How do you spell success? TLW-GOTMFV

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!

GC member Nancy
GC member Nancy training a new texter

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 greetings at 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.

GC member Ann
GC member Ann, with earrings made from “I voted by mail” stickers

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!

GC member Nick
GC member Nick text banking

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.

 

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: