What can we do?
Every day feels like an assault of new and scary information. Trump's appointments demonstrate a determination to hasten the transfer of public wealth and resources to the private sector, dismantle important areas of government, and solidify the power of government in the hands of the extraordinarily wealthy.
Moreover, our current government leaders are sounding alarms about Russian interference in the election. As are foreign leaders in their own democracies. The FBI and CIA are giving differing accounts of Russia's interference in our election. President Obama has ordered a full report to be released before January 20th. A bipartisan group of Senators is also calling for a further probe of Russia's involvement in the election.
Additional news just this weekend:
Trump is reportedly seeking to appoint Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon Mobile, Secretary of State.
The Trump transition team has sent a disturbing questionnaire to Department of Energy employees seeking a list of names of all employees who have attended climate change conferences and worked on climate change research and policies.
The NY Times has reported that the Russians hacked the RNC, but did not release the information. Some writers have speculated that, if true, this could lead to Republican officials being blackmailed - a scary prospect.
In the meantime, Trump supporters remain distrustful of President Obama's commissioning of a report to get to the bottom of what happened with Russia and the election (see the comments section).
We are drowning in information, and it can be overwhelming and confusing, but it's absolutely vital we keep paying attention. We cannot afford to get caught up with distractions like we did during the election. We must work on winning elections.
What Can We Do
One of the hardest things I am grappling with post election, aside from genuine fear for the future, is the feeling of helplessness. We already live in NJ, we have Democratic representatives, our electors are going to cast their votes for Hillary Clinton. What can we possibly do? I have a few ideas set forth below.
Please see the end of this email for volunteer writing and graphic help that is needed TODAY.
The Electoral College is scheduled to meet in one week. We should try to slow the process down.
1) Electoral College: Calls are increasing for the electoral college to hold off on certifying the results of the election until the report on Russian influence is released. Others are calling for the college to outright reject Trump as president. Given the clarion call from Republican and Democratic leaders on probing Russia's involvement in our election, it is important that electors be given all information pertinent to their decision.
a) Call on our Congressional Representatives and Senators to sponsor an emergency bill changing the date the electoral college is scheduled to meet to a time closer to the inauguration date. The certification does not need to be rushed in light of everything that is going on and the fact that the electors may be lacking critical information concerning the election's integrity. The first step is slowing down the process. We need legislators to take this step and gain popular support. So far, I don't think anyone is doing that.
b) Call on our Congressional Representatives and Senators to take any legislative steps possible to allow the classified information on Russian interference in our election to be released to the electors. I'm not sure how much this is in the hands of our representatives, but they should be calling for this loudly, clearly, and multiple times a day.
If our leaders are not stepping up on their own with a plan, we need to put the pressure on them to do so.
Here is the contact information for NJ Senators
Here is the website to find your NJ House Representative.
In NJ we are somewhat stymied in what we can do because our electors are pledged to Hillary Clinton. However, there are organizations and websites that have been developed to lobby the electoral voters not to cast their vote for Donald Trump. You can reach out to non NJ electors this way.
2) Influence Your Friends/Family with Republican Senators (this also can work for electors!): We can contact any Senator we wish to try to influence their vote on Trump's cabinet picks.
However, the reality of the situation is that they have little reason to oblige unless it is in their political interest to do so. The Republicans have not exactly shown themselves to be statesmen dedicated to the public good over the last decade, and there is no reason to think they will change now.
Progressives have little to no political capital that they can use to influence the cabinet appointments. In my opinion, the efforts likely to have the greatest success will be targeted both in what we oppose and who we lobby hardest. Though there is something to be said of the Republican "block everything" approach to government in terms of its obvious effectiveness, we do not have the luxury of time and we do not control anything other than coastal legislatures. The same approach is unlikely to work for us.
People who live in states with persuadable Republican Senators can influence the cabinet appointments. And we can influence the people who live in those states.
We should identify Republicans in the Senate who spoke up about Trump during the primary and general election and target them for lobbying. They may be persuaded to put the country over politics.
Go through your contacts lists and identify friends and family you know who live in states like Arizona (John McCain, Jeff Flake), Maine (Susan Collins), New Hampshire (Kelly Ayotte), and Illinois (Mark Kirk). If you're not talking to them because of the election, it's time to make up. We cannot win if we do not engage people.
3) Comey needs to resign: Political columnists and now Harry Reid have been calling for Comey's resignation for more than a month now. People on the left and the right have lost faith in his ability to administer the FBI in the public's interest. Some Democratic leaders (not enough!) are calling for his resignation and many political columnists have been doing so for months. We need a movement focused on his resignation, including specifically targeted protests, and phone and email campaigns. Most importantly, we need our elected representatives to take the lead in this call.
We need people for the following items immediately. If you are able to do one today, please email back ASAP with the number you will do:
1) A draft letter to the Senators and Congressional Representatives asking them to sponsor the bills detailed above (2 letters).
2) A simple graphic explaining to people how to call Senators and Congressional Representatives on lobbying for the proposed bills (2 graphics).
I hope that we can come together around these ideas; there is simply no reason to rush the certification and our Democratic leaders should be calling to slow the process down. Is it still a long shot? Yes. But it's more likely to succeed than trying to get them all to change their mind and vote against Trump in one week.
Here's to trying.