Help win the next Blue Wave

By Heidi Rand

Deadline: Now & ongoing – We are the resistance, and hell yeah we can chew gum and walk at the same time! In fact, even as we work to impeach the Traitor-in-Chief and his evil minions (chewing them up & spitting them out), we’re also walking and knocking doors in our communities to register voters, Get Out the Vote (GOTV), and more!

But time is flying; the California Presidential Primary is March 3, 2020, and the Presidential election is November 3, 2020, not even 400 days from this writing. There are also countless elections nationwide that many groups are laser targeting. Indivisible East Bay members worked tirelessly to make the 2018 Blue Wave happen, and we’re busy planning for 2019 and 2020 canvassing trips, text and phone banks, postcard parties, and more! For now, please join us at these events:

  • Oct. 21, 6:45-8:45 PM: Popcorn & Postcarding in Oakland’s Glenview District. Join us in writing postcards for Reclaim Our Vote, the co-sponsored project of the NAACP, Black Voters Matter and others to do outreach to voters of color. RSVP for address.
  • Oct. 27, 1-3 PM: Indivisible East Bay All Members Meeting, at Sports Basement, Berkeley. We’ve got a spooktacular AMM coming up! Bring all your ghoul-friends to hear updates and take action! Info & RSVP.
  • Nov. 5, 6:30-9:30 PM: Join Indivisible Berkeley, IEB, East Bay Activist Alliance & Swing Left East Bay at our Election Night Watch Party for Virginia elections. At Spats, Berkeley. No RSVP needed

And find many many more, organized by great local groups we work with (in random order). Find updated lists in the “Phone! Canvass! More!” section in our weekly newsletter.

1. East Bay Activist Alliance:

[I]s a coalition of elections activists located in the San Francisco Bay Area’s East Bay region. We work to help elect Democrats all over the US, especially at the state level, particularly in areas that can flip red to blue.

The East Bay Activist Alliance is an affiliate of the Sister District Project.

2. Swing Left East Bay:

[I]s fighting to end the destructive policies of the Republican Party and Donald Trump by taking back the political levers of power.

We organize activities in the San Francisco East Bay with the goal of flipping Senate seats in Arizona and Colorado, holding congressional seats in California’s 10th and 21st districts that were won in 2018, and working on other elections as needed to have the greatest strategic impact.

3. Indivisible Berkeley:

[B]rings the Trump Resistance to 4000+ of our closest neighbors in Berkeley and surrounding communities.

Our mission is to resist the Trump agenda by engaging our elected officials at all levels of government and promote progressive and democratic values. Read our entire mission statement here.

4. Flip the West:

During the 2018 election, Flip the West, then known as Flip the 14, made more than 1.5 million voters with allied organizations and helped flip seven House seats in California. We’re now taking the fight to the U.S. Senate and White House.

Flip the West is working to strengthen the Resistance in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, and Texas, while continuing our work in California. We organize meaningful volunteer opportunities to reach voters, recruit volunteers, and provide a number of services to Resistance organizations.

5. Democracy Action:

[Is] an independent group of volunteers dedicated to combating the dangerous Republican agenda and advancing Democrats nationally through local action.

6. Indivisible SF:

[B]elieves in an America that embodies equality, justice, and opportunity for all — a society in which the regressive and dangerous agenda led by Trump has no place.

We work to protect each other and the integrity of our democratic institutions from this agenda, support progressive policies, and hold our elected officials accountable to their constituents.

7. West County Organizing: phone and text banks for state and special elections in El Sobrante. Tuesdays, 1-3 PM, and  every Saturday in October through GOTV, from 11 AM- 1 PM. For info and list of all dates, contact Nancy Klein at 510-917-4045, or by email to nancyklein@westcountyorganizing.com

Whatever your skills or experience, no matter how much or how little time you have to give, everyone can do something, please help in any way you can! If you want to host your own event, or can help us organize ours, email info@indivisibleeb.org

 

Wave, photograph by Hippopx

Heidi Rand fights the evil empire with skills honed as a Ninth Circuit staff attorney and civil rights lawyer, using words to resist, and to inform and inspire others to take action. She also wields a mean camera and knitting needles, though not at the same time.

