizen must be able to freely and fairly elect those who represent their values.

Action 9: Bolster your state’s election security. [h/t Verified Voting]

Call: Or write your state election official (look up).

Script: Hi. I’m a resident of [STATE] and am calling/writing to support efforts to prevent security breaches in our voting systems. I’d like to know whether [STATE] has these three features that make my vote safer?

    1. Hand-marked paper ballots.
    2. Voting machines that have a voter-verifiable paper record and are free of wireless connectivity to prevent fraud and vote manipulation
    3. Post-election tabulation audits which verify that vote-counting computers are accurately recording and counting the votes.

If not, I urge [NAME] to resolve these vulnerabilities. Thank you for your time.


Contact: Any American citizens you know who are out of the country.

Script: If you are one of the 9 million American citizens living in another country, allow me to encourage you to exercise your right to vote. Voter turnout among American expats is often low; your vote can change that. Check the voter registration deadlines for the U.S. state in which you last lived, check your eligibility to vote, and request your absentee ballot. Thank you for participating in democracy.

Bonus: Share this action on your social media accounts.


Call: Your two senators and one House rep (look up).

Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] and I’m calling because I don’t want foreign governments to influence the outcome of U.S. elections. Although the Senate has blocked crucial election security bills, new bills have just been introduced by bipartisan lawmakers in both the House and Senate that would help states coordinate their cybersecurity efforts with the federal government.

For your senators: Can I count on [NAME] to cosponsor S. 3207, the Cybersecurity State Coordinator Act? Thank you.

For your House rep: Can I count on [NAME] to cosponsor H.R. 5823, the State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act? Thank you.


Check: Voter ID requirements in your state (also available in Spanish). 

Bonus: Remind friends in these states with upcoming primaries to vote!


Acts of Gratitude

Get out your stamps, postcards, and sparkle markers for some gratitude mail.

Thank Reps. Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Trent Kelly (R-MS) for your bipartisan collaboration in holding hearings on the growth and prevention of white supremacy in the military. [Share why you appreciate efforts to shed light on this concerning trend.]


JS: 155 Bovet Rd Suite 780, San Mateo, CA 94402

TK: 431 West Main Street, Tupelo, MS 38804



JN: 6605 Fort Hamilton Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11219

NV: 266 Broadway, Suite 201, Brooklyn, NY 11211


Address: 2815 West 5th Avenue, Chicago, IL 60612


Address: 8949 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90211



Rodney Davis 2833 S Grand Ave. East, Springfield, IL 62703

Jeff Van Drew 5914 Main Street Suite 103, Mays Landing, NJ 08330

Tom Reed 401 E. State St. Suite 410, Ithaca, NY 14850

Brian Fitzpatrick 1717 Langhorne Newtown Rd. Suite 400, Langhorne, PA 19047

John Curtis 3549 North University Ave, Suite 275, Provo, UT 84604


Good news

Decent people everywhere are speaking up and working together. Just look. #GoodNews


  • The House of Representatives votes to eliminate the deadline for states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
  • House passes a bipartisan bill to build a Smithsonian National Women’s Museum in Washington, DC, 20 years after a museum was first proposed.
  • Federal court permanently blocks a policy that made it harder for aspiring Americans to stay in the United States if their immigration status changes.
  • Federal court bans ICE from arresting, detaining, and deporting spouses during interviews seeking legal status based on their marriages to U.S. citizens.
  • A federal court orders ICE to restore a national hotline that allows detained aspiring Americans to communicate with lawyers and report on their conditions in confinement.
  • Court of appeals rules that Facebook users in Illinois can sue the company over face recognition technology.
  • A major settlement requires the U.S. government to expedite the refugee resettlement applications of over 300 people affected by the administration’s ban on travel from Muslim-majority countries.
  • 20 senators sign a letter protesting the administration’s new deportation agreements with Central American countries and warning they may violate refugee law.



  • Students in Fairfax County, VA can take one day off per school year to engage in civic engagement.
  • Pope County, MN Board votes unanimously to welcome people seeking refuge.
  • Allegheny County (PA) Council votes to ban so-called “conversion therapy,” citing the practice’s threats to health and safety for LGBTQ+ individuals.


Groups and organizations

News with heart

  • Hamilton County, OH institutes You Are Welcome Here task force to help aspiring Americans feel safer at courthouses.
  • Seattle’s King County Council approves a plan to offer fully paid year-long bus passes for riders with low incomes.
  • Civil rights icon Bayard Rustin is posthumously pardoned of a conviction stemming from anti-LGBTQ laws on the books in the 1950s.
  • Local, state, and federal lawmakers across the U.S. move to remove discriminatory language used to describe aspiring Americans from official laws and documents.
  • For the first time ever, all 16 editors-in-chief of the U.S.’s top law school journals are women.
  • Long-awaited Ho-Chunk Museum and Cultural Center opens as a safe space to celebrate the Nation’s culture and history.
  • Parasite becomes the first film in a language other than English to win the Oscar for Best Picture.
  • Composer and director Eímear Noone becomes the first woman to conduct the Oscars’ orchestra.
  • Denied the opportunity to walk in his high school graduation ceremony by school officials who objected to his dreadlocks, Deandre Arnold attends the Academy Awards with the creators of the Best Animated Short Film Hair Love.
  • Short film Ours to Tell shares the stories of four individuals living full, empowered lives after having abortions.
  • Finland gives dads the same parental leave as moms.
  • Riley Howell, who lost his life saving students during a shooting, is honored in the official Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary as a Jedi Master.
  • Colin Absolam, who was facing imminent deportation to Jamaica after being released on parole from prison, is pardoned by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
  • Regional Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the East wins a lawsuit blocking oil exploration in Peru’s Amazonian region.
  • Supreme Court of the Netherlands rules that their government must take urgent action on climate change to protect the fundamental rights of its people.
  • Immigration lawyers win a stay of deportation for a 5-year-old with a traumatic brain injury.
  • Megan Youngren becomes the first openly transgender athlete to compete at U.S. Olympic marathon trials.
  • See more good news at Women in the WorldSmall VictoriesGood Black News, and What Went Right.


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