I don’t know what kind of superpowers IsisBlues has, but they managed to take some seriously phenomenal notes on the emergency action call with MoveOn/Indivisible last night. I’m reprinting these notes with their permission. There’s a lot here; the call went on for over an hour. A ton of great tips and suggestions for action.
Thank you IsisBlues!
Organizing director at MoveOn.org, Victoria Kaplan, is the host of today’s call.
The goal: Confident, immediate, effective, peaceful actions at MoC’s local offices on Tuesday January 24th, and in the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency.
Resist Trump Tuesdays: call to gather every Tuesday at rep’s offices. It’s our responsibility to take the energy of yesterday’s historic marches into action: the next week and the next few months are going to be rough.
Ezra Levin: one of the authors of the indivisible guide.
The indivisible guide site has put up a simple directory for people to register their groups and for people to find a group:
Indivisible Guide Principles:
1. Resist Trump’s agenda: it’s racist, authoritarian, corrupt, and it has to be stopped
2. Focus on local defensive congressional advocacy
3. Embrace progressive values: we want to model inclusion, respect, and fairness in all of our actions
Taking strategies from the Tea Party, but they did not model respect or inclusion and they were not fair. Embrace progressive values. Don’t be a jerk.
Victoria Kaplan/MoveOn additional Principles:
1. Nonviolence: Tell personal stories. We know that we hold the moral high ground when we tell our own stories and do so non-violently
2. De-escalation: use skills to calm down potentially volatile situations and keep focused on the issues that matter.
3. Doing things from a place of love. “Love can be a fierce raging love”.
Ezra Levin: the strategy that his crew outlined in the Indivisible Guide.
The Tea Party is a model for success for folks in our situation. Congressional staffers going through the stages of grief after the election, but that there was energy to resist trump’s agenda and looking for ways to do that effectively. The goals of these former staffers is to demystify congress so that others can be successful.
When they were staffers, saw an enormously population president with majorities in the house and the senate. Also saw a small group of people resist this president and sink many of the ideas floated by the Democratic party. They changed votes, slowed down national policy making, changed the conversation.
Two prong strategy:
1. Locally focused: small groups that met locally.
Power was not to set the agenda in Washington, but constituent power. They could meet with Senators and Reps and staff and make sure that those members of Congress knew they were watching.
2. Defensive: Made the strategic choice that they wouldn’t fracture by focusing on just one issue. Also didn’t aim to create a new agenda. Decided to respond every week to what Congress was doing and block it.
We do not propose or condone their other tactics: fake news, violence.
Their useful tactics: focusing on local members of Congress and never giving an inch when they played defense.
Individual members of Congress don’t care about Donald Trump’s agenda more than they care about getting re-elected. Our goals in that regard are:
1. In conservative or moderate state or district: reduce their vocal support for Donald Trump’s agenda.
2. In solidly blue states or districts: ensure that they know they have your support. When they do something good, tell them. Give them positive reinforcement.
This isn’t a theory: this has been proven by the Tea Party. But also by us on the first day. On the first day of Congress Republicans tried to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics. People made calls and went to offices and as a direct result of that action the Republicans backed off. Same thing with nomination delay. We’re not going to win every fight. But we’ve proven that it’s possible.
Asked people to commit to going to your Senator’s office on Tuesday January 24th. Links to find events:
Angel Pedilla, another author of the Indivisible Guide.
What matters is getting close to the representative.
Visit > phone call > letter
Guide to visiting a Congressional office:
1. Make a plan to visit an office and get your friends involved - don’t go alone. (Or go with your local
2. Find the right office. Every Senator has a regional office. You can find the addresses is
3. Always let the press know before you go. Want to make sure that the visit is made public and that your message is distributed widely.
4. Don’t let the office know that you’re bringing a group of people down to meet up. If you let them know beforehand the office can slow down your group.
5. Record everything you do. Take pictures, video, selfies, Facebook live. If you don’t record it, it basically didn’t happen. Once you’ve recorded it, share it: #indivisible. Will share it and try to get it on Rachel Maddow’s show.
What does an office visit look like?
- Plan out your asks
- Plan our speaking roles - who introduces the group, who makes the asks, who shares a personal story.
- Personal stories are super important - it affects staff and members of Congress
This Tuesday: the main message: Let them know that we’re going to be watching everything they do. Not going to let them get away with anything.
Also come prepared with asks. The best asks are something that’s relevant. Talk to them about what they’re actually working on, not what you hope they will work on. This week they’re focusing on nominations. The ask: don’t let your senator’s vote for Trump’s corrupt nominees.
Story of how we hope it will work - an example: The Love Indivisible group in VA brought 58 people to Barbara Comstock’s office to talk about the ACA. Talked about personal stories. Got press coverage on a story about a little girl who could lose her life if the ACA gets repealed.
