Action this Week – September 27, 2019

Does Rep. Brindisi Know Your View on Impeachment?
 

It was a crazy week on the impeachment front!  Rep. Brindisi, who had remained opposed to impeachment for months, released a statement on Tuesday that the President must comply with the demands of Congress related to the Ukraine phone call, saying, “We cannot play politics with our national security.  We need to know the facts to fulfill our Constitutional duty.”

At the same time, events were unfolding rapidly in Washington, with Speaker Pelosi reversing course and calling for impeachment along with at least 219 Dems in the House, with the exception of Rep Brinidisi and 15 of his colleagues.  Indivisible, and man other political activism groups organized calls and texts.  During a four hour window on Tuesday alone, more than 12,000 Indivisibles across the country called their reps to urge them to action.

Many of you have both supported Brindisi’s Ukraine statement on social media and with your calls, and also contacted his office urging him to support impeachment as the process moves forward. He is walking a fine line in a district that Trump won by 15 points in 2016 and that still holds a Republican registration advantage of close to 30,000 voters.

In some districts where Dems in the House have not yet actively expressed support for impeachment, progressive groups are actively talking about primary challengers for 2020.  A national political reporter who covers House campaigns (she was in NY22 this time last year researching our group’s role in the NY22 race) asked what NY 22 Indivisible activists are thinking, and wrote an article that appeared in Roll Call on Wednesday.

The short version?  While Rep. Brindisi may be slower to come to the impeachment table that many progressive activists in the Mohawk Valley would wish, at the same time, we know that given the demographics, he is the very best person NY 22 could possibly elect to represent us in Congress. It’s possible to keep him electable and help him get re-elected at the same time we let him know why our values point toward holding Trump accountable for his actions.

At our monthly Friday Lobby Hour, on Oct. 4th, let’s show up at Rep. Brindisi’s district office and let him know what we think he should do about impeachment. You can sign up as well on the national ImpeachNow site, and share the link with your friends by email. In the meantime, call rep. Brindiisi and ask him to support the effort to cancel the recess and focus on getting this impeachment work done now. Congress must get to the bottom of this.  It’s a top priority because election security and trust in the processes of the federal government are at stake.

You can also find out more about from Rep. Brindisi about his intentions as the impeachment inquiry unfolds by attending his Oneida County Town Hall on Oct. 10th (see calendar below).

Reflections on a Protest: “We the People” March
by Jennifer Boulanger

(Editor’s Note: Many of you expressed a desire to attend the big march in DC on Sept. 21, but very few were able to attend.  Below is a first hand account from one of our number who was there.)

The idea to attend a major protest came not from me but from my very smart, more aware friend, Sue. I was complaining to her in my usual way about our shared frustrations and whatever new atrocity had happened that day. At this point, I no longer remember if it was the shooting in El Paso, a photo of a caged child or ice melting where it should be intact. It could have been just another of the never-ending onslaught of White House-issued lies or insults. I said, “We should be protesting not one of these things, but all of them!” She replied, “There is such a march—‘We the People’ in Washington.” And then, without missing a beat, she added, “Let’s go!”

So we did.

We arrived in Washington very early the day before the protest. It gave us time to visit the monuments, the Vietnam Memorial Wall, the Holocaust Museum. It is hard to describe the mixed emotions these experiences stirred: pride upon feeling the majestic dignity, kindness and humility that emanated from the sculpture of Lincoln, but emptiness upon seeing the massive wall engraved with names of thousands and thousands of the very young who died senselessly in Vietnam, notes from their loved ones tucked under some of the panels. And then the horrors of the Holocaust—the mountain of shoes collected from those captured and killed, piles of human hair shorn from those led to gas chambers. A video which depicted the origins of the Nazi uprising showed thousands and thousands marching across the dark night with torches. It still haunts me. I couldn’t help thinking, it looks just like Charlottesville.

We were enlightened and saddened, inspired and outraged all at once. Inspired by the countless sacrifices of so many who built and sustained our country and its ideals; outraged that its stewardship should now be bestowed on someone so soulless and corrupt.

On Saturday morning we put on our comfy shoes, pinned anti-Trump buttons on our jackets, gathered our homemade signs, and headed out. We turned the corner at 13th and Pennsylvania to find people already assembling—first hundreds, and then the crowd swelled longer, wider, louder, buzzing with the excitement of shared conviction till we were several thousand strong. People had come from all over the country—from New York, Ohio, California.  They came in buses and planes, trains and cars—even bicycles. A couple people I met had driven all night from Florida. And we were everyone: teenagers with moms and dads, grandmas holding high their “impeachment” signs, sisters and brothers, children, babies in strollers, women in wheelchairs and men with walkers and canes. We were every shade of humanity, every background, every creed.

The organizers grabbed bullhorns and led the group in few practice chants; “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go!” and “IMPEACH!!” At noon, with a shout we were led to the street and the march began, passing directly in front of Trump International Hotel. A chant, “SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!” rang from the endless sea of marchers, who, as they passed the building, gestured in unison, a collective middle finger.  A woman with a bullhorn zigzagged the crowd, screaming as if at Trump himself in appropriately inappropriate language as those around cheered her on.

The crowd was joyful—smiling widely, chanting boisterously, moving in step with one another. It was a celebration: we’d found each other, each of us unique but joined in our shared values and principles.  We were united by a commitment to justice in this beautifully diverse expression of common purpose, our forward movement freeing us, if only temporarily, from more than two years of frustration, anger, sadness and fear.  We were doing something.

As we passed, by-standers stopped to watch, to applaud, to wave, to flash a sign of peace. I, for one, saw not one onlooker who expressed dissent. Droves of people lined the balcony of the Newseum, an agency dedicated to fostering understanding of the free press and the First Amendment, to watch us as we passed. They cheered, they clapped, they lifted their arms in solidarity.

As we neared the Capitol, we joined in the chant, “DO YOUR JOBS!”–our message to a Congress now so lacking in backbone, they no longer lead at all. They appease, they back-pedal, they equivocate. They campaign. But they do not act.

I write this as I wait to board the plane home from Washington.  The taxi driver who delivered us to the airport said he’d had a message from God: a voice told him that Joe Biden will be our next President. Maybe he’s mistaken. Maybe he’s unwell. But he is positive. He is hopeful, and so are we. Some may say protesting does no good. Maybe it does and maybe it doesn’t. But protest is the definitive act of hope. If we had no hope, we would not have come; we would have given up long ago. Our hope sustains us.

In the end, patriotism is not embodied in a red tie, a MAGA hat, or even in the flag itself. Patriotism is action. It’s embodied in people like Kim, a woman who drove from Ohio to protest with her 20-something son. Kim’s sister agreed to take over the caregiving for their father, who is dying of cancer, all so that Kim could come to the protest. Her action is sacrifice borne of hope. And what could be more patriotic than that?

IMV’s Oct. 20th Meeting: A Seven Minute Homework Assignment

Please mark your calendars now for our Oct. 20th IMV meeting. Yes, it is a busy time for canvassing, but we want to make sure that everyone has a chance to come together, socialize, and encourage one another before Get Out the Vote goes into high gear.

At our September meeting it was clear that we all want more practice on framing our issues and talking from our values.  In preparation, our facilitators have asked that everyone take seven minutes (that’s all!) to watch this brief video clip.   It explains ways of talking about immigration that resonate with our values.  The more we strengthen our skills on this, the more formidable we will be in challenging the conservative framing that so dominates media and culture.

#DefundHate Updates

Thank you for all your work during the Defund Hate week of action!  Indivisibles on the West Coast brainstormed at the national conference in August, and masterminded a relay that went from the Canadian to the Mexican border through Washington, Oregon and California with Indivisibles signing a banner passed hand to hand fro group to group.

