Now, We Fight: Steps for Taking Immediate Action

It’s time to work! Progressive organizers are providing us with definitive plans. I’ve collected the next steps, as defined by our emerging leaders. I am grateful that we have these people. Being organized and active makes us powerful; make a commitment to participate in whatever you can.

Make a plan – figure out your budget, your schedule, and plan your new activist lifestyle. Unsubscribe from nonsense emails so the ones that matter (like calls to action from progressive organizations) get through to you. The more people you bring with you, the more effective we will be. Make a plan you can realistically stick to. Get excited and stay inspired.

There are so many causes to focus on, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. I believe that the biggest bang for our buck (buck being time and/or money) will come in the form of electing progressive leaders, and once they are there, holding their feet to the fire so they do our bidding.

First off, these are strategies I’m using to stay informed, in general (I’ve mentioned some before). You can’t make change if you don’t stay informed. The jury’s out on whether I will crumble from information overload.

  • Subscribe to emails from Countable.us to learn what your representatives are voting on, with the ability to customize the issues most important to you. They’ll also help you get in touch with your reps.
  • Join Flippable, an organization looking to flip seats up and down ballot to blue. They have a detailed plan to channel their focus productively. They will tell you when a candidate somewhere in the country needs your support!
  • Subscribe to emails from Ballotpedia. They are nonpartisan, and you can customize the emails with a high level of detail. They are incredibly informative and cover THOUSANDS of offices, both appointed and elected – telling you all the basic who-what-where-when’s about each of them.
  • Sign up for texts from Daily Action. They’ll tell you what to do today, and give you a phone number to call which will connect you where you need to go.
  • Keep track of events on the Indivisible Guide’s action calendar (I am adding them to my personal calendar, and setting alerts for some things).
  • Subscribe to weekly action lists by blogger Jennifer Hoffman. None of it is rocket science, and it’s in small, easy-to-do tasks.

What are our fearless leaders calling us to do?

  • The Women’s March on Washington was just the beginning.
    • The women in charge of the march have announced a 100 day plan called 10 Actions / 100 Days.
    • The first step is easy: download this postcard, print (or get it printed), fill it out, photograph it for social media, and send it to your Senators.
    • Sign up at the bottom of the page to get their emails so you stay engaged.
  • Swing Left is forming teams to try to flip the House in 2018.
    • Visit their website and put in your zip code, to find the closest competitive district to you. For those of us in New Orleans, that’s in Montgomery, AL.
    • After you’re directed to the page, sign up for the email list so that the team in that district can contact you for action items you can do from near or far. If you’re in the district, you can lead or join your own team.
  • Moveon.org, the Working Families Party, and the writers of the Indivisible Guide teamed up and did a conference call Sunday night.
    • If you missed it, there are notes at the bottom of the post (I haven’t found a recording or good write-up of it online yet).
    • The major takeaway was that they have already been employing #ResistTrumpTuesdays. What they want is coordinated, nation-wide action where concerned citizens show up at their representatives’ local offices and raise hell. To make it organized, they chose Tuesdays, but emphasize you should do whatever you can whenever you can.
    • For Tuesday the 24th, they have decided to focus to “Stop Trump’s #SwampCabinet.” You can find a local rally. There is one at 10am and one at noon at Bill Cassidy’s office in Metairie (for you New Orleanians). I wish I could make it.
    • Congress has a recess February 20-24th. Your officials are likely to be hanging around their home turf at that time, and often hold events. Find out and put it on your calendar.
  • If you weren’t aware of it, the Indivisible Guide is a document written by former congressional staffers about how to effect change, using the Tea Party as an example (minus their more unsavory moves).
    • Read the guide.
    • Find or start a local chapter. In New Orleans, we have 4 within 25 miles of the city center. It seems like the easiest thing to do is join the Facebook groups.

I want to specifically mention that I have not heard much from organizations geared specifically for people of color in the resistance, in terms of immediate action items. But we need to always remember them in this journey, so I recommend following Black Lives Matter, the NAACP, and SURJ (for white people who want to fight racism).

