Dear Senator Feinstein…

(Note: Thanks to all those who came out for the picture. Special callout to the awesome squad from Santa Barbara!)
  • Action #1: Write Feinstein an email/letter
  • Action #2: H.R.4064/S.2155 – Prevent Election Subversion Act – Protect Election Workers from harrassment and intimidation.
  • Action #3: Call your senators.
  • Action #4: Call the White House
  • Action #5: Email Joe.

Originally tweeted by Scott Dworkin (@funder) on November 16, 2021.

Action #1: Write Feinstein an email/letter

Sample email/letter: You are welcome to use as much or little as you want. Speak from your heart. There’s a lot of good material here too. (Other senators to worry about: Manchin (WV), Sinema (AZ), Jon Tester (MT), Coons (DE), Carper (DE), King (MN) Hassan (NH), Cardin (MD))

Dear Senator Feinstein,

[We gathered last Saturday at our county government center/I’ve called you/I’ve written you] to ask you to be brave. To publicly state that you’ll carve up the filibuster to enable the “Freedom to Vote Act.” To state that you’re willing to overthrow decorum of long practice for the far more urgent need of democracy itself.

I ask this because, despite Biden’s promise of returning us to normalcy, “these are not normal times, and perhaps the reality is that a normal approach to politics in profoundly abnormal times is a formula for political disaster.” In other countries, in other times, officials like yourself have looked at the tilting edifice of their government on the eve of disaster, and reassured themselves that tradition, inertia, and wishful thinking would continue to protect the status quo. It only took one fire for Germany. We had a near-coup insurrection, with a promise of more. Elie Mystal recently said, “A coup that isn`t punished is just practice.

Even now, GOP-controlled states are gerrymandering their way to a minority overthrow of both houses of Congress. And their incoming members will not be your congenial colleagues of times past, but a phalanx of extremists, nihilists and opportunists who owe their seat and their fealty to an authoritarian fanboy who despises democracy and the Constitution.

These are no longer normal times, Senator. Your fellow legislators are openly engaging in stochastic terrorism, urging people to greet vaccine workers with guns, and to “lightly threaten” opponents. GOP members are avoiding comment on Trump’s defense of chants to hang the vice president and Gosar is aping the “plausible deniability” gaslighting of White Supremacists with a taxpayer-funded snuff film. Their combined efforts have fueled a near doubling of violent threats against lawmakers and now, even non-partisan election officials and their families are being terrorized.

These are no longer normal times, Senator. Advisors of the former president openly distain democracy. Retired general Michael Flynn would have us kneel to the sword of his chosen religion. Steve Bannon, a reportedly self-described Leninist and fan of the white supremacist fantasy novelThe Camp of the Saints,” has promised that a second Trump presidency will bring thousands of “shock troops” to attack the federal government from within and destroy “the administrative state,” an anti-government euphemism that also includes multiracial democracy. It would then be rebuilt according to his reactionary, revanchist, neofascist, and racist authoritarian vision,” starting with the decapitation of Trump’s enemies. As for the judiciary branch, the Supreme Court and the larger federal judiciary has largely been captured by right-wing Christian theocrats through the Federalist Society.

These are no longer normal times, Senator. Thanks to the bombardment of the Big Lie by FOX owner Rupert Murdoch, perhaps in retaliation for being forced to give up his Australian citizenship to build his US media empire, 21 million Americans, nearly 1 in 10, now believe in fascist ideals – the use of violence as opposed to the ballot box – to restore Trump to the presidency. “To an extent that many people still don’t recognize, Fox News is a grinding, daily cesspool of white grievance, mistrust of deep-state government, and a belief that liberals are literally trying to destroy the country out of sheer malice.” Last month, a man in Idaho asked when he could start killing Democrats. “When do we get to use the guns?” he said as the audience applauded. “How many elections are they going to steal before we kill these people?”

These are no longer normal times, Senator. Republicans, keepers of the racist Big Lie of the Confederacy’s “Lost Cause,” understand the 1984 reference “Who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” Therefore, Critical Race Theory was deliberately misdefined by a GOP operative and now angry White parents want to strip textbooks and lesson plans of racial content, and are threatening teachers and school officials. QAnon members and extremists are radicalizing school boards, and already, two Virginia school board members stated that books banned by the their board should be burned.

These are no longer normal times, Senator. We are alarmed by the assumption of “business as usual” by Democratic leaders in the face of these existential threats. We’re alarmed that leaders like you would let essential voting rights bills die in the Senate for the sake of the filibuster. You are incorrectly assuming that we volunteers can somehow out-organize every voter suppression law, overwrite every false FOX story, and emerge unscathed from every terrifying encounter. We’re alarmed that you assume that there will be another chance.

The GOP, and their coterie of religious extremists, oligarchs, and hate groups, roar for the power and corruption of an authoritarian regime. They will wait until the time McConnell kills the filibuster upon his next return to majority leadership, whereupon your historic legacy – legislation for the rights of women, gun safety, and environmental protections – will be washed away with one toxic bill after another. If Trump is reelected in 2024, a similar fate may await the independence of Congress itself.

What will you be remembered for, Senator Feinstein? That you diligently followed protocols of years past as our glorious anomaly – the world’s longest surviving democracy – slipped away, silently like Hungary’s or with a percussion of gunfire? Or that you stepped up at this critical moment in history and fought back for the freedom of the majority of Americans to make their voices heard? Join in to remove the filibuster for voting rights and pass both the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Please, Senator Feinstein. Be brave.

