Close to 450 attendees braved the wind and rain to join Representative Eric Swalwell (CA-15) on December 1 at Dublin High School for his last town hall of 2018. Swalwell gave an overview of HR 1, the new Congress’ first major piece of legislation in 2019, touching on key issues of voting rights and dark money and also pledging to expand investigations so that the Oval Office is not used by the current occupant as an “opportunity to cash in.” On the issue of immigration, Swalwell said that despite threats of a government shutdown, he would never vote to fund the wall; rather, we need to focus on the “root cause” of the immigration crisis and work with other countries to help them address the poverty and violence within their own borders.
Some of the other issues discussed during Swalwell’s opening comments and during Q&A included:
Trump’s tax returns: “We will see them.” The House Ways and Means Committee could request the returns right now without a vote, but Swalwell thinks it will likely still go through the courts. Every President since Nixon has released their tax returns, and “we need to do an MRI” on Trump’s financial interests.
Impeachment: “The best thing for democracy is for Trump to be impeached,” but we need an impeachable case. “We don’t want to make a martyr out of him.”
Climate change: “The window is closing fast” to get something done. Since Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Accord (and the U.S. can’t get back into the Paris agreement until we have a new President), the best opportunity to get something done would be through an infrastructure bill that includes provisions for energy alternatives. This is an area where Trump might agree.
Guns: In addition to background checks, Swalwell supports banning or buying back all assault weapons. He told a personal story from when he was a prosecutor about a victim of an assault weapon who was shot in the leg, but still died because the bullet was fired at such a high velocity.
Yemen: Swalwell said that he supports House Concurrent Resolution 138, which directs the President to remove United States armed forces from the Republic of Yemen.
That was the cry — half delight, half relief — that all progressives expressed on Election Day 2018 … when it became clear that the Democrats would retake control of the House of Representatives.
But those of us in Indivisible East Bay could have more accurately exclaimed: “We really did it!” That’s because, over the final months of the campaign season, we engaged in a major push of canvassing, phone-banking and text-banking, all with the goal of flipping several key Republican positions. When the dust settled (which took almost two weeks to do, with one race still undecided), the results proved how spectacularly effective we had been.
To see for yourself, take a look at what happened in five important races where IEB put muscle into flipping seats from red to blue (note: races listed with CA- followed by a number were for the US House of Representatives; the number is the Congressional district):
Josh Harder, CA-10. We worked hard for this Congressional seat in CA-10, the flippable district geographically closest to the Bay Area. IEB members phone and text banked, and some traveled to the district to canvass. Initial results had Republican Jeff Denham, the incumbent for the past two election cycles, in the lead — and pundits were already giving up on Harder. But the race remained officially “too close to call.” Then on the Friday after Election Day, with mail-in and provisional ballots skewing Democratic, Harder pulled ahead and stayed there — resulting in a huge upset victory. The margin was narrow (50.9% to 49.1%) but we won!
TJ Cox, CA-21. If the current vote margins don’t change, this nailbiter may be a heartbreaker. Spurred on by Team Blue Wave Contra Costa organizer Kook Huber, IEB strongly committed to getting TJ Cox elected as CA-21’s representative to Congress, a rural heavily-Latino Central California district where Republican David Valadao is the incumbent. We canvassed in this district as much as or more than anywhere else. The race was unofficially called for Valadao on election night, but ballots still continue to be counted and the lead narrowed and keeps narrowing. While still considered a long shot, there is a real chance for Cox to pull out a victory. Currently, Cox is less than 1,000 votes behind Valadao, with around 22,000 votes still to be counted. Whatever the final outcome, there is reason to feel good about this race. In 2016, Valadao bested his Democratic opponent by 13 percentage points; this time around, the difference should be razor thin, perhaps within 100 votes! We’re headed in the right direction.
Harley Rouda, CA-48. This was perhaps the biggest shocker — and most welcome — of all the California races. Republican incumbent Dana Rohrabacher has represented this deeply red Southern California district for three decades! Known for his pro-Russia views and solid support for Trump, he was at the top of the list of Representatives we most wanted to oust. IEB sent postcards, text-banked and phone banked on behalf of challenger Democrat Harley Rouda. It worked! In the end, Rouda bested Rohrabacher by more than 5 percentage points. Postscript: With victory now declared for Gil Cisneros, the Democrats have swept all seven Orange County House seats!