It’s become clear to me that some of us are going to have to make political action a central focus of our lives. I believe that I can manage to do that, but I know not everyone can. Do as much as you can, and hopefully you can make up for someone who does not have the resources you do. Level with yourself about what sacrifices you can make. What budgetary accommodations can you make to support your donating? What parts of your schedule allow you to make phonecalls or visit offices? What form of media will best suit your schedule and keep you informed?

Most of all, take care of yourself and stay engaged.



Notes from Sunday night’s conference call:

This is fairly abbreviated, since the call lasted about an hour and a half, but here are the main things I took away from it.

  • As mentioned above, a coordinated effort to run by a Congressperson’s office every Tuesday. The Indivisible Guide also mentions going to local Congressperson’s events whenever possible.
  • The principles are:
    • Resisting Trump
    • Focusing locally
    • Holding onto our progressive values (so, no excluding people, like the Tea Party)
    • De-escalation, not violence
    • Maintaining focus on love
  • Members of Congress care WAY more about being re-elected than Trump’s agenda. They only fall in line with Trump because they think it will get them re-elected. Put doubt in their minds about that.
  • Visits are better than phonecalls are better than letters
  • When you go to an office or public event:
    • Try to bring a group, but don’t call ahead to tell them you’re coming.
    • Bring the press, and record everything.
    • Ask to speak to the member of congress. Then the next person in charge, then the next one. Don’t let them throw an intern at you.
    • When you bring the press and/or record what’s happening, it truly affects the behavior of the person.
    • Plan your questions/concerns and plan out who says what
    • The most effective thing you can share is a personal story – particularly if press is around.
    • Don’t take no for an answer.
  • What if you have a well-behaved member of Congress?
    • Show support when they do the right thing; you don’t want them second-guessing their choices (particularly if you’ve got some loud Trump supporters in your area)
    • Hold their feet to the fire.
    • As one of the guide writers wrote, “a lot of members of Congress are B+.” You may be surprised at how many votes your Congressperson skips, or how much hell they DON’T raise on the House or Senate floor.
    • Push them to TELL YOU PUBLICLY how they will vote on the issue at hand.
  • In the short term, right now, the goal is to stand in opposition to Trump’s corrupt cabinet. Use personal stories about how a specific cabinet member can affect your life.
  • Social Media Advice
    • Get a damn Twitter already
    • Quotes and soundbytes do really well on Twitter
    • Use Facebook live
  • Old School Media Advice
    • Attract attention by writing a press release
    • Look up specific local journalists who cover the issues you’re working on, send them the press release and then call to try to entice them with how juicy it will be
    • Have some/all of your people practiced in talking to a camera
    • Follow up with the reporter with another press release, any media you have to share, and a thank you
    • Letters to the editor
  • If you have a conflict (de-escalation)
    • Stay calm and avoid the situation (might mean changing plans)
    • Be strong in your progressive values, using inclusive and non-violent language
    • Try to ignore; if event is private, ask person to leave
  • Stand together with those in your community (like, if an immigration issue comes up, go advocate for the immigrants in your town)
  • Listener questions:
    1. How to strengthen Democrats isolated in red areas?
      • Find like-minded people
      • You Congressperson might not come around but important that your message gets to them and gets out
      • You may inspire other like-minded people to join you
    2. What if your Senator’s office is in a private building?
      • Be creative
      • Don’t announce yourself ahead of time
      • Record them denying you entry
      • Try to get someone to meet you outside to talk
    3. Balancing your daily routine with going to see a Congressperson. What should beginners expect?
      • Lunchtime works
      • Try to do public events if not Tuesday resistance, often evenings and weekends
    4. Got disconnected and missed a question.
    5. Making sure people of color and other marginalized folks are included
      • Messaging, visuals, etc – all need to be inclusive
      • Reach out to grassroots organizations for people of color, invite them
      • Always acknowledge how certain issues disproportionately affect people of color (like, equal pay is an issue for all women, but more of one for women of color)
      • Show up to POC events like Black Lives Matter.
  • Get your social media network (or just social network) engaged and aware and ready.
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Author: Melissa

Melissa is an artist and half-architect living in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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