Contact: Senator Feinsteinemail

Action #2: H.R.4064/S.2155 – Prevent Election Subversion Act – Protect Election Workers from harrassment and intimidation.

The H.R.4064/S.2155 – “Preventing Election Subversion Act” would make it a crime to harass, threaten or intimidate election workers, set mandatory distance minimums for poll watchers and ban the removal of local election supervisors by partisan bodies, such as state legislatures or election boards, without cause. These efforts come as new reports show the extent of Republican efforts to divert power away from election officials and state executives and increase the ability of highly partisan state legislatures to run elections. “This year, the right to vote has been under the worst assault since Jim Crow,” said Congressman Jones in a statement. “Republicans in state houses across the country have gone to outrageous lengths to silence Black and brown voters, introducing over 400 racist voter suppression bills and removing non-partisan election officials who oversee and certify elections. Our bill would protect the independence of local election officials and ensure that future elections are free and fair.”

Cosponsors H.R.4064: Neither Brownley or Carbajal have signed on.
Cosponsors S.2155: Neither Feinstein or Padilla have signed on.

Action #3: Call your senators.

Minimal script for SEN. FEINSTEIN (not a cosponsor): I’m calling from [zip code] to ask Sen. [___] to support both S.4 – the “John Lewis Voting Rights Act” and S.2747 – the “Freedom to Vote Act,” nationwide minimum standards to protect the rights of voters and to strengthen our democracy while we still have one. We’ve read that she may now be willing to support bypassing the filibuster rule to enact these bills. Please convey to the senator that her active and enthusiastic cooperation with such an effort is the basic minimum or we will be asking for her resignation.

Minimal script for SEN. PADILLA (cosponsor): I’m calling from [zip code] to thank Sen. [___] for supporting both S.4 – the “John Lewis Voting Rights Act” and S.2747 – the “Freedom to Vote Act,” the nationwide standards to protect the rights of voters and to strengthen our democracy. I also want to thank him for understanding the importance of these bills and being willing to flush the filibuster to make it happen. Please ask the senator to talk to his colleague Senator Feinstein.

Contact:

  • Senator Feinsteinemail, DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
  • and Senator Padilla: email, DC (202) 224-3553, LA (310) 231-4494, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 981-9369, SD (619) 239-3884
  • Who is my senator?: https://whoismyrepresentative.com

Action #4: Call the White House

Minimal script: President Biden said we’re facing “the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War.” He’s right and we need him to use every lever of power and influence at his disposal to persuade the Senate to pass the Freedom To Vote Act, including speaking out against the filibuster.

Contact: 1.202-456-1111 The White House comment line is open Tuesday to Thursday, from 11 am – 3 pm ET. When you reach a staff member, tell them your name and that you are a constituent. Then, demand that President Biden do everything in his power to help overcome the filibuster and pass the Freedom to Vote Act.

Action #5: Email Joe.

SAMPLE script: Joe, you’ve said that we’re facing “the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War.” You’re right.

Manchin cut down John Lewis’s “For the People Act” into a package he thought was small enough that 10 Republicans would vote for it. He was wrong. Trump, along with acolytes like Rep. Cawthorne, who encouraged voters to “lightly threaten” their legislators, have hardened the GOP into an intractable force protecting voter suppression, white supremacy, and Trump’s Big Lie. It is now literally personally and professionally dangerous for them to cross the aisle on a bill like this.

Here’s another hard truth, Joe. We volunteers cannot out-organize nationwide voter suppression. We cannot alter time for voters no longer allowed to vote early during their off-work hours or together on Sunday “Souls to the Polls.” We cannot help them access drop-off boxes that are no longer there. We cannot make DMV’s open near voters without public transit who need IDs. We cannot remove burdensome witness requirements and unfair ballot receipt deadlines. We cannot protect voters from intimidation by partisan poll watchers. We cannot force states to equalize polling place access so that minority voters won’t have take off work and wait in hours-long lines, while voters in White-majority districts walk right into theirs. We cannot undo destructive gerrymandering.

We need you to push Senate Democrats to pass the Freedom To Vote Act with a carve-out of the filibuster. Make it as narrow as you please, but ask them how long any of them will remain in office if their own voters are turned away or intimidated at their polling places or if state legislatures takes over elections. Georgetown University historian Thomas Zimmer explains, “Unless the system is fundamentally democratized, we’ll soon reach the point where it will become impossible to stop America’s slide into authoritarianism through elections.” We are not Hungary yet. Stop this now.

Contact: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

Information on the Freedom to Vote Act and resources

The Freedom to Vote Act (S.2747) has replaced the “For the People Act” in the Senate. This bill, which is backed by Stacey Abrams of Fair Fight, makes Election Day a holiday, ends gerrymandering, combats the anti-voting laws working their way through state legislatures, requires states to allow 15 days of early voting (including 2 weekends), massively expands voting access through automatic voter registration and Election Day registration, increase election security by creating a national standard for voter verified paper ballots, implement a national voter ID standard with reasonable alternatives like utility bills or bank statements, requires voting machines be made in the United States, protect nonpartisan election officials from partisan interference, shines a light on dark money, and makes it harder for billionaires and special interests to buy elections. It’s a good start and and Manchin’s reputation, and the future of the filibuster, is also on the line.

  • (Brennan Center) Pass the Freedom to Vote Act – Analysis
  • (msnbc) The Freedom to Vote Act is Democrats’ final chance to save voting rights
  • (from DemCast) Quick Read:

Where we are…

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