Here in the Mohawk Valley, we held another of many events at Oneida Square reminding our community that we embrace refugees and immigrants, and we find concentration camps and separation of families totally unacceptable.  We were speaking from our values, but our demand was specific.  Congress should not continue to increase funding for ICE and CBP as long as Trump is using these agencies and their funding to harm immigrants, separate children from their parents, and incarcerate people who are doing nothing except fleeing terror.

What happened to the spending bill that we were trying to influence?  Well, early yesterday, the Senate passed the short-term funding bill that funds the government through the end of November — and it did not include any of the special funding increases requested by Republicans for ICE and CBP.  This is a major victory that would not have happened if not for grassroots activism.

Since this was a short-term funding bill, we’ll need to ramp up the pressure again heading in to November — stay tuned for more info about where and how to plug into this next fight. That’s the nature of how funding battles work. The good news is that Democrats in the House stood up to the White House and we kept the fight going.  Thanks for all your calls and efforts during the September week of action!

It’s Time to Canvass for Local Candidates

Please plan to knock on doors and get our progressive candidates elected!  Here are some upcoming opportunities. More will be coming as as we move into October.

Saturday, Sept. 28th, 12-2pm  or 3-5 pm, Canvassing for Shelly Gardner, Candidate for Rome Common Council Ward 2, Meet at Gardner’s Farm to Table Restaurant at 401 W. Dominick St, Rome, NY 13440.

Sunday, Sept. 28th, 12-2 pm or 3-5pm, Canvassing for Shelly Gardner, Candidate for Rome Common Council Ward 2, Meet at Gardner’s Farm to Table Restaurant at 401 W. Dominick St, Rome.

Sunday, Sept 29th, 1 pm, Canvassing for Mike Brown, Running for Re-election to the Oneida County Board of Legislators, 111 Fort Stanwix Park South, Rome 

Sunday, Sept. 29th, 1:30 – 3:30 pm, Canvassing for Cam Tien, running for re-electon to the Rome Common Council, Ward 1.  Meet at Cam’s house 820 Floyd Ave., Rome. Please bring a clipboard if you have one.    

Sen. Rachel May at KAC in Clinton on Oct. 10th

The Kirkland Town Democratic Committee invites everyone to join State Sen. Rachel May for a conversation on Thursday, Oct. 10th at 7:30 pm at the KAC in Clinton.  Sen. May has fresh eyes on processes in Albany, and has been generous in sharing those with her constituents.  She has brought many of her colleagues in the majority in the senate, who are mostly from downstate, to meet the businesses, farmers, families and constituents in her central NY district, which includes the towns of Augusta and Kirkland in Oneida County, Madison County, and Syracuse.

Sen. May was part of the anti-IDC group of progressive Dems swept into office 2018, and went on to participate actively in the historic progressive legislative achievements of 2019 including the climate bill, tenants rights, and many bills.  If you care about what happens in Albany, you’ll want to hear from Sen. May, and see what she is working on for the 2020 session which starts in January.

Early Voting Starts in October… Are you canvassing yet?

Democratic and progressive candidates are running for seats across the Mohawk Valley, and they need your help.  With early voting starting on Oct. 26th, there is now less than a month to go before many voters will be casting their ballots.

Please make your plans now. Who will you knock doors for?  Please  keep a close eye on the IMV calendar as we will be posting as many candidate canvassing opportunities as we can..

If you haven’t been canvassing yet, and need to get in that campaign spirit, I suggest stopping by the re-opening of the Brindisi campaign office (by the DCCC) in Washington Mills this Tuesday.  We worked hard from that office in 2018 and we’re going to do it again.  For now, the doors to knock are the ones that will win us seats on the county board of leg, and town an city councils.

Please remember that ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL. That’s why we knock doors in our neighborhoods and why we cal our own representatives in Congress and in Albany.  It’s why we meet face to face every month to improve our political action skills and coordinate our strategies around issues and candidates that matter to us. Let’s keep it up because…

Democracy is not a spectator sport.