CA-13, IEB answering Barbara Lee’s call to action

Congresswoman Barbara Lee invited about 40 local grassroots leaders to a workshop Saturday morning to learn skills to take back to our groups so that we can all contribute to the push to turn more California districts blue in 2018. The Democrats are aiming to flip at least 7 of 14!

Nicole Derse and Addisu Dimisse of the 2012 Obama campaign talked about the importance of using our own stories to make connections with others whether knocking on doors in Turlock or recruiting volunteers in Oakland.

And we heard some specifics about how we can help  from The California Democratic Party’s organizer, Lucia Nuñez of district 10, where they have already identified a lot of voters looking to replace Jeff Denham, particularly after he voted for huge health care cuts in exchange for tax cuts for the wealthy.

District swinging isn’t something we’ve focused on much at Indivisible East Bay so far, although it’s something we all care about and many of us are working on at other organizations. But we at IEB, as well as other blue chapters across the country (and those at the Indivisible Guide national) have been looking at how we might put an Indivisible spin on this work—otherwise we might as well leave it to other organizations.

One clear way to do that is by doing that work along with our own members of Congress as part of building those relationship. Whenever we ask our reps. what we can do to help them, or to show our support, they talk about taking back the House. Rep. Swalwell, as it happens, hosted a phone bank for Jon Ossoff of Georgia also on Saturday.

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So at Rep. Lee’s prodding, we’re planning our first official red district field trip. The California Dems. are canvassing and registering voters in District 10 every Sunday throughout Resistance Summer. We’ve looking at coordinating with them to send a group to participate (tentative date: July 16). Please fill out this form if you’re interested!

If the GOP is afraid to debate ACA repeal in the Senate, let’s take it outside!

Call script for both our senators:

Hi. My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m with Indivisible East Bay. The GOP is determined to deprive millions of Americans of healthcare in order to pay for a huge tax cut for the wealthy, without any Senate debate or public hearings. The proceedings are being conducted in secret by 13 male members of the Senate, with no concern for women’s health needs. I ask the senator to conduct her own public hearings, preferably on the steps of the U.S. Capitol with 12 of her female colleagues. I also ask that she delay the bill on the Senate floor by withholding consent.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (email): (415) 393-0707
DC: (202) 224-3841
LA: (310) 914-7300
Fresno: (559) 485-7430
San Diego: (619) 231-9712

Sen. Kamala Harris (email): (415) 355-9041
DC: (202) 224-3553
Sacramento: (916) 448-2787
LA: (213) 894-5000
Fresno: (559) 497-5109
San Diego: (619) 239-3884



Road trip to Fresno: Feinstein Q&A with rural California

The atmosphere at Senator Feinstein’s Central Valley Community Foundation event in Fresno on Thursday was quite a contrast to that at her Bay Area events, but the senator herself was largely the same as ever, which speaks both to her integrity and to her moderate inclinations.

The Q&A portion of the event lasted only about 30 minutes and didn’t include any audience questions. The senator displayed her in-depth knowledge of water issues and touted the Water Resources Development Act as an example of the kind of cooperation between Democrats and Republicans that, though she acknowledges it is disappearing, the senator still advocates for as the only way to  solve problems.

Lines like that got applause in Fresno where they would have gotten jeers in San Francisco. But I think many, if not most of us throughout California agree in principal that bringing together differing viewpoints through compromise needs to be part of the way forward for our country.

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The real question is, how do you compromise with people who. as Sen. Feinstein put it,  “want to cut the costs of health care to provide funding for tax reform which will benefit the wealthy”?  And who lie about it. The senator called the huge Medicaid cuts in the Republican health care bill “undeniable,” but Donald Trump denies them. Paul Ryan denies them. HHS Secretary Tom Price denies them.

The senator’s staff has told us in several different contexts that she refuses to take no for an answer even when legislative solutions to problems look impossible. That is admirable. That is what I want from my representative. I don’t want her to give up that optimism. The optimism I do want her to give up is the hope that “this president can change.” He can’t. She also said she wished “he could calm down.” So do we all. But he won’t.

We need different tactics for this administration. One shouldn’t have to refuse to continue business as usual in the Senate in order to secure an independent investigation into Russian interference in our election. One shouldn’t have to threaten to oppose transportation department nominees in order to get that department to release funding that has been approved by Congress.

Sen. Feinstein’s said in Fresno that the Tea Party has pushed compromise out of our government. I share her fear that what we sometimes describe as the Tea Party of the left will drive out what little is left.

But we’re not going to get compromise back by lamenting its passing or by unilaterally caving in the name of comity. In that context, compromise is a bad word. That’s the kind of compromise that you can do to your principles, or to your safety, or to your sacred honor.

To get compromise back into our government we’re going to have to fight for it. Republicans have shown that they won’t compromise willingly for the good of our country. It seems we need to use resistance tactics to force them back to the table before we can get down to the kind of work Sen. Feinstein described rather wistfully on Thursday:

“It isn’t words that come out of your mouth. It’s words that go on a piece of paper, that will be legal, that will stand the test of time, that will be certified as workable. People have to come back to good old legislation. It’s not rhetoric. It’s, how do you solve a problem?”