Thank Goodness for Them (And You)

Last year at this time we compiled a list of people and things that had the United States’s back in 2017. Keeping the tradition going, here’s our 2018 list of groups that helped Indivisible East Bay do our work, and that stood out for us as special heroes over the past crazy year. As we said last year: this list isn’t exhaustive- it’s not even close – but it’s a starting point.

Local Heroes

Though much of IEB’s work is done online (thanks, Slack!), we welcome the opportunity to join together IRL at meetings, actions, and events …  Since we’re not getting Koch $$ or Putin rubles, and our Soros-checks all bounced, we often rely on the kindness of local businesses and institutions. Big thank-yous to:

  • Sports Basement, Berkeley: for providing free meeting space at the coolest sports emporium in the Bay Area!
  • Cat Town, Oakland: for supporting democracy (and our phone banks!) while finding homes for kitties
  • Robinson House Consultants – especially Cassandra Benjamin, Oakland: for opening up their beautiful office space to IEB for our mega phone+text bank The Last Weekend Get Out The Vote efforts

Please patronize these terrific businesses, and tell them THANKS for helping IEB #resist!

Fellow Fighters: In the Election and in the Long Run

Some of these organizations were on last year’s list and some are new partners for us; some were formed just for the midterm elections, some we began working with during the midterm elections but they’ve been around since Current Occupant took office, and some address problems that predate 45. In the end, we decided to put all these organizations together, because – big picture – we’re all in the fight together.

  •  Black Voters Matter: As their website says, “effective voting allows a community to determine its own destiny.” IEB was proud to partner with BVM in text-banking at our GOTV efforts.
  • Democracy Action: Kudos for organizing so many resistance events, and gratitude for including ours on their list!
  • East Bay for TJ: The pundits said TJ Cox could never unseat David Valadao in CA-21. Our sources on the ground said differently. The race was initially called for Valadao but they’re still counting the ballots and the margin keeps narrowing.
  • Election Protection: ​This national, nonpartisan coalition, made up of more than 100 local, state and national partners, works year-round to advance and defend the right to vote.
  • Evolve CA: If you’ve attended IEB’s CA-11 team or All Member Meetings, you’ve heard about these local grassroots organizers who aim to reform Proposition 13. You’ll hear more from them!
  •  Flip the 14: Flip the 14 targeted – you guessed it – fourteen Congressional districts in the 2018 midterms. From their website: “Flip the 14 is working to strengthen the work of the Resistance throughout California.”
  • Indivisible Northern Nevada: A mighty force, they involved IEB in their Issue Voters Project, which helped make Nevada part of the Blue Wave.
  • Postcards to Voters: An online resource allowing activists to send handwritten reminders to targeted voters giving Democrats a winning edge in close, key races coast to coast. Prepare to be boggled: over 59,000 volunteers, in every state, and close to 4 million postcards to voters in over 130 key, close elections.
  • Resistance Labs: Making our list for the second year, this organization created by Oaklanders recruits virtual activists fighting the worst of Donald Trump’s agenda.
  • Vote Forward: They helped flip the House by sending letters – actual snail mail! – to unlikely voters.

All of You and Everything You’ve Done

We said it last year, and it’s more true than ever this year:

We are thankful for every phone call, every postcard, every difficult conversation with a loved one, every protest, every sign, every idea, every atom of energy you gave to our resistance this year. Despite how difficult it’s been, despite the psychic and social horror of it all, we have won far more often than we have lost. Our successes and our continued defense of the United States is down to you, your families, and your communities. Sincerely and with the deepest hope for our next year: thank you.

Graphic of ASL sign for “I love you” by John Hain

We REALLY did it! IEB and the Blue Wave

We did it!

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.

IEB canvassing in Sanger for TJ Cox
Carl, Fiona & Ted canvassing in Sanger for TJ Cox – that’s TJ between Ted and Fiona!

