Puerto Rico. Las Vegas. DACA. CHIP. North Korea. Tax reform. ICE raids. 20-week abortion ban. Jeff Sessions. Paper towels. Rex Tillerson. Golf. Betsey DeVos. It’s...oh god, it’s a lot.
It is so much.
It is SO SO MUCH.
Consider beginning your meetings with a moment of silence to honor lives lost in Las Vegas.
Then consider asking people to share one moment of hope/humanity/peace/victory they’ve witnessed or experienced recently.
Now, let’s get to work.
Find your Elected Officials: http://act.commoncause.org/
PART I: NOV. SPECIAL ELECTIONS + SISTER DISTRICT PROJECT!
Many SolSun chapters will be hosting representatives from their local Sister District Project (SDP) chapters, and will be learning about ways to get involved in upcoming elections, including Special Elections in Virginia in November, as well as, of course, 2018 midterms. SDP is a network of local teams that support strategic, winnable races across the country. SDP pairs blue districts with red/purple ones, with a down-ballot focus on critical state races where Democratic control hangs in the balance.
Beginning in January 2018 SolSun will be very focused on those elections—we’ll still be taking action in response to whatever nonsense gets thrown at us, but we will also ramp up engagement and partnership with organizations and efforts around November 2018 House and Senate races.
If your SolSun chapter hasn’t connected with a local group like SDP, Indivisible, SwingLeft, etc, we recommend reaching out NOW, so that you can be coordinated and ready to take action in 2018.
There are 6 states holding Special Elections in November, with two of the states—Washington and Virginia—garnering significant nationwide attention and action because of the potential shift the balance of power to the Democrats.
WASHINGTON: All eyes are on Washington's 45th Legislative District, and Democratic candidate for state senate Manka Dhingra. The district includes the cities of Duvall, Kirkland, Redmond, and Sammamish. Republican state senator Andy Hill, who represented the 45th, died of cancer in October 2016, which led to the special election. The race has garnered national attention because if Dhingra wins, the Washington state senate flips to blue, with Democrats having total control—and making the West Coast entirely blue. The most recent polls show Dhingra with a 10-point lead.
#ACTION: PHONEBANK FOR MANKA!
To login to phonebank remotely for Manka Dhingra, follow these instructions:
Go to https://www.openvpb.com/vpb_bycode/408732G-4759
'Create a new ActionID tab' and use your email and a password of choice
VIRGINIA: All eyes are also on Virginia, where voters will elect a new Governor, and vote on every single seat (100!) in the House of Delegates. Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) currently holds a double-digit lead over Republican Ed Gillespie in the race to be the commonwealth's next governor. A list of the 13 Democrats that Sister District and other progressive organizations are supporting can be found here: https://www.sisterdistrict.com/sister-races-2017/
#ACTION: POSTCARDS FOR VIRGINIA We are excited to support the grassroots efforts of Postcards For VA, who are aiming to send THOUSANDS of postcards to Virginia voters on October 25th to let them know THEIR VOTE COUNTS! Their 100 postcard Challenge is awesome—let’s see how many SolSun chapters can do it!
PART II: COMMON SENSE GUN CONTROL NOW
I don’t need to tell any of you what happened in Las Vegas on the night of Sunday, October 1, 2017. I don’t need to tell you about what happened in Orlando or San Bernardino or Aurora or Sandy Hook or any of these other cities whose names have become synonymous with mass murder committed by men with guns—atrocities that could have been prevented if we could actually pass common sense gun legislation. As Jimmy Kimmel recently said, the NRA has Congress’ balls in a money clip.
The United States has more guns per capita than any other peer nation; Americans constitute about 4% of the world's population but own 42% of all civilian firearms. There is a mass shooting, on average, almost every day of the year in the United States, and the nation has far higher rates of gun homicides than any other developed nation. Firearm suicides in the US are also dismally common, with suicides actually comprising the majority of gun-related deaths. However, thanks to continued lobbying by the National Rifle Association (NRA), Congress has repeatedly failed to take meaningful action and curb gun violence.
The NRA is huge and rich and powerful and organized. To really be effective, we have to understand how they’re working. Highly recommend reading Mike Spies’ series “The Gunfighters”: https://www.thetrace.org/investigations/the-gunfighters/ and/or listening to him on Fresh Air.