These visits don’t always work this way. Offices are not used to this kind of activism.
Don’t take no for an answer. Show up, ask to see your Senator. They probably won’t be available. Ask to meet with a Regional Director, District director, or the person in charge of that office. Ask for a legislative aide. Don’t let them say no or hand you off to an intern. If you have media with you, they kind of have to send someone with more authority talk to you.
ALWAYS RECORD EVERYTHING. If they’re throwing up roadblocks, record it (can shame the senator for not meeting with constituents).
After the meeting, make another video about what happened and how the meeting went. Share with indivisible and share with the local press.
The meeting might not go as planned and that’s ok - trying to get your Senator’s office to know that you are watching and they need to listen to your concerns.
For people who live in blue areas:
Reinforcing that most members of Congress can work even harder for us. The host is going to Elizabeth Warren’s office to let her know that the Senator should fight with everything she’s got. Tell our champions that we have their backs. Tell them to be bold and not to compromise.
Note from Victoria Kaplan:
How do I reach out to people in other states? Does it matter?
Representatives and Senators in other states don’t want to hear from you. If there’s an election in another state and you want to make calls to turn out voters elsewhere, that’s helpful, but otherwise focus on your own representatives.
Mellini from the Working families party: what this Tuesday is all about.
Other actions we can take this week.
Training on how to recruit more people.
Training on using social media strategically.
Imagine every week for the first 100 days people across the country go to their representatives stand up against hate. Every Tuesday, everywhere. The Working Families party has been and is really focused on Trump’s cabinet. Going to do the same this Tuesday. Telling folks that we want to stop Trump’s “swamp cabinet”. Trump said for a year that he wants to drain the swamp and get rid of wall street influence in D.C. But folks from Goldman Sachs, CEOs of big corporations, and people connected to lobbyists are filling the cabinet.
We want people to resist every day. Right now the goal is block Trump’s cabinet nominations.
Even the most progressive of democrats might not have said how they’re voting on many of the cabinet members nominated. Push them to vote no and to make a public statement against those nominations.
Why this week?
Tuesday will be his second day in office and we want to make sure representatives hear us loud and clear.
We know that DACA is rumored to be attacked. ACA is under attack. Trump will announce his pick for the Supreme Court in the next couple of weeks.
Messaging we should use to talk to our representatives:
For republicans: vote no on trump’s swamp cabinet.
For democrats: be a wrench in Trump’s administration. Three days of showing up at Chuck Schumer’s (D - NY) house in New York … and he announced that he’s voting against Jeff Sessions
Use personal stories about what a new Secretary of _____ means to you. Encourage people who were previously incarcerated to talk about the Attorney General. Have everyone tell stories about what head of Health and Human Service means to you, what healthcare means, what services mean.
Tips for outreach.
1. Make a list: people in your cell phone, who live near you, who you’ve volunteered with before and ask them to come with you on visits to your representative’s office.
2. Make a hard ask: can I count on you to be with me at this visit on this date?
3. There are probably progressive organizations near you: call them up and ask them to join your events or your visits to representatives.
Tips on social media.
1. Twitter: get one. Keep it short and simple. Not a bunch in a string.
Quotes do really well on twitter: highlight the quotes that grasp your ear at an action. Listen to people for quotes.
2. Facebook live: Press “live”
Always hold your camera horizontally, you get the best and widest shot that way. Name your live post a hashtag. Even if your Facebook following is small it can get shared by others and get a lot of views.
Photos and short videos also work well on Facebook. Always post photos one by one on Facebook - this works better to get a lot of shares and get media attention.
Victoria Kaplan again: Training on traditional media: how to get media coverage on the work we’re doing
Elected officials care a LOT about how they are viewed by the press.
“Congressman Coffman leaves frustrated crowd“ (link to the story). He was not expecting the 100+ people who wanted to speak with him to ask him about what would happen if Republicans repeal the ACA. Coffman snuck out the back door after police put up yellow police tape so he could leave quietly without addressing all his constituents.
Tips for earning traditional media:
1. Write a press release. Can find templates online. (find template links for MoveOn, Working Families Party, and Indivisible). Include quotes from the organizers or local people affected by the issues that we’re dealing with.
2. Look up local TV, radio, and print news stations (state and local; Look up influential blogs; look up how to contact the Associate press.
3. Look up the reporters that cover the issues relevant to your event.
4. Email the press release. Then call them and confirm that they got the press release, tell them about the visuals that will be there and make it sound exciting and valuable.
5. At the event, have a few people that are prepped to speak to reporters. Have 2-4 people practice to deliver their story to the camera. Also a good idea to have someone greet reporters and direct them to your spokespeople.
6. After the event, prep a note or report to the outlets that you contacted originally. Send photos, videos, another press release. Follow up with them - helps to build relationships with reporters.
7. Letters to the editor work well. Ask for a meeting with the editorial board of your local paper. You can also ask to author an Op-Ed.
Skills for de-escalation.
Some right wing organizations have encouraged their members to disrupt progressive events. It’s unlikely to happen at your event but be prepared. If you notice anyone who claims to be on your side but is acting out of line:
1. Stay calm and avoid confrontation. This can be difficult. It might mean changing the event program. Most important is to avoid scenes of confrontation because that’s what disrupters are trying to evoke. Stay calm, cool, and respectful and model progressive values.
2. Be intentional in using language that is inclusive and non-violent at all times.
3. In public events, goal is to just ignore this kind of behavior. OK to politely ask someone to leave if it’s a private event.
4. Have some buddies who are prepared to help in de-escalation.
The power of Resist Trump Tuesdays is that it’s the same time, same place, every week: a moment for us to come together. Similar to the power of Moral Mondays that lead to the election of a new governor in North Carolina. But if you can’t do stuff at the same time as everyone, meet, call, and write at other times.
If you ever feel lost and like “what should I do”, grab a friend and go to your member of Congress’ office.
Look out for those in your community who you can stand in solidarity with. If Trump undoes DACA, be out there to support immigrants. Call. Go in person. Don’t underestimate the power of standing together. 25,000 people on this call: do it and bring 2 people with you.
Resisthere.org for more information on Resist Trump Tuesdays and to sign up for events.
Debbie in Alabama:
How can we build up Democrats to challenge Republicans in places that are deeply red and that often have people running unopposed?
Suggests starting with finding like-minded people even in really red areas. It might not be possible to influence what a member of Congress is currently doing … but they’re thinking about re-election and have to send the message back to their constituents that they care about them. If you go to offices and public events and make sure that news cameras are there. And they’ll listen. And they probably won’t come all the way around but they might get less vocally supportive of Trump or his administration.
Judy in Texas:
Some senate district offices are in private office buildings. Concerned about getting access to those offices or some guard in the office asking for a pass or an appointment. What is the law, or our rights about going to a federal office on private property?
- Had people in New York at Senator Gillibrand’s office deliver a carol in the lobby to a staffer. Can also do rallies outside. Can come with a group of people in the lobby say that they have a delivery and ask if someone in the office can come down.
- These offices exist because they’re supposed to handle constituent services. But they will often look for excuses not to see people. If you don’t announce that you’re coming with a group you can probably get in the first time. If they say you need an appointment, ask if a staffer can meet with your group outside.
- Record everything! If they don’t let you in, get video or take pictures.
Most of us are new at going to offices. Give us an idea of the time commitment. Most of us have jobs and other responsibilities. What’s the best time of day to go? Can we go on lunch breaks?
- Lunchtime is a great time to go. Many of the events this Tuesday are at noon so that some people can come on their lunch break if they work nearby.
- A big of a group that you can muster: 3 people is great. more is great.
- Indivisible guide has info on how to get a group together. Website has a toolkit for new group leaders about how to do a first office visit.
- district offices are not the only game in town. Members of Congress often do public events - sometimes on the weekend. Show up at the “next ribbon cutting or baby kissing ceremony” with 5 or 10 of your friends.
February 20th - 24th is the next congressional recess and district work period when the Members of Congress spend the bulk of their time in their districts. Some will do town halls but most will do ribbon cuttings and speeches. Anywhere they show up in public, you should too. You can find out what their schedule is by signing up their email list. Can call the office every once in awhile to inquire politely about upcoming events.
Another New Yorker: what should we do with those Members of Congress we agree with? How do we get media attention?
In addition to supporting Can always get them to push harder
Theme for democrats: “Gum up Trump’s plan”. Deliver gum balls to Member of Congress. Be a wrench in the gears. Be sand in the gears. Use visual representations to push
For many of us, the highlight of the women’s marches was the creativity they put onto their signs, and how this was a visual cue for social media and mainstream media.
Tell personal stories about how you or a loved one will be impacted by something: what that means in your daily life. Be specific.
Louis in Austin TX:
About diversity. Had an awesome meeting in Austin with 150 people but there were very people of color in the room. Are there groups we can partner with to increase diversity, or ways to increase diversity?
Answer from Mellini:
Make sure that your messages, framing, iconography, visuals are inclusive.
Reaching out to grassroots organizations is important, especially those
When talking about equal pay, make sure that’s equal pay for everyone: for example, black and latina women are most impacted by wage inequality.
Show up for events and calls to action oriented towards people of color, like Black Lives Matter.
Get rest. Recharge. Tomorrow’s going to be a big day. Spread the word - if you’re not on social media, get your social media involved friends to share your work.