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!
  • Jacky Rosen, Senate, Nevada. IEB was approached by our sister Indivisible, Indivisible Northern Nevada, which asked us to join their highly organized Issue Voters Project focusing on Washoe County, which encompasses Reno. Led by IEB’s outreach team co-lead Toni Henle, we made a huge push via phone-banking and especially with canvassing, including knocking on doors in Reno for the final weekend before the election. The result was incredible: Washoe County, formerly solid red, turned blue and went for Rosen over incumbent Dean Heller by 4 percentage points! It was the key result that led to Rosen’s ultimate state-wide victory. Making the win even sweeter, this was a race where Trump got personally involved, derisively referring to Rosen as “Wacky Jacky.”
  • 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.
Phone banking for Kyrsten Sinema
Phone banking for Kyrsten Sinema

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.

Phone-bank and canvass like the life of the Republic depends on it!

Summer is ending and it’s time to get serious about flipping Congress. We have a little over two months left to do everything we can to activate voters before the 2018 midterms. But don’t freak out, there are things you can do:

Those of us who know that Trump and everything he stands for must be RESOUNDINGLY REJECTED must do the hard work of advanced citizenship … It’s called organizing and absolutely every single one of us is capable of doing it. No matter your skill, experience, or background, no matter how little time you have to spare. Everyone can do something.

As you may know, Indivisible East Bay has partnered with Indivisible Northern Nevada on a special phone-banking and canvassing project to reach Reno voters who have registered non-partisan but are progressive on issues such as health care, civil rights, and immigration. We’re giving them the information they need to vote for a Senate candidate who shares their values. We’re also making calls to recruit local volunteers to help with these efforts. 

What you can do: sign up to canvass and phone bank!

Sign up here for IEB canvass trips to Reno:

Trips cover weekends, Saturdays and Sundays. We will be joining local Indivisible Northern Nevada volunteers and may be able to help with carpools and lodging.

  • September 15 & 16
  • September 29 & 30
  • October 20 & 21
  • October 27 &  28
  • November 3 & 4

Sign up here for phone banks sponsored by IEB:

We’ll also be calling voters in Nevada and recruiting volunteers here in the Bay Area to help us in Nevada.

  • Thursday 8/30, 6:30-8:30 PM, phone bank in Richmond
  • Sunday 9/2, 2:30-5:30 PM, phone bank in Rockridge/Temescal
  • Thursday 9/6, 6-8 PM, phone bank in East Oakland (near Mills College)
  • Sunday 9/9, 9/2 2:30-5:30 PM, phone bank in Rockridge/Temescal
  • Tuesday 9/11, 6-8 PM, phone bank in Rockridge/Claremont

We’re looking to expand our phone banks to all corners of the East Bay. If you don’t see one listed near you, please contact us to find out how to host one, or recruit a friend or neighbor to do so. We can provide all the support you need!

Sign up to phonebank with some other great local organizations to help flip swing districts in California:

You can even sign up to make calls to swing districts all across the country from the comfort of your own home! Sign up with Swing Left here. It’s even more fun if you invite some neighbors over!

 

Canvassing with Indivisible Northern Nevada

At the Indivisible East Bay July All Member Meeting, two of our colleagues from Indivisible Northern Nevada gave a presentation about their efforts identifying issues that matter to voters in the Reno area as part of the campaign to get out the vote to unseat Senator Dean Heller, identified as one of the most vulnerable Republican Senators. They were so inspiring that in early August, 2018, a group of IEB members traveled to Reno to attend the 2018 Lake Tahoe Summit and to canvass and register voters in northern Nevada with our Indivisible colleagues. 

Our Indivisible Northern Nevada hosts, all women, greeted us at the picnic tables at Reno’s Idlewild Park with coffee, orange juice, and three kinds of pastries all laid out on a floral tablecloth. After an enthusiastic welcome, some wrangling of the MiniVan app, and a little roleplaying, we were ready to talk to some voters. The goal was to identify issues the voters cared about and decide what, if any, further contact to plan with them. We split into pairs; my partner Ruth happened to live nearby so we decided to start in her neighborhood, which made it very easy to find the addresses that popped up on my phone. 