To see how much YOUR Reps get from the Gun Lobby, consult this handy chart from the NYT:
#ACTION 1: OPPOSE THE SHARE ACT
The SHARE Act, the “Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act” (H.R. 3668), undermines public safety and environmental protections, including the “Hearing Protection” provision that deregulates the purchase of gun silencers. The sound of gunfire serves an important public safety purpose in alerting nearby people to danger, and as a result, gun silencers have long been subject to the same purchasing restrictions as machine guns, explosives, and other dangerous weapons. If made law, the SHARE Act would remove these restrictions and make it easier to buy a silencer without a background check. Gun silencers also do not serve any hunting-specific purpose, as there are numerous ear protection options already widely available to hunters.
CONTACT YOUR HOUSE REP (by PHONE, EMAIL, FAX, or TEXT)
“Hi, my name is [NAME] and I’m a constituent from ____ I’m contacting you to ask you to vote against HR 3668, the SHARE Act. The deregulation of gun silencers is dangerous to public safety and security. We have all heard the terrifying accounts of the Las Vegas shooting—we KNOW that the reason more people aren’t dead is because of the sound of the gunfire. If Stephen Paddock had access to a silencer, can you imagine what would have happened? I can. And that’s why I am contacting you today. We must not roll back sensible gun laws that provide a safer community for all.”
#ACTION 2: SUPPORT THE AUTOMATIC GUN FIRE PREVENTION ACT
On Wednesday 10/4, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and a number of Democrats introduced the Automatic Gun Fire Prevention Act, a bill to close a loophole that allows semi-automatic weapons to be easily modified to fire at the rate of automatic weapons, which have been illegal for more than 30 years—this is also being referred to as banning the “bump stock”, the firearm accessory that the Las Vegas gunman used to modify his rifles to fire as fast as automatic weapons. On 10/5, the NRA released a statement saying it supports potential new regulations on bump stocks. This legislation is LITERALLY the very very least that Congress can do.
Per Feinstein’s Chief of Staff, this Act is nowhere near as big and bold as Feinstein and other Dems would like to go, and many see the NRA statement on bump stocks as a kind of bait and switch—that may be the case, but Dems see it as the most realistic and immediate avenue for gaining bipartisan support on gun control.
CONTACT YOUR SENATORS
“Hi, my name is [NAME] and I’m a constituent from ____ I’m contacting you to ask you to support the Automatic Gun Fire Prevention Act that has been introduced by Sen Dianne Feinstein. This Act would close the loophole that allows people like Stephen Paddock to modify semi-automatic weapons and turn them into killing machines. Supporting this Act is literally the very least that you can do to address the unprecedented American gun violence crisis."
#ACTION 3: LOCAL ACTION
Gun ownership and usage varies greatly from state to state, region to region. Conversations around gun usage and safety and control in Oakland, CA are very different from those in Bozeman, MT. But more significantly: some of the most impactful and significant gun legislation (both pro-gun and gun safety) happen on the STATE level. Targeting state legislation is key to the NRA strategy as well as the pro gun control strategy. The 2016 elections saw several significant gun control wins in states like Washington, California, and Nevada.
Consider an action that is specific to where you live. This may entail writing a letter to the editor, contacting your Governor or Mayor, researching gun-related legislation in your state, reaching out to your local chapter of a gun control advocacy group, etc.
PART III: SUPPORT THE DREAM ACT
Current DACA protections are set to expire March 5th, 2018, unless Congress passes legislation to make DACA law. The bipartisan Dream Act would protect DACA-recipients by providing qualified undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. before the age of 18 a pathway to citizenship. The Dream Act has bipartisan public support, and *some* GOP support in Congress. We need to demand that a CLEAN bill be passed, meaning that there are no strings attacks (border wall funding, etc.) There are currently two bills: S. 1615, the DREAM Act in the Senate, and H.R. 3591, the American Hope Act in the House.
“I'm calling/writing to urge Senator ________ to take immediate action and pass S. 1615, the DREAM Act. Our DREAMers deserve legal status and a path to citizenship, and I expect the Senator to act swiftly to help the 800,000 people who relied on DACA for access to jobs, education, and security.”
“I'm calling/writing to urge Rep.________ to take immediate action and pass H.R. 3591, the American Hope Act. Our DREAMers deserve legal status and a path to citizenship, and I expect Rep. ________ to act swiftly to help the 800,000 people who relied on DACA for access to jobs, education, and security.”
PART IV: PUERTO RICO
The devastation in Puerto Rico is staggering and heartbreaking—as is the disgusting response from Mr. Trump, who insulted the Mayor, blamed the citizens, praised himself, and then lobbed paper towels into a crowd like a crappy mascot at a minor league basketball game. If you are able to donate to PR relief, please do. Here are some vetted, recommended organizations/links:
#ACTION: EXTEND THE JONES ACT
"The Jones Act" is a 1920s shipping restriction that requires all goods shipped between ports in the United States to be carried by vessels built, owned and operated by Americans. It hampers relief and recovery efforts significantly (and, in general, cripples PR’s economy). After immense public pressure, Trump waived The Jones Act for Puerto Rico for 10-day period, beginning Sept. 28. It ends on Sunday, Oct 8. Puerto Rico is pleading for a 1-year suspension so they can get adequately import supplies and materials for their long recovery.
Senator John McCain has requested the suspension of The Jones Act, stating, “It is unacceptable to force the people of Puerto Rico to pay at least twice as much for food, clean drinking water, supplies and infrastructure due to The Jones Act requirements as they work to recover from this disaster.” Jones Act relief would immediately reduce food and water costs, extend availability of affordable medication, and grant access to international oil markets necessary for restoring the island’s power grid.
#ACTION: CONTACT THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
“I'm calling to ask the department to support suspending the Jones Act for Puerto Rico for a 1-year period. Trump’s 10-day suspension has ended, and it was not enough time for Puerto Rico to import all of the needed food, supplies, and fuel required to rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. This is not the time to disadvantage the people of Puerto Rico in service of a WW1 era shipping regulation.”
#ACTION: CONTACT YOUR SENATOR
“I'm calling to ask Sen._____to support suspending the Jones Act for Puerto Rico for a 1-year period. Trump’s 10-day suspension has ended, and it was not enough time for Puerto Rico to import all of the needed food, supplies, and fuel required to rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Maria.This is not the time to disadvantage the people of Puerto Rico in service of a WW1 era shipping regulation. If DHS won’t act, Congress must!”
In the midst of all the infuriating news, we need to be reminded that there are good people out there. We’re not including scripts for these—just write from the heart, and feel free to be brief! We encourage chapters to include local organizations as well. Also: If you know of any local first responders or rescue professionals who have helped with hurricane relief in Puerto Rico (local fire departments, National Guard, Coast Guard, etc) consider thanking them! Here are some people and orgs that we think deserve some mega love:
JIMMY KIMMEL Late-night TV host Kimmel has never been an explicitly political celebrity, but that changed when he began speaking up about health care in the wake of his newborn son’s medical crisis. He’s spoken about receiving tons of criticism (as well as violent threats) because of it, but it didn’t stop him from delivering a monologue after the Vegas shooting that is pretty incredible. We need MORE white men with major public platforms like Kimmel to speak up like this, and we want to make sure we let him—AND his producers and network know we appreciate it. Kimmel has reported receiving threats that have led to ABC beefing up security.
c/o Jimmy Kimmel Live
6834 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90028
CLARK COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT There were many heroes who helped save lives during the shooting—many will remain anonymous, but we can thank the fire department of Clark County, which covers the area where the shooting occurred. At least 12 off-duty firefighters were shot at the concert, 2 of whom were shot while performing CPR. Over 100 firefighters responded to the traumatic and dangerous scene, with many of them entering in body armor because the shooter was still active.
Clark County Fire Department
575 E Flamingo Rd,
Las Vegas, NV 89119
UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER OF SOUTHERN NEVADA is the only level-one trauma center in Nevada and one of only a few free-standing trauma units in the nation. It received an enormous number of patients after the shooting—you can read the description of what it was like at UMC here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/02/us/vegas-shooting-hospital.htm. Let’s thank the doctors, nurses, and staff for all they did—and will continue to do.
University Medical Center
1800 West Charleston Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89102
GOV. JERRY BROWN AND STATE SEN. KEVIN DE LEON On Thurs 10/5 California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a package of important immigration legislation, including SB54, The California Values Act, which makes California the first “Sanctuary State.” This landmark legislation was written by California State Senate President Kevin de Leon, and it vastly limits who state and local law enforcement agencies can hold, question and transfer at the request of federal immigration authorities. It’s also a direct rebuke to Trump, Sessions, and the California sheriffs who love them (and the federal money they get from renting prison beds to ICE). Even if you’re not from California, we think it’s worth thanking Jerry and Kevin for setting the example of how a state can resist, just as he did in the wake of Trump’s Paris Accord pull-out.
Kevin de Leon
State Capitol, Room 205
Sacramento, CA 95814
Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
SAN JUAN, PR MAYOR CARMEN YULIN CRUZ San Juan’s badass Mayor has been insulted and criticized by Donald Trump for speaking up and begging for help during a massive crisis—and she has not backed down. She continues to use her platform to advocate for her people, she refuses to play Trump’s ass-kissing games, and she wore a NASTY t-shirt during a major TV interview. #goals NOTE: We would like to send thanks to the Mayor, but it is obviously very hard to get mail to PR right now, and we don’t want to add to that. You can thank her on Twitter or FB.