The Defense: Watchdogs and Emergency Response

We know the system is broken.  79% of Americans disapprove of Congress, near historic highs, but we can't seem to get a better Congress. And a big part of the reason for that is that aggressive gerrymandering and massive amounts of special interest money have helped the politicians rig the system to perpetuate the power of those who already have it.   

Every day, state legislatures are trying to enact new laws that further impede people's access to democracy.  We’ve grown familiar with the laws intended to make it harder to vote.  Now there’s also proposed legislation in 10 states that is specifically intended to chill public protest and give the state discretion to jail protesters.  In December there was the North Carolina Republican legislative coup, a coup staged by a legislature that was elected through a system so gerrymandered that a court ruled the lines were unconstitutional and ordered them to redraw them- an order which the legislature ignored.  In another brazen disregard for the democratic process, the North Dakota legislature is trying to repeal an ethics reform package that was just passed by the voters.  Their justification is that voters were “hoodwinked” and that the legislators are actually “squeaky clean” despite the fact that the state has earned an “F” in ethics from the Center for Public Integrity.  

Speaking of politicians who lie…

The Trump presidency is turning out to be much worse than I imagined, and I had imagined things would be pretty dire. It’s hard to keep track of the avalanche of executive orders.  Just as chilling are the gag orders on federal agencies, the continued attempts to discredit the media, and the apparent alignment between Trump and the Koch Brothers.  

Simultaneously, Congress is rushing us down a road towards destruction.  The aggressive agenda to gut social welfare programs, including the ACA, secure giveaways for the supremely wealthy, and assault civil liberties is just the opening shot across the bow.  

We are under siege.  After a steady drumbeat for the last 30 years, which has accelerated in the last 10 years, the Republican Party is now formally engaged in an all out war against the very people they are supposed to serve.  And Donald Trump is president. And we are losing badly.  

How do we turn things around?  

In my last email, I shared my analysis that The Resistance must be 3 movements working in concert.  The first movement is the Defense.  Below are organizations in NJ that are acting in this capacity.  We will be launching a webpage on  to feature organizations and will update it as we get more information.  

The Defense: Watchdogs and Emergency Response

The first line of defense is ordinary citizens and the dedicated groups who will keep an eye on the government.  These are professionals, advocacy groups, and regular people on the front lines shining a light where the politicians seek secrecy, showing up at congressional town halls demanding accountability, and fighting for civil liberties and voting rights in the courts.


                                                                         The Professionals

The professionals are the people whose lives and careers are dedicated to government accountability and service.  These include individuals, such as journalists, whistleblowers, and rogue scientists and agencies.    It also includes advocacy groups, such as the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, the NAACP, and other organizations that have doggedly fought for our rights even when we weren't paying attention. They are leading the defense, and we should support them with contributions, subscriptions, and showing up.  

                                                                              The People

There is power in numbers and our defense requires that we show up in numbers. Nationally there are several organizations putting out regular calls to action.  These include moveon.orgIndivisibleDemocracy for America, and the Women’s March on Washington.  Statewide, some previously existing organizations, such as Blue Wave NJ, are organizing with renewed fervor.  

Action Together New Jeresy (ATNJ) is the leading organization putting out calls to action, connecting organizers with each other, and giving people the tools they need to be activists.   Their website is here.  Their public facebook page is here.  Through the public page, you can message and ask to be added to the secret group, which is where most of the action is.  ATNJ provides daily calls to action you can complete in a short period of time.  They are also coordinating with national movements to participate in events taking place nationwide, such as the Save Healthcare Rally and Resist Trump Tuesdays.

There are also several groups that formed to focus on specific geographic areas.  

        11th Congressional District: NJ 11 For Change, a nonpartisan constituent group is a leader in this area.  They have set their focus on Rodney Frelinghuysen, an eleven term Republican who supported Trump.  They have had enormous success getting people to the office, getting press for their efforts, and making a habit of activism with regularly scheduled events, such as Fridays with Frelinghuysen.  

         7th Congressional District: Westfield 20/20 is another group that has success with showing up to Congressman Lance's office, especially to protest the ACA.  Blue 7 New Jersey is another group in the 7th district, but focused solely on fundraising for the future race. 

         4th Congressional District: In the 4th Congressional District, there is a group inspired by Indivisible that is targeting Chris Smith.  

         South Jersey has the South Jersey Progressive Women for Progressive Change, a group that is almost 4,500 strong.  

One of the challenges that I have found in trying to locate these groups is that many of them are actually “secret” groups on facebook.  The organizers chose to go this way for various reasons, but it does present a logistical challenge in finding the groups and getting involved.  It also means that groups may be duplicating efforts without knowing that their neighbors a few towns over are working towards the same goal.  We don't have time to reinvent the wheel for each of these groups, so it's important the leaders be connected with each other.

We will be creating a page on our website to feature any groups that want to be included so organizers can connect with each other, share ideas, and support each other, and so volunteer activists can find NJ resources easily in one place.  If you know of another group, or if you start your own group, email if you want your group's details included.  

Coming Next

The Resistance Movement Two: The Garriso.











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