In the mad rush of the last few weeks, it’s important that we remember one thing – our resistance is working. Yes, we’re still suffering setbacks, but popular pressure has already slowed the rollout of Trump’s abhorrent agenda significantly. Congress is certainly feeling the pressure.
Another encouraging observation – studies of past civil resistance and social movements have shown it only takes about 3-3.5% of a population to bring down even a brutal dictatorship (and the US hasn’t devolved into one yet). At the Women’s March on Jan 21 there were already 1-1.5% of the entire US population on the streets nationwide. And the resistance is only growing.
This week, we’re doing our part with four action items. Do as many as you can! Please also take a few seconds to do our one-question survey, and remember, we’re also relying on you to spread the word!
1) [URGENT] Join the NoDAPL Last Stand TODAY, Feb 8
Following Trump’s Executive Order ordering the Army Corps of Engineers to approve the Dakota Access Pipeline, On Tuesday, the Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will grant the necessary easements for the Dakota Access Pipeline, bypassing the Environmental Impact Statement process that they are legally supposed to follow under the National Environmental Policy Act. This about-face follows Trump’s Executive Order ordering ACE to approve the project (and another Executive Order specifically calling for the EIS to be cancelled).
If you’re not free today, find actions planned over the week and weekend to join.
Natives at Standing Rock have also called on water protectors who have left North Dakota to return, and at least three new protest camps have been set up in recent days. Unfortunately, at least 76 more people have also been arrested as camps have been dismantled, bringing the total number of DAPL-related arrests to almost 700. For those unable to go to the frontlines or join in the worldwide actions, contribute to the water protectors’ legal defense fund here.
For more information on the EIS process that was bypassed and why it matters, see here.
2) Leverage corporate power!
Participate in grassroots campaigns that leverage corporate financial resources and political power to advocate our pledged values. Companies derive their power from consumers, just as politicians are empowered by their constituents, so corporations can and do respond to our collective voices.
- Help companies wield their ad dollars for good:
A company may inadvertently support a website such as Breitbart News (The network Bannon described as “the platform of the alt-right,” and which has been accused of racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, and white nationalism) through the automated ad targeting algorithms of programmatic advertising.
- Sleeping Giants aims to make companies aware of ad placements on Breitbart (they are planning to expand to other websites as well), so that those companies can choose to pull their ads. So far, Breitbart has lost over 800 advertising deals as a result of this campaign. You can help via their twitter or FB page.
- SumOfUs also has several petition campaigns aimed at pressuring companies to pull funding from Breitbart or the DAPL pipeline.
- Ask corporations to use their political influence:
Pressure CEOs to take a stand on the immigration ban. Nineteen business officials were set to meet with Trump this coming Friday as his “Business Advisory Council,” and they are under mounting pressure to announce their opposition to the ban, and/or quit the council altogether.
- Wall-of-us provides a list of members of the Business Advisory Council, including their stance on this issue and their contact info.
- You can write your own email/tweet, or modify this example message.
3) Ask Congresspeople to cosponsor legislation on the National Security Council
Legislation was introduced in the House and the Senate to amend the National Security Act of 1947. While not mentioning him by name, this is clearly a response to Bannon’s dangerous appointment to the NSC. (Why shouldn’t Bannon be on the NSC? Read more here and here.) The legislation does not ban political appointments to the NSC, but it does require that the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are part of the council. If your representative is not a cosponsor on the bill already, call them and ask them to join! So far all cosponsors are Democrats, so this is especially important if you have a Republican representative.
4) Voting Rights, part 2: Redistricting efforts
This is the second part of a multi-week series on combating voter suppression, partisan gerrymandering, and other practices that undermine real democratic representation and free and fair elections. This week focuses continues with self-education, and subsequent weeks will shift focus toward action and organizing. See also our previous voting rights action item.
In 2020, the US will conduct a census, which will then lead to a re-apportionment of the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives among the 50 states (more on that process here). Reapportionment leads to the creation of new districts and redistricting (FAQ here).
- This is where gerrymandering comes into play: the act of “politicians manipulating the redrawing of legislative district lines in order to help their friends and hurt their enemies. They may seek to help one party win extra seats (a partisan gerrymander), make incumbents of both parties safer (an incumbent-protection gerrymander), or target particular incumbents who have fallen out of favor.” At its most basic, gerrymandering is redrawing districts to benefit your party. If there are more republican voters but they all end up in the same districts, the democratic voters could capture more districts and win elections. Gerrymandering has been used to the advantage of both parties, but democracy never benefits. There is a very helpful visual explanation here, a map of the most gerrymandered states here, and videos here and here and here.
- Republicans dominated the redistricting process in 2010, and picked up 675 state legislative seats, gaining control of 12 more state legislatures. This overwhelmingly Republican gerrymandering directly contributed to the loss of the House in 2012 (as reported by NYtimes, NPR, PBS, Mother Jones, and the Republican leadership).
- Gerrymandering will likely be a state by state battle, and we can’t afford to wait until 2020 to address it. One possible tactic is the creation of independent redistricting commissions, which are constitutional and already in place in AZ and CA.
- Currently, 37 states allow their legislature to draw the electoral maps. But redistricting has been taking a beating in the courts, and the Supreme Court will hear at least one redistricting case in 2017. Check out the latest developments here.
Some efforts underway to address the effects of gerrymandering include:
- The National Democratic Redistricting Committee is an initiative by former President Obama and Eric Holder designed to “build a targeted, state-by-state strategy that ensures Democrats can produce fairer maps in the 2021 redistricting process.” Their three key strategies center on winning state elections, legal challenges and tactics, and ballot initiatives in key states. Donate or join the committee here!
- FairVote is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that advocates for an alternative system of ranked choice voting or proportional representation.
- Check out this interesting proposal that seeks to eliminate partisan redistricting by using an “Optimal Proximity Redistricting Algorithm” to create “hands-off redistricting.”
- To effect change in the system as it currently stands, sign up for the Sister District Project, which is “designed to target congressional districts that are red but could swing blue (or need help staying blue) and pair them each with a specific, safely blue district in close geographic proximity that will provide grassroots volunteer resources to that district. Volunteers in the blue district will coordinate with volunteers in their sister district as well as the campaign of the progressive candidate that needs support.” Similar projects include Flippable and Swing Left.
- Help Democrats win governorships so they can re-draw the maps. Seven key states have a chance at becoming democratic in 2018: Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Illinois. If you live in or near any of these states, consider getting involved with a campaign and be sure to mark your calendar for November 6th, 2018!
That’s all for this week. Keep the pressure up – our leaders are feeling it!
And as always, keep encouraging people to take the pledge, and please do share any thoughts or questions with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We especially welcome suggestions for action items, or volunteers to help manage the Pledge!
Until next week,