This is not a drill! Call to action at All Member Meeting

It’s crunch time friends … the home stretch … now or never. Choose your metaphor, the fact is that the 2018 midterm elections are only a month away! If you’re angry about the current state of our country, the Kavanaugh debacle and other horrors (and if you’re reading this we assume you are), we have the only remedy: TAKE ACTION! Have you thought about volunteering, but you keep coming up with reasons not to do it (you’re too busy or it makes you too uncomfortable or whatever)? Well, NOW is the time to get over it and put your name on a sign-up sheet. There’s too much at stake to sit on the sidelines.

After the Judiciary Committee farce, oh sorry hearing, to take Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony, we saw what citizen action can do. A call for immediate protests at Senate offices led to Ana Maria Archila‘s and Maria Gallagher’s momentous elevator confrontation of Jeff Flake, which in turn led to the Senator’s intended vote for Kavanaugh turning into a call for an FBI investigation before the final vote. The GOP and the Current Occupant reluctantly but quickly agreed — despite days of claiming that this was both not possible and not needed. Think about it: what if Archila and Gallagher had decided they were too busy, or it was too hard, or that they were powerless to effect change anyway? Kavanaugh might already be on the Supreme Court. Never underestimate what any one of us can do …

And that brings us to the Sept. 30 Indivisible East Bay All Members Meeting, where we spent almost the entire time strongly urging (we ain’t too proud to beg) members to do something, anything, in the weeks leading to the November 6 election.

The very least you can do is vote, and make sure everyone else you know also registers and votes! To emphasize this, the meeting opened with the Kesha video Here Comes the Change which effectively dramatizes that the “future is voting.”

Next, California Democratic Bay Area Field Organizer Titus Lin got the ball rolling with a plea for people to phone bank and canvass to flip two of the closest, most critical and winnable Congressional districts in California: CA-10, where Josh Harder is the Democrat running against Jeff Denham, and CA-21, where TJ Cox is running against incumbent David Valadao. Titus noted that while we hope to defeat Devin Nunes in CA-22, especially given his behavior as a Trump-lackey on the House Intelligence Committee — the odds are low enough that our priorities must be elsewhere.

Then, Kyoko Takayama of Organizing for Action made a passionate case for door-to-door canvassing as the most effective way to reach voters. Yes, it takes considerable time, energy and resources. But it works. People’s minds get changed. Kyoko explained that the best results come from focusing on people who have not voted in recent elections. Getting them to vote has the biggest effect on increasing voter turnout. Kyoko pointed us to an OFA video that’s a good bootcamp for people who haven’t canvassed before.

Team Blue Wave Contra Costa organizer Kook Huber spoke about how critical it is to flip CA-21. Located in the southern half of the Central Valley, it’s a rural district, relatively poor and with a 71% Latino population. Why do we believe it’s so flippable? Because, despite having a Republican incumbent, there are more registered Democrats (47%) in the district than Republicans (30%). Once again, the key is voter turnout. We’re hoping to encourage people to vote by mail, circumventing the voter suppression efforts by farm owners in the District. To accomplish this, canvassing is critical. Kook said there will be canvassing opportunities every day (!) between now and the election.

Kook Huber at September 2018 All Members Meeting, photo by Toby St. John
Kook Huber, photo by Toby St. John

IEB’s outreach team co-lead Toni Henle reminded us there’s much work we can do in our neighboring state of Nevada, especially phone-banking and canvassing to defeat incumbent Senator Dean Heller. Currently, Heller and Democratic challenger Jacky Rosen are in a race so tight it’s considered a toss-up. Toni explained that our phone-banking efforts with Issue Voters of Northern Nevada have been focused on “unaffiliated” voters, as these are considered the most persuadable to tilt towards the Democrats.

To help IEB members who are hesitant to volunteer because they’re unsure what to say, presenters took to the stage for role-playing demonstrations. Caitlin Patterson from Sister District and IEB’s Ted Lam showed how canvassing might go in CA-21 — with Caitlin confronting three different types of respondents all played by Ted. IEB’s Tom Janci and Toni role-played phone banking on behalf of Kyrsten Sinema, the Democrat running for the US Senate in Arizona.

September 2018 All Members Meeting, photo by Heidi Rand

The meeting also included announcements about a few issues, including an alert by Saadiqah Islam from the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights that the Center has demanded that the Alameda Board of Supervisors conduct an independent audit of Sheriff Ahern.