Kyrsten Sinema, Senate, Arizona. A Hollywood screenwriter couldn’t have scripted a more thrilling ending to this race. In Arizona, a traditionally red but increasingly purple state, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema was challenging GOP candidate Martha McSally for the Senate seat currently held by the retiring Jeff Flake. Democrats believed they had a real shot to win this. But on the first days after the election, the situation looked grim as McSally built a seemingly insurmountable lead of more than 20,000 votes. Then came the surprise. By Monday November 13, after mail-in votes were tallied, a stunning reversal occurred. With a turn-around lead of more than 38,000 votes, Sinema was declared the victor — despite Trump’s and the GOP’s attempts to muddy the waters with baseless claims of voter fraud. This is huge! Sinema will become the first Democratic Senator from Arizona since the 1980’s. Once again, IEB contributed to this success via several phone-banking events.
The bottom-line message couldn’t be more clear: what we do can make a difference. It definitely did make a difference in 2018. But there remains much work to be done. There’s still time to help Mike Espy win the Senate seat in the Mississippi special runoff election on November 27. And it’s not too early to start building the Blue Wave that will take out Trump in 2020.
How do you spell “success”? Let me rephrase that: How do you spell “spectacular success”?
The answer is: TLW — as in Indivisible East Bay’s spectacularly successful “The Last Weekend” TLW GOTMFV Palooza. Organized by IEB Governance Committee (GC) member Nancy Latham, with generous and hard-working assistance from numerous other IEB members, the event offered Get Out The Vote phone and text banking, mobilizing voters by district, by issue, and by demographic in critical races across the country.
More than a hundred of us (of YOU!) hunkered down each day from 9 AM to 9 PM on the Last Weekend before the election, November 3rd and 4th, at a house in Oakland’s beautiful Preservation Park. We’d hoped anyone who wasn’t off canvassing in Reno or another California district would show up, but the actual tally blew our estimates away. Volunteers kept coming from all over the East Bay, and by the end over 160 people, many of whom were connecting with IEB for the first time, joined our ranks. And we (YOU!) contacted thousands and thousands of voters!
Some of the many heroes who made the complex event go smoothly: GC member and Senate teams co-lead Linh made sure the over-taxed Wi-Fi network stayed functional, and GC member and newsletter editor Ann offered friendly and helpful greetingsat the door (for 9 hours each day!) Many other IEB members provided instant training sessions to first-timers as well as all other support. And a cornucopia of food and drinks helped fuel the massive effort — almost all supplied by donations from IEB members.
Did it make a difference? We are confident it did. But you can decide for yourself. Here are just two examples of the many anecdotes we received from volunteers:
One young volunteer was on the phone with someone who wasn’t planning on voting because she was convinced her vote wouldn’t count. The volunteer explained how she used to think the same thing. But then 2016 happened. She talked about the fact that no matter what happened, if she voted, she could feel good about doing her part. The person began to soften but was still concerned that she didn’t know anything about the candidates. So the volunteer gave the person some URLs with candidate information and they looked at them together. By the end of the call, the woman said she would vote!
Another volunteer relayed the following: “I called a woman in CA-21, the district that TJ Cox was running in, and asked about her mail-in ballot, because it looked as if she hasn’t sent it back yet. First she said she never received it; then she went through her mail and found it. She wasn’t sure she had time to fill it out, but I talked to her about how important this election is, and how great a guy TJ is — that he will put country over party. I gave her information on where to go to vote and told her she didn’t have to fill out every part of the ballot (she was intimidated by its length)! By the time we got off the phone, I could tell she was smiling and she promised to fill it out and drop it off!”
Nancy Latham contributed to this article, including the top photograph. Other photos by Ted Landau.
The Nobody Is Above the Law network and its coalition of partners has demanded that Whitaker immediately commit not to assume supervision of the investigation, and its hundreds of response events are being launched to demonstrate the public demand for action to correct this injustice. The NIAL demands are:
Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker has a profound conflict and must be removed from overseeing the Mueller investigation.