The first person we talked to was a stocky man with a sunburn who came out around the side of his house smoking a cigar. As planned, we asked him what issues he was thinking about in the upcoming election. He said he was pretty happy with how things were going for him, and would stay happy as long as his taxes were low. We probably could have said “thank you for your time” right then and there and taken him off the list. But he was polite and reasonably friendly, if a little smug, so we pressed a little further, asking what he thought of the state of Reno’s infrastructure and about recent changes to the federal tax code. He said he got a $10K tax cut and that if Reno outgrew its infrastructure he’d just move somewhere else. Then his wife came out to tell him his mom was on the phone and we were able to make a graceful exit.

Our next experience was happier. We talked to a young woman just out of nursing school who came to the door in a bathrobe with a towel on her head, yet was happy to chat with the strangers at the door about her top issues: student debt and cost of living. With her busy life, she didn’t know anything about the candidates for Senate or other upcoming elections, but she promised to educate herself by November, and to vote. After consulting in the car, we decided that we didn’t need to send anyone back to talk to her more about the issues and we marked her “GOTV” so that someone would call or visit to remind her to vote.

After a few unanswered knocks, we came to a house that seemed to have no door. The front of the house was a row of garages and at closer inspection there was a door at the back of one of them. We ventured inside to knock, and retreated back to the driveway. Just when we were giving up and turning to leave, a white-haired woman who looked to be in her seventies opened the door. She said she hadn’t really thought about the issues or which ones were most important to her. When we suggested some common answers like health care, jobs and the economy, or the environment, she said that “all those things must be important to anyone who’s alive” but didn’t really offer anything further.  She talked about a need for balance and cooperation in government and seemed mildly enthusiastic about the fact that so many women are getting involved and running for office right now. Back in the car, we decided that she probably could use another conversation to make her feel that her vote mattered and to be sure she knew which candidates agreed with her on the issues and would bring balance to Washington: we marked her “MAYBE.”

Even our Trumpiest door knock was calm and cordial, probably in part because we identified ourselves as non-partisan and asked for information rather than giving it. A middle-aged woman on crutches told us that she thought things were “finally on the right track” now that Trump was in office. We felt sad for her, suspecting that she is one of those supporters who is actually hurt by the president’s policies, but got a certain amount of satisfaction out of emphatically taking her off our list for future visits.

At our next stop, we met a man whose top issue was immigration. He said straight off that we definitely need “some” immigration to get people to do the jobs that Americans don’t want to do. He also said that people who enter the country without permission are “breaking the law” and should face consequences, and should need to prove that they haven’t come to do harm. But he was kind of wavering on whether it was okay to lock them all up in detention for fleeing violence or seeking a better life for their families. We marked him down as a strong MAYBE, almost envying the interesting conversation in store for the volunteer who comes back to engage him further about the facts around immigration and how to vote in alignment with his beliefs.

Our last conversation of the day was with a young father whose front yard was full of children’s toys, and who was the only non-white person we came across in that neighborhood. It was a short visit both because he was obviously busy and because it was pretty clear right away that he was a strong progressive informed on the issues and in favor of Medicare for all. We marked him “GOTV” and both sort of regretted that we didn’t at least ask if he wanted to volunteer; but it hadn’t occurred to us until after the moment had passed.

The group reconvened back at the park to discuss our experiences and talk about what we want to do better next time. The canvassers were energized, feeling good about people’s responses to getting questions about their opinions and priorities rather than being asked to support a candidate or fed a party line. Some also expressed a sense that out of all these voters who had registered as non-partisan, more were leaning leftward than rightward on the issues.

As for our goals to do better next time, we all thought we needed some more strategies to draw out relatively uninformed people in naming their top issues. And we noted our inclination to spend perhaps too many of our valuable canvasing minutes having long conversations with enthusiastic progressives, but decided there was value in that too both for our own morale and theirs.

Certainly my own morale was lifted by the trip, especially meeting the Indivisible Nevadans who fed us, opened their guestrooms to us, and taught us how to make connections with their neighbors and community.

If you’d like to join next time please fill out this form.

Call to Action at IEB All Members Meeting

Get out of your chair and do something! Now!

That’s the essential message of the July 29, 2018 Indivisible East Bay All Members Meeting.

