How do we stop Trump & the GOP? An insider’s guide by Congressional staffers

Source: DailyKos

Author:VTGenie

Emphasis Mine

During the past month it’s been easy to got locked into a demoralizing cycle of anger, frustration, and profound sadness about the future of our country. Breaking the cycle is difficult, given the daily deluge of Trump’s obscene cabinet picks and Congressional Republicans’ plans to reverse so many gains we’ve made during the past eight years. So it is enormously uplifting to read about some practical and concrete advice for how we can fight back.

The guidance is provided in a remarkable document, Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda, written by a group of former staffers to progressive Congress members. From small steps that any of us can do, like contacting members of your Congressional delegation, to larger actions that require more planning and organization, this guide provides “insider” information to effectively push-back against the trump/GOP agenda.

Here’s how Mother Jones describes the document:

In clear, confident prose, it lays out a well-reasoned, step-by-step strategy for building a grassroots movement to challenge Trump and his Republican allies in Congress.

Ezra Levin, former deputy policy director for Congressman Lloyd Doggett, who represents a district in central Texas, is the “unofficial spokesman” for the project. Here’s how he describes the group’s thinking.

We thought our value-add to this conversation is to demystify Congress for everybody else. The tea party had a lot of nasty tactics that were needlessly aggressive and petty and scary. But they proved it is indeed possible for a committed, relatively small number of folks across the country to make Congress listen to them and to slow and stop an agenda.

The way we see it, there is a much larger group of people around the country now that feel that way than there was in 2009 and 2010. Progressives are the majority; we won the popular vote by a long shot and Donald Trump and the congressional Republicans representing mainly rich old white men are a minority. If we stand up together and use the effective strategies and tactics the tea party used, we believe we can stop them.

That’s right: they have taken many of the successful strategies of the tea party— minus the disgusting parts— and analyzed what made them successful. For clarity, they include this handy table:

not-tea-party.png

To fully appreciate the amazing work they’ve done, you really need to peruse the guide itself. But to give you some idea, here is their one-page summary (which, as stated in the guide, they explicitly want to be shared):

Here’s the quick and dirty summary of this document. While this page summarizes top-level takeaways, the full document describes how to actually carry out these activities.

Ch. 1:  How grassroots advocacy worked to stop Obama. We examine lessons from the Tea Party’s rise and recommend two key strategic components:

1. A local strategy targeting individual Members of Congress (MoCs).

2. A defensive approach purely focused on stopping Trump from implementing an agenda built on racism, authoritarianism, and corruption.

Ch. 2: How your MoC thinks, and how to use that to save democracy. Reelection, reelection, reelection. MoCs want their constituents to think well of them and they want good, local press. They hate surprises, wasted time, and most of all, bad press that makes them look weak, unlikable, and vulnerable. You will use these interests to make them listen and act.

Ch. 3: Identify or organize your local group. Is there an existing local group or network you can join? Or do you need to start your own? We suggest steps to help mobilize your fellow constituents locally and start organizing for action.

Ch. 4: Four local advocacy tactics that actually work. Most of you have 3 MoCs–two Senators and one Representative. Whether you like it or not, they are your voice in Washington. Your job is to make sure they are, in fact, speaking for you. We’ve identified four key opportunity areas to pressure MoCs that just a handful of local constituents can use to great effect. For each of these always record encounters on video, prepare questions ahead of time, coordinate with your group, and report back to local media:

1. Townhalls: MoCs regularly hold public in-district events to show that they are listening to constituents. Make them listen to you, and report out when they don’t.

2. Non-townhall events. MoCs love cutting ribbons and kissing babies back home. Don’t let them get photo-ops without questions about racism, authoritarianism, and corruption.

3. District office sit-ins/meetings. Every MoC has one or several district offices. Go there. Demand a meeting with the MoC. Report to the world if they refuse to listen.

4. Coordinated calls. Calls are a light lift but can have impact. Organize your local group to barrage your MoCs at an opportune moment and on a specific issue.

Furthermore, this is not just an itemized list of “dos and “don’ts”. Beyond being a guide for action, it is a fascinating window into to how things work, and why. For example, here’s a bit more discussion about the importance of a unified, defensive strategy…

This focus on defense rather than policy development allowed the movement to avoid fracturing. Tea Party members may have not agreed on the policy reforms, but they could agree that Obama, Democrats, and moderate Republicans had to be stopped.

