WE FLIPPED THE HOUSE!!! and other victories

November 07, 2018

After an agonizing Election Day and night, the results are (mostly) in and I am feeling incredibly hopeful and buoyed up by our many victories. Apologies in advance for the many exclamation points in this post.

Here in my swing district, NY's 19th, Democrat Antonio Delgado is my new Congressperson and I could not be happier! We successfully kicked Republican John Faso to the curb after just one crappy term. Faso consistently voted against our best interests and was caught on video promising one of his constituents who suffers from a brain tumor and spinal condition that he would protect her healthcare complete with repeated hugs (spoiler alert: he lied...)

There's also a new Sheriff in town here in Ulster County -- an experienced State Trooper and former U.S. Marine and DEMOCRAT named Juan Figueroa! I am thrilled to see the back of our previous Sheriff, Paul Van Blarcum who liked to use the Sheriff Office's official Facebook page to disparage the players taking a knee and encourage people to boycott the NFL, and to urge people to carry firearms in response to school shootings. No more!

My Democratic candidate for NY State Senate lost her race but Democrats won control of the NY State Senate in earnest - no more awful IDC! Come January, we'll have our first ever woman Majority leader in the NY State Senate. Hopefully, this will allow the Dems to tackle a series of long-overdue reforms that have been languishing for years.

On the national level, DEMOCRATS NOW HAVE CONTROL OF THE HOUSE!!! This means that creepy Devin Nunes is no longer going to be overseeing the Mueller investigation among other crucial checks on Trump's power. Some highlights of yesterday's results:

We elected a record-breaking 100+ women to Congress yesterday, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who is now the youngest woman ever elected to Congress at 29 years of age!

Voters elected our first two Native American women to Congress - Deb Haaland in New Mexico and Sharice Davids in Kansas. Davids is also Kansas's first openly LGBT Congressperson!

Midwest voters elected our first two Muslim women to Congress - Rashida Tlaib in Michigan and Ilhan Omar in Minnesota!

 And Colorado's new governor, Democrat Jared Polis is the first openly gay man elected to a governorship.

That jerk Scott Walker is no longer the Governor of Wisconsin, he was beaten by Democrat Tony Evers! Nevada has a new Democratic Governor and Senator! And in Georgia's race for governor, Democrat Stacey Abrams is NOT conceding to Brian Kemp, her Republican opponent who refused to step away from his post overseeing state elections while he campaigned... I like that fighting spirit and who knows, Georgia has an interesting law requiring one candidate to win at least 50% of the vote - Kemp currently has 50.4% but we'll see what's in those absentee ballots - maybe there will be a runoff election.

I won't pretend that the Senate seats we lost last night are not disturbing but I feel filled with hope today.

We progressives are just getting started and we've got the next two years to improve and build on our strategies, our voter registrations, our ground game and our candidates. There's a lot of work to do but we can do it.

A big thank you to all of you who knocked on doors, sent postcards, registered voters, made calls, sent texts, talked to your neighbors, drove people to the polls, donated money and VOTED!

Let's take a little rest to celebrate and gather ourselves for the coming push to get rid of Trump and take back the Senate. Then, back at it!

Join the Blue Wave this weekend and next week!

November 02, 2018

Lots of promising signs of the building Blue Wave out there, people. Early voting among young people in both Texas and Georgia is up 500%! And early voting by African-Americans and Hispanics – both traditionally Democratic constituencies – has more than doubled.

The Democratic challenger in my swing district has a narrow lead over the Republican incumbent in the latest polls.

And I know I am not alone in the volume of texts and calls I've been getting urging me to vote for Dems, right?

But none of us can afford to sit this one out. And I don't mean just getting your butt to the polls on Election Day - we all need to help with the Get Out the Vote effort. There are lots of ways to get involved, I hope you'll pick at least one of them.

Go door to door. This is the most effective way to boost turnout. I know it's a bit daunting the first time but do it with a friend and it can be fun! If you're not sure who to volunteer with, here are some options:

Make calls or send texts.

Drive people to the polls.

Connect with the campaign of whoever is running near you or with a local nonprofit who is arranging rides for people. 

In NY-19, try Citizen Action - email Andy, their field director - afalk at citizen actionny dot org. Or try one of these national services below.
Reach out to your friends and family!

Don't neglect those nearest and dearest to you. Make sure everyone you know (who agrees with your politics, that is) has a plan to vote and is informed about any local ballot initiatives. 

Heads up, those of you in Ulster County, you should vote YES on Proposition 1 to establish an unbiased redistricting committee. And I am voting No on Proposition 2 to dissolve and terminate our library district.

And consider voting for the Democratic candidates on the Working Families Party line, too.

Don't Thank Me,Do YOUR Part To Change Things

October 15, 2018

I'm haunted by the fact that I did not knock doors or make phone calls for Hillary Clinton in 2016. All I did was donate a few times and engage in endless online debates with Bernie Bros - not very effective...

I saw plenty of posts from friends who were out canvassing door to door and I made sure to thank them - something that I've since learned is totally infuriating. Why? Because someone else's civic engagement simply cannot be a substitute for your own civic engagement. That's not how it works.

