Friends,

This week marks six months since we started the Solidarity Pledge – ¼ of the way to the 2018 mid-terms. Thank you to everyone who’s been with us all this time – and if you signed up later, we’re so glad to have you on board as well!

We have a long road ahead of us, but now that we’re a quarter of the way there, it’s a good time to pause and reflect. That’s our first action item for this week. But it’s also been a heck of a week – so we have plenty of our more usual fare as well. Given how crucial this week is, please do as many as you can, especially the first two!

1) Reflect, refocus, remember

2) Defend our Democracy, part 2

3) Protect national monuments!

4) Flip Montana’s House seat!

5) [FUN] Report an alien!

And as usual, don’t forget our one-question survey!

—–

1) Reflect, refocus, remember

It’s been six months since we started the Solidarity Pledge. These last months have been a whirlwind of activity, but in the midst of all the scandals, the protests, the phone calls, it’s important that we not lose sight of the bigger picture.

Take some time this week to pause, reflect, refocus, and remember why you’re here. You should do this in whatever way works best for you, but here are a few suggestions for questions to think about:

[Fair warning, this can get pretty deep, but it’s a good way to re-motivate yourself for the months to come!]

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  • Who am I? What do I stand for?
  • Who have I been, these last six months? How did I get here?
  • Who am I becoming, in the months to come, and what kind of person do I want to be?
  • What am I afraid of? What makes me fear for the future?
  • What gives me hope?
  • What is the future I would like to see?
  • What will I do to help make that future a reality?

2) Defend our Democracy, part 2

The fallout from the firing of FBI Director James Comey continues – and so must our pressure on our leaders to stand up for our democracy.

A quick recap – in the last week:

  • Cracks and inconsistencies have emerged in the White House’s explanation of the firing.
  • Trump appeared to threaten Comey in a tweet with the release of ‘tapes’.
    • This raises questions about whether Trump is recording his conversations.
    • At the same time, he threatened to cancel White House press briefings, a clear violation of transparency norms.
  • Just yesterday, Comey confirmed that Trump had indeed asked him to drop the investigation into Michael Flynn’s Russian links – the full implications of which are still unfolding.
    • Comey had last week indicated willingness to testify before Congress about the investigation and his dismissal – but only in a public hearing.
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions has started interviewing candidates to replace Comey – whose job it will be to continue the Russia investigation
    • This is despite Sessions himself being implicated in the investigation, having lied about his Russia connections during his confirmation hearing for AG
    • Sessions had, as a result, promised to recuse himself from the investigation – but broke that promise by helping Trump find reasons to fire Comey
  • Largely unrelated, but certainly unhelpful – in a meeting with the Russian foreign minister last week, Trump divulged extremely sensitive intelligence shared by an American ally, potentially jeopardizing relations with said ally and severely undermining the trust of the defense and intelligence communities.

While the crisis continues to unfold and expand, Trump has shown before that he can weather crises that would sink any conventional political leader, and Republicans in Congress have shown little desire to hold him to account. So it’s absolutely critical that we keep the pressure on.

What You Can Do:

  • Learn why the entire Comey-Russia affair is so important to the most fundamental principles of our democracy – check out analyses from Lawfare and Indivisible.
  • Pressure your members of Congress to support the appointment of a special prosecutor or at least an independent investigative committee.
    • See what public statements your members of Congress have already made.
    • Find talking points for phone calls or in-person town hall/office visits from Indivisible here (bottom of page).
    • If direct action is more your style, plan a protest.
  • While you’re at it, tell your senators to turn up the pressure for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign or appoint a special prosecutor.
  • Contact the Department of Justice and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to call for the appointment of a special prosecutor. Deputy AG Rosenstein is one of only three people who could appoint a special prosecutor, along with Trump and Sessions.
    • Send a message through the DOJ’s website.
    • Call Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein’s office: 202-514-2101
  • Sign the ACLU petition: https://action.aclu.org/secure/special-prosecutor

3) Protect national monuments!

With another bizarre executive order, Trump is now taking aim at America’s national monuments. The Review of Designations Under the Antiquities Act charges the Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, with reviewing all National Monuments Designations over 100,000 acres or “where the Secretary determines that the designation or expansion was made without adequate public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders.”

We have good reason to be concerned about the “relevant stakeholders” Trump is concerned with. Along with another executive order on Arctic oil drilling, this essentially allows the Trump administration to open up national monuments to energy development – including several massive and widely-lauded marine national monuments in the Pacific ocean, first established by George W. Bush and expanded by Barack Obama.

Zinke is due to submit a preliminary report reviewing the monuments on June 10th and a final report August 24th, with a public comment period open for about another week – so the time to act is now. Zinke has previously been called a mixed bag, but the outlook is not good. In the case of Bear Ears National Monument in Utah, the first that Zinke visited, Native Americans are already feeling ignored.

What You Can Do:

 

  • Call your Senators

 

4) Flip Montana’s House seat!

With Ryan Zinke off dismantling our national monuments (see preceding item), his former House seat representing Montana’s sole Congressional district is up for grabs. As we explained last week, every single seat matters – so take some time this week to help turn Montana blue again!

The special election for this district is on Thursday, May 25, just over a week away. Democratic candidate Rob Quist is a former folk singer (who sings his own campaign song!) running on a progressive-populist platform, against a small-government Republican multimillionaire with big-money super PAC support. Quist is trailing his opponent in the polls but has been closing the gap, and he is now only a few percentage points behind.

While Montana may seem like deep red country, progressive populists have done well in recent years, as evidenced by the state’s last two governors (both Democrats) – so Quist has a decent shot. And winning the seat will be triply significant – it’s one more vote, it’s a great way to stick it to Zinke, and most importantly, it will give Republicans in the House pause and perhaps make their future cooperation more likely.

What You Can Do:

  • If you live in Montana, vote! If you know someone who does, encourage them to vote too.
  • Learn more about the background on this special election and why it matters in the bigger picture.
  • Donate to Quist’s campaign through ActBlue.
  • Phonebank for Quist’s campaign – you can find a phonebanking party near you here.

5) [FUN] Report an alien!

A few weeks ago, the Department of Homeland Security launched an office for ‘Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement’ (VOICE) – a move that unfairly singles out crimes by undocumented immigrants in a blatant attempt at fear-mongering. (In fact, undocumented immigrants are less likely than average to commit crimes.)

The centerpiece of VOICE is a hotline, which ICE is encouraging people to call to report ‘criminal aliens’ – so that’s exactly what you should do.

What You Can Do:

—–

That’s all for this week – let’s hope things don’t get too much more exciting! As usual, keep encouraging people to take the pledge, and please share any thoughts or questions with us at solidarity@mit.edu!

Stay strong and keep fighting!

Solidarity MIT

solidaritypledge.com

 

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