[…]

Tea Partiers primarily applied this defensive strategy by pressuring their own local Members of Congress (MoCs). This meant demanding that that their own personal Representatives and Senators be their voice of opposition on Capitol Hill.

… and how it can be used to achieve our objectives:

Using these lessons to fight the Trump agenda

For the next two years, Donald Trump and congressional Republicans will control the federal government. But they will depend on just about every member of Congress to actually get laws passed. And those members of Congress care much more about getting reelected than they care about any specific issue. By adopting a defensive strategy that pressures MoCs, we can achieve the following goals:

Stall the Trump agenda by forcing them to redirect energy away from their priorities. Congressional offices have limited time and limited people. A day that they spend worrying about you is a day that they’re not spending on ending Medicare, privatizing public schools, or preparing a Muslim registry.

Sap Representatives’ will to support or drive reactionary change. If you do this right, you will have an outsized impact. Every time your member of Congress signs on to a bill, takes a position, or makes a statement, a little part of his or her mind will be thinking, “How am I going to explain this to the angry constituents who keep showing up at my events and demanding answers?”

Reaffirm the illegitimacy of the Trump agenda. The hard truth is that Trump, McConnell, and Ryan will have the votes to cause some damage. But by objecting as loudly and powerfully as possible, and by centering the voices of those who are most affected by their agenda, you can ensure that people understand exactly how bad these laws are from the very start – priming the ground for the 2018 midterms and their repeal when Democrats retake power.

Yes, they acknowledge that we need to maintain our positive progressive vision, and to promote what we are for, not just what we are against. But right now, defending against Trump and the GOP must be the primary focus:

You may not like the idea of being purely defensive; we certainly don’t. As progressives, our natural inclination is to talk about the things we’re for – a clean climate, economic justice, health care for all, racial equality, gender and sexual equality, and peace and human rights. These are the things that move us. But the hard truth of the next four years is that we’re not going to set the agenda; Trump and congressional Republican will, and we’ll have to respond.  The best way to stand up for the progressive values and policies we cherish is to stand together, indivisible — to treat an attack on one as an attack on all.

There’s so much more in the guide that I haven’t touched on here. It contains detailed, practical strategies for anyone who wants to do more than just sign online petitions— whether you live in a “safe” Democratic district or a Republican stronghold.

I’ll close with this statement from the document itself (also excerpted in a New Yorker article about the document):

“Our goal is to provide practical understanding of how your MoCs think, and how you can demonstrate to them the depth and power of the opposition to Donald Trump and Republican congressional overreach. This is not a panacea, nor is it intended to stand alone. We strongly urge you to marry the strategy in this guide with a broader commitment to creating a more just society, building local power, and addressing systemic injustice and racism.”

To the authors of this incredible resource: Thank you .

Tuesday, Dec 20, 2016 · 11:38:03 AM EST · VTGenie

There is a new site for the Guide, along with this statement by the authors:

NOTE FROM THE INDIVISIBLE TEAM Since this guide went live as a Google Doc, we’ve received an overwhelming flood of messages from people all over the country working to resist the Trump agenda. We’re thrilled and humbled by the energy and passion of this growing movement.

We’ll be updating the guide based on your feedback and making it interactive ASAP. You can sign up for updates at http://www.IndivisibleGuide.com.

Every single person who worked on this guide and website is a volunteer. We’re doing this in our free time without coordination or support from our employers. Our only goal is help the real leaders on the ground who are resisting Trump’s agenda on their home turf.

We hope you will take this document and use it however you see fit. We want to hear your stories, questions, comments, edits, etc., so please feel free to ping some of us on Twitter: @IndivisibleTeam, @ezralevin, @angelrafpadilla, @texpat, @Leahgreenb. Or email IndivisibleAgainstTrump@gmail.com.

And please please please spread the word! Only folks who know this exists will use it. Good luck — we will win.

Many thanks to commenters who have brought this to my attention.