Of course, everyone was certain that Clinton would win back in November 2016 - even the pollsters. Ooops.

It's now 2018, the country is going to Hell and our best chance of fixing it is by helping Democrats win their races on November 6th at the federal, state and local levels.

So please stop wringing your hands, stop trading angry tweets with Republicans, stop commenting on news stories about Trump's latest outrage, stop cursing fate, stop weeping for the future of humanit and sign up to help get out the vote. 

If you can't go door to door, you can make calls from home, you can send texts, you can write postcards. There is definitely something you can do to help.

If you're not sure who to join, check out Sister District (this is great if there are no competitive races in your state) or Flippable or Swing Left or your local Indivisible group or MoveOn - they'll tell you where to go. If you don't get off your ass to help, you don't get to complain if nothing changes.

As for myself, I organized a postcard writing party with friends. We hand-wrote notes on more than 240 postcards to infrequent Democratic and left-leaning voters in our swing district. And it was fun!

Despite a long-standing dislike of going door to door (I'm shy!), I plan to spend the weekend before the election canvassing for Antonio Delgado in my swing district. I should be going every weekend, but it's what I can manage.

If you're already doing all this and more, I hope you are kindly telling the people who thank you that you don't need to be thanked but you do need them to get involved.

Stop Trump From Separating Immigrant Families - 5 Things You Can Do

June 17, 2018

The fact that our government is systematically ripping immigrant families apart at our borders (and elsewhere), breaks my heart - how can anyone justify this level of  pointless cruelty? It's so disturbing that I've been semi-consciously avoiding reading and thinking about it.

I was with two dear friends yesterday, both of whom are moms, like me. My friend, Deborah, whose beautiful kids are 2 and 4 years old, began to cry when she talked about wanting to drop everything (which would be hard since she's just started this amazing organization and is traveling and working non-stop) and head to the nearest border to help (she's a lawyer.) Her tears broke through the wall I'd built to shield myself from this ugly reality. So this morning (on Father's Day, rather fittingly), I decided to move beyond my denial and cowardice to action.

Without further ado, here are five concrete things you can do (in several parts) to help end this inhumane policy ASAP. I'd want everyone to do these things - and more - to try to reunite me with my kids if they were taken from me for absolutely no reason, wouldn't you?

1. Contact your members of Congress 
  • Start by calling your Senators - find them here and call them both until you get through. Here's a script you can use or just use your own words.
"Hi, my name is ___. I'm calling from ______ to urge Senator ___ to denounce Trump's horrific, new policy of separating immigrant families and to help end this inhumane practice immediately. This is truly the opposite of supporting family values and I find it deeply disturbing on every level. I urge the Senator to support the HELP Separated Children Act introduced by Senator Tina Smith last month, the Fair Day In Court for Kids Act introduced by Senator Maizie Hirono in February, and any other efforts to end and alleviate this immoral policy ASAP."
  • Then call your Representative - find 'em here. Sample script you can use is below.
"Hi, my name is ___. I'm calling from ______ to urge Representative ____ to denounce Trump's new policy of separating immigrant families and use all his/her power to end this inhumane practice immediately. This is truly the opposite of supporting family values and I find it deeply disturbing on every level. I urge the Representative to support the Keep Families together Act that Rep. Feinstein introduced in early June and any other efforts to end this immoral policy ASAP."
  • If you use social media, tweet at your members of Congress (three tweets - should take less than a minute!) - feel free to use the sample tweet below or write your own. And send them a message on Facebook, too.
For Republicans (or Democrats) who either support this hateful policy or have failed to denounce it thus far.
Please stop Trump's inhumane, immoral policy of separating immigrant families. Children need their parents. Parents need their children. God is watching you. So am I. And I vote. #FamilyValues #FamiliesBelongTogether #WhereAreTheChildren
For Democrats who've been outspoken about ending this policy:
Thank you for working to stop Trump from separating immigrant families. Please do everything in your power to end this policy ASAP. #FamilyValues #FamiliesBelongTogether #WhereAreTheChildren
 2. Contact the Department of Homeland Security--the agency that controls ICE.
  • Call the DHS Comment Line: (202) 282-8495. Script here: "My name is ____ and I'm calling from _____ to let you know how deeply I disapprove of your inhumane, new policy of separating immigrant families. I urge you to reunite parents with their children and to end this inhumane policy immediately. The world is watching."
  • Email DHS Secretary, Kirjsten Nielsen: DHSSecretary@hq.dhs.gov - you can adapt the phone script above or use your own words.
  • Tweet at the DHS Secretary - she's @SecNielsen - you're welcome to copy my tweet below or just write your own.
3. Support the organizations listed below by donating, volunteering and signing up for emails. These groups are on the front lines of this fight and are undoubtedly understaffed at the moment as well as underfunded. Let me know if you know of more I should add to the list.

4. Take to the streets and/or visit your members of Congress to talk to them about ending this policy. MoveOn just announced that there will be nation-wide protests on June 30th - click here to find one near you or sign up to host in your own community. If you prefer a lobby visit to a protest, here are some great tips for planning a visit to your member of Congress' office - just adapt it for talking about this issue.