The meeting ended with break-out sessions so members could sign up for and ask more in-depth questions about our phone banking and canvassing events. Most members also wrote postcards to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, thanking her for her bravery and giving her support.

Postcards to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, photo by Andrea Lum
Postcards to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, photo by Andrea Lum

Don’t make us beg, if you haven’t stepped up yet it’s time to do your part. Here’s how you can help:

February All Member Meeting: Actions For 2018 Midterms

Wondering how you can help flip the House at November’s midterm elections? Learn all about canvassing with experienced groups in nearby winnable congressional districts by coming to Indivisible East Bay’s February All Members Meeting on Sunday, February 25, from 1-3 PM at Sports Basement, Berkeley. RSVP here (free). 

Lora Jo Foo from Working America will talk about her group’s effective work in CA-10 (Modesto) and CA-21 (San Joaquin Valley), and Organizing for Action’s Kook Huber will outline the wide range of actions scheduled between now and November to help flip CA-21. Kook is spearheading the CD-21 Action Coalition, which IEB has joined. 

Lora Jo and Kook will also lead a breakout session where you can ask questions and learn more. They have tons of experience in progressive organizing, and their passion is contagious. Canvassing is rewarding and fun, and easier than you think! You’ll be trained and paired with an experienced canvasser.  Don’t be surprised if you sign up for everything! And you can sign up here to help the CD-21 Action Coalition in ways other than canvassing – see the phone bank schedule and check out other volunteer opportunities. 

Or want to join one of Swing Left’s monthly trips to canvass in Sanger or Mendota in a 15-passenger van? They’re scheduling March trips now. Due to the distance there’s even talk of crashing in sleeping bags in the Red Church in Fresno or similar historic sites. How cool is that?

Finally, don’t forget to check out the “Phone & Text Banks” and “Help Us Flip This Thing” sections in our weekly newsletter for ways you can flip from home or at local banking events. ” What’s that you say – you don’t get our newsletter?!  Please subscribe!

    

 

Flipping California District 21 Blue

By Ted Lam

The California Congressional District 21 (CD-21) Action Coalition held its first meeting on January 13 at the Pinole Public Library. With over 50 attendees and a full slate of speakers, the energy in the room was amazing. Kook Huber of Organizing for Action (OFA) Contra Costa stated the Coalition’s goal: to flip the House – change the Republican majority to a Democratic majority – and said that it would achieve that goal by focusing on certain California Congressional Districts. 

Fran Schreiber and Laura Cho represented Working America, a nationwide membership organization (with 3 million members!) that focuses on pro-labor advocacy and on political work with local groups. Working America’s election work includes canvassing year-round on jobs, the economy, health care, and local issues (not guns or abortion), in addition to gathering information about people’s own priorities. Canvassers also solicit membership, which is very successful. Working America collects information about candidates on critical issues and reconnects with the people they have already canvassed to share the information. In June 2017 Working America opened up an office in Modesto with nine paid staff. They’ve knocked on 45,000 doors and had 27,000 conversations. All of their paid canvassers are bilingual. In August they opened a CD-21 office. So far, the CD-21 recruitment rate has been almost 90%, which they believe is because Working America asks what issues people care about – something people in these small towns have not been asked.

Sue Hamill, Bay Area Chair (Region 4) of the CA Democratic Party, Rural Caucus, opened by saying “It’s 2018! The House is within reach. But we can’t take anything for granted. The ground game will be critical.” She enumerated several key California districts including CD-1 (Doug LaMalfa), CD-10 (Jeff Denham, widely considered a target), CD-4 (Tom McClintock; she recommended Sierra Forward as a well-organized progressive group in a purple district with a lot of Bay Area transplants). For more information about the California Democratic Party, contact Clark Lee. The proposed CA Democratic platform is open for comments until January 24.

Kook wrapped up by inviting more partners to join the CD-21 Action Coalition so it can efficiently send resources – including but not limited to canvassing – to CD-21. We hope Kook will be the guest speaker to talk about the CD-21 Action Coalition at February’s Indivisible East Bay All Members Meeting.

For more information or to participate in the Coalition with the CA-11 Team (everyone is welcome), please message @Ted L on Slack, or email him. 

Ted Lam is retired from the USCG and currently works as a civil engineer.