See: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/12/19/1612645/-How-do-we-stop-Trump-the-GOP-An-insider-s-guide-by-Congressional-staffers?detail=email&link_id=16&can_id=d57025b8908d671dcc8edc84e5855f8f&source=email-breitbart-supremacists-boycott-of-rogue-one-didnt-go-so-well&email_referrer=breitbart-supremacists-boycott-of-rogue-one-didnt-go-so-well&email_subject=breitbart-supremacists-boycott-of-rogue-one-didnt-go-so-well

America’s Greatest Shame: Child Poverty Rises and Food Stamps Cut While Billionaires Boom

Source: Alternet

Author: Les Leopold

There are 16.4 million American children living in poverty. That’s nearly one quarter (22.6%) of all of our children. More alarming is that the percentage of poor children has climbed by 4.5 percent since the start of the Great Recession in 2007. And poor means poor. For a family of three with one child under 18, the poverty line is $18,400.

Meanwhile, the stock market is booming. Banks, hedge funds andprivate equity firms are making tens of billions of dollars again, while the luxury housing and goods markets are skyrocketing.

Most amazing of all is the fact that 95 percent of the so-called “recovery” has gone to the top 1 percent who have seen their incomes rise by 34%. For the 99 percent there’s been an undeclared wage freeze: the average wage has climbed by only 0.4 percent.

To add to the misery, Washington has decided that the best way to tackle childhood poverty is to have poor kids eat less. Both parties already have agreed to cut billions from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps). Starting this November 1, payments are scheduled to drop from $668 a month to $632 for more than 47 million lower-income people — 1 in 7 Americans, most of them children. (Three incredible graphs that visualize the issues in this story are at the bottom of this article.)

And more cuts are coming. The Tea Party House passed a bill to cut food stamps by $4 billion a year, while the Senate calls for $400 million in cuts. How humane! And since it will be part of the omnibus Farm Bill, President Obama will sign it. (I wonder how our former community organizer will explain this to the poor children he once tried to help in Chicago.)

But that’s just the start. More austerity is coming in the form of cuts to Social Security as well as a host of other social programs. When times get tough, you’ve got to suck it up and take more from the poor.

Rewarding Billionaires Who Increase Poverty?

It gets even more revolting when we realize that the financial billionaires who are profiting so handsomely from the recovery are the very same who took down the economy in the first place. They were the ones who created and pedaled the toxic securities that puffed up and then burst the housing bubble. Those financial plutocrats caused 8 million workers to lose their jobs in a matter of months. Those bankers, hedge fund honchos and fund managers are directly responsible for the rise in child poverty rates. Washington bailed out those billionaires and is now asking the poor and the middle class to pay for the ensuing deficits with further cuts in social programs at every level of government.

Why do we put up with such injustices?

Washington Is in Wall Street’s Pocket

Before we entirely succumb to financial amnesia, let’s recall how we got here. Since the late 1970s, the financial sector has been on a crusade to remove any and all financial regulations. The goal was to undo all the controls put in place during the Great Depression that so effectively curtailed financial speculation and outright gambling. Once deregulated Wall Street engineered a Ponzi-like housing bubble that netted it astronomical sums. By the time it burst in 2007, 40% of all corporate profits flowed into the financial sector. Wall Street wages grew by leaps and bounds.

As the crash hit, all the largest Wall Street firms, not just Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns, were in serious trouble. Had AIG gone under, so would nearly every major bank and investment house, along with thousands of hedge funds that depended on AIG to ensure its toxic bets. So Wall Street’s Washington cadre engineered a $13 trillion bailout consisting of cash, no interest loans and a program by which the Federal Reserve would buy up Wall Street’s toxic waste at par value. To produce a financial recovery, the Fed also drove down bond interest rates which in turn drove money into the stock market, sending it to new heights.

Here’s the best of all. After getting $480 billion in bailout cash, the top financiers in the country paid themselves more than $150 billion in bonus money for a job well done. Is this a great country or what?

What didn’t happen is this: Mortgages were not written down in mass to assist underwater home owners and those who suffered from predatory loans. No lasting jobs programs were created to put the unemployed back to work. No lasting penalties were paid by the individuals who took down the economy. And there was no serious effort at all to cap financial wages and bonuses in the name of justice.

All in all, you could not have designed a more perfect program to enrich the rich and do absolutely nothing for the 99 percent — and as a result, sink ever more children into poverty.

Waiting for the Recovery That Will Never Come

We are constantly told that the recovery is just around the corner. Liberals say we need more stimulus. Conservatives call for more austerity and cuts in regulations. But all agree that sooner or later more growth will benefit the 99 percent. Unfortunately, it’s not happening and it won’t happen. Here’s why.