Congress must exercise its Constitutional authority to hold the President accountable and pass legislation to protect the Mueller investigation.
Any future Attorney General appointed by Trump must issue a public order giving Mueller full independence to complete the investigation without political interference.
What to do NOW:
If you’ve signed up for a Nobody Is Above the Law rapid response rally, follow the directions emailed to you by the hosts.
If not, find and RSVP to attend a Nobody Is Above the Law rapid response rally near you (900+ events)
If Trump takes another action that prevents the investigation from being conducted freely, such as replacing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Mueller’s current supervisor or repealing the regulations establishing the office
Additional red line added on Sept. 24: The Mueller investigation releases findings showing significant wrongdoing by Donald Trump. Or Congress or the administration blocks the public from seeing Mueller’s findings.
We gave you the lowdown on canvassing and phone banking, the most effective Get Out The Vote (GOTV) tools. Next up, and ideal if you can’t travel to a flippable district or make phone calls: peer-to-peer text banking!
Texting voters is effective, fast, and flexible. You can do it on your phone, computer, or tablet. And best of all, you can fit it into your busy schedule — during breaks at work, riding on BART, any time you’ve got a few free minutes.
There are different texting platforms, but the basics are similar: sign up, read the instructions, join the platform’s Slack channel (a chat room where you interact with team managers and fellow texters), and log into the platform. Finally, follow directions to choose a workflow and request to be added.
For most platforms you can text from your phone using an app, or from your computer by logging into a website. Both have initial messages you’ll send out; after that you’ll reply to people who respond, using canned answers tailored for each workflow. You’ll also apply certain tags to help the organizers know how to proceed with each person texted.
Here are some great choices to dive in and start texting for The Blue Wave!
Indivisible National’s texting team, IndivisiText, uses the common texting app and website Hustle, which works either on a phone or computer. To get started:
Take this quiz, then follow the instructions to join Hustle and IndivisiText’s Slack
Check the IndivisiText Hustle campaign tracker to see what’s available each day (9 AM to 9 PM local time where you’re texting), join one of the open channels, and post that you completed the quiz
Post in the campaign Slack channel you choose from the tracker, and tag a moderator to say you completed the quiz
Open the Hustle app or website and start texting! Post questions on Slack, where the moderators are great about responding
IndivisiText automatically reassigns to another texter to conversations that are inactive for about 20 minutes, so along with replying to the people you texted, you’ll also help out by following up for others.
Resistance Labs (RL) also uses the Hustle texting interface and communicates via Slack and a private facebook group
Sign up here and follow the directions at RL’s New Volunteer Training
Note that on RL only you can reply to responses from the people you’ve texted, so make sure to check frequently.
Moveon.org’s texting team uses Spoke rather than Hustle, and also has its own Slack chat room to organize requests for workflows and support. You can learn more and join the team here.
Finally, want to personalize your texting along with reaching out to strangers? The VoteWithMe app uses public records and your own network to pinpoint the highest impact potential voters whom you already know. You choose who to text, and you can personalize a suggested reminder to make sure they vote. Read more about using this very effective app to motivate your friends to vote in our article.
The Bottom Line:
Don’t want to wake up on November 7, 2018 and feel like you did on November 9, 2016? If you haven’t done any canvassing, phone banking or text banking yet, the time is NOW. If you have, it’s time to DO MORE!
Join us and bring everyone you know to The Last Weekend GOTMFV Palooza!! Saturday & Sunday November 3-4 from 9 AM to 9 PM: full-service GOTV MACHINE – with phone banking and texting into multiple critical races, training and technical assistance, handouts, FOOD, and the best part: SAVING DEMOCRACY WITH YOUR FELLOW WARRIORS!!
Before we got down to national politics, Jodi Reid, Executive Director of CARA, the California Alliance for Retired Americans, led an informative discussion about some of the statewide propositions on the ballot. CARA has posted recommendations on all eleven props, including fact sheets for Props 1, 2, 8, and 10. Jodi walked us through the list and took our questions. In brief:
Yes on Prop 1. Passing Prop 1 would authorize $4 billion in bonds for housing related programs for low income residents, veterans, and other specialized populations. California has not had funds for housing in some time and local communities don’t have the resources to build housing themselves.