Midterm elections are now less than 100 days away! And these aren’t just any old midterms. They will determine whether Trump’s abuses of power can continue to go unchecked — without any restraint from a spineless GOP-controlled Congress — or whether Democrats can take back at least one house and begin to apply some checks and balance to stop the crazy.

Not sure what you can do? No problem. Representatives from several groups stood before the IEB attendees to pitch for support and activism from our members.

Adena Ishii, President of League of Woman Voters of Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville, started the ball rolling by reminding us that there is still much get-out-the-vote work to be done right here in our own backyard — where voter turnout among registered voters remains less than 40% for midterm elections! And that’s just registered voters; many potential voters still need to be registered.

Amy Golden from Swing Left East Bay asked volunteers to help with phone-banking and canvassing in critical California swing districts CD-10 and CD-21. See their events calendar and sign up!

Vivian Leal and Laynette Evans, visiting from Indivisible Northern Nevada, appealed for our help in the US Senate race targeting Senator Dean Heller, one of the most vulnerable Republican Senators. Opportunities include phone-banking in August and canvassing starting in September. There’s a Virtual Phone Bank on Sunday, Aug. 5; to volunteer for other opportunities sign up here

IEB’s powerhouse Linh Nguyen, who among her other hats co-leads the Judiciary and Senator Feinstein and Harris teams, spoke about issues that members are concerned about and working on:

  • Border separation: About 700 refugee children have not been reunited with their parents, and the administration does not have plans to reunify many of those. Of those children the administration says are “ineligible” for reunification, 431 have parents who are no longer in the U.S.  The administration did not get information regarding where the parents who were deported currently are, so there is no way to reunite the families.
  • SCOTUS: GOP Judiciary Committee Chair Senator Chuck Grassley has requested documents from only half of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s tenure in the White House.
  • Healthcare repeal 2.0: The House portion of Budget Resolution would make possible ACA repeal with ONLY 51 votes (again)! We are keeping an eye on this to see whether the Senate passes the same.

In a follow-up to the July 15 Indivisible webinar Fair and Secure Elections: What’s at Stake and How to Take Action, Melanie and Ion, co-leads of the IEB Voter Rights and Election Integrity team, explained the importance of taking action to secure our elections even as we participate in get out the vote efforts, canvassing, and other electoral work. Melanie and Ion, part of the Indivisible Safeguard Our Elections Working Group that  presented the webinar, explained that our election infrastructure is in terrible shape, struggling with vulnerable and hackable voting machines that too often provide no way to monitor their accuracy. The Voter Rights and Election Integrity team is seeking volunteers to help work on these issues. You can watch the recorded webinar at this link and if you have questions or would like to help, send the team an email.

IEB July 26 All Members Meeting

After the inspiring speakers the crowd was eager to hear about our upcoming events, which include:

  • August 12, 10 AM-noon: Indivisible We Write! IEB August postcard party, Sports Basement, Berkeley. Info & RSVP (free).
  • August 25, 2-4 PM: IEB Ale & Mail! No-host mingle & postcarding at Hop Yard Alehouse in Pleasanton. Info & RSVP.
  • August 26, 1-3 PM: IEB August All Members Meeting, Community room at Sports Basement, Berkeley. Info & RSVP. All welcome!

Finally, we broke into smaller groups. IEB Governance Committee member and Volunteer Coordinator Andrea led a packed breakout to introduce new members to the many ways they can work with Indivisible East Bay. IEB is always looking for volunteers who want to help organize events, research actions, and contribute to the newsletter. Email Andrea for more details. (And don’t forget the weekly action items in the newsletter!)

At another breakout several members sat down to take immediate direct action, writing 50 postcards in just a few minutes! We penned fifteen to our Members of Congress, asking them to support the PAVE Act to protect election security, and to oppose the asinine military parade. And twenty-four postcards are on their way to Democratic voters in New York, in support of Alessandra Biaggi, running for state senate. Want to learn more about postcard-ivism? Email Heidi.

Next month’s All Members Meeting will be at the Sports Basement in Berkeley on August 26, 1-3 PM. See you there!

Photographs by Andrea Lum and Heidi Rand