I love it when a plan comes together, any good plan. And one in particular seems to be coming along quite nicely right now. About 2 weeks ago I wrote a DIARY which outlined a new plan to fight the GOP, using the successful grassroots tactics originally employed by the Tea Party before it was absorbed by the Koch brothers. The diary was very well received, and several of the people who commented said that they planned to start using some of the pressure tactics on their own MoC’s (Members of Congress). But now it appears that this is gaining steam far beyond my puny reach.
The DOCUMENT itself is incredible. It is called “Indivisible: A Practical Guide to Resisting the Trump Agenda”. It was written by 2-3 dozen former Democratic congressional staffers, searching for a way to oppose Trump after his win. They did a deep dive on the local pressure tactics that the original, small, local Tea Party groups used to influence their MoC’s. And it worked very successfully. And when you remove the bigotry and abusive language, what worked for one side can work just as well for the other.
Rachel Maddow had an excellent segment on her show last night exploring this document, and it’s implications and practical uses. She had one of the original drafters on her show who explained that the idea has exploded since it was introduced. He told her that the group had been contacted by more than 350 small groups in almost every state for guidance. That works out to an average of 7 groups per state. Here is the interview, it is well worth watching;
The amazing thing about this plan is that at the base grassroots level, it requires very little organization and almost no money at all. What it basically boils down to is good old fashioned activism. That’s right, citizens exercising their rights and duties as citizens, which can be done either in groups or individually, but the more who do it, the greater the impact. Here is a recap of just the four simplest things that individuals or small groups can d to make a difference;
Step One; Townhalls
Most members of Congress hold regularly scheduled “townhalls”, where they show up and brag about what a wonderful job they’re doing, and to listen to constituents. Stand up and make your feelings known on issues, and press your MoC for an answer or solution. Hold his feet to the fire. There are other constituents there who may want an answer to that too. If he sidesteps or doesn’t answer, spread the word by every means available to you to make sure the rest of the district knows he’s “out of touch”.
Step Two; Non-townhall Events
Every MoC loves holding public events back home to cut ribbons and kiss babies and stuff. Those are “photo ops”. Show up and hold his feet to the fire some more. Ask him about racism, Social Security, marriage equality, whatever will get the crowd thinking. This can lead to confusion and uncertainty, which may create a reaction that makes him or her look bad at home. No politician wants to look bad in front of the home crowd.
Step Three: District Office Sit ins and Meetings
All MoC have district offices, and believe it or not, they actually go there when they’re at home to check in and deal with local matters. You should be able to get their schedule of attendance from the district office staff. Show up! Demand a meeting with them. If you see them, make your feelings known, and demand answers. Remember, they don’t know who you are, they have no idea how much reach or influence you may have over others in the district. If they refuse to meet with you, take to social media and broadcast that to the world, that your MoC is imperious and unwilling to listen to constituents concerns. If you know anybody in the local media, say a reporter, talk to them. Who knows, you might even end up on local television, and think how kewl that would be.
Step Four: Coordinated Calls
This one is the cheapest, and has the best potential to get the attention of a MoC. Get a group together who are passionate about an issue, say Social Security or the ACA. The more the better. At an opportune moment, avalanche your MoC with a barrage of phone calls about the issue. If they get enough phone calls speaking in unison on an issue, especially without a dissenting response, it may make them worry about a revolt “at home” over this issue, and force them to reconsider.
The reason I said in the title that it might already be working is because we’ve just seen it in action. A couple of days ago the GOP House tried a little bait and switch to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics. They had to walk it back within 18 hours. Why? It was widely reported that GOP members of the House were deluged with angry e-mails and phone calls from their constituents, demanding that they reverse the action or face the wrath of the voters. If there is one thing that every politician is extremely sensitive to, it’s his or her popularity at home, they have to run for reelection again!
There is one more thing of beauty about this plan. While it was put together intended to be used on the members of the US Congress, it is universal. All state legislators have district offices, they also have state offices with phones. You want to start flipping some of these Red states Blue? Here’s a good starting point. Politicians are all concerned about one thing, preserving their jobs. When you show up at a town hall or event and speak up, they have no idea of who you voted for, only that you’re a constituent, and you’re pissed off. The secret is numbers. One dissenting phone call or appearance on a bill or an issue is a crackpot or an outlier. Ten calls on the same subject is a flashing red light. Fifty of them is a cause to rethink what your perception is at home. Remember, they have no idea who you are, who you vote for, or how many other like minded people you know, all they know is that you are a constituent, and they’re going to have to face you again to try to keep their job.
If the recent OCE debacle in the House, and the statements of Rachel’s guest last night are any indication, those of us who read the Kos diaries are not the only ones paying attention. Most sane Republicans already have history in the back of their minds, and that history is that the party with the Presidency usually draws short straw in the first midterms, and the GOP has total power. We can start putting the fear of God into them right now. The only question now is how far does it spread, and who’s up for the fight?