Yes on Prop 2. This would allow funding from Prop 63 to be utilized for mental health services in concert with homeless assistance. The two are needed in order for housing to succeed for the homeless. A “yes” on Prop 2 would authorize funding already allocated to be used in this context and would not require new funding.
Yes on Prop 8. Authorizes state regulation of kidney dialysis clinics and limits charges for patient care. As of now, CARA stated that two major corporations provide all the kidney dialysis services, overcharging $150K more per patient than needed without the funds going to patient care. The proposition would set profits to a 115% cap above revenue.
Yes on Prop 10. This would allow local cities to adopt rent control and repeal the Costa-Hawkins rental housing act (1995). CARA points out that tens of thousands of housing units have been created since ’95 that have not fallen under rent control. In response to a question, Jodi noted that passage of Prop 10 would not establish vacancy control.
Several of the ballot proposals are controversial even among progressive groups that are usually allies. For example, CARA supports Prop 3, which authorizes almost $9 billion in bonds to fund various water and environmental projects, citing the need for safe drinking water to all areas of the state. However, the Sierra Club opposes the measure on the ground that it will mean building more dams, harming the environment; they also have concerns about the (lack of) oversight for how the funds are spent. At the Propositions breakout session (see more below), Governance Committee (GC) member Ted noted that Prop 3 affects only state-regulated water systems, and said that it won’t directly affect the East Bay’s water supply because we get our water from EBMUD.
Finally, check out calmatters.org to see their one-minute videos summarizing the pros and cons of each Proposition. There’s no faster way to get up to speed.
Next up, GC member and senator teams co-lead Linh highlighted the critical importance of a “boring” (her word) topic: rules changes for federal agencies. In particular, “any executive agency seeking to change any existing regulation has to invite and review public comments.” Public means YOU! Making comments may be our only chance to prevent or slow down the administration’s attempts to roll back decades of environmental, workplace and safety protections. Linh urged members to take advantage of this opportunity. Some proposed changes are anything but boring: for example, one such proposal would allow for indefinite detention of immigrant families with children! You have until November 6 to voice your opposition to this change, so speak up!
GC member and outreach team co-lead Nick reminded us that the 2018 Get Out the Vote (GOTV) effort will likely not end on November 6, since that’s a primary day for one of the U.S. Senate seat in Mississippi. If no candidate receives a majority, which seems likely, a runoff will be held on November 27. Nick is lining up postcard events for the possible run-off.
Lastly, GC member Charlotte urged everyone to participate in one or more of the remaining GOTV events between now and next week’s midterms. The biggest is our two-day all-day (9 AM to 9 PM) “The Last Weekend” Phone/Text Bank Extravaganza in Oakland. Whether you’ve already done tons of phone banking or have been quietly sitting on the sidelines, this is a must-do! Sign up here.
With the formal part of the meeting over, we enjoyed pizza courtesy of a generous donation from IEB member Nancy Olson. Three breakout sessions followed: Charlotte led people in writing postcards and also letters to voters through Vote Forward, GC members Ted and Toni engaged people in a more in-depth discussion about some of the state propositions, and GC member and volunteer team lead Andrea welcomed new members who wanted to know more about IEB and learn how to get involved.
Several of us came in costume! The clear Adorable & Clever winners:
Governance Committee members Ted and Ann (aka “Blue Wave”):
Henry the Indivisi-bulldog brought his family, IEB team co-leads Kristen and Tom!
Scariest Costume winner was IEB and CA-11 team member George, who said: “Nnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnn”, which we translated as meaning: “Just because I’m a person of the undead persuasion doesn’t mean the electoral outcome isn’t important to me. A Blue vote is a smart vote. And smart brains taste better! Be a ZombiVoter! Vote Blue!”
