"Now Make Me Do It"
Happy Tuesday, Activists!
Today we wanted to put this moment in some historical context and our role now as activists. Ezra Levin, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of Indivisible, likes to remind us of a historical parallel to our present time. In 1932, Franklin Roosevelt won a landslide electoral victory. FDR’s win delivered a Democratic trifecta for the first time in more than a decade, just like we have now. But the economy was in shambles and fascism was on the rise globally. Shortly after his election, a labor leader visited FDR to ask for a big policy reform. FDR replied to the request, “I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it.”
Ezra cautions that FDR’s landslide did not save America without a lot more work. His opponents cried “socialism!” Members of his own party urged caution. The Supreme Court fought back. But grassroots advocates pushed and prodded, and willed FDR’s agenda into existence, which led to Social Security, unemployment insurance, labor rights, and so much more. This massive progress is the legacy of the people-powered movements that shaped that era.
We need to apply the same kind of pressure now. Even though we thankfully have Democrats in charge (just barely), if they soften their stance, we'll need to stiffen their spines for true progressive change and make them do it. Our Calls To Action address just that below.
TOMORROW’S MEETINGS: JUDICIAL GERRYMANDERING
Tomorrow we have two meetings to learn about the judicial gerrymandering scam the Republican-controlled PA legislature is trying to have passed as a PA Constitutional Amendment. If passed, this change will put significant political pressure on our judges and their rulings. It must be on the ballot and passed by the voters, meaning Governor Wolf cannot veto it. We can’t let this pass.
Join us to learn all about it and what we will do to prevent it. The meetings are at two different times tomorrow, February 3, on Zoom.
We have two phenomenal expert speakers for these issues:
Deborah R. Gross, Esq., President and CEO, Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts
Carol Kuniholm, Chair, Fair Districts PA
When: Tomorrow, February 3, 1:00 pm
When: Tomorrow, February 3, 7:00 pm
GOING STRONG FOR DEMOCRACY REFORM!
Now that we have a Democratic trifecta, we have to move quickly to unrig our democracy so all of our other priorities can be within reach.
There are a few pillars of our plan for democracy reform, and recently we focused on one of them – DC statehood – and why it’s so important. You can read about it in our earlier newsletters here and here.
Last week we focused on another pillar, the Senate filibuster rule, an archaic rule that functions only to ensure that numerical minority interests govern over the majority in the Senate. You can read the details here (and you can see all our past newsletters here). Don’t forget, Mitch McConnell has vowed to stop any and all progressive legislation the Democrats consider, so we need to take that power away from Mitch.
Today, let’s talk about the biggest piece of legislation to move us toward a more robust democracy. It’s H.R. 1 in the House and S. 1 in the Senate, better known as the For the People Act. This is a robust reform package that targets voter suppression, gerrymandering, money in politics, corruption, and more. You can read more details here and here.
Congressman John Sarbanes of Maryland introduced the legislation and he’s made a video and fact sheet explaining it here.
For example, it reverses some of the election finance abuses spawned by the Citizens United decision. And for voting rights, here’s a short list of its provisions that give voters:
* Mail-in voting provisions for drop boxes and 15 days of early voting
* Same-day and online voter registration
* Automatic voter registration
* Voting access for convicted felons
* Restoration of the Voting Rights Act of 1964
Wow. And there’s more. It also provides for Federal matching grants for small campaign contributions to limit big and dark money in elections. It goes a long way to ending partisan gerrymandering too. It also puts limits on lobbying and strengthens ethics rules for government officials.
There are too many significant democracy reforms in this bill to list here. You can read another article with more details here, and it’s really worth your time to appreciate what the Democrats are trying to do to strengthen our democracy.
Finally, you may have read that many states are trying to restrict voting rights following Democratic wins in 2020. The good news is that HR 1 / S.1 is likely to go a long way to supersede those attempts and make significant changes to expand voting access.
So we need to make sure Democrats don’t do anything to water it down to appease Republicans--who won’t vote for it anyway, given their history!
CALL TO ACTION
Sen. Toome – Phila. office 215-405-9660; DC 202-224-6324; 4; email link
Sen. Casey – Phila office 215-405-9660; DC 202-224-6324; email link.
Rep. Evans – DC office 202-225-4001; Phila. office 215-276-0340; email link
Rep. Boyle – DC office 202-225-6111; Phila. offices 215-335-3355; 215-426-4616, 215-744-7901, 215-982-1156, 267-335-5643; email link.
For outside Philadelphia:
Find your House Representative’s phone number and email at this link.
Find your Senators’ phone numbers and emails at this link.
Two actions for this week.
1. Call about the For the People Act. Call Members of Congress and tell them to vote to pass the For The People Act with no changes that weaken it. Even if our senators and House members are in favor of the bill’s passage, we need to make sure they know we are watching and expecting them to vote for the full package, no watering it down. So thank them for supporting the bill and remind them that it must be passed without any changes that weaken it.
2. Call about the COVID-19 relief bill. Tell Members of Congress that they can’t agree to water it down. As we saw yesterday Republicans met with President Biden to offer their own much smaller relief package. Even as more and more people lose their jobs and their loved ones to the virus, Republicans seem to be more concerned with political games than delivering relief to hard-hit communities. And while COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate, there's no doubt that the virus impacts Black communities at much higher rates, continuing to lay bare the brutality of racism in our country. We need to build on Biden’s plan with meaningful improvements and pass a package that takes this crisis seriously.
ON THE LOCAL FRONT – SPEAKING OF VOTING
It’s time to sign up – again – for your mail-in ballot.
Did you sign up to vote by mail last year? You will need to renew your application again for this year’s elections, even if you signed up to be on the “permanent” list. Yes, the state had called the application status “permanent” when it only covered one year, which is super confusing. You are not signed up forever and ever -- you are signed up annually. And it’s time to do it again for this year’s elections.
You can read more about it here and you can sign up on the state website here. Or you can wait to receive a paper application in the mail from your local election board. They were due to be mailed out yesterday.
You can see all of our beautiful items on our website! Here’s how it works:
1. View the selections and pick out what you would like to order.
2. Make a donation for the amount (or more!) listed for each item.
3. Use the email link in the item description and tell us you made your donation.
4. We’ll ship you the item.
5. You’ll enjoy it, and know you donated to a worthy cause!
And as always . . .
Stay safe. Wear a mask. Keep a distance. Be kind.