Building to the Showdown
Updated: Jun 15, 2021
Happy Tuesday, Activists!
Today we’re devoting a lot of the newsletter to explain the latest round of moves for saving our democracy, and where we go now. We’re also sharing some of Indivisible’s expert take on this.
You may have seen Senator Manchin’s Sunday op-ed outlining his opposition to the For the People Act (it's here). The piece has plenty of historical falsehoods and weird and antiquated political analysis. Congressman Mondaire Jones has a good breakdown of it here. And it’s worth noting that the For the People Act has overwhelming bipartisan support in West Virginia and across the country. Plus, while Manchin claims he’s in favor of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, that bill is not a substitute for the For The People Act, and you can read why here. Now, Democratic leaders need to get Manchin to support a bill he co-sponsored in 2019(!).
So where are we now? Indivisible’s expert take is that we’re in the pre-negotiation phase of the democracy reform fight. These moves are essentially posturing ahead of the showdown. It is not a lost cause. But we have work to do.
The next steps – bills put on the floor for a vote and then filibustered.
Last week, Majority Leader Schumer announced plans to start forcing the GOP to actually filibuster bills. You recall that the first filibuster was of the bipartisan Jan 6th commission. Schumer plans to bring up the Paycheck Fairness Act this week, and the For the People Act the week of June 21.
The point of scheduling these votes is to force Mitch McConnell to filibuster them and show Manchin and other Democratic holdouts that Senate Republicans will vote everything down, proving they are just obstructionists, which hopefully helps unify the Senate Democrats to act.
This will be a crucial test of Schumer’s leadership – he has repeatedly said that “Failure is not an option” to show how much he cares about this. So now we’ll see if he backs up these words with action. As Jennifer Rubin writes in yesterday’s Washington Post, “It’s time to call Joe Manchin’s Bluff.”
Predictions from Indivisible: “If Schumer sticks to his guns, the first vote on the For the People Act will come the week of June 21st. As expected, McConnell will filibuster it. But then the fight goes on. Possibly Schumer forces McConnell to keep filibustering on the Senate floor for days or longer. When the Senate returns from the 4th of July recess, he brings up the bill again and forces McConnell to filibuster it again. He grinds senate business down to a halt, refusing action on anything until there is a vote on the For the People Act. All the while, during the days and weeks of the fight, senators offer amendments, the President uses the full power of his bully pulpit to focus national attention on the issue, and masses of grassroots advocates show up in communities across the country to demand Congress act to save the democracy. If we win democracy-saving reforms this year, that’s what victory will look like.”
Keep in mind that in our system hard legislation never gets done unless key political leaders prioritize it. Since Manchin’s op-ed, we’ve seen no statement from Biden or Schumer. Radio silence is not what we want to hear from your leaders at moments like these. We need Schumer to publicly, loudly, forcefully recommit to getting democracy reform done before August recess. And we need President Biden using his full moral authority and bully pulpit to drive the national conversation and urgency around the threats to our democracy.
It's time for grassroots action. As we know, Indivisible's whole theory of change is that elected officials don’t do what their constituents want unless those constituents make them do it. They will take the easy way out (i.e., nothing) every time – unless they are pushed to do the hard work. If this were easy, it would have been done already.
And keep in mind, Senator Casey is very likely hearing from people and big corporations on the other side of this who do NOT want S.1 to pass. So we need to put our energy into reminding him who got the Democratic Trifecta and that we demand this bill be passed.
It’s not easy, it’s not pre-ordained, it’s not lost. That’s what makes what we do right now so important.
What we are doing:
First, call our senators every day this week. Be a pest! They need to know how frustrated we are and that this is historically urgent to us, their constituents. Tell them we want to see them come out loud and strong for democracy reform. Do it now, do it tomorrow. Every. Single. Day. The script is below.
Second, we are planning Deadline For Democracy actions during the July 4th recess, which goes from June 26 to July 9. So be on the lookout for our announcement with the details. We need to make some noise!!
Sen. Toomey – Phila office 215-241-1090; D.C. 202-224-4254; email link
Sen. Casey – Phila office 215-405-9660; D.C. 202-224-6324; email link
For outside PA: Find your Senators’ phone numbers and emails at this link.
Here’s your script (use different parts of it each day – doesn’t need to be a long call):
The Senate must pass the For The People Act – this summer. There’s no time to lose. Whatever it takes, Senate Democrats must come out now publicly and firmly that they insist that this democracy reform pass because it is essential to our country’s success. Manchin is not the king, and Democrats need to put the right pressure on to make him realize this. We worked hard to get the Democratic Trifecta and now our senators need to do their hard work and get this done. Statements on Twitter are not enough – go on TV, to the press, wherever you’ll be heard, and tell the public (and Manchin) that you want and expect the bill to pass. Also, please tell President Biden to use his bully pulpit to put pressure on the holdout senators.
Speaking of West Virginia -- Phone Banking!
Many of you have said you want to do something to help end the filibuster. Here’s your chance! You can call West Virginia voters asking them to call Senator Manchin and ask him to support the For the People Act. The system uses an easy-to-use dialer and there will be a training at the beginning of the call session. You’ll have lots of good conversations!
For the People Act Phone Banks to West Virginia
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, various times.
Last Week's Meeting With Congressman Boyle
We had a fantastic meeting last week with Rep. Boyle. He covered a lot of topics such as the American Rescue Plan, the filibuster, the American Jobs Plan and much more. In case you missed it you can view the video of the meeting here.
Our Three New Projects – Help Make Joe Manchin Irrelevant in 2022
Let's win a senate seat! The 2022 midterms are right around the corner. We have discussed before, and described in some detail at one of our recent meetings, that we need to boost Philadelphia voter turnout next year to win the open U.S. Senate seat and our governor’s seat. We can do it but we need to start now.
We have a three-pronged plan – (1) the Neighborhood Canvassing Project; (2) the 35 Doors Project; and (3) our new Postcard Project. Plus, of course, we are still doing all our “regular” events like voter registration (see below).
So pick the one that suits you best!
We'll make it short and sweet this time.
We are focusing on infrequent voters in all three projects. And we’re grounding our discussion on the American Rescue Plan to show that voting matters and elections have consequences. Our messaging informs voters of the benefits of the ARP and reminds them that Democrats enacted it and all Republicans voted against it. Our aim is to persuade them to vote next year, and we are starting the conversations now. You can see more detail in a previous newsletter.
* Please order postcards in sets of 50.
* Please donate $7.00 per set of 50 if you can at this link. If you can, please chip in a bit more for those who can't.
* Email us at this link to tell us how many postcards you want.
* Purchase your 36-cent postcard stamps online at this link or at your local post office.
* We'll hand deliver your postcards in Philadelphia, otherwise we'll ship them (please add $5.00 for shipping).
2. Neighborhood Canvassing
We'll canvass in Philadelphia neighborhoods.
For more information email us here.
Our next canvass will be Saturday, June 19, at 11:00 am. Sign up here.
Our next training will be on June 15, at 4:00. Sign up here.
3. 35 Doors Project. In this project you’ll be a Neighborhood Leader interacting with voters at 35 addresses in your neighborhood. We'll provide all the materials for you.
If you want more info or to sign up email us at this link!
VOTER REGISTRATION Register voters in Rittenhouse Square. We’ll register voters safely and follow all COVID protocols. Meet up in front of the Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square. More coming soon! When: Saturday, June 12 Two shifts are available – 10:00 am–noon; noon–2:00 pm Sign up here.
Thank you for all you do!