First of all, they assume that trickledown actually works, that there is something mechanical within our heavily financialized economy that will bring renewed prosperity to the 99 percent. They look back at previous recessions and recoveries and continue to believe that slumps are followed by renewed growth and income gains for all.

But as financialization has spread throughout the economy, new mechanisms are in place that siphon off wealth into financial gains for the very few. Productive enterprises are turned into financial enterprises that are loaded up with debt and then carved and slaughtered so that wealth can be extracted for hedge funds and private equity firms. In our brave new financialized economy renewed growth turns into renewed incomes primarily for the investment class. The stock market will rise but jobs and incomes won’t. The traditional capitalist slump-recovery process died more than a decade ago. Adam Smith’s invisible hand no longer produces shared prosperity — instead it picks our pockets.

Waiting for the Political Pendulum to Swing

Second, we are told how America is essentially a moderate country — how there’s a kind of invisible political pendulum that swings from the extremes back to the sensible center. When the left or the Tea Party gets too wild, the center supposedly pulls them back and common sense economics prevails. But this consoling media meme obscures the fact that our politics are moving ever more rightward. Moderate Democrats and Republicans today are to the right of Eisenhower, Nixon and even Herbert Hoover. They have already agreed to cut the very entitlements that are needed to help alleviate poverty. In fact, they have agreed it’s quite OK for America to have 442 billionaires and also have 22.6% of its children living in poverty. The sensible center now sees its role as forging a “compromise” on how much to cut food stamps and other supports for the poor.

Obviously, both political parties lose little sleep worrying about economic injustices. Even most Democrats no longer have a serious game plan to eradicate poverty. That’s considered to be 1960s stuff that doesn’t make sense in a world where politicians have to make peace with at least some players in the billionaire class in order to survive. As for the poor, alas, they will always be with us.

America Leads the World

Not a day goes by without hearing about “American exceptionalism.” We are told by our leaders and pundits that we are the best, the greatest, the mightiest and the most democratic of all nations. It is our mission in life to uphold justice and freedom around the world. But as this chart shows, when it comes to child poverty, we are just about dead last.

Why is that? Because in wealthy nations, children live in poverty if and only if that nation allows it. Our nation, the richest in history, has more than enough wealth to go from the bottom of this list to the top, right next to Finland, if only we decided to act justly.

A Simple Proposal to end Child Poverty

America has 442 billionaires with an average net worth of $4.2 billion eachaccording to Forbes. That means collectively these 442 Americans have nearly $1.9 trillion in wealth.

During the current “recovery,” these 442 billions saw their wealth rise on average by over 12 percent per year. What would happened if those billionaires received only 6 percent a year and the other 6 percent were taxed away in order to pull all of our children out of poverty?

That would provide sufficient revenue so that each child now living in poverty would receive an extra $7,000 per year which would pull nearly all of their families above the poverty line. The 442 billionaires would not suffer. No one in their families would go hungry. No luxury goods or services would be out of reach. No cooks, maids, chauffeurs or pilots would have to be let go. The 442 billionaires would feel no pain at all — not even an itch. As a result of this painless tax, America would eradicate childhood poverty overnight.

Dream on?

Of course, our simple proposal sounds insane in a world where austerity reigns supreme and where billionaires are immune from such redistributive proposals. But I wonder who is sane and who isn’t. It seems utterly psychotic to live in a society that chooses to spread poverty to its young. It also seems psychotic to claim that cuts in food stamps are good for the poor while at the same time saying that it’s quite OK for billionaires to pile up unearned, tax-sheltered income. The fact that we’re putting up with all this should be driving us all insane.

Sooner or later, the millions of Americans who still have souls that ache for justice will take democracy into their own hands. I don’t know how it will happen or when, but one day we will eradicate needless poverty and reclaim our nation from those who are robbing it blind.

3 Incredible Charts

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Les Leopold is the executive director of the Labor Institute in New York, and author of How to Make a Million Dollars an Hour: Why Hedge Funds Get Away with Siphoning Off America’s Wealth (J. Wiley and Sons, 2013).

Emphasis Mine

See: http://www.alternet.org/hard-times-usa/americas-greatest-shame-child-poverty-rises-and-food-stamps-cut-while-billionaires?akid=11103.123424.W7X-8c&rd=1&src=newsletter918440&t=3