5. Make sure you are registered to vote (and that you vote for the Democrat) in the upcoming 2018 mid-term elections. If you've moved, make sure your address is correct.

Organizations To Support

ActBlue has put together a Kids At The Border fund that supports 8 excellent non-profits working on this issue - an easy way to spread your resources around if you're in a hurry, especially if you've ever given to a Democratic candidate since they've probably already got all your info :) Donate here.

RAICES is the largest immigration non-profit in Texas offering free and low-cost legal services to immigrant children and families. Donate here and sign up as a volunteer here.

The Texas Civil Rights Project is seeking “volunteers who speak Spanish, Mam, Q’eqchi’ or K’iche’ and have paralegal or legal assistant experience.” More info about their volunteer and internship opportunities here. You can donate here.

The Immigrant Child & Family Rights Project - staffed by two attorneys who will fight on behalf of individual children, advocate for systemic change to end the practice of family separation by the Department of Homeland Security, and for policies that better protect the rights of children and families. Donate here.

The Florence Project is a nonprofit legal service organization providing free legal services to men, women, and unaccompanied children in immigration custody in Arizona. Donate here.

Al Otro Lado is California-based non-profit coordinating legal support for the refugee caravan currently in Tijuana, Mexico, at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, and providing critical assistance to refugees, including infants and unaccompanied minors. Donate here.

ACLU - no doubt you know these guys already, they're a huge leader in this effort. Donate here.

Women's Refugee Commission is on the front lines advocating for the critical rights and protection of refugee women and children. Donate here.

Some Good News! In 6 Parts

February 28, 2018

It makes me happy to share some good news - most of it around gun control. Cause for hope.

1. Congress finally funded CHIP which must be a big relief to the families of the 9 million kids who depend on it. It's not over, of course, CHIP will likely face significant funding challenges in that timeframe but still, for now, phew!

2. The #BoycottNRA movement is gaining traction. You can join in! Check out Drain the NRA's comprehensive spreadsheet of companies to put pressure on.

3. Dick's Sporting Goods made a wonderful announcement today. They will no longer:
  • Sell assault-style rifles (a.k.a. "modern sporting rifles".) 
  • Sell firearms to anyone under 21 years of age.
  • Sell high capacity magazines.
Dicks has never sold bump stocks and never will. 

They also called on elected officials to enact commonsense gun control legislation including:
  • Banning assault-style firearms
  • Raising the minimum age to purchase firearms to 21
  • Banning high capacity magazines and bump stocks
  • Requiring universal background checks that include relevant mental health information and previous interactions with the law
  • Ensuring a complete universal database of those banned from buying firearms
  • Closing the private sale and gun show loophole that waives the necessity of background checks.
I found this incredibly heartening - the CEO of a big company actually has a conscience and a heart and is able to use them in concert with his brain! 

Naturally, Dick's is getting a TON of vitriolic blow-back so I called both my local store and also the corporate office to thank them and tell them they've got my business. 

You can find your local Dick's store here. And you can reach their main office at 1-877-846-9997, option 4 and then option 3.

I also tweeted at them to say thank you. You can respond to their announcement tweet or just tweet at @DICKS.

4. Then Walmart followed suit with its own announcement that they are raising their age of purchase for guns to 21 and will stop selling toys that resemble guns. Walmart had already stopped selling assault rifles in 2015. Regardless of how you might feel about Walmart, they need to hear that you support their decision.

You can like and respond to their announcement tweet here.  Or give them a call at 1-800-925-6278.

5. Last but in no way least, is the Parkland students who survived the shooting and are now leading a new wave of activism to pass meaningful gun control laws. They're awesome!!! Read more about Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg and check out the march info below.

6. March for Our Lives in DC on March 24th. Read more and consider joining (there will probably be a bunch of local marches at the same time, too.) 

3 Ways To Help Stop Gun Violence

February 16, 2018

It's been hard to focus on much of anything since the news broke about the Parkland shootings. Unfortunately, thoughts and prayers are not as effective as one would hope, so here are three simple ways you can help to stop the growing wave of gun violence.

1. Call your Representative and urge him/her to support the Stop School Violence Act H.R. 4909 that invests in early intervention and prevention to stop violence (read more about this bill here.) 

  • Find your Rep's phone number here
  • Follow the script below - feel free to use your own words and provide any personal experience you have of gun violence:

    "Hi, my name is YOUR NAME and I'm a constituent calling from YOUR TOWN/CITY. I'm calling to urge Rep. NAME to pass the STOP School Violence Act (H.R.4909) because children and teachers should not be risking their lives every day and too few of our schools and law enforcement have the tools to identify, intervene and help people who display at-risk behaviors. there is evidence that these strategies and tools really work. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me."
2. Join and/or help spread the word about the Weds, March 14th National School Walk Out being organized by the Women's March folks. Here's the Facebook event.

3. Help register likely Democrats to VOTE! Our options for preventing gun violence are limited unless and until we elect more members of Congress who are not beholden to the NRA for campaign contributions. Check Indivisible if you don't already know of a group doing voter registration in your area.