Our recent article went in-depth on the primo Get Out The Vote (GOTV) tool: canvassing. Next most effective, and ideal if you can’t travel to a flippable district: phone banking. We hear ya, maybe you’re not clinically phone-phobic, but you’ve avoided phone banking like many Indivisible East Bay members because:
I don’t like talking on the phone I’m too busy I’m afraid I won’t know what to say what if the person has a question I can’t answer I was uncomfortable making unwelcome & intrusive phone calls it reminds me of canvassing and how horrible some people were ….
The heroes who told us about these fears and obstacles are now confirmed phone bankers, dialing daily to save our democracy. How did they conquer those anxieties? A combo of using coping methods (snacks, bring a friend, pet a cat); finding out that IEB phone banks are run to address their concerns; and finally – the strongest motivation imaginable (remember how you felt on 11/9/16? this’ll be worse if we don’t do all we can).
I’ll let them tell you in their own words how and why they overcame their hesitations:
I’m so busy I can’t carve out two hours for the phone banks I saw listed, but I contacted the organizer for one near me and she was glad to have me come for however long I could. She also trained me so I now do phone calls on my own throughout the day.
I was scared I wouldn’t know what to say, but the training and the way the system is set up addressed that! The script is right there on the screen, and there are drop down options and prompts. The trainer also reassured us we didn’t have to know everything, we could refer people to the relevant website.
Phone banking makes me anxious, but knowing what to expect and how best to react is really important, and hearing positive stories of other people’s phone banking experiences.
Doing it in a group, and with the friend that I brought along, was so great. It’s stressful, but we took breaks for snacks and to swap stories about our best (and worst) calls.
I used to avoid phone-banking, but now I’m phone-banking a couple of times a week. I realized that if the GOP winds up retaining both houses of Congress I didn’t want to feel I had given less than a 100% effort to prevent it. I still get a queasy feeling before the first call each session but soon I’m rolling and even find myself enjoying the occasional conversations. The best part is I know how much better I’ll feel on Election Day.
So no more excuses, the stakes are too high. We truly need everyone to step up as we’re down to less than two weeks away from the election. One vote can make the difference in an election, YOUR CALL could tip a race.
Join us and bring everyone you know to The Last Weekend GOTMFV Palooza!! Saturday and Sunday November 3-4 from 9 AM to 9 PM: full service GOTV MACHINE – with phone banking and texting into multiple critical races, training and technical assistance, handouts, friendly competition, FOOD, and the best part: SAVING DEMOCRACY WITH ALL YOUR FELLOW WARRIORS!!
We list dozens of upcoming opportunities to phone bank and canvass on our calendar, and they all include mini-training sessions with experienced members to help you. Find IEB phone banks and canvassing trips and sign up at out our “Volunteer to Flip the G-D- Congress” list & calendar, also easily accessible on our home page
Sign up to get our weekly list of phone banks and canvassing trips
Check out opportunities to canvass, phone or text bank, write postcards, and more, with these great organizations IEB works in coalition with:
Finally, as a bonus for reading to the end of this article: phone banking can be fun — don’t take our word for it, Pod Save America says so. And read our article about our phone banks at Cat Town in Oakland!
Phone bank as if your future depends on it. Because it does.
Since October 2, Indivisible East Bay has been fortunate enough to hold phone banking events at the unique space of Cat Town, near downtown Oakland. This quirky venue is part café and part cat shelter and is definitely worth a visit if you’re ever in the area, especially (maybe only?) if you like cats.
The partnership developed from a need to find a free, quiet space (check) that was friendly to our progressive activities (check check) and might have a pawsitive effect on nervous phone bankers (meow and check). We are so grateful that Cat Town generously volunteered their space for us to use. It’s become so popular, we have had to close the registration twice in the past month!
On October 17, it was among a clowder of playful and friendly (and a tad skittish) cats that a group of volunteers gathered for their weekly phone banking. As the cats napped, climbed, and scurried about, volunteers worked on their laptops and phones, reaching out to potential swing voters in Nevada ahead of the upcoming midterm elections. The roaming cats were certainly a welcome diversion during breaks. We may have provided a diversion to them as well.
Many thanks to Ann Dunn and all the staff at Cat Town for their generosity in letting Indivisible East Bay use their beautiful space. If you follow Cat Town on Instagram, you might just find your next feline soul mate!
And a huge thank you to Pro Bono Photo for arranging the services of cat whisperer and photographer Wesley Chang for the fantastic photos!
You already know what’s at stake in the November election – we all know. The naked power grabs. The in-your-face voter suppression. The weakening of democracy so that a small group of plutocrats can use the state as a tool to advance their interests while hacking away at the public good. The tax cut giveaways to the wealthiest at the expense of everyone else, so that hundreds of millions keep flowing into Republican campaign coffers, allowing them to further entrench their power. And cynically using the tax cut so that they can (surprise!) turn back into deficit hawks – spouting fake concern for the economy – and come for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The rejection of science so that they can condemn the globe to the point of no return on climate change – all in the name of corporate profit.
And we all know that as bad as it is now, it will get much, MUCH worse if we don’t win back the House. Republicans will scream: “mandate!” and then further consolidate power and undermine our democracy. With all three branches of government in their control, there will be no check on trumpism.
It would all sound like a doomsday scenario, if we hadn’t been living through the past couple of years …
So NOW is the time to be Democracy Warriors! We will leave NOTHING on the field as we come to the defense of rights, people, communities, and planet. We know you are out there – calling people, knocking on doors, getting your fellow citizens to the polls – we see you and you ROCK! Go here to find every opportunity to get in the game between now and election day! And KEEP IT UP on The Last Weekend! The last few days before an election are all about Get Out The Vote (GOTV), so join us and bring everyone you know to The Last Weekend GOTMFV Palooza!! (we’ll let you figure out that slightly longer acronym…) 9 AM to 9 PM on Saturday and Sunday November 3rd and 4th we will welcome you to a full service GOTV MACHINE – with phone-banking and texting into multiple critical races, training and technical assistance, handouts, friendly competition, FOOD, and the best part: SAVING DEMOCRACY WITH ALL YOUR FELLOW WARRIORS!!
Nancy Latham is on IEB’s Governing Committee, and is a passionate member of the Resistance. In her day job, she works with non-profits, foundations, and government agencies that support greater equity and justice through initiatives in youth development, education, housing, and community development.
Indivisible East Bay CA-11 team co-leads Kristen and Ted, and IEB member Tom, met with Congressperson Mark DeSaulnier and his D.C. Chief of Staff Betsy Marr before his Congressional Update Town Hall in Richmond on October 23. We updated DeSaulnier on CA-11 team members’ recent work helping elect Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton, our involvement in pushing Sheriff Livingston to cancel the ICE contract, and our various Get Out The Vote actions in CA-21, Northern Nevada, and Arizona. DeSaulnier was impressed and immensely grateful, and Marr encouraged us to keep at it. DeSaulnier shared his unvarnished summary of the “goings-on” in D.C. with us, and we had a great back-and-forth on that.
Looking to the future, we asked about DeSaulnier’s priorities after the elections, and what he’d recommend for our post-midterm grassroots efforts. To our specific question about whether the Democrats would re-establish the Office of Technology Assessment that was killed by Newt Gingrich in the Clinton era, DeSaulnier agreed that it should be a priority. Wrapping up, DeSaulnier offered to meet with the CA-11 team after the midterms to check in and dive deeper into our post-election ideas. We will hold him to that!
About 70 people attended the 90-minute Town Hall. There was an underlying tone of optimism in the Representative’s presentation about the midterms. One of his post-election priorities is to work on overturning Citizens United, banning stock buybacks, strengthening anti-trust enforcement, and updating the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act (WARN). The WARN Act of 1988 is a US labor law that protects employees, their families, and communities by requiring most employers with 100 or more employees to provide 60 calendar-day advance notification of plant closings and mass layoffs of employees.
IEB and CA-11 team member Janis Hashe asked two questions on what can be done about coal rail shipments through Richmond, and whether the interstate commerce clause can be utilized to help. DeSaulnier’s response was supportive, and he gave some suggestions. Obviously fascinated with the second question, he said he’d give it further thought.
It was satisfying to hear our Member of Congress espouse progressive values